“If you rush to grab ahold and take possession of the promise too soon, too fast, the land will become a desert to you…you must increase and grow to take hold of the land…the vision…the promise…. God is writing a GOOD STORY…He is a God of both slowly and suddenly” – Pete Greig.
Can I confess? Sometimes I quit too soon. What do you do when what God says doesn’t match up with what you see? When all you see is a big wall standing between your promise and your present situation?
In the summer of 2017, I would learn this lesson. I have discovered that I can endure hardship because I saw the value of what I was pursuing was worthy than the pain of waiting. I’ve learned that I don’t have to stop too soon even if what is in front of me does not make sense at the moment. And there is a reason why I shouldn’t stop. God was preparing the scenes for me.
Joshua, one of my favorite Biblical characters (in fact I named my son after him). God gave Joshua a battle plan to take the Promised Land, and it was as simple, but it was strange. God said, “Go and march for seven days around the city of Jericho, a whole army shouting and priests blowing trumpets (Joshua 6:1-21). As always, God’s infinite ways often don’t make sense in our finite minds. Sometimes you have to be willing to look ridiculous and be radical to live a remarkable life. The choices you make when you feel God’s nudge will become the hinges on which your destiny swings.
The city of Jericho was “tightly shut” (Joshua 6:1). Sometimes it can feel like our promises are “tightly shut” as well. That doesn’t mean we give up. That means we suit up, step up and keep moving forward.
In Joshua 6:2, God said, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” Notice the verb tense. The verb “delivered” was in the past tense. God did not say, “I will deliver Jericho into your hands.” He said, “I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” He had already done it, but the Israelites had to obey and put their foot down to receive it. I love how God speaks in past tense to our present problems.
There will be times when you’re doing everything you know to do, and you still don’t see any movement. The Israelites walked around Jericho for six days, and as far as they could tell, nothing happened. I’m sure it unnerved the people behind the wall, but as far as the walkers could tell, not one brick fell.
This is where many give up — I included — when they don’t see any progress. “God, throw me a sign,” I cry. “Show me a little something! Let me see just a hint of progress! Can I see one brick fall?” And God says, “Keep walking … by faith.” In my journey of faith, God will give me another teaching moment. The biological growth of a seed to a plant.
The Parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29)
Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself, the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
The story is about the power of God’s Word to work on the heart and gives it life. But parable also has a personal application to me Galatians 6 verse 9. This verse encourages me “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Paul, perhaps better than anyone else, knew how wearying the spiritual battle could be. Wars are exhausting —, especially long ones. That’s why you are often tired. Many soldiers, who experience the fierceness of combat, want to get out of it. That’s why you’re tempted to escape. That’s why you’re tempted to give up. But don’t give up. No, rather “take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7). Don’t give up when the field the Lord has assigned you to is hard, and the harvest does not look promising.
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints” (Revelation 14:12). Just because you don’t see God working does not mean He isn’t. Jesus said, “My Father is always working” (John 5:17). The writer of Hebrews notes: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36).
We all long for rest from the fatigue of hoping. God placed the desire for rest in our souls, and he promises to fulfill it: “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (Jeremiah 31:25). Jesus gives rest to “all who labor and are heavy laden” and come to him (Matthew 11:28).
Today, you might be on lap number seven around your “Jericho” and not even know it. Suppose they had stopped on day six, saying, “This is ridiculous. I’m not feeling’ it. Not one stone has fallen to the ground. I don’t see any progress. Those folks are probably in there laughing their heads off. So I’m going home.” They would have missed the blessing.
I remember my pastor’s wife said, “Just lingering. Staying a little longer at your appointed place.” I don’t know the answer to the question of how much longer, but I do know “tomorrow could be the final lap.” Don’t give up too soon.
