If we’re being honest, most of us would admit that we prefer our own timetables to those of our heavenly Father. But what blessings do we miss by rushing ahead of His plan? In this message, Dr. Stanley assures us that we always have time to wait on God, and that time will always be well-spent. Learn to surrender your schedule to God, trusting that His timing for all things is perfect. For more messages from Charles Stanley, including this week’s broadcast, go to www.intouch.org/watch

Dr. Charles Stanley: One of
life’s most important lessons is

to learn to listen to God.

If you don’t listen to Him,
you’re not going to know what

to do.

If you listen to Him, you then
have to decide whether you’re

going to obey Him or disobey

But how will you ever know how
God wants you to live your life

if you don’t learn to listen to

And not only to listen to Him,
but also to recognize that God’s

timing is always perfect.

We don’t always agree with His

We have our own selfish reasons,

But learning to listen to Him
and also to follow His timing is

a great lesson in life.

In fact, many people miss most
of His blessings because they

don’t wait for His timing.

They have their own idea.

They get frantic.

They get worried.

They listen to the news.

They listen to somebody.

And on it goes, and never stop
to think, “God, what’s Your


What do You want me to do?

When do You want me to do it?

How do You want me to do it?

What’s Your will for my life?”

And I think our failure at
seeking His guidance and His

direction as to timing is a
major issue.

And if you will recall in the
twelfth chapter of Genesis,

here’s what God said to Abraham.

He said, “Go forth from your
country, from your relatives,

from your father’s house, to the
land which I’ll show you.

I’ll make you a great nation,
bless you, make your name great,

so you shall be a blessing; and
I’ll bless those who bless

you, and curse those who curse
you, and in you all the families

of the earth will be blessed.”

Now, that is as straight forward
as you can put it.

But Abraham did not do that.

He made a mistake.

He listened, but he didn’t do
exactly what God told him.

Now, watch this carefully.

I want to show you the results
of not doing exactly what God


He said, “And from your
relatives,” and he took with him


Lot was with him.

When he and Lot divided up their
goods, they decided which way

they were going.

Lot had the first choice.

He decided to go into the plains
where Sodom was.

He not only went into Sodom,
Sodom got into him.

He did not listen to God, or he
would not have been in Sodom and


And to go all the way back to
Abraham, he should not have

carried him.

God said, “Away from your family
and from your relatives.”

When God makes a statement, He
doesn’t mean for us to follow

part of it, but all of it.

That could not be clearer.

And so, God made it very, very
clear what he was to do and what

He was going to do.

And so, instead of following
God’s instructions, he just had

a little slip here and a little
slip there.

Listen, watch this carefully,
God knows you perfectly.

He knows what His will is for
your life, His purpose for your


He doesn’t make suggestions.

God gives commands because God’s
commands come from a mind, a

will, and a purpose that is
absolutely perfect.

He would never ask you to do
anything that would not fit His

will for your life.

His will for your life is always
the best choice.

And if you’ll notice in this
passage of Scripture, He not

only promised him that he’d have
an heir, He said, “In fact, you

go outside and look up in the
sky and the stars that you see,

your heirs are going to be like

And then He told him there’d be
four hundred years in Egyptian


And–but He told him that he
would die with–in peace with a

good old age and that he would
have a land of heirs.

So what God promised is exactly
what He did.

Now, that was God’s choice.

He said, “I’m going to make your
name great,” and all of us who

are believers can trace, we can
trace our lineage from today

back through Jesus, back to

And so, I want you to turn to
the sixteenth chapter of


And some years had gone by since
God made that promise to him.

And, “Sarai, Abram’s wife had
borne him no children, but she

had an Egyptian maid whose name
was Hagar.”

A second mistake Abraham made.

When he left home, he was headed
to Canaan, God’s choice land.

When he got there, they were
having a famine, so he goes

south to Egypt, He had no
business bringing her from Egypt

into his family.

So, Abraham was an awesome
choice of God, but he made


And when God says something, He
doesn’t say, “And do this if you

want to, be sure you do this and
do that,” no, He gave him

specific instruction because He
knew what the future held.

