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When I was an Army chaplain, inevitably, a group of soldiers and I would end up waiting on someone, somewhere. Maybe a truck that was supposed to carry us was late; or the truck bringing the food hadn't arrived yet; or a higher-up had forgotten a detail. In every case, we ended up waiting for the quartermasters to show up, so we could draw our equipment for a trip.
Our motto in the Army was, "Hurry up and wait." The army knew that invariably, there would be delays in a soldier's schedule. Rather than having a group of privates wasting time, the company sergeant would have everyone pull out their small army handbook and engage in "hip- pocket" training. He taught from the book, referring frequently to its contents to reinforce the training. The sergeant turned the soldiers' waiting time into learning time.
In a similar fashion, God wants to turn our waiting time into learning time. God does have a habit of wanting to train us in some aspect of learn three things that God teaches us about as we wait:
God may use the wait to help us understand His ways.
the Christian walk whenever He finds a chance. In today's lesson, we'll "God made great and marvelous promises, so that His nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world" (2 Peter 1:4).
"You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God's right side. Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth. You died, which means that your life is hidden with Christ, who sits beside God" (Colossians 3:1-3).
God wants us to learn to see things from His perspective. His viewpoint is how things truly are. Hidden motives cloud our vision. Delusions we chose to believe and satanic lies confuse our perceptions. What's convenient also molds our outlook. The best place to learn God's perspective on a variety issues is His word (Psalms 119:9-11). But, sometimes the Lord wants to teach us based upon the experiences He allows us to navigate.
Let me use an example of how God wanted to teach me something about Himself. I've commissioned a local jeweler to handle a project. Originally, he said, "Oh this shouldn't be more than a week. I don't have much on my plate right now." Well, now the venture in going on the third month. Even after several phones calls, showing up at the shop several times, etc. the job isn't finished. The jeweler is a one-person operation, so there are delays associated with working with a sole proprietor. And his close friend died, for whom he became the executor of the estate.
But three months! I didn't list "patience" among my prayer requests. Was something more than the guy's tardiness going on here? Then God spoke to me, saying that I often put Him in the same position when He wanted to get something done. He'd commissioned me to do a work. He hoped that the project would be completed in a reasonable timeframe. And He'd often contact me to ask me about His project. God wondered why I let so many other priorities eat up my time, when He had placed His request before the others.
God didn't sidestep the process by taking the job away from me. He knew I did good work, based on previous things He'd asked me to do. The Lord was grieved when I told Him His project had first priority, But then my actions proved it wasn't. I get chills writing this. So, why would God want me to see things from His perspective? If I knew how my lack of timely obedience hurt the Lord, maybe I'd not allow other things to come before Him.
Another issue loomed behind the incomplete project: the death of the jeweler's friend. The jeweler's grandfather had founded a local charismatic church. Somewhere along the way, the fellow got away from those roots. He openly claims not to be a Christian. I'm sure some of his relatives have tried unsuccessfully to draw him back to Jesus.
Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
How I react to him, even though the project's late, is more important than a trinket. When his friend was dying, my phone calls centered on the process he was going through. I offered to listen to him on more than one occasion, should he want to talk with someone outside his family and friends. I've confessed Jesus before him. My hope is that God will use my actions to move the jeweler closer to accepting Jesus. I want to be a stepping-stone, not a stumbling block on the road to his salvation.
This is only one example of what God may want to teach us about Himself and His ways while we wait.
Waiting on God often involves gaining a legacy instead of just getting a temporal leg-up. God doesn't intend to withhold any benefit we might receive from the answered prayer. Instead, He wants others to benefit from our good fortune and perhaps bless the future believers.
Choosing a legacy means following God's way instead of our own. Typically, the enemy presents a fleshy path to attain a God-promised dream. He does so when we grow weary of waiting on God. The wilderness and hunger wore heavily on Jesus (Matthew 4:1-3). Years of waiting for a throne in drafty caves soaked into David's bones 1 Samuel 22:1-3; Psalms 142). The enemy's option appeals to our carnal desires; his schemes promise a quick end to our waiting. His plan promises fulfillment instead of frustration, and his proposal seems to have worked in the lives of others.
