Holding up In A Holding Pattern 1 Samuel 13:1-15

How many of you have hear the term “holding pattern”? It is a term used in the aviation world that describes a situation in which an airplane has reached its destination but has not been given permission by the air traffic controller to land. Perhaps there is not room on the runway because of other planes have not taken off yet, or there is some obstruction on the runway. In such a case where the air traffic controller can see that it would be dangerous for the plane to land; they will place the plane in a holding pattern which means the plane will circle the airport until permission is given for the plane to land.

Perhaps that illustration describes many of us today. We sometimes feel like God has placed our life in a holding pattern. We are just up in the air wondering what we should do, where we should be, and we are waiting on a word from God. We are waiting for direction and instructions to get out of the holding pattern.

I think we can find some answers about how to hold up in a holding pattern by looking at a character named Saul. Saul was in a holding pattern. He had just become the king about 2 years ago and now he is at war with the Philistines. He has really got their attention by attacking their outpost at Geba. The Philistines are now gathering 3,000 chariots and 6,000 charioteers. Saul is now waiting at Gilgal for Samuel to come and offer the burnt offerings, so that Saul will have the Lord’s favor before he goes into battle. However, there is one hold back; Samuel does not make it in 7 days and Saul is placed in a holding pattern. Let us look at this situation to learn how to hold up in a holding pattern. What do we do when God does at when we want Him to do and He asks us to wait?

I. Beware of being anxious

If we look at Saul, we can see that he became very anxious. Saul’s army saw the great number of troops of the philistine army and they began to cower and hide. They even began to run away. The forces that remained with Saul were shaking int heir boots with fear. Samuel the priest had promised to come, and he had not shown up. Now more of Saul’s troops began to scatter. Saul allowed his anxiety to get the best of him; he allowed his circumstances to override his trust in God. Saul was consumed by his worries and anxiety.

When our anxieties consume us when God says wait

a. It causes us to be impatient instead of trusting God. Instead of trusting God, Saul grows impatient and takes it upon himself to offer the burnt offerings. Sometimes when we are in a holding pattern it is easy to grow impatient and rather than wait on the lord.

b. When we are taken over by anxieties, we become impulsive. We have the need to do something even if it is the wrong thing. As humans we want resolution quickly. We want an answer and we want it now.

II. Beware of try to accelerate God’s plans.

One of the difficulties of being in a holding pattern is that we want to accelerate God’s plans. Sometimes being in a holding pattern make us feel that either God is not working at all, or if He is, He is going about it entirely too slow. We get the idea that God needs a little help; a little push in the right direction to get things going. Trying to accelerate God’s plans causes difficulties because

a. it produces an “I” factor. We take control of things instead of waiting on God. In v. 11, Saul is confronted by Samuel for offering the sacrifices himself and look what Saul says

- I saw the men were scattering - Saul trusted in his own vision

- I thought – Saul trusted in his own reasoning

- I felt – Saul relied on his own emotions

b. When we try to accelerate God’s plans it promotes our own selfish interest when we are not willing to stay in God’s holding pattern. When we try and take control it gives way to our own interest. Saul wanted to offer the burnt offerings to gain the Lord’s favor, but the offerings were to worship God and the burnt offering was to be totally consumed by God.

c. trying to accelerate God’s plan does not allow us to see God is working in the present. Saul was so consumed with trying to accelerate God’s timing that he couldn’t see that Samuel was on his way. God was already at work. Even when we are in a holding pattern God is at work. Doesn’t it seem like we put forth a lot of effort in trying to help God along rather than to look and see how God is at work in our holding pattern.

III. Be sure to continue and acquire God’s will

I always tell people to look for 2 things when they read a Bible story, 1) Look for what is in the story and 2) look for what is not in the story, or what is missing. So, what is missing in this story; Saul does not attempt to acquire God’s will. He continues to be anxious and he tries to accelerate God’s plan. Saul does not pray to God, nor does he turn to the word of God, which would have been the prophet Samuel. Saul never dispatches a messenger to find Samuel. When we are in a holding pattern, we must continue to seek God and remain faithful in the word. When we continue to acquire God’s will it does a couple of things.

a. It keeps us in the right relationship with God. It keeps us in prayer, so it keeps us in communication with God. I t keeps us in his word, so it keeps us on track. This all adds up to fellowship with God. There is an interesting tidbit in this story about Saul that you might overlook. It has to do with the offering. The burnt offering was an offering of propitiation, but the fellowship offering, or peace offering was a n offering offered by those at peace with God. It was an offering that was offered to express gratitude, obligation to God and fellowship with God. In Saul’s haste can you guess which offering does not get offered? Saul’s disobedience affected his relationship with God.

b. Acquiring God’s will allows God to be in control. Seeking God’s will in a holding pattern protects us from implementing our own selfish interests and it allows God to be in Control. Allowing God to be in control removes stress and the anxiety. It places God in the position of king of our life.

IV. Be assured that what God is doing is more than adequate

When you and I are in the holding pattern it is easy to second guess God. Is God’s plan adequate and if it is why does He remain silent, why does He give me a sign, why doesn’t He speak, why doesn’t He give me clarity, why doesn’t he act and why doesn’t he give direction? Sometimes when we are in a holding pattern, we forget that whatever God is doing is more than adequate. We simply cannot know God’s long-range plan and how He is preparing us even in times when it seems like we have been put on hold. It is interesting to note that Saul became anxious and tried to accelerated God’s plan to gain His favor for one battle, however the Lord had in mind to establish Saul’s kingdom over Israel for all time. When we continue to remind ourselves that God is still at work and whatever He is up to is more that adequate it helps us to leave the results with God.

a. It develops our faith and trust in God. I t helps us not to focus on our situations or circumstances. It fosters growth in faith and deepens our trust and reliance on God.

b. It offers us peace for the holding pattern. It gives us comfort for those periods of time when God simply says wait. We can know that God continues to be at work and whatever he has planned is more than adequate. We do not to force something to happen. We simply hold on in the holding pattern.

I began this sermon by describing what a holding pattern was. When the plane circles until it can land. Have you ever thought about what might happen if the pilot disregarded the towers instructions and said, “I am going to land right now any way”? The pilot might be making a huge mistake that might end in a catastrophe. God knows when you and I need to land. He sees things that we cannot. He knows when the runway is clear, He knows when it is safe, and He knows the right timing. I challenge us not to become anxious, do not try and accelerate God’s perfect plan, continue to acquire His will and remind ourselves that whatever God is doing while we are in the holding pattern is more than adequate.

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