So, there’s this maid, “So Sarai
said to Abram, ‘Now behold, the

Lord has prevented me from
bearing children.

Please go into my maid,
perhaps I’ll obtain children

through her.’

And Abram listened to the voice
of Sarai.”

He kept making mistakes.

You’d think a man chosen of God
would listen to God.

But it–I want you to see,
“After Abram had lived ten years

in the land of Canaan, Abram’s
wife Sarai, took Hagar the

Egyptian, her maid, gave her to
her husband as his wife.

He went in to Hagar, she
conceived, and when she saw that

she conceived, her mistress was
despised in her sight.

Sarai said to Abraham, ‘May the
wrong done to me be upon you.'”

Whose idea was this anyway?

“I gave my maid into your arms,
but when she saw that she’d

conceived, I was despised in her

May the Lord judge between you
and me.”

So, you say, “What’s that got to
do with this whole idea?”

Simply this.

You can be holy, godly,
righteous, living a godly life,

but you can make bad mistakes if
you ignore God’s timing.

Just because God tells you you
can have something, the question

is when?

And the question is how and
through whom?

God’s timing is a major issue
with God.

So, she ignored that.

And the result was that this gal
ran away.

And I want you to notice, if you
will, in the eleventh verse that

sixteenth chapter.

“The angel of the LORD said to
her further, ‘Behold you are

with child, and you will bear a
son, you shall call his name

Ishmael,'” now watch that,
“‘Ishmael, because the Lord has

given heed to your affliction.

He will be a wild donkey of a
man, his hand will be against

everyone, everyone’s hand will
be against him, and he will live

to the east of all of his

Then she called upon the name of
the Lord who spoke to her, and,

‘You are a God who sees,’ for
she said, ‘Have I even remained

alive here after seeing Him?'”

and so forth.

And so, look in verse fifteen,
“So Hagar bore Abram a son,

Abram called the name of the son

And Abram was eighty-six years
old when Hagar bore Ishmael to


And so, what we see is simply an
act of disobedience.

Couldn’t wait for God, and
listening to the wrong voices.

And people are still listening
to the wrong voices.

Can’t wait for God, want to have
it now.

Because I don’t understand how
God could do it, I’ll do it


Many people, most people are
living in disharmony with God,

out of the will of God, doing it
their own way because things

didn’t work out like they

God has a plan for your life,
and if you follow His plan,

you’re going to be better no
matter what somebody tells you.

If you follow your own plan,
you’re on your own.

Remember this: that God who
created you, who is infinite in

intelligence, who knows all
about your past, your lineage,

your present and the future.

God has a plan that’s best for
you, whatever that plan is.

But you must learn to listen to

If you don’t learn to listen to
God, how are you going to obey


If you don’t obey Him, how are
you going to experience the

blessings of God.

It’s just that simple.

You teach your children to be
obedient and you live a

disobedient life?

God says we’re to obey Him
because He only has the best for


And so, because of disobedience,
unwillingness to wait for God,

Sarai has her way, but she has
not only her way, but a lot of

days and years of headache and
trial and strife and conflict

and all the rest.

And so, she has a child and
Abraham is a hundred.

Now, why would God wait that

Why didn’t He do something
before then?

Because he wanted to make a
statement to the world, that his

choice, his lineage would be a
miracle from God.

He had a plan.

Watch this, and this is why your
prayer life ought to be so

important to you.

Listening to God, “God, what do
You want me to do?”

And I think about all the things
that transpire in a person’s

life and–which is a perfect
example of what happened here.

We don’t want to wait for God’s
timing, we want to do it now.

For example, you’re going to buy
a house.

Is that the Lord’s will or is it

Maybe you say, “Well, you know
what, we’ve waited and waited

and waited till we waited long
enough, we want it now.”

But you’ve stepped ahead
of God, because

that’s the way it looked.

You didn’t ask God for

I think about people, for
example, who are looking for

positions in life, and one comes
along and they say, “Well,

I better get this.

This is the best I can do.”

You don’t know that.

No telling what God has in mind
for you.