Jesus and David, His forefather, both could have taken easier paths to possess their promised kingdoms. A throne and a crown awaited them both. However, each would have gained a different throne and crown, had they followed the uncomplicated solution. Jesus knew the only way to obtain the crown in glory was through a crown of thorns. David sensed a righteous scepter wasn't gained by unrighteous schemes.
David (1 Samuel 24:4-8) and Jesus (John 7:2-10) went against the advice of their families and friends when they decided on God's path. Each person chose the more difficult way, and thus obtained a legacy that blessed those who came after them. God isn't obligated to bless the fruit of the easy path. Abraham begged God make Ishmael the child of promise. But God said, "No" (Genesis 17:18-21). So, if an alternative to God's plan appears, consider the outcome of your choice.
The waiting room becomes a place where the seed of the dream dies. Did you ever think that you'd feel like holding a funeral while you're waiting for God to fulfill His promises? Jesus, in looking toward his destiny, said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24).
And Paul, when he wrote eternal life to come, said: "You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies..." (1 Corinthians 15:36).
Why would God do this? Resurrections bring God the greatest glory. Prior to the death of a dream, if it is fulfilled, the credit for its accomplishment goes in some measure to us. Even if God has facilitated the entire process, we often grab the glory.
God doesn't like to share glory that belongs to Him: "I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images" (Isaiah 42:8).
God also disrupts destinies when someone garners glory that belongs to Him.
"On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. The people kept crying out, 'The voice of a god and not of a man!' And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died" (Acts 12:21-23).
What does it mean for a dream to die?
First, you come to a place of confusion. Death bewilders people, especially when the person died before they reached their potential. "Struck down in his or her prime" is a constant refrain in funeral homes. The same feelings surround the demise of a dream. Wasn't this project supposed to become something big? What happened? Where was God when my dream perished?
You come to a place where you can't see how God can accomplish what He promised. Once, you thought you knew how God would bless you. Now, you don't see how He can do it. The danger is that if you can't figure how God is going to bless you, you might conclude that He doesn't mean to bless you. Sow a dream and reap a destiny: That's the stuff of bumper stickers. But between those poles lies death. And nothing short of a resurrection can bring your dream back to life.
How long do we have to wait until the Lord resurrects a dream? Jesus waited until Lazarus was quite dead before he came to raise him. He waited so long, that Martha's brother began to decompose. Things stunk (John 11:39). The dream may lose its attractiveness before God raises it up.
The only part we have to play at the point of a potential resurrection is obedience to what God says to do, despite how things appear (Proverbs 3:5-6). Jesus asked Martha to do something unreasonable. He told her to remove the stone that sealed Lazarus' tomb (John 11:39-41). Jesus also told Peter do something irrational, before he performed a miracle that defied explanation. He told Peter to go fish in empty waters (Luke 5:1-11). God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:2). What will God ask you to do? Will you be willing to do it?
Second, you come to a place where no amount of faith posturing changes your situation. David became so familiar with caves, he fancied himself a bat. He had been a man of faith, slaying a lion, bear, and then the Philistine giant, Goliath. But God had to teach him a new kind of faith, a new level of trust. In the past, David rose up against impossible odds to shatter his enemies. His own strength and martial skill served as the jumping-off point for God's miracles. Now, David felt a check in his spirit. God communicated with him that he wasn't to kill Saul.
So, David had to depend on God to deliver Saul's kingdom into his hands. God was taking His sweet time about it. That required David to walk in a higher level of faith than he had before. Though he wavered at times, David waited on God through thick and thin, until the throne fell to him.
Third, the "death of the dream" crucifies parts of self that are associated with our destiny. God wants to remove the part of self that contaminates the seed. God desires to remove self from the seed, like doctors attempt to remove cancer from a body. Chemotherapy involves killing the cancerous cells. In the process, other, non-cancerous parts of the body are brought near to death.
In addition, removing self from the dream involves tearing down idols and disrupting altars. Many of us live in a barren "in-between," where we can't be happy until we receive the concrete answer to our prayer. Our desired end becomes an idol we can't live without. We also set up altars to what we're willing to do to achieve that end. God has His work cut out for Him. And, we wonder why we have to wait? Who's standing in line for whom?