How Long, Lord?
You have a sense God has more or something else for you to do.
The Holy Spirit has impressed upon your heart that there is ________ in store for you.
Jesus has given you a vision, a dream to launch a business or ministry for His glory and the good of others.
And yet here you are. In the same spot. It’s as if God has you at the gate or on the runway, but won’t give you the green light to take off. You’ve prayed and cried. Cried and prayed. Fasted and prayed some more. You so desperately want it to come to fruition, and maybe have even tried to make it happen, but the door remains closed. What’s the hold up, God? How long will it be before I see this dream – what I sincerely believe to be Your dream for my life – come to pass? To be honest, I’ve been there…just the other day in fact. Unfortunately I can’t answer those questions. But what I can offer you is some encouragement. Here is an excerpt from my book, “Beyond the Dream: Transitioning from a Dream to its Fulfillment in Your Life.” I pray it strengthens you.
How old was Joseph when he first received his dream from God? He was around seventeen years old (Gen. 37:2, 5). And now how old is he? He’s thirty. Many years passed before Joseph was even in the position to see God’s dream come to pass in his life! From the time Joseph received God’s dream to its fulfillment was at least thirteen years. That is a pretty good length of time. Why am I pointing this out? What does this have to do with you and me? Well, when God placed certain dreams on my heart, I expected it to happen pretty quickly, and you have probably expected the same. What I have come to learn, however, is that God’s fulfillment of His dreams for my life sometimes takes longer than I expect. Knowing this then, what are we to do? Here is the next lesson: Lesson #3 – Be Patient The Practice of Patience That statement seems pretty simple in theory, but in practice, it can be very challenging. I have to be honest here and admit that this was (and still is to some degree) the most difficult part of the process for me. I don’t like to wait, especially when I am waiting longer than I anticipated. Can you relate to that? What made waiting even more cumbersome to me was when I began to see God do similar, if not exact things for other people what I knew He had in store for me. I would ask or say things to God like,
- “Why is it that you are allowing them to [insert your dream job or ministry here] and I am still in my current position?”
- “God, some of them are younger than me,” or “Some of them don’t even have the education or experience I have.” (How arrogant of me, right? As if those two things are the reasons why God should have brought his dream to pass in my life sooner.)
- “God, they didn’t have to wait as long as I am having to” (or at least it seemed that way to me).
- “Is something wrong with me that is keeping me from seeing your dream come to pass in my life right now? Is there something that I am not doing?”
- “Why hasn’t it happened yet?”
- “How long, Lord, is this going to take? You do know how old I am, right?”
And the questioning would go on and on. No matter how many questions I asked or how many times I would come to God in prayer, repetitiously asking the same questions, the Holy Spirit would always remind me to be patient. He would remind me that I was not the only one who has ever had to wait on God and that not all delays are due to disobedience. The Bible is replete with examples. Here are just a few along with some characteristics about God that will prove helpful to you while in this waiting stage:
- Abraham – God promised Abraham that he would have an heir, a son, who would come forth from his own body (Gen. 15:4) through Sarah (Gen. 17:15-16; 18:10). How long did it take before God brought it to pass? Let’s add it up. Abraham departed from Haran, his home, and headed to Canaan at the age of seventy-five (Gen. 12:4). Shortly thereafter God spoke to Abraham about having a son (Gen. 15:4). After Hagar gave birth to Ishmael (Gen. 16), God clarified for Abraham, who was now ninety-nine years old (Gen. 17:1), that he and Sarah would have a son to be named Isaac (Gen. 17:19). Abraham was at the ripe old age of one hundred when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). So from the initial promise in chapter 12 to its fulfillment in chapter 21, Abraham had to wait roughly twenty-five years.
God is all-powerful. Nothing is impossible for Him. Sometimes God will cause us to wait until circumstances are beyond our ability so that we might clearly see that He was the one responsible for bringing the promise (or dream) to pass.
- The People of Israel – After Joseph died a new king arose over Egypt and enslaved the people of Israel (Ex. 1:6-14). God heard the cry of His people (Ex. 2:23-25) and called Moses to lead them out of Egyptian slavery (Ex. 3:1-10). At the time of their exodus or emancipation, the people of Israel had waited 430 years (Ex. 12:41) for God to deliver them.
