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“If it seems slow in coming, wait. It's on its way. It will come right on time.” – Habakkuk 2:3
Sometimes it feels like things are just taking too long. 'Things' could be getting the right job, starting a new project, finding a life partner... and the list goes on. We can feel rushed, like time is running out and we are slowly falling behind our peers. It’s all too easy to become frustrated, anxious or desperate seize any opportunity that emerges. After all, life is a ‘hustle’ and we all compete in the rat race. Right?
Maybe not. Psalm 37 says;
“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. .
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn” Psalm 37:3-6
Throughout this Psalm we're encouraged to “wait on”, “trust”, “commit to” and “be still before” God, even when it seems like everyone else is progressing by any means necessary. Why would the Bible, which is supposed to be the ultimate guide to life, encourage us to stand still in a world where everything moves so fast?
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes [in Me] will not be in haste.’” - Isaiah 28:16
Like many people going through life, I have been confused and unsure about the pace of specific things, for example, my career. But these sayings gave me a lot of peace; because if I believe in and lean on Jesus there should be no need to rush and race others, because he has made ‘everything beautiful in it’s time’. And yes, while God can accelerate processes, most of the time we will find our patience being stretched. Learning to wait gives us space to mature, strengthen our faith and fully rely on God by trusting that He is working it all out for our benefit (as the Bible says). Waiting isn’t always easy, but with God it’s always worth it.
An example of this is in the life Jesus himself. After feeding 5,000 people with very little food, everyone was amazed at what he had done. “Knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, [Jesus] withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” – John 6:15 (emphasis added)
The prospect of being crowned king isn’t such a bad idea. If I was there with Jesus, I probably would have said something along the lines of 'definitely go for it, isn’t this why you said you were coming in the first place? The crowd loves you and being King is definitely an upgrade on your current job as a carpenter/roaming preacher. Seize the opportunity to develop your career’. It would have been strange to see Jesus withdraw from the crowds of people to be by himself – where was his ambition? His tenacity? Some things I learned from this were:
1) 'Good opportunities' may not be right for you at this point in your life. But it’s very difficult to tell in the midst of all the general busyness of our daily lives. Most times, true clarity comes when it’s just God and us. When we take a breather. Taking the time to stop and think brings clarity to situations, as even the most attractive opportunity may lead us down the wrong path (Proverbs 14:12). This is what it means to distinguish between a 'good thing' and something which is from God (more on 'Good or God' at the end of this post). We should never feel pressured to go at the pace society expects us to
2) Waiting on and trusting God is a habit. It's interesting to see that Jesus withdrew “again” to a mountain. On various occasions we see him separate himself from the hustle and bustle of life as to get clarity (Mark 1, Luke 6). Patience and waiting, like most important things in life, needs to be practiced regularly to have an impact in our lives
This is what will keep us focused on our own personal journey, the Right Path. Taking time with God reminds us of the specific promises and plans he has for each of us, both individually and collectively. He always finishes what he starts (Isaiah 55:11), you can trust that without obsessing over the pace.
Some questions that came up while I was writing this post:
Q: How do I hear from God while I’m waiting?
A: Primarily through God's spoken Word – the Bible. Also, by praying and ‘doing life’ with other people who are on their own journey with Jesus. I’ve found these three things, in that order, bring clarity and direction to life when things get a bit frantic. God also speaks in a number of other ways to different people, for example some people have a strong feeling while others might have dreams. You’ll discover the way(s) in which God speaks to you as you grow in your relationship with Jesus. Like all things on this journey, none of us are 100% there yet, so don’t be daunted, just start somewhere
Q: Does this mean I should be passive or take a back seat in the things I’m passionate about?
A: Definitely not. Waiting on God helps find the healthy balance between living a passive, inactive life and frantically running from opportunity to opportunity trying to fill our lives with meaning. God expects us to step up and make the most of God-given opportunities and dreams. But if you're feeling rushed and desperate to progress your life prematurely, it's worth pausing for a moment...
Q: I think I’ve acted a bit too quickly in a certain area of my life and now I don’t know what to do…
A: In short, with God it's never too late to reroute. He will make up for lost time, nothing is wasted with Him
Sidenote: I’m currently doing a YouVersion reading plan on distinguishing between whether an opportunity is a “Good or God” opportunity. It’s also based on this book by John Bevere, which is on my reading list. Enjoy!
