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Is This a Delay or a Dead End?

May 11, 2016

Have you ever felt God calling you to step out in faith, only to find yourself wondering if you heard Him wrong?

I understand.

For many years I thought my calling to write was a dead end instead of a delay. I received rejection letter after rejection letter from the many book proposals I’d sent to publishers. I was so frustrated! I started wondering if I had heard God incorrectly when this passion to write was placed in my heart.

I didn’t realize I was confusing a delay with a dead end. But I think we do this all the time. We put a period where our life story may just need a little string of dots …

In punctuation, there are terminal points and pausing points. A terminal point is a period, a question mark or an exclamation point.

But there are far more options for pausing points such as: the comma, semicolon, colon, em dash, and my personal favorite which drives my editors a little batty: the ellipsis.

What in the world does all of this have to do with Biblical truth?

When we confuse what’s really a pausing point with a terminal point, we can get into trouble. And that’s how the people of Israel got themselves into a mess of trouble while waiting for Moses to come down from a mountaintop meeting with God.

Exodus 32:1 tells us, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’”

What “happened” to “this fellow” was that God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments. A pretty important pause. But because the people didn’t understand the delay, they decided they couldn’t trust God.

So, they took matters into their own hands and had Aaron form a false god to comfort themselves and combat their confusion. In the end, their solution only added more chaos. And it cost them more than they ever imagined.

They got completely out of control. They became the laughing stock of their enemies. Many lost their lives — it says over 3,000 died. AND they suffered from a plague.

Of course, they could have avoided it all, including enraging Moses to the point where he threw the stone tablets God had personally carved for them, breaking them into pieces. But that would have required waiting just a little longer for Moses to return.

Oh, friend. When there is a delay in our lives, we must determine to fill the gap between here and there by intentionally proclaiming every hint of God’s activity. Just the fact that we woke up breathing this morning is evidence of His goodness. So, let’s make a list and keep acknowledging that just because God is silent in one area of our life does not mean He is silent in every area.

Also, let’s think about an area of our life where we’ve been waiting for what seems like an unreasonable amount of time. Let’s determine today not to mistake this delay for a dead end.

We can say out loud, “I will not run ahead of God in this. I will not manipulate or manufacture solutions. I will not give up until God confirms I should. I will keep seeking God, fully anticipating and trusting His perfect plan to unfold in His perfect timing and His perfect way. And if He does confirm this is a dead end, I will still honor Him.”

As for the delays in my journey to be a writer, I can look back and see that the Lord used those times in my life to develop my character to match my calling … and I’m so thankful He did.

So let’s trust Him today. And choose to believe He is packing great purpose into our places of pausing.


At Proverbs 31 Ministries, our deepest desire is to meet you in your delay by offering free resources to help you seek God and trust His plan to unfold in His perfect timing.

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  1. Lacey

    Oh my! I have been waiting for over a year for God to “fix” a certain situation in my life. Over a year ago I felt that it was time to move but here I sit in the same spot as last year and God still saying “trust me, I’m going to take care of this”. This week I got frustrated and started looking to manufacture my solution to my problem. And this blog post shows up in my email. Delays are difficult. But I know what my God has planned is better than what I can come up with.

  2. Jenny

    Me, too! I’ve also been waiting for God to fix a situation in my life. He moves, and then He doesn’t seem to move and I get impatient. I struggle not to take matters into my own hands because I know that’s not what I should be doing. This week I have been praying, “I believe, help me see” as Thomas did after Jesus’ resurrection. I do believe there is a good plan for me, but I get discouraged because time is marching on and I’ve been praying about this for several years. And I just turned another year older. I see God answering similar situations for others, and I don’t understand why He doesn’t break through and bring mine to a glorious solution. I particularly liked the reminder that we “must fill the gap between here and there by intentionally proclaiming every evidence of God’s activity.” I find when I do that, I feel much more encouraged. And He has been moving, in some amazing ways. Thank you, Lysa.

  3. JSG

    This is just what I needed today. 11 years ago when my husband revealed his affair and then moved out I felt that God gave me a promise of a restored marriage. I clung to that when time ticked by, the girlfriend remained, the finances collapsed and then 7 years later he moved home unexpectedly….unsaved, and more broken than when he left. It’s now been 4 years since he moved home and he’s still not saved and it’s a struggle to stay in this place of waiting and lack of feeling and emotion and trust THIS is where God wants me to be. I’ve prayed for release and don’t get it. I’ve prayed every angle you can imagine. I know what it feels like when God has released me from other situations and I can say He has not released me. Thanks for this beautiful reminder when many days I just want to walk away.

  4. Elsie London

    I want God to work in my husband’s life in certain ways. I believe these things are in line with God’s will, and I pray hard for them. But then I start spiraling downward emotionally, and I can only see the negatives, the stuckness, the distance to the ideal. And then suddenly, out of the blue, God does something. He touches my husband’s life in a new way, he opens up new doors of hope and fruitfulness. And I celebrate, but only for a moment. Next thing I know, I’m spiraling downwards again in discouragement. Why can’t I keep in mind the glimpses of God’s work in my husband’s life? Why am I so quick to excuse these brief but potent moments? I love what you said, “When there is a delay in our lives, we must determine to fill the gap between here and there by intentionally proclaiming every hint of God’s activity.” I want to commit to holding onto the good things God has already done in my husband’s life.