I think about people who are,
who get married.

A few years goes by, twenty-one,
twenty-five, twenty-seven,

thirty, “Oh my goodness, I’m
embarrassed I’m not married.”

You know what?

Don’t jump ahead of God because
of what your friends think.

And many people, many people
miss the best in marriage

because they have got to have it

And they make choices before God
is able to show them who that

person is.

And think about this, God may
show you the person you’re

going to marry.

That doesn’t mean you go to bed
with them that night.

It means that you wait until God
is ready, until you get married.

We live in a society that does
not want to wait for anything,

that wants it now, no matter
what the future price is.

And if people who live in sin,
if they had looked ahead and

made God’s choices, in God’s
timing, life would be totally


Whether it’s making a purchase
or marrying someone or whatever

it might be, going to college,
deciding on a major, “Well,

here’s what I’m going to do.”

Well, have you asked God about

Did God lead you or did He not?

Listening to God is a part of
living the Christian life.

Listening to God is a part of

God who knows it all, who has
planned the best for you, and

you’re going to make your own
foolish, unwise choices because

you can’t wait.

Yes, you can wait.

You don’t want to wait.

And you paid the penalty
for not waiting.

So, look at your own life.

Are you living according to
God’s plan and His will

for your life?

Are you asking Him for direction
and guidance in your life?

Are you asking Him about timing
in your life?

Are you just making up your own

“Well, I don’t have time.”

Yes, you do.

God could take you off the scene
just like that if He wanted to.

You do have time to wait on God.

That’s the best, it’s always the

So, what happens?

We decide we’re going to get
ahead of God.

No, we don’t make those

We just make decisions that
please us for the moment.

And I wish I could tell every
college student, “Before you

make a choice in your particular
vocation and what you want to

do, what you’re going to major
on, you need to ask God.

You don’t want to waste your
time and you don’t want to waste

your life after you graduate.”

But if you decide that you’re
smart enough to make up your own

mind, you don’t need God.

Have I heard that so many times?

You don’t need God; yes, you do!

If you don’t think you need God,
listen, no degree will overcome

your ignorance, if you think you
do not need God.

You can get a BD, you can get a
ThD, you can get any kind

of D’s.

But if you think you’re smarter
than God, you’ve already failed.

So, what happens?

We listen to other people.

“Well, here’s what I think you
ought to do.”

Is that what God said?

Is that what God said, or is
that just what I said?

And oftentimes, people are
deceived by appearance.

I want to marry her because
she’s beautiful.

And so, we make a choice on the
basis of appearance.

That’s not the will of God.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of

“I believe in God, I’m waiting
upon God, but I’m only going to

wait so long.”

Can you imagine telling God you
have a limit on how much time

you’re going to give Him before
you choose somebody to marry?

And you marry them and you begin
a life of turmoil, strife,

separation, and finally divorce.

Listening to God is absolutely
essential to walking with God.

And walking with God is
absolutely essential to living a

life that brings satisfaction
and peace and joy; and

everything you’re going to need,
God’s going to provide.

But, you decide, you know what,
you can’t wait that long.

Your friends are doing this and
your friends are doing that.

You’re not your friends.

Listen, your relationship
doesn’t go from you to him

through her to them and then
to God.

It’s between you and God.

What your friends think’s not an

And if your parents are–or they
pushing you to do something,

that before you can find out
from God, you just say, “We

got to talk to God about this.”

This is why, when I see young
people, I think, “God, give them

godly parents, parents, Lord,
that fit Your will and purpose

and plan for their life because
they’re going to make wrong


Look at all the rioting and all
the things that are going on

in our country.

Where’s Mom, where’s Dad, where
are the grandparents?

Is anybody listening to God?

They would never do that if
they were.

They watch appearances.

Sometimes people, because
they’re afraid of failure,

they’re going to get ahead of

Well, if I don’t do this and if
I don’t do that, and I’m going

to miss out.

Listen to me carefully.

You never miss out obeying God.

God knows all about your future.

He knows also what causes you to

He knows your weaknesses.

He knows the areas that He’s
going to help you through.