Here is another story — the Healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19). Naaman was thinking, why should I wash in the muddy Jordan River in Israel when I have clear streams of water in Damascus? Of all the absurd ideas! Note the human reasoning here. The implication is: If a cure comes through bathing in a stream, then I have better streams in which to bathe myself. In verses 10-12 we see the prophet Elisha asking Naaman to go wash in the Jordan seven times.” Supposed Naaman stopped at number six. Do you get my point? Most of God’s call will not make sense to us, but the call will also be aligned with His Word.
(Read more of Naaman story in https://bible.org/seriespage/healing-naaman-2-kings-51-19)
Joseph is another favorite Biblical character. He had a similar story. The story of Joseph (Genesis) is one of my favorites because I feel like I can relate so well to him. Joseph had a dream from God as a youth and instead of beginning to walk out that dream as he imagined he would, he went through a bunch of what seemed like detours, and his life ended up looking a lot different than I’m sure he had imagined. While I’ve never been sold into slavery or wrongfully imprisoned, I have had life go differently than what I had imagined, seemingly in the opposite direction of the dreams God had placed in my heart.
None of us will know or understand the seasons Joseph must have gone through. Imagine, he was promised that his gift of dream interpretation would be remembered and mentioned before Pharaoh, but then that promise was forgotten. He had to continue with no idea how long he would stay confined in captivity. This was already after he had been thrown into the pit by his brothers. His multi-colored coat was a gift from his father, signifying the incredible and huge destiny on his life—his God-given and ordained mantle.
Many of us find ourselves in similar situations, presently standing on, or clinging on, what feels like our last breath. We’re walking, one foot in front of the other, each day wondering: “Is this the day? Is this the day of release when all God’s promises and suddenly will manifest?” Then, waking up in the morning and once again, the captivity is still there. So we cry out to God for His infinite grace. We cry out to the Father for more courage and for more strength to face (and continue walking through) those things in our lives. Things in the natural are threatening to crush our souls, yet, we walk one more step and take one more deep breath.
But today, hear your Father saying: “And yes, I have heard your cry, ‘How long God? How long? It seems the prison walls are closing in on me.’ And here is My promise to you today or weary beloved one: “If Joseph had been released from prison in his time, the time he asked to be remembered before Pharaoh, he would have been released. But released as an ordinary man and gone about his business. But I, the I AM, the One who ordained him, who called him, who appointed him unto a great and incredible destiny—had to ensure that he was passed over and seemingly forgotten or else his destiny would have been aborted. And so, he continued day by day overlooked—seemingly passed over. Such hope that had arisen in his heart was deferred, left to the day-to-day, living with unfulfilled destiny in his heart and the passion of My promises burning in his bones. For I had every day of Joseph’s life written in his life-scroll. And I knew the exact day, the precise hour, the exact moment when destiny would converge. So I had to ensure that while Joseph cried out to Me, ‘Your promise, Father…release me!’—that it was in that holy vortex where Joseph’s destiny and his apostolic mantle to deliver Egypt—would intersect. Therefore, he seemed forgotten. I knew there was another day. A day marked in Heaven. A day marked in destiny when Pharaoh’s heart was ready to be moved. And so, Joseph came before Pharaoh, and he was appointed as second in command to Pharaoh—the deliverer of Egypt. And so it is with so many of you, beloved. Your suddenly awaits you—your heavenly intersection of timing. Your ‘Pharaoh’ and destiny will unexpectedly intersect and oh what rejoicing you will have! Oh, hold on beloved. Hold on, beloved. Hold on to Me. For your suddenly time of destiny will not evade you. It is on its way. It is coming. It is coming and all of Heaven rejoices, rejoices! And I will do things in a day that you have waited for years to manifest. And you shall lift up your head and your eyes to Me, the great Lover of your soul.”
No one can stop the King of Glory fulfill his promises to you. When we pray, we may not see how God is working or understand how He will bring good through it all. So we have to trust Him. We relinquish our rights and let God do what is best.
“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” Elisabeth Elliot
I will wait forever if you ask me to.