For more posts, resources and thoughts for your journey, subscribe by clicking the box below:© Copyright Noterie, 2015
Dawn Chere Wilkerson, Colour Conference 2015
This the first of a series of posts related to Colour Conference London 2015 and before I go any further, I have to say it was a truly life-changing experience. Despite buying my ticket with immense hesitation, wondering why an (in my mind) elongated church service worth my time and money - I was genuinely blown away. Nothing I can really say here will truly reflect how amazing it actually was, I would simply encourage all women to register for 2016 here.
The reason I'm saying all this is because I personally feel like the experience of the messages preached by our inspirational speakers can never be replicated in my writing. Swiftly moving on...
Our story starts with Hebrews 11, also known as 'The Hall of Faith'. This chapter documents how the faith of the people mentioned had a lasting impact on their lives and the lives of others - one of which was Sarah the wife of Abraham. Sarah had what Dawn Chere calls a 'Slow Burn' type of faith. This faith is like dynamite - it may lie waiting quietly for a while, but when the time is right it has the power to change everything. This is the type of faith we need in our lives, faith that lasts, no matter what the situation is, no matter how long the journey may be. This faith is immoveable and constant because it reflects a God who is immovable and constant, who always does what He says He will do (Numbers 23:19).
Let's consider Sarah's story in more detail
We learn that when God tells she and Abraham that she will have a child, despite being past the age where she could have children. The concept was so ridiculous that Sarah "laughed to herself" (Genesis 18:12) because her "womb was dead" (Romans 4:19) the level of faith that she was expected to have in this situation was beyond all scientific and situational probability. Nevertheless the Bible tells us that "by faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised." (Hebrews 11:11). In the end, God did keep his promise, as she then gave birth to Isaac and Abraham became the "father of many nations" just like God had said in Genesis 17:4-5
Looking to our own lives, how do we develop the slow burn faith that Sarah had?
Remembering who God is will sustain strengthen your faith, as the author of Psalm 119:59 (MSG) writes "When I took a long, careful look at [God's] ways, I got my feet back on the trail [He] blazed" - we have have proof all around us of God's power to turn around a seemingly dead situation around and when we remind ourselves of this we will also receive the strength that Sarah received. God reminded Sarah herself that "is anything to hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14). If we truly believe God is who he says He is, then the answer will always be no, nothing is too hard, no situation is too bleak for him to restore.
Keeping your eyes fixed on what Jesus has done, is doing and will do will sustain your faith until the end. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Feel encouraged that regardless of how we feel, the fact remains that God who started this work of faith in you will definitely complete it (Philippians 1:6)
Don't focus on your limits and inabilities, because God's abilities are limitless. Where is does our confidence truly come from? Is it in our achievements, our connections and our accolades or is it firmly based on the One who has done incredible things in our lives, even when we didn't ask for it and when we didn't want to engage him? When we start to believe Him more (see point 2.), instead of focusing on what we have or don't have our faith will go from strength to strength.
While you're waiting your prayer to be answered, be encouraged that:
There is faith in your frustration. Even when you feel hurt and upset by the wait, by holding on to what you believe your faith is being continually built up - although it may not feel like that and you may not feel like you're doing it right.
Faith isn't always attractive or smooth sailing, sometimes situations get gritty and tough, we feel we're in a battle and that's okay, it's not always going to feel nice and easy, but the that fact remains is that God will answer you.
After all those years of waiting for the child Isaac, Abraham is sent to take him away to be killed. Yet when Isaac and Abraham are on the mountain - God provides a lamb for the sacrifice and Isaac doesn't have to die. In the same vein, as you're waiting, don't ever think your dream or promise has died, God is providing the solution, sometimes we just have to wait longer than we expect.
You don't need to wait until we get what we want in order to have your 'testimony'. Your testimony is in the fact that you have lasted this long, waiting on God to come through: He has sustained you throughout. So be encouraged, and remember that for every trial we face our faith becomes stronger than ever.
"Like pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine" - 1 Peter 1:7
© Noterie, 2015