Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2019

001

The tree is put away, the decorations are packed up for next year, and we’re now in the long winter of waiting until spring. We’ve celebrated the glorious announcement of Jesus’s birth; how angels sang, a star appeared in the sky, and wise men traveled from afar with expensive gifts to worship the baby Jesus. The gospels then fast-forward to when Jesus was 12 years old, to let us know that he was a student of the Scriptures and obedient son. But then…nothing until age 30. What did Jesus do for 18 years? He waited until his time had come.

We see this theme repeated throughout Scripture. Abraham was given a promise that he would be the father of a great nation, then had to wait 25 years for the child of that promise. Joseph had a dream as a boy that he would rule, then spent much of his adult life in prison, probably wondering where he went wrong and if he’d missed his calling. Moses was raised in a palace and groomed to be a leader, then ended up herding sheep out in the desert for 40 years. David was anointed by Samuel to be king, then had to wait at least 15 years to assume the throne, spending half that time running for his life from murderous King Saul. Each of these men had something in common with Christ: a calling that would not be fulfilled until later in life. Perhaps you do, too?

Perhaps you’ve felt since you were a child that God intended something great for you. Maybe God planted a dream in you that felt so real, but has yet to materialize; a career or even a family. Perhaps, like Joseph, something went horribly wrong along the way, and you wonder if you’ve been forgotten, passed over, abandoned. Or maybe you were the one who messed up, like Moses, and you assume that the door to the life you were destined to lead has now shut. Maybe it was an anointing for a particular ministry that started off strong, like David’s anointing that led to his defeat of Goliath and won him the love of the people of Israel, but an enemy has done everything he can to prevent you from fulfilling your calling.

How do you wait for a promise to be fulfilled without losing hope, giving up, or trying to force it to happen your own way, like Abraham and Sarah did with Ishmael? Waiting is hard work. Jesus’s brothers tried to goad him into making his announcement as the Messiah in Jerusalem, saying, “You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” (John 7:4). This is the way the world thinks. If you’ve got it, flaunt it! How many times has the enemy whispered similar temptations to us? “You’ll never make a difference in God’s Kingdom if you serve on a small scale. Unless you’re famous, you’re nobody!” But that is not the way of the Father. Jesus would not be manipulated by his brothers, and simply responded, “Now is not the right time for me to go” (John 7:6). Jesus would not force God’s timing, but patiently waited until the Father wanted to reveal his Son to the world. Those who are destined for greatness in God’s Kingdom are often the ones who must go through trials and periods of waiting in obscurity. Why?

Waiting on the Lord teaches us patience and perseverance. Only those who have learned to be patient with wandering sheep can lead God’s people through a desert, like Moses. Only those who have been humbled, like Joseph, can be lifted up without tripping over their ego. When an enemy is trying to destroy us, like Saul who pursued David, we learn to rely on God’s provision and protection. David wrote the most beautiful psalms of trust in God as his fortress. God may be writing a song in you right now that will someday bless others, the way David’s psalms have brought comfort and hope to millions. God may be training you to shepherd his people by herding squirrelly preschoolers through Sunday School.

We tend to think that those who have highly visible careers or ministries are the ones who are “producing fruit,” but there is fruit that can only come forth from a season of waiting on the Lord. Endurance, meekness, and confident hope in God are born in times of trial and waiting. Jesus waited until he was thirty to begin the ministry recorded in the gospels. Until then, he likely worked alongside his father as a carpenter. The fact that people in his hometown refused to recognize him as the Messiah tells us that he didn’t do much that was spectacular as a young man. Yet God was pleased with him.

At the time of his baptism, the Father spoke over his Son the very words prophesied in Isaiah 42:1 about the Messiah: “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him.” Matthew 3:16 reveals the fulfillment of that prophecy: “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.” Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (v. 17). What had Jesus done up until then that brought the Father joy? He fulfilled all of God’s covenant commands perfectly in daily life, and waited patiently for his time of ministry to come. And God was pleased.

Why is it so hard to grasp that God could be pleased with someone who is called to greatness, but hasn’t yet fulfilled their potential? If God was pleased with Jesus in his waiting period, is God any less pleased with me while I focus on raising a family, even though I’ve felt a call to ministry since I was a teenager? Not every calling or promise is a right-now promise. So how do we wait for it to be fulfilled? We wait like Jesus did. We study the Scriptures. We learn obedience to authority and work humbly in whatever work is assigned to us. We fight the good fight against our enemy, Satan, who may actively be trying to undermine the work we’ve been called to do. Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tested by Satan, and all who are called to lead must endure times of testing. We can endure it because we know that all who persevere will one day be victorious over the enemy through Jesus, who gives us the victory.

Abraham did become the father of a great nation and the ancestor of Christ. Joseph was eventually remembered and invited to rule at just the right time. Moses eventually took his place as leader of Israel who would dispense God’s covenant to the people. David eventually rose to be the king who was known as the “man after God’s own heart.” Christ ascended to heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God, the Father. Maybe your calling or promise from God isn’t as grand as kingship, but it’s every bit as meaningful because it’s yours. Hang onto it. Submit to your season of waiting and pray for perseverance. Believe that God is pleased with you for just living out whatever your right-now purpose is, even if you suspect there’s more to come. Keep studying the Scriptures and growing in your relationship with God, the way Jesus did in his waiting period.

How do we know when the time has come for God’s promises to us to be fulfilled or to step into our calling? Only God can answer that, and we can trust him to do it. Sometimes he moves an enemy out of our way, as he did for David. Sometimes he suddenly gives life to that which was barren, like he did for Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Sometimes our destiny arrives as an open door and invitation to do the thing God created us to do, like Joseph. Jesus knew when his time came to fulfill all the promises of God to us, and he is faithful to walk with us while we wait for God to say, “Now!” What if you’re in the latter years of life and fear that you’ve missed your window of opportunity? Moses was eighty when he stepped into his leadership role. Perhaps your time is now and you’ve let past disappointments put out the fire you once had, but don’t underestimate the power of God to rekindle it with a burning bush! Perhaps your greatest ministry is yet to come, either in this life or the next.

When Jesus told the Parable of the Talents (or Parable of the Three Servants) in Matthew 25, he was speaking about the way the Kingdom of Heaven works. We often interpret that parable to mean that we will be rewarded with more responsibility in this life if we are faithful with small things, but the reward of increased responsibility for stewardship may very well be granted in the new heaven and earth when Jesus returns. After all, the reward in the parable was handed out when the master returned, not before. If we could grasp the eternal nature of the Kingdom of God, and understand that this life is just the beginning of the real life yet to come, we would not despise the daily faithfulness of waiting. We would not despise the duties of child rearing and paying bills and emptying the dishwasher for the millionth time if we understood that they can be holy undertakings when influenced by the Holy Spirit in us. When the Master returns, he will reward all those who labored faithfully in small things, just like he did during those 18 undocumented years.

“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Whether the dream God has planted in your heart is a right-now dream or an eternal identity to simply begin living now, keep believing, hoping, and trusting that he is making you beautiful for your time.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »