“We can't microwave God's plan for us,” Stiles writes. (15) That we'll have to wait on God is a given. The issue is waiting well and that's why he has written this book.
He takes his lessons on waiting from the life of Joseph. Joseph is a good example as he had to wait twenty two years to see his dreams come to pass. Stiles does well in relating Joseph's experiences to our own. In telling about the coat of many colors, for example, we are asked to remember a time when a sibling got a better Christmas or graduation gift.
Stiles is convinced, “...the primary way we apply God's providence to our lives is by waiting.” (16) Waiting is an act of faith. It is how we trust God is working out His purposes when we are not seeing it. He also reminds us of the many reasons God may have us wait. Perhaps He is developing our character or leading us to a deeper relationship with Him.
Using Joseph's life as a springboard, Stiles has lots of great teaching on a variety of topics, such as sexual purity and the purpose of testing (God and Satan have different goals). He has included many of his own experiences as illustrations. That adds a personal touch to his teaching.
Stiles has an interesting way of writing. “God wasn't asleep at the wheel the day he chose your family of origin.” (182) That's a good thing. In retelling the Joseph story, which is much of the text, the writing style kept me interested in what is a very familiar story.
He reminds us that our goal in our waiting is not to try and understand God's plan. God doesn't ask that of us and we could never do that anyway. It is our trust that God desires. Stiles reminds us about waiting, “Sometimes that is the only way we learn.” (145)
One unusual point on Stiles' book is about dreams. He is adamant that God does not speak to us through dreams today. We have the Bible and that's all we need. He does allow for dream experiences in the mission field, but says that does not mean it is to be our experience. (33)
This is a good book for Christians who want to understand why God would have us wait and why He sometimes gives us something very much different from that for what we had asked. It is an encouragement to trust in God's sovereignty. There is much we can learn from Joseph as he waited so long for what God had promised. It might be a familiar story but Stiles takes lessons from it each of us can benefit in learning.
Food for thought: “Every sin we commit represents a failure to wait on God.” (83)
“God remains sovereign down to the last detail of our lives.” (164)
You can watch the book trailer here.
My rating: 4 stars.
Wayne Stiles (ThM, Dmin, Dallas Theological Seminary) is an executive vice president at Insight for Living Ministries. A former pastor, he has served in full time ministry for more than twenty-five years. He and his wife have two grown daughters and live in Texas. You can find out more at www.waynestiles.com.
Baker Books, 255 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.