When you start out in life
without God, you’re starting in

the wrong direction.

When you submit yourself to Him,
you’re allowing Almighty God,

who knows all about life, to
guide you to make the right

choices every single time.

I think about in my own life, I
was fourteen.

And I knew that God said to me,
“You must preach the gospel.”

It’s the only thing He ever said
to me at that point in my life.

And I went through high school
and through college and I knew

that’s what He wanted me to do,
and naturally, through seminary

and all the rest.

God will tell you what He wants
you to do if you will ask Him.

It doesn’t mean He’s going to
tell you your whole life, but

He’ll tell you the next step and
the next step and the next step

and the next step.

God is interested in your,
listen, your success, if you

follow Him.

It doesn’t mean your success
will always mean that you’re

rich or that you’ll have
everything in life that you want

when you want it.

But it means that your life will
be full, and it’ll be filled

with joy, peace, happiness.

There’ll be some suffering and
heartache and loss, yes.

But ultimately, you will sense
satisfaction and completeness in


People fear they’re going to
fail if they don’t do it now.

That’s the devil’s lie.

The issue is not your age.

The issue is what’s the will of

That’s the key.

And sometimes afraid that we’re
going to miss out on something.

And then, of course, the problem
of unbelief.

“Well, I don’t believe that God
has a plan for my life.

I don’t believe I have to wait.

I don’t believe this, that,”
what do you believe?

In other words, if you don’t
believe in God, what do you

believe in?

If you don’t believe God has a
will for your life, are you just

here by accident, or by–through
your parents?

And it’s all up to you in this
crazy, mixed up,

fouled up world.

Is it all up to you to make a
choice of what you’re going to

do and where you’re going to do
this and so forth.

And I think about how many
students would not be head over

heels in debt, having finished
college and owe two hundred

thousand dollars or more for
their college.

Is that what God wanted you to

He always has our best.

I didn’t say easiest, but it’ll
be our best in the long run.

And so, we pay a penalty when we
don’t wait on God.

Perfect example: Sarai said,
“Listen, I’ve waited

long enough.

I’m getting old and I won’t be
able to have children, so let’s

take this Egyptian slave girl
and let her be a substitute.”

That wasn’t the will of God.

God forgave him, in spite of
what–that wasn’t the only

mistake he made.

But it looked, watch this, it
looked like the simplest, right

thing to do.

You can’t always tell by the way
it looks.

You can’t tell by the way it

You can’t tell by how many
voices there are that agree.

What’s the will of God in your

And so, there’s a penalty we
pay, we step ahead of Him.

And part of that penalty is we
deny ourselves of God’s best.

Think about this, you can go
ahead and make a decision and

you can get by for a while.

You may get by all life, but
have missed God’s best for you.

Listen, we don’t get but one
trip down here.

You do know that, don’t you?

We don’t get but one trip.

Well then, why take a wrong
direction when you don’t

have to?

We deny ourselves of God’s best.

We delay God’s purpose in
our life.

When we take a wrong turn, the
purpose of God isn’t finished,

it isn’t completed.

You’re heading in the wrong
direction, and sometimes people

have to go through disaster
before they surrender themselves

to God and are willing to say,
“Lord, I want Your way

and Your will.

I’ve messed it up.

I’m asking You to forgive me.”

Will He forgive you?

Will He take you
from that point?


Will you be able to fulfill His
will for your life?

Maybe so, maybe not, depends on
what it is.

Does God give second chances?

Third, fourth, fifth,

Ten, eleven, twelve, He gives us
all kind of choices; but each

time we take a leap in the wrong
choice, we lose.

Then of course, we experience
disharmony in our life.

When we don’t wait upon Him,
there’s going to be disharmony.

And so, life creates situations
that create disharmony.

But when we’re committed to Him,
He enables us to walk through

it, to grow in the midst of it,
to be better because of it, and

still follow His will no matter

Then of course, we suffer great
disappointments in life.

Out of the will of God?

You’ll be disappointed.

And I think so many people think
that they’ve got it all


And they head in a direction in
their life, out of the will of


And thinking, “Well, you
know, what can happen in

our situation?”

