One of the great challenges of the Christian life is to learn how to use your talents and abilities according to God’s timing. There’s a significant difference between the good works WE do and “the good works GOD has prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
The Apostle Paul experienced the frustration of running ahead of God’s timing. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus, he zealously entered the synagogues to preach and teach, but met great resistance. He was so unsuccessful that the disciples had to lower him over the city wall in the middle of the night to keep him from being killed. (Acts 9:25). Off to Jerusalem he went, eloquently “talking and debating with the Grecian Jews.” Result? They tried to kill him too! (vs. 29). After just fifteen days in Jerusalem, the Apostles sent him home to Tarsus; then the “churches throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace....” (vs. 31)
Ten years passed. Read that again. TEN years. Paul spent a decade out of the spotlight in relative obscurity in Tarsus until God sent Barnabas to “go and find him” (Acts 11:25) and reintroduce him to the leaders in Jerusalem, who prayed and set him apart for his first missionary journey. From this point forward, Paul was a mighty force, quickly emerging as the primary leader on the stage of world evangelism.
Why was He so unsuccessful in his initial efforts? He was well-trained, personally selected by Jesus, and Spirit-filled. Why no fruit? Well, it could've been pride. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (I Pet. 5:5). Sometimes we best learn humility through humiliation. Being lowered over a wall in the middle of the night would’ve been humiliating for such a powerful man as Paul. But it was an important lesson in dependency. He later spoke of it as a defining moment in his life (II Cor. 11:30-33).
Perhaps there was another problem--God’s timing. It's important to know your gifts but equally important is knowing when and how to use them. It's all about God's timing. When one runs ahead of God, it’s a lonely run. You win battles, but lose the war. You win arguments, but not
hearts. You produce results, but not fruit. Something restrains you. Something inhibits the full release of God’s strength. We so badly need to learn to rest and wait on God.
The purpose of spiritual gifts is to bring Him glory. We glorify Him most when we walk in step with Him, not in front or behind. When you're operating on His time you can accomplish more in one day than in ten years of our best efforts. Patience. Peace, be still. His time is always best. Remember, God doesn't wear a watch.