I live in the deep South. In this part of our country, we train our children early how to identify poisonous snakes and what to do if you encounter one. To help them remember how to spot danger we use little mantras, like “red touch yellow, kills a fellow; red touch black, friend of Jack” or helpful tips like the smell of fresh cut grass, when none has been cut, can signal that a copperhead snake is close by. For me, a snake is a snake. I do not care what color, how it smells, if it is friendly or if it makes a sound to warn me I am too close. If I can see it, I am too close. This past Spring my mom and I were out inspecting the plants I had planted on the side of the house. Apparently our presence disturbed a rather large water moccasin, and he quickly departed under the fence and behind our pool pump. I ran like a crazy woman while my mother calmly stood there. I ran to tell my husband to get his gun, while she stood watch to make sure the snake didn’t get away. She was cool and collected, I panicked. Like I said, I don’t care for snakes. Mom doesn’t care for them either, but her years of living in the country have taught her to distinguish between the harmful and to appreciate the ones who rid her gardens of pests. She has also learned that the little devils can be tricky and slither away, undetected, while you gather your wits to formulate a plan of attack. Unfortunately for the snake, her calm, watchful presence allowed my husband and father to successfully flush him out and eliminate him. Sadly though, my memory that there had once been a snake affected my ability to take care of the plants on that corner of the house, as well as my ability to enjoy the backyard.
I do not like snakes or people who act like snakes. I have had many come and go throughout my life. Some were harmless. I believe they entered my life for the specific purpose of flushing out some personal inconsistencies and flaws that God needed me to work on. He knew they were harmless and that my ability to handle their presence would teach me, mold me and make me more like Him. But there have been others who were venomous, hurtful and not placed there by God. They were allowed there, just like He allowed them into the life of Job. God allowed them to enter my life in order to push me towards Him. What the enemy meant to harm me with, only made me stronger, wiser and better able to calmly identify the next snake. With each experience I grew, I learned and I am better.
Each of the venomous people in my life came while I was in the waiting place. Being in the waiting place for extended times can sometimes leave us tired and unguarded. The snakes can slither into the dark of our waiting place. Our reaction to them is one of the keys to open the door and exit our waiting place experience.
Proverbs 20:22 says, Don’t say, “I’ll get even with you for the wrong you did to me!” Wait for the Lord, and He will save you. (NIRV)
Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!” Wait for God; He’ll settle the score. (MSG)
The sixth key to waiting on God is to let God handle it.
I have raised a houseful of thinkers who analyze everything, even the way in which I choose to handle the discipline of their siblings. Often one will interject themselves into a situation because they do not agree with how I am handling the moment. Maybe they do not think the discipline harsh enough, or they view it as unfair or have even said, “If I had done that, you would have killed me.” Their lack of maturity and inexperience being a parent winds up getting them into trouble. I tell my kids quite often, “when you interject yourself into a moment of discipline meant for another, the focus is turned towards you and the discipline I was dolling out is interrupted as I turn my focus on you.” When that happens I now have two children to discipline. If they had not chosen to interrupt the process they could have escaped unscathed. Many times their desire for vengeance resulted in a greater punishment for them than the original offender.
It is the same with us and God. When the snakes come into our lives, spewing venom and leaving a path of destruction, God says do not retaliate. What?! In Romans 12:19 God says vengeance belongs to Him. Really God?! How am I supposed to sit back and watch as people seem to get away with murder, while my life is under a microscope and you scold me for every wayward thought and action. (I sound just like my kids.) My instinct is to fight back, to protect, and to get even. My actions just landed me in the line of fire for God’s discipline and now He has to deal with me before He can continue to deal with the offender. Those actions only keep me locked in my waiting place. If I want to open the door and move into the next season God has for me, I have to learn to let Him handle it.
The biggest lesson I ever learned about letting God handle things, I learned from watching my husband walk through the most painful season we have experienced in our ministry. His wisdom, his grace, his mercy, and his character were all challenged, but his faith never weakened. My instinct was to retaliate, shout from the rooftops about the injustice, uncover their wrong, hurtful actions and bring the same level of pain to them that they had brought to us. But not Brad. Just like my mother calmly stood, keeping a watchful eye on the snake, Brad calmly kept his wits about him and allowed God to handle it. And handle it He did! By keeping ourselves out of the way, God’s discipline came swift and reached further than my reactionary thoughts had dreamed. My reaction to the situation would have brought much more damage and created a chasm that could not have been repaired. As it turns out, all parties involved have reconciled, apologized to my husband and each has been restored and even elevated in ministry. God’s discipline lovingly restored.
When we get out of the way and allow God to handle things it is amazing what He will do. He is interested in so much more than just our little waiting place. He is interested in unlocking the doors to the waiting places of all parties involved. If you are in the midst of a waiting place that seems to have gotten crowed with others who are spewing venom against you, remember Psalm 20:22. Write it on note cards and plaster them all over your house, your car, your desk, wherever you need a reminder to let God handle it. He may not handle it the way you think He should, but it will always be fair and right for all parties involved.