During our last Destiny conference, I answered a man who had asked my opinion about a perplexing matter in his life that is still fluid, still in motion. I cautioned against making a final decision before God has done the same. I quoted a line of poetry written by Francis Quarles. It’s still in my mind today.
“Judge not the play before the play is done:
Her plot has many changes.
Every day speaks a new scene.
But it’s the last act that crowns the play.”
We live in a time of strong opinions and quick decisions, and that doesn’t always serve the Christian leader well. We watch the unfolding drama of our lives and act as if we know what the script says. We don’t. Only the author knows what they’ve written for any character in their story, and while we know the consensus of the story, there are plot variations and changes in every scene. We know that Jesus is the Author of our story, and He doesn’t tell us what all will unfold in our story.
It’s doubtful many notable characters in Scripture would have written their story the way it unfolded in reality. David is unceremoniously anointed to be the next king of Israel, and then he is resigned to writing his songs and leading worship for mute sheep who can’t appreciate what he does.
Leaving Egypt as a fugitive murderer to end up talking to a burning bush on the back side of the Midian desert would not have been the scene Moses would have written. But, these are the scenes God used in the drama of their lives.
When David was returned to the wilderness to watch sheep with anointing oil still in his hair, and when Moses flees Egypt with a murder warrant chasing him, both characters left the stage they thought was their story. In both stories, the palaces went on with kings and pharaohs, and storylines that never mention David or Moses are written. Both men were effectively written out of the scene.
God may have you written out of a scene right now. If you are watching the play go on, and you are waiting in the dark wings, don’t substitute misunderstanding with unbelief. Don’t misunderstand the scene where God has you now. You and I often make the wrong call when we try to explain something God is doing. I’ve learned an expensive lesson more than once. Don’t try to speak for God when He is purposely silent.
Recently, I wrote extensively in my book about Elijah, The Changeover Principle, and the whole out-of-the-scene scenario that was happening to him. He had a dramatic confrontation with Ahab in the king’s palace, and then Elijah was driven into obscurity—and into the worst drought Israel had ever seen. Elijah had no way of knowing that his headline moment in the palace as God’s most recent crier would be followed by three years of obscurity.
But God was setting the stage to use Elijah on Mt. Carmel to call fire down from heaven. It seems clear in retrospect God wanted Elijah to have utter dependence on Him before fulfilling such an important mission. But know this—Elijah didn’t know why he was separated and alone, far from the palace where his last big scene happened.
It’s highly likely Elijah felt God had moved his role in the drama to one of insignificance. If you feel you’ve been written out of God’s script—whether in family, church, business, community, or whatever—remember that your character must go where the Author writes, for He is the only one who knows the whole story.
Elijah was hidden from the center stage for a grand purpose. So was Moses. So was David. So was Jesus. So are you. God’s leaders must be separated and prepared. No exceptions. God hides His greatest people while He is preparing them and their situation for a great entrance and miraculous season. Almost every great leader in the Bible has a wilderness period where they are separated and prepared. You will be no exception.
You may be in one of those preparatory seasons of life. If you don’t know why God has you in a lonesome place, far from the role you think you are to play, it would be easy to misinterpret God’s design. Sometimes, when God moves our character off the center stage, it’s easy to mistake God’s silence for God’s judgment. Don’t be discouraged: God is really preparing you.
Your separation is your preparation for another scene. Don’t view your present situation as a season of abandonment. You have been called to play a role in God’s kingdom masterpiece. But sometimes, when you play your role, the lights go out, and you’re in the dark. That darkness on life’s stage can be easily misinterpreted—none of us see well in the dark.
However, I have learned a secret: the darkness on the stage is simply hiding the setup for a new scene. It’s always dark while the stage is being set. When the stage lights come back on in all their brilliance, the setting for your future role will be in place. And there is no dialogue between scenes. Don’t mistake silence to mean the show is over. The lights are going to come back on, and when they do, the scene may not be anything close to what it was when they went dim.
Finally, don’t judge the play before the final act. If you walk out on a play at intermission, it is highly likely you’ll judge the play incorrectly, because your judgment came too soon. The moment you walk out, the playwright has more development of the storyline, and the characters have more to do.
If you judge what God’s doing in your life too soon, you’ll likely get it wrong. That’s what happened with the disciples. They made a premature decision about the scene that was unfolding the day after Calvary. They walked away in Act 2 of a three-act play. Jesus wasn’t done, and they weren’t either.
Neither are you.
Pastor Brett Jones is a pastor, speaker, and author of the new book The Changeover Principle: Mentoring and the Art of Servant Leadership. Pastor Brett, along with his wife Gizelle, serves as senior pastor of Grace Church, a multi-campus church with locations throughout the Houston area. Considered a mentor by many leaders, Pastor Brett is a lover of books, leadership, and communication. He has been married to Gizelle for 43 years, and together they have three children and two grandchildren, all of whom bring much joy.
This article was originally published in the 2023 Fall Edition of the Destiny Magazine. You can find the online edition here.