by Kevin Cassil
February 28, 2014
I recently wrote an article entitled “Live Above the World,” about the wonderful things that God wants to do in the lives of those who love Him. I believe it really is true that we can’t even imagine the things that God wants to do for us – things we’ve never seen or heard of or even dreamed – God really does want to do those things in your life! So where are they?
God is absolutely able to do far more than we can ask or imagine. So why do so many who call ourselves followers of God; who say we love Him; not see on a regular basis what we’ve never seen or hear about what we’ve never heard or witness what we never imagined? What is it that keeps us from truly and consistently living above this world?
Let me pause right here to clarify something. Living above the world does not mean you live an idyllic life devoid of problems or trials or difficulties. It doesn’t mean you never make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that you never wrestle with emotions – that you never face doubt or fear or discouragement. It doesn’t mean you avoid temptation. It doesn’t even mean you will never sin. Living above the world means that by placing your trust in the God who made you and made this world, you walk through all these things with Him and allow Him to lift you up and do in you and through you far more than you could ever do on your own. You place your trust in Him and watch Him give you courage and watch Him give you faith and watch Him give you joy and watch Him provide for you and deliver you and bless you in ways you never expected.
With that said, I think there are several ways to answer the question of why do we not consistently live above the world and see God do those awesome things. However, as I look honestly at my own life and as I’ve talked with others, one explanation that seems to rear its ugly head over and over again is we give up! I am convinced that one of the most prevalent reasons that we don’t rise above the world – why we don’t see God’s power displayed more in our lives, is that we quit – we stop before God’s done!
Let’s look at an example from the Bible. For me, one of the most tragic accounts in the Bible is that of King Saul, when he was waiting for Samuel, the prophet. Saul had taken his army to fight the Philistines. The Philistines had assembled a huge army for this battle; so big that it terrified the men of Saul’s army. Samuel had told Saul to wait for him at Gilgal for seven days and he would seek God’s favor before Saul went to battle. So Saul waited for seven days, but Samuel didn’t show up. So Saul took matters into his own hands and offered the sacrifice to God himself. After he finished, Samuel showed up and told Saul, “You made a foolish choice! If you had waited on God, He would have allowed you and your family to be king over Israel forever. But since you quit, God will give the throne to someone else!”
If Saul had waited for Samuel, what God had in store for him was far more than he imagined. It would have been his kingdom that ruled over Israel forever. It would have been his kingdom that ushered in the Messiah. It would have been his throne that Jesus sits on in glory. Instead, all of that was lost; given to another – because he gave up. Saul, like so many of us, was focused on the enemy arrayed against him rather than the victory that awaited him. He, like many of us, focused on the clock, not on the promise. Saul was waiting for seven days, when he was supposed to wait for Samuel. He failed to recognize that waiting on God is not about time, it’s about a person – it’s not about circumstances, it’s about a relationship.
Aren’t we so much like Saul far too often? We give up before God gets here. You may have once felt like God had promised you something, but after so much time has passed by, you begin to question if continuing to wait is your best option.
You may be tempted to give up. It can happen in so many different ways. And typically, like Saul, we can quickly justify our actions. “Saul replied, ‘I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, “The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!” So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.’”
Saul’s rationale was chock full of facts and defensible arguments. His men were indeed scared out of their gourds. Samuel hadn’t arrived when Saul expected him. And then the kicker: Saul didn’t want to go into battle without God’s favor. Now surely that would justify his actions! After all, in response to all this evidence, Saul took it upon himself to do something very spiritual – he offered a sacrifice to God. Surely doing something so righteous would make up for him not doing what he had been instructed to do! Surely God will recognize that you have waited longer than is reasonable. If you wait any longer, people are going to think you are weird. People may think you are foolish. People will say you are not using common sense. Well that’s good! Because what God has for you is way beyond common. He wants you to hold out for the extraordinary.
Notice that Samuel was unsympathetic to all of Saul’s high-sounding excuses. He looked Saul squarely in the face and reminded him that what God asked him to do was to obey; to wait; to not give up. He reminded Saul that it was more important that he waited for Samuel, not that he waited seven days. It was more important for him to wait for Samuel to bless him, rather than to try to conjure the blessing on his own.
Like Saul, sometimes we quit out of fear or insecurity. You wait and wait. And the longer you wait, the louder that voice inside your head gets that questions whether what you are waiting for is really from God. Maybe, after waiting all this time, you begin to think that you must have heard wrong. After all, who are you to think that you’ve heard something special from God – or even heard anything from God? Maybe you just made it up out of your own desires.
Here is something very important I have learned. I want you to pause that recording that’s playing louder and louder in your head and recall when it was that God put that desire in your heart. I want you to remember the circumstance and the conviction you knew at that moment. Remember how you searched for God and listened for Him and He placed that assurance in your heart. Now ask yourself if you’ve ever felt God tell you to stop with that same conviction and assurance. My guess is, the answer is “no.” You see, I cannot find one single place in the Bible where God works in His children through doubt. He is not a God of doubt. He is a God of hope. If God has not told you to stop, why would you ever consider giving up on what He’s told you? That voice you hear that is causing you to doubt is not the voice of the God who loves you. It is the voice of your enemy who wants to derail you. Do not give in to fear and doubt. Hold on to the God of Hope.