  5. Kelly Andrew

    “I can look back and see that the Lord used those times in my life to develop my character to match my calling…” Affirming words I needed to read as I am in that place of transition between being a stay at home mom of children to being an empty nester, and wondering, “What now?” “Have you ever felt God calling you to step out in faith, only to find yourself wondering if you heard Him wrong?” I found myself shouting, “YES!!” when I read those words. Believing more than a few years ago He was leading me to change my focus from my kids (one was half way through college and the other about to graduate high school) to teaching women, I began (fearfully!) to step out and do just that within my home church – a Bible study and two retreat engagements. Then, nothing. A possibility I thought would be a great opportunity turned out to be … something else. And I was thinking just exactly what you were, “Did I hear You wrong, Lord?” But, I don’t think I did. I believe He gave me some early-on opportunities and some good encouragement from others to show me that I COULD do this, but now He is choosing to build my character and my faith so that I can be effective in what He is calling me to do – and in His time, I will teach again if that is His plan. In the meantime, I will learn and grow. Praise the Lord!!

  6. Merry Dennison

    Thank you for these powerful words to remind that God’s silence in one area of our lives is not silence in every area of our lives!

  7. Rachel Bibler

    Whoever is reading this – I would love some prayers. I couldn’t put more words to how much this piece relates to my life right now!!! I’ve been given this gift of discernment and wow- so many times I question those “gut feelings.” It’s a crazy thing to say we feel “led” to go do this things and yet we question if that was coming from God. I graduated from Purdue two days ago and God put it on my heart to apply to this local coffee shop; so, I did. And I got hired less than 24 hours after I got my diploma. Now, that sounds like a God move. I am still applying / looking for a job and no doors have been shut, however it is that waiting game of thinking, I hope I heard him right. But one encouragement I have is that in these moments if we look at our present situation – I think that can be a determinant for what God is doing. Clearly I have a job in this area, so I think my focus should be on that and today. In James 4:13 it talks about how we are to focus on today because we might not even be here tomorrow; we might be taken up in heaven in 2 minutes or perhaps 20 years. Either way, God knows and I don’t. So why not trust when he can give me more than I want or imagine? C.S Lewis has a quote that is like, “we settle for the mud puddles when we could be given a life that is far beyond those puddles of these earthly desires.” Rough translation- but we only can see with our earthly eyes and I think we can be blindsided by the beauty God can do in our lives.

    Rachel Bibler

  8. Carol Frear

    Oh how I needed the reminder of how God used Moses! So often I forget that I just need to go where He says go, wait when He says wait, and if I am as willing as I tell Him I am, I need to prove it. Moses felt unqualified, yet God sent him! He even spoke these words, that seem like fire in my mouth right now, Exodus 33:15, “if Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” I can’t help but think of “Your Presence” as Jesus, or the HS. If we don’t feel them with us, or in the valley we are trying to come from, then we shouldn’t move. That is where I am. I know God is with me, I know His ways are higher, I know He has a reason for my current struggle. And of course here comes the proverbial “but”, but my flesh is tearing my apart. I want to shout so loudly, God take me out of this mess, take me away from the stress of my situation. But in reality, He is working in it with me, I am just having trouble seeing through the mess that I can’t see Him. A dear friend sang Thy Will today in Church. The words that Hillary Scott so lovingly wrote here with her family, just hit me like a brick wall. I have the power of Christ in me to move that mess out of my life. God has equipped me with the strength and grace sufficient enough to trust He will move this mountain out of my way and put me back on top of it! I want to thank you for your ministry and your words. I have shed one too many tears from Satan trying to knock me down, I proclaim victory in the name of Jesus. Victory over stress, over circumstance. I submit this all to Him who gives me all I need to survive. I am ready, and willing to move when He says move!

  9. Jennifer Iliff

    Lysa, my Pastor suggested I email you but I do not have a good email for you. You are my favorite real talk author and I have been struggling to get through one of your books. I would like to share with you why so if you or one of your people could email me I would like to share some information with you that might help us both. You are an amazing woman please keep up Goda work by encouraging women everywhere.

    • Lysa TerKeurst

      Hi, Jennifer!

      We would love to hear from you. You are welcome to reach out to Lysa through her team. Please feel free to email her at [email protected].

      Lysa’s Ministry Team

  10. Sherry White

    How many times have I tried to forge ahead of God because fear stole my trust in Him or I just got tired of waiting? Too many! I used to say I’m one of those people who drowns on the shore. When a breakthrough was just about to happen, I would jump ship before I could see I was almost there. But God has always been faithful and those times have actually built my trust. Now, when facing difficult times, I remind myself of those moments and I know that God orders my steps. I, too, have felt called to write and this post was reassuring! The Lord spoke to me and said taste and see that the Lord is good. Starting my blog was a step out of my comfort zone to do just that.

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