Sometimes the only thing standing between you and victory over temptation is just a few minutes.
Sometimes fear causes us to sin. We see circumstances in our lives that aren't going the direction we want and God seems to be off on a coffee break somewhere, so we take matters into our own hands.
Like Saul at Gilgal.
Samuel had said, "In seven days I will come to Gilgal."
But the hordes of Philistines (I Samuel 13:5) had already gathered, with their 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and foot soldiers as numerous as the sand upon the seashore. They were strong and powerful and they knew it. They were probably already doing their victory jig.
Saul's soldiers, on the other hand, were trembling in fear. As the seven days ticked slowly past, each one longer than the last, his men began to slink away from their king to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and pits. He went from 3,000 soldiers down to 600, an obvious loss he couldn't possibly overlook.
His son Jonathan wasn't worried; he had a firm grasp of Who God Is and What God Can Do. Jonathan will shortly make that powerful statement, "Nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few." But Saul had no such faith, so Saul panicked.
When the seventh day came and brought no Samuel, Saul lost patience and offered the burnt offering to the Lord himself, in clear disregard of God's commandment.
And then Samuel showed up, right on time.
Sometimes we miss God's blessing by seconds. We cave when a few more minutes/hours/days of endurance would bring a rich payoff. Sometimes, when temptation hits us hard, we give in because we see no end in sight and we feel like we can't keep our defenses up any longer.
Procrastination and endurance might be the very thing that sets us free.
There are no "ifs" in God's plan for the ages, but from a human perspective, if Saul had endured slightly longer in his very uncomfortable situation, his kingdom would have been established forever. That's not my random guess; that's what Samuel told him in I Samuel 13:13-14.
The important thing to observe is that the real problem wasn't Saul's circumstances; the real problem was his character. Samuel is clear: "The Lord has sought for Himself a man after his own heart." We can fill in the blanks: And that's not you, Saul.
If Saul had been a man after God's own heart, who clung to God's commandments and ignored his circumstances, he would have endured.
Is there any temptation to which you succumb too fast?
The next time that temptation hits--and it will, because our tempter is great at pounding the same nail over and over again--how can you endure? Is there some wall of defense you can throw up? Is there some way you can procrastinate and give God a little more time to work?
Ten minutes may be all that stands between you and deliverance.
Laura Berrey and her husband Tim are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.