There are times when we quit by simply doing something else that seems “just as good” and is far more “accessible,” especially under the circumstances. Saul looked at his circumstances and decided he would do something “holy” on his own, rather than keep waiting for Samuel. After all, he had prophesied. He’d seen Samuel offer sacrifices and call to God before. He knew the procedure. He could do it and get going before all his soldiers slinked away.
How often do we look at our circumstances and see an opening for something that looks good, that we can do on our own? It is, after all, a good thing. It’s a step up from where you are. And you can make it happen right away. To those watching, who don’t know what God set before you; it will look like you are doing a good thing. But what they don’t realize – what you know, deep in your heart – is that seemingly good thing is not the best thing. It is not the thing that God wants you to hold out for. Don’t grab the convenient. Wait for the omnipotent.
When I was a senior in high school I qualified for the district track meet in the 400. Because that event was late in the day and the meet was behind schedule, the organizers decided that rather than have the qualifiers from heats compete in a final race, they would simply take the best times from among the heats to determine who moved on to the state championship meet. I ran in my heat, which I won handily. I was well ahead of the guy behind me. When I plopped down next to my coach, after what I thought was a good race, he said, “You let up in the final stretch.” He was right. I didn’t do it consciously, but I had run hard enough to beat the guy behind me, but not as hard as I was capable of running. When they tallied up the times from all the heats, I missed going to the state championship meet by less than 1/10th of a second.
Sometimes we may still be “in the race,” but we have let up. Perhaps it is because it looks like you are ahead. Perhaps it is because you are just tired and running out of steam. Or maybe you have quit trying because you don’t believe you can win. But the fact remains: you are no longer running the race to win; you are running to get by – to just get it over with.
Throughout history, God has asked His followers to do some pretty daunting things. Sometimes what He’s asked has required a lot of faith and faith over a long period of time. It was over 25 years after He promised Abram that he and Sarai would have a child before Isaac was born. David was anointed by Samuel, but it was many years of living in the wilderness, death threats, and struggling before he finally sat on the throne over all Israel. They could have given up. They could have coasted or even quit. If they had, they would have missed out on what God had prepared for them. They didn’t quit because they recognized that God has never asked anyone to do anything that He wasn’t sure that they could do – and that includes you.
God has saved you to do good things that He has prepared for you to do. What He has prepared for you is more than you’ve ever seen or heard or imagined possible in your life. What God has for you is far more wonderful than you can fathom. But if you stop; if you give up; if you give in, you will miss out on the best things He has prepared for you. Don’t listen to the voices of doubt or fear. Walk by faith and not by sight. Don’t compromise or settle for what is merely good or convenient, but is not God’s best. And don’t stop running! God has equipped you and prepared you to finish this race in His power.
Some of my favorite accounts from scripture are examples where God rescued His people when they least expected it, in ways they never anticipated, without them even lifting a finger. Take for example when He broke Peter out of prision or did the same for Paul and Silas. But one of my favorites is when King Hezekiah was locked up in Jerusalem, surrounded by the mighty king of Assyria. It appeared that Hezekiah was whipped and hopeless. The Assyrians pointed out, quite convincingly, that it was foolish for the people of Jerusalem to not just surrender. But Hezekiah believed it would have been foolish to give up on the very God who created the universe. He trusted God and prayed and refused to give up. That night, the angel of God went through the camp of the Assyrians and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died! The next morning the king of Assyria just packed up and went home.
When Hezekiah prayed, he had no inkling what God had in store. While he prayed, he had no idea what God was doing. But because he prayed, he walked out the gates of Jerusalem to see the deliverance God had provided for him in response to his prayer. Pray and trust in God. You may just wake up one morning to discover the victory God has been preparing all along.
Hold tightly to what God has placed in your heart. Don’t let doubt or fear or compromise or fatigue or anything else keep you from the best God has for you. Stare that impossible situation in the face and trust in God. Keep praying and trusting in Him. He has not called you to something you cannot do. He has called you to more than you imagine. Your victory is closer than you know.
God doesn’t want you to just survive this world. He wants you to overcome this world! He wants you to live above this world! He wants you to change this world by His power at work in you! Do not stop trying. Do not stop praying. Do not stop believing and hoping and trusting in the marvelous name of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the awesome power of your Holy Spirit, and the incredible, matchless love of your Heavenly Father! Your God wants you to have victory. He has designed you for victory. He has prepared you for victory. And He has prepared the victory for you! So, don’t you dare quit before you have that victory!
Copyright February 28, 2014, J. Kevin Cassil – all rights reserved
 1 Samuel 13:11b-12NLT