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The Great Wait

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘The Great Wait’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 2/2/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here:


Sowing and Reaping


“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” – Gal 6:7-8


Sowing and reaping is a Biblical process. You’ve probably heard it preached during offering messages at your church. When you sow, you should expect to reap. Now let’s be very clear here: reaping, in and of itself, should never be your motivation for sowing. Your motivation should always be to honor God with everything you give. However, sowing and reaping go together: we should always expect to reap when we sow, and should never be surprised when it happens. A farmer is not surprised, after planting crops in his field, to see a harvest ready for the taking several months later. In the same manner, we should expect to see fruit as a result of our giving.


This principle also applies to prayer, and it is on that application that we’re going to focus in this message. Whenever we pray, we are depositing seed. When we deposit seed into good soil and water it well, we should not be surprised to see vegetation (fruit) on the other end of the process. Once again, our motivation should never be selfish. God is not a genie in a bottle, waiting to give us everything our heart desires when we rub Him the right way. Our reason for praying, just as in giving, should be to honor God; and when we align our will with His, He will give us the desires of our heart (1 John 5:14-15).


For a brief introduction to the topic, let’s take a look at some of the properties of sowing and reaping outlined in the Bible:


  • Reaping is dependent on sowing (Gal 6:7). If we never sow, we never reap.
  • Seed quality determines harvest quality (Gal 6:8). The same can be said for quantity.
  • We reap MORE than we sow (Mk 4:8). Every harvest yields a crop for food, plus more seed for the next year. On average, one grain of wheat yields a plant that contains another 50 grains.
  • Sowing and reaping happen in seasons (Prov 20:4). There is a season to plant and a season to reap.

Sowing and reaping is not only a Biblical principle; it is also a natural law of cause and effect. There is, however, one step in the process that often gets overlooked: waiting. We frequently talk of sowing and reaping, but seldom discuss the concept of waiting. We can all use the reminder, so I’d like to provide it.


Sowing, WAITING and Reaping



Let’s start by looking at this example, in which Jesus is talking to His disciples about the Kingdom of God:


“And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” – Mk 4:26-29


There are two characters in this story: God and man. Man has two responsibilities: to sow, and to reap. We would all do well to take particularly careful notice of Who exactly does the growing: God. Try as he might, the farmer has no direct control over whether of not an individual seed takes root and sprouts into something much bigger. That is why waiting is so important. Once we pray (deposit seed), we need to understand that there are forces at work that are so much bigger than we could ever comprehend. God is growing our seed even when we cannot see it.


Waiting All Around Us


We see the importance of waiting all around us. In agriculture, a farmer sows seed and then he waits. It would do no good for a farmer to sow seed and then immediately make ready for harvest. There is a waiting period that has to take place. It would also do no good for a farmer to worry about what is taking place beneath the surface of the ground. It would be incorrect for the farmer to assume that because he cannot see a plant sprouting up out of the ground, there is nothing taking place beneath the earth’s surface. His seed is taking root, so that when it finally develops into a plant, there will be a well-established foundation that can help his crop stand when wind and storm pass over it.


We also see waiting in the marriage process. Once a man and woman agree to be married, they enter into a period of time called engagement. Engagement is necessary, and serves a very specific purpose. Engagement is a planning process that varies in length depending on individual circumstances, but allows both husband and wife to have their ‘perfect’ wedding. Without waiting, the wedding would be a mess.


Finally, pregnancy is an obvious example of a waiting process. It’s extremely unhealthy for a baby to come out of a mother’s womb before he or she is ready; pre-term babies are susceptible to sickness due to unprepared immune systems and often suffer developmental complications.


So if waiting is so essential, why don’t we like to talk about it? Waiting demonstrates a lack of control. Waiting forces us to admit that we don’t have a say in certain stages of the process, particularly when it comes to prayer. Yes, it is our responsibility to discern God’s Will and make sure we are praying for it: nothing less, and nothing more. Yes, it is our responsibility to have faith for a harvest in the form of tangible blessing and answered prayer. However, most of the time, we have absolutely no control over the timing.


We have a choice to make when it comes to waiting. Are we going to worry constantly about what’s happening to our seed while it’s under the ground and out of sight? Or are we going to kick our feet up and relax, trusting that God is growing our seed properly, and agreeing to water our seed with additional prayer and faith when He instructs us to?


What’s Taking So Long?!


We hate waiting because we live in a society – and at a time – in which immediate gratification runs rampant. We have instant downloads to our phones, priority access at the airport, and express lines at the grocery store. Nobody wants to wait!


Sally Hogshead is an author and brand consultant on the concept of fascination. According to her, 100 years ago, the average human being had an attention span of 20 minutes. Today, due largely to the development of the Internet, our attention span is 9…seconds. Nine seconds!