And surely, as blessed as we
are, we must be doing

the right thing.

Not necessarily.

Your parents may be able to
finance your schooling and part

of your life maybe, but that
doesn’t mean that you’re in

the will of God.

And you’re not going to have
them forever.

The issue is what does God want?

And you have to ask yourself
this question: am I wise enough

to stop in my life right now and
ask the question: Lord, what do

You want for my life?

What are You willing to do
in my life?

What’s the next step for me
according to Your plan

and Your will?

You say, “Well, how do I know
God’s going to speak to me?”

Because He promised to.

He said, listen to this.

He said, He–this is God.

He acts in behalf of the one
who waits for Him.

When you say, “Lord,
I’m not going any–

I need to know Your will.

What’s the next step
in my life?”

God will be there to show
you what that is,

if you’ll trust Him.

But if you don’t trust Him, then
you don’t get God’s guidance.

You can’t have God’s guidance
and live in sin.

You have a choice to make.

Then of course, I imagine that
somewhere along the way, you can

anticipate defeat after defeat
after defeat and maybe

destruction in your life.

Look what happens to people’s

Doesn’t have to be that way.

And so, the issue is how am I
going to live my life?

Am I going to live it according
to God’s will and following Him?

May not have this, that, and the
other, but I want to know, God,

what do You want for my life?

Would you not agree that
happiness, joy, peace and

contentment and satisfaction are
all more valuable than a pile of


They’re all more valuable.

They’re all more valuable than
notoriety and all the rest.

But it’s a choice we make.

We all make that choice every

Am I going to be obedient to God
today or am I not?

Am I going to follow the steps
of a God who loves me


Who’s promised to give me
direction, promised to provide

for my life, promised me the
best, am I going to choose Him?

Am I going to choose the voice
of God, or am I going to listen

to the call of the world and go
that way?

It’s a choice.

And I wish I could speak to
every one of you out there

who’ve already messed up
your life.

You made some choices in life
that, right now, you’re

suffering from.

Let me just tell you this: God
will forgive you if you will ask

Him to forgive you and surrender
your life to Jesus Christ.

And I think about all of you who
are going through situations and

circumstances and you’re into
things you know you have

no business.

It’s wrecking your life,
ruining your future.

If you’re willing to stop and
ask God to forgive you and to

receive Christ as your Savior
and surrender your life to Him,

He’ll take you where you are,
and He’ll change

your life totally.

It’s a decision you make.

If we confess our sins, faithful
and just to forgive us of our

sins is God, and head us in
the right direction.

Would you do that?

You want God’s best?

I can tell you this: no one else
can choose God’s best for you.

God has chosen what’s best.

If you’re willing to listen, you
can experience God’s best.

God is willing to forgive you,
cleanse you, of all your sin and

give you a new beginning.

It is a choice you make.

And my prayer is you will make
the wise choice to change.

He’s listening.

Because remember this, you can’t
change this, listen, can’t

change it.

You reap what you sow.

What have you been sowing?

You reap more than you sow.

Where are you?

And you reap later than you sow.

You cannot avoid or escape what
you sow.

You can be forgiven, but it
doesn’t change all that.

While you have the opportunity,
ask God to forgive you, to

cleanse you.

Ask Him to give you a new

Whether you are sixteen or
sixty-six, you can have a new


Will it be like the original
plan for–God had for your life?

No, but He’ll take you where you

You don’t know whether you’re
going to be sixty-seven or not.

You don’t know how long you’re
going to live.

So, I think if you’ll think
clearly, it’s time you made a

decision between you and God
through His Son, Jesus, and

surrendered your life to Him and
watch Him work.

You’ll be awesomely surprised.

And that’s my prayer for you.

And Father, thank You that You
can rescue anybody.

You’re willing to rescue

The forgiveness that Jesus
provided through His death at

Calvary takes care of every kind
of sin imaginable.

And I pray that every person who
hears this message will stop,

think, confess, repent of their
sin and surrender their life to

You and then watch You work in
this awesome way in their life,

in Jesus’s name amen.