“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16, NASB95)
It has been 524 days since leaving Calvary Crossroads Church as an employee. As I left I did so with anticipation that God would soon fulfill the leading that Robin and I had firm confidence was from Him as we responded to staff reductions and changes. There are some days that I look at the length of the wait, and I look at the pressures and even impending deadlines along the way, and I wonder just how long. While I know God hasn’t forgotten us, I sure do wish He would bring about a new position more quickly. Recently a pastor friend, after a disappointment, wrote to me saying, “God is good and faithful, and SLOW, or so it seems to us, or to Abraham & Sarah waiting for the promised child, or to Job waiting for relief, or to John the Baptist sitting in prison. Let your pain push you deeper into Him. You are chosen by Him both now and forever. John 15:16”
My friend reminded me that Abraham and Sarah waited on God to see His promise fulfilled. At 75 years of age Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah) left with their extended family to go to a land which God would show them in order for God to fulfill a covenant He had made with Abram. In Genesis 15 Abram cries out to God about not having the heir that he had expected from God, and God answered him. “Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:4–6, NASB95) And then Abram continued to wait. As Genesis 16 records, it had been ten years since leaving for this new land, and Sarai and Abram tried to take God’s answer into their own hands resulting in the birth of Ishmael by Sarai’s servant, Hagar. They soon discovered that this had not been a good idea, and that things in the home worsened with the tensions between Sarai and Hagar growing. From this point time continued to march on for a few more years, probably from Abraham’s 86th year of age to his 99th, when in Genesis 17 God reaffirms His covenant with Abram and changes his name to Abraham, saying “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. I have made you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.” (Genesis 17:5–6, NASB95) And God did not leave Sarah out of His promise, saying, “Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. “I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”” (Genesis 17:15–16, NASB95)
In relation to our own waiting and our own doubts, by this point Abraham had been waiting nearly 25 years, and His response to God was not one we would expect but one we probably can relate with. “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”” (Genesis 17:17, NASB95) God responded to Abraham by reaffirming His promise, but this time He gave Abraham a time frame. “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.” (Genesis 17:21, NASB95) In the next chapter of Genesis the Lord appears to Abraham again and speaks to him, this time in earshot of Sarah to which Sarah laughed. Scripture records an incredible response of God’s faithfulness. “And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”” Scripture goes on to record, “Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”” (Genesis 18:13–15, NASB95)
It can be so easy for all of us to laugh in one sense or another in response to our waiting on God. But the words of the Lord to Abraham and Sarah ring true for us, just as they did for them, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” And of course, the answer is “NO!”
God kept His promise to Abraham and Sarah and a year later Isaac was born, the first star of countless stars. While Sarah did not live to see Isaac get married and bear her first grandchild, Sarah did know God’s faithfulness in giving her the promised son. Hebrews 11 records of Abraham and Sarah, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:8–13, NASB95)
By various time estimates it was approximately 2000 years from the time of Abraham to the time of Christ’s birth, and by our own calendar we know it to have been a similar 2000 years since our Lord took on the form of man to pay the penalty for our sins through His death on the cross and then took His life back up again through resurrection and is now sitting at the right hand of the Father awaiting that time when all who trust will enter His presence forever.
There are so many examples of people waiting in Scripture. As my friend pointed out Job was one of them as he experienced the most horrible of things in the process. Another is King David, who while being set apart as the second king, endured a long season of being chased for his life in the waiting. Scripture is full of accounts of waiting, and the key in all of the waiting is trusting in our God who holds all time in His hands. That which we consider urgent is seen only from our side. God knows the whole story and He knows the outcomes. It is for us to trust Him, and in learning more of His people and His faithfulness recorded in Scripture we are also encouraged in our own trust.
We’ve been waiting for a year and a half. Abraham waited 25 years for the birth of his son. The Old Testament believers waited from the garden for God’s redemption, and the people of Israel waited for hundreds and hundreds of years. All believers have waited from the cross for our Lord’s return. And all of us are looking forward to a timeless eternity in God’s presence. Putting these things in perspective makes any wait we might have seem very small. But our God is big even for our small.
Peter wrote, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:8–10, NASB95)
Today my intention and my hope is to think and hope in my faithful God, not letting any pressing matter cause me to laugh at Him or even despair in response. The believers referred to in Hebrews 11 believed not yet having received the promise. The Promise has since come and in Him I will place my trust and in Him I wait on both our provision and direction for now and our joining with Him for all eternity.
“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20, NASB95) MARANATHA!
Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (12/4)
My thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways and thoughts higher than yours. Remember who I AM when you spend time with Me. Marvel at the wonder of being able to commune with the King of the universe – any time, any place. Never take this amazing privilege for granted!
Though I am vastly higher and greater than you, I am training you to think My thoughts. As you spend time in My Presence, My thoughts gradually form in your mind. My Spirit is the Director of this process. Sometimes He brings Bible verse to mind. Sometimes He enables you to hear Me “speak” directly to you. These communications strengthen you and prepare you for whatever is before you on your life-path. Take time to listen to My voice. Through your sacrifice of precious time, I bless you far more than you dare to ask.
Isaiah 55:8-9. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Colossians 4:2. Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Psalm 116:17. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.