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The Restraining Hand Of God

I have a problem.

When I want something to happen, I want it to happen yesterday.

Anybody with me?

That’s a problem for two reasons. First of all, circumstances don’t fall in line at the drop of a hat, just because you want them to. Second, God’s timing rarely matches mine. Ours. The timing of imperfect, impatient humans.

How is a person supposed to figure out God’s timing about something? If you know, please leave a comment and inform the world! I freely admit that I have no idea.

But in my nearly half-century of life, I have figured out how to recognize when something isn’t God’s timing. It’s when I feel the restraining hand of God. What does that feel like?

Let me give you a couple of examples from this spring, when I had two opportunities to get ahead of the Lord and, therefore, blow it. With the first one, I did blow it. With the second, I paid better attention and made myself be patient.

Story #1: impatience in the garden

To understand the first experience better, you need to understand that in southeast Oklahoma, where I live, the average annual humidity is 74%. This means that a lot of fruit-bearing plants are susceptible to disease, namely fungi.

Besides the fact that we lost three Asian pear trees and a cherry tree to fungi last year before we ever had a chance to get any fruit off them, the biggest problem that fungi has caused is black rot on my grapes. The past three summers, all of the fruit has shriveled up into black nothingness before the grapes even had a chance to mature. Last year, spraying with a copper fungicide helped a little, but not much.

So I did some research and ended up buying a conventional (read: synthetic chemical) fungicide.

Yep. I was going to destroy my own dream of being an strictly organic grower. I rationalized it with the knowledge that the toxic substances in the fungicide convert to harmless substances after a couple of days.

I knew I was supposed to start spraying the fungicide as soon as the leaves started showing, then every two weeks thereafter. But I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I told myself that it was because we were having so much rain. If I sprayed, it would just get washed off, anyway.

While that was true over half the time, there were enough breaks in the rain that I could have kept a semi-regular spraying schedule.

The truth is, my reluctance to go out to spray with the chemical fungicide was God’s restraining hand.

Finally, we began to have more sunny days and fewer rainy…and the black rot had begun to show up on some of the grape leaves and baby fruit. Donning a pair of gloves and a breathing mask (I was wearing sunglasses, and figured if I was careful they would serve as sufficient eye protection), I mixed together a gallon of spray and sprayed the grapes, then the blackberries since they get a different fungus every year that makes me lose a good 50% of my blackberry harvest.

I shoved down every second-guessing that wanted to worm its way into my head about using a toxic chemical in my garden…until I told my son and husband to stay out of the garden until the next day.

Leave it to a kid to remind you to listen to God. My son asked, “Why are you spraying something that’s so bad that we can’t go in the garden for a whole day?”

Ouch.

A week or so later, I was doing more research on the subject of black rot and fungicides, and guess what? Turns out the fungicide I’d chosen will only prevent black rot. Once the plant has symptoms, it won’t eliminate it!

I complained about it to the Lord, and you know what He had the audacity to say to me? “I was the One who led you into a chemical-free life.”

Oh.

Duh. I knew that.

Desperate times can make you ignore the restraining hand of God. As well as knowledge He’s given to you prior.

So I asked for help in finding a natural fungicide that would actually work. I think I’ve found one, but I won’t know for about another month.

My point? Sometimes the restraining hand of God is a feeling of reluctance, even dread, when you’re considering doing something. God is nudging you inside your spirit to be patient and wait for something better.

Like a non-toxic fungicide that doesn’t require a haz-mat suit to spray.

Story #2: A novel experience

If you diligently follow this blog and read every single e-mail I send to my newsletter list (thank you!), you might have gotten a whiff of the struggle I’ve been experiencing over how to launch my new Christian fiction series, “Pine Mountain Estates.”

The way an Indie author is “supposed” to launch a book is to get as many of her list subscribers, Facebook followers, etc. to review the book before launch day. Then, she’s supposed to pay several hundred dollars across a bunch of different book promotion platforms to include her book in their daily promotional e-mail on her book’s launch day.

On launch day, the book is supposed to be priced at ninety-nine cents. Or higher, depending on who you ask. Because you’re not just supposed to give away your brand new book! Number one, you want to make money from it right away, and number two, you want it to rank high in Amazon’s paid book category. You want to strive to make the book be a bestseller (which, by the way, isn’t nearly the indicator of income success that non-authors believe it to be).

I thought about doing it that way, but only one part of it sat right with me – giving my e-mail subscribers a chance to download the novel for free before launch day. Considering the rest of it made me feel frustrated.

I considered a couple of other ways to go about the book launch, but the more I thought about them, the more frustrated I got.

This time, I recognized the restraining hand of God. Sort of. I at least knew that I hadn’t hit on the strategy I was supposed to use to launch my new series.

So I quit trying to figure it out, and decided to wait.

The other day, God lifted His hand and whispered the strategy I was to use into my spirit. If you’re on my list and read my e-mail from the other day, you know it.

If  you’re not, I’ll give you a hint: you need to be on it if you want to get the first four books in the series for free. 😉

How did I know the idea came from God? I felt release inside my spirit and soul. I felt peace and renewed enthusiasm about launching my novels.

I knew that I knew that I knew that this was the way God wanted me to go.

When God says, “Wait.”

Those are two ways that I know that God is telling me to be patient and wait: a feeling of reluctance, sometimes embedded with dread, and a feeling of frustration.

Another way – my favorite, but one I only experience if I think to ask the Father directly – is hearing the word “no” inside my spirit.

I’d love to hear one of your experiences when you knew God was telling you to be patient and wait on His timing! Feel free to share in the comment section below. 🙂

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