Friday, May 23, 2008

Waiting - Part 1

I know it's been cliché to say this during at least the past decade or two, but I'm going to say it anyway because it's true: "Your way, right away" is not the way of the life of faith!

Generally speaking, we don't learn life lessons "right away." We don't experience answers to our prayers right away. We don't grow right away. We don't have visions and dreams fulfilled right away. We don't overcome obstacles right away. We don't perfect walking by the Spirit right away. We don't put to death the deeds of the flesh right away.

There are exceptions to all of this, of course. Sometimes things happen suddenly, out of the blue. But in my personal experience those things are rare, and in my understanding of God's dealings with man through scripture, those things are rare.

A few examples:

Abraham - God made a promise to Abram that he would have a child, and in fact that He would make him a "great nation." Abram was 75 years old at the time, and he and his family went to live in Canaan (see Gen 12:1-6). After living in Canaan for 10 years, Abram went in with his wife's handmaiden Hagar, and Ishmael (who was not the promised child) was conceived. Finally when Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to him and made a covenant with him and changed his name to Abraham. A year later, the promised child, Isaac, was born.

Five years is a long time to wait for something. Ten years is harder. How about being a 75-year-old man, and being promised a child. You'd probably think, "If this is real, this had better happen soon, before I'm really too old!" (Not to mention the age of his wife, who was 10 years younger than him). And then finally, after 24 years of waiting, the LORD finally reveals that it will happen the following year! A total of 25 years from promise given to promise fulfilled!

And the impossibility of it all! Sarah was a 90 year old woman, and she even laughed at the whole idea when she heard what was going to happen (See Gen 18:9-15). I love how the LORD responded. He questioned Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?'" And then He spoke words that should speak to us all:

"Is anything too hard for the LORD?"

David - David was a mere shepherd boy when the LORD, through Samuel, chose him to be the king of Israel. But it was after many years of war and fighting, and eluding Saul (who wanted to kill him), that he actually became ruler over Judah, and then over all of Israel.

Joseph - Sold into Egyptian slavery by his brothers as a young boy. Later he was wrongfully imprisoned but eventually, after many many years, was made governor of Egypt and his family was able to live there "in the best of the land."

Jesus - Simple carpenter for most of His life as a human being. Most, if not all, people were very surprised when He suddenly, at the age of 30, began teaching with authority and performing miracles, signs and wonders.

Peter - Walked with Jesus for three years. Had times of great faith and times of great doubt. Said he would stick by Jesus and then denied him. Was given the keys of the kingdom by Jesus. Gave a wonderful 'sermon' on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2), leading many to Christ. Years later stood opposed by Paul for his legalistic hypocrisy! As a side note, I guess it's a good thing Peter did what he did because it inspired a speech by Paul that included some great doctrine about being crucified with Christ, dead to the law, and living a life that is really a matter of faith and not law! (see Gal 2:11-21).

There are obviously so many other great biblical examples. These are people who had to wait for years for promises to be fulfilled. They had to go through lots of things, including injustice, mockery, pain, loss - as well as hope, joy, pleasure, other types of fulfillment, etc - before certain things happened. In the "meantime" (during the years they spent waiting) some of them tried to fulfill God's promises through their own means, and there were some dire consequences, but God, who is faithful even when we are not, still fulfilled His plans and His purposes for their lives. Some of them were taught wonderful things by God, and were truly people of faith, and yet had times of not trusting God, and were sometimes slow to learn and slow to appropriate the goodness of God.

But in all of it, they still lived and they still were God's people. They still experienced everyday life. Life went on. And it was good!

The "meantime" is really where life is at. The meantime is now. The meantime is everyday, moment by moment life. I wrote about that about a year and a half ago, so I'll end this part by linking to that.

"In the means-time..." (1/26/07)


  1. Excellent post!! Very re-reminding and reassuring!! Keep 'em comin'!

  2. It's amazing how the real life stories of those who have gone before us can provide us with such reassurance in our own lives!

  3. Very encouraging post, especially ""In the means-time..." post.