God is all-knowing. He doesn’t have amnesia. No matter how long it has been since God has revealed His promise or dream to you, He never forgets. What He promised you hasn’t slipped His mind. He hasn’t forgotten about the dream. It will come to fruition. God is sovereign. He reigns and rules! It doesn’t matter who is in charge, or has some form of human authority over you or over a specific situation, or who might be trying to keep God’s dream from being fulfilled in your life, God is ultimately in control and what He desires for you will come to pass. No one can prevent what God has planned for you.
- Hannah – For an undisclosed number of years (1 Sam. 1:7), Hannah petitioned and waited on God for a son and endured the cruelty and provocation of her husband’s second wife (1 Sam. 1:6-7) before God granted her request (1 Sam. 1:19-20).
God is good. We don’t just have a God who is in control and does what He wants; we have a God who is good and who loves us. We can trust that whatever our heavenly Father does for us or allows us to experience (good or bad) it will be for His glory and our good. Romans 8:28 says it this way, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
- David – In 1 Samuel 16 we read about how David was anointed to be king of Israel. He began to rule over all Israel at the age of thirty (2 Sam. 5:1-4). At the time of his anointing by Samuel, David was probably in his teenage years. If this is accurate, then we can safely say that David waited at least 11 years before he became king over all Israel.
- Jesus – The Savior of the world had to wait until he was thirty years of age before beginning his public ministry. And then it took around three years to prepare his apostles and disciples and set the stage for his main purpose for coming to earth, which was to provide salvation to humanity by dying for our sins and rising from the dead. After forty days of appearing to various groups of his disciples, He would later ascend back to the Father, send the Holy Spirit, and launch the church on mission in the world.
But that was not all that the Holy Spirit brought to my mind. After I would question and after I finished kicking and screaming, He began to lovingly yet firmly impress this truth on my heart and mind: My tantrums were not going to change His timing. My sulking wasn’t going to alter His schedule. That was a hard pill to swallow, but it was true. The issue now was how I was going to wait. You see, I had two choices to choose from: 1. Wait on God contemptuously, or 2. Wait on God calmly (and actively). No matter what I chose to do I was still going to have to wait. There was no changing that fact. If I chose number one, then it would demonstrate, among many things, that I trust my own judgment; that is, I think I know when it is best for something to occur in my life. This is a dangerous place to be because when we take on this attitude, we tend to do things in haste and jump ahead of God, or worse, disobey Him. Because obviously—we feel or think to ourselves—God doesn’t know what He is doing, or is unaware of our situation or unable to do anything about it, or He is not good because it has yet to come to pass in the time frame that we think it should if He really cared for us. But none of those things are true about God at all. If I chose number two, then it would show that I trust God’s wisdom, sovereignty, and goodness to fulfill His dream for my life at the appropriate and perfect time, as determined by Him. I used the word actively above because waiting on God usually doesn’t mean that you are just to sit by passively and not do anything. Quite often, God expects us to do something while we wait on Him. While you are waiting on God to provide a job, he expects you to prayerfully do some job searching and send out your resume. While you are waiting on God to give you the green light to start your own business, he expects you to prayerfully put together the business plan. While you are waiting on God to show you which college to go to, he expects you to apply. Here is a truth for you to meditate on: God often works in tandem with us. Do you remember when Moses and the people of Israel were standing at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit behind them? What did God tell Moses to do? Did he say, “Just sit here passively, Moses, and wait on me?” No. He said, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land” (Ex. 14:15-16). As Moses did what he was supposed to do, the Lord did what only He could do, “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided” (Ex. 14:21). You stretch out and God will sweep back. How long is it going to be before you arrive at God’s dream destination for your life? I don’t know. I can’t answer that question for you. But I can encourage you to be patient and remember that God hasn’t forgotten about His plans for your life. He will bring them to pass in due time. Trust that He is in control, has all wisdom and knowledge, and is always good. Waiting on the Lord to do what He has revealed to you will never end in ultimate disappointment. God always delivers on what He determines. You may just have to wait a little bit before you see it come to reality. Wait on the Lord! He will not fail.