We’re an immediately gratified, results-driven society: and we’re proud of it. As Christians, that mentality can wreak a little havoc on us. If we pray for something and don’t see prayer fruit immediately, we start to wonder about our ability to ask our Father for things we need. Even worse, we can start to wonder if He even exists! This is what we want to avoid: Christians assuming that because they don’t see prayer fruit immediately, they aren’t praying right. This is obviously incorrect, and it’s easy to tell somebody else they just need to be patient. But it applies to you too! Is there anything you’re praying for that God hasn’t given you yet? Something that you might be convincing yourself He doesn’t want you to have because you’re sick and tired of waiting?


We know God’s Word is powerful. Isaiah describes the fruitful process of speaking God’s Word out over any situation in our lives:


“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” – Is 55:11


When God spoke His Word out over creation, everything we see around us took shape. Nothing leaves His mouth that does not bear fruit before it returns back to His ears. We are supposed to partner with God in this process. If His Word is written on our hearts (as it should be; Heb 10:16), we should recite it to Him – out loud – whenever we can. His Word won’t return to His ears without first causing something to shift in the atmosphere. When we pray we should expect results!


Yet we have to understand that sometimes the answer to our prayers take time. The last thing we want is for a new believer (or an old one!) to experience frustration because of a lack of understanding of the waiting process.


Waiting Is Fun


I want to propose a new idea: waiting can be fun. It doesn’t always have to be a pain! I have evidence to prove it.


The New York Times published an article in February 2010 titled ‘How Vacations Affect Your Happiness.’ The article details the results of a study in which Norwegian researchers examined the happiness levels of 1,530 adults, both before and after they returned from vacation. The results will surprise you. They found that planning a vacation actually makes you happier than the vacation itself! Planning a vacation boosted happiness for eight weeks. After the vacation, however, happiness quickly drops back down to baseline levels. After returning from vacation, we’re often no happier than people who haven’t been on vacation at all! The results apply to vacations of varying length (i.e. the length of the vacation had no impact on happiness).


So how does that affect us when it comes to waiting? We should take joy in waiting for answers to our prayer! Happiness and fulfillment don’t need to wait until we see tangible results. You actually might be happier right now – waiting for your prayer to be answered with faith and anticipation – than you will be once you actually see the result come to pass!


Until we see the result of our prayer, we have our faith:


“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

– Heb 11:1


What’s the tangible evidence that what we’re hoping for is going to happen? Faith. What’s the evidence that what we’re praying for is going to take place? Faith. If we already see our prayers answered, it means faith is no longer required. I would never stand and talk to a friend and ‘hope’ that he was right in front of me, because he’s already standing there! It doesn’t take faith to ask for something that’s already right in front of my eyes. It is during the waiting period that faith is 1) required and 2) strengthened. If we only have faith in situations where faith is not necessary, do we really have faith? We must take joy in those times in our lives during which God is teaching us to have faith.


Waiting is Biblical


The Bible illustrates that waiting is necessary on many occasions. In fact, sometimes it is only by waiting that we see the Will of God unfold.


In the book of Exodus, God tells Moses to insist on His people exiting Egypt. Moses is supposed to find Pharaoh and demand, to his face, that his people be allowed to exit the country. When God is filling Moses in on His plan, He tells him this:


“But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.” – Ex 7:4


Moses could have stopped listening after God said ‘Pharaoh will not heed you’ and gotten discouraged. But he didn’t. He continued listening, and found out that God had even bigger and better plans than he could have every imagined for his situation! If Pharaoh had just caved right away and let the people of Israel go, it wouldn’t have made for a very exciting story! Instead, God specifically hardened Pharaoh’s heart so He could do something much greater than simply making Moses’ adversary say yes to his request! What you discern as unnecessary waiting might be God’s preparation to do something great.


Jesus was a Man Who knew waiting all too well. Jesus didn’t start His earthly ministry until He was 30! He had to have known His identity and His destiny from a very young age, yet we see that He remained ‘subject to’ Mary and Joseph throughout His whole childhood so he could increase in wisdom and stature (Lk 2:51,52).


In fact, the Gospel itself is a fulfillment of a waiting process. Throughout the entire Old Testament, prophets were waiting to find out more about Jesus Christ. I have a theory that Old Testament prophets are jealous of us too, and it’s based on this verse:


“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things which angels desire to look into.” – 1 Peter 1:10-12


We are witnesses – daily – of everything the Old Testament prophets waited their whole lives to see! We are witnesses – daily – of a salvation that angels long to experience!


Do Not Faint


Waiting is necessary. It is Biblical, and it can even be fun. The enemy knows that we can’t stand waiting, and he will try to use that to his advantage. Satan’s goal is to prevent us from ever putting seed into the ground because we think it won’t bear fruit. If we ever decide not to pray because we can’t stand to wait, the enemy has already won.


If you have trouble waiting, ask the Holy Spirit for help. Our responsibility is to wait without becoming weary, knowing that God will answer our prayers.


– by Pastor Mike White


© Michael D. White and CityLight Church, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael White and CityLight Church with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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