Of the many flaws in my character (and the one that has caused the most heartache), is my need for instant gratification. As the years have gone on, my trust in Him has increased. Consequently, I tend to be more patient now than in my younger years. Still, my desire to see things happen sooner rather than later tends to be more my cup of tea.
God, on the other hand, often takes a very different approach. In Exodus 23:29-30 He reaffirms His promise to give to the Nation of Israel the land that was first promised to Abraham. Here’s what God said to Moses (speaking of the inhabitants of the Promised Land):
But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land.
My thesis is this: “We must learn to trust the time frame in which God fulfills in us that which he promised.”
Note also that God was not making them wait simply to build their faith. Rather, He had their best interest in mind when He announced to Moses that a gradual pace is in order. Just because God promises you a certain something, don’t look for it to come in a time frame that best suits you. Paul, in his writing to the church in Rome, seemed to have a good grasp on this concept. (See Romans 8:24-25) Abraham didn’t wait on God’s promise of a son but rather fathered a child outside of God’s plan and God’s timing. As a result, Abraham had the duty of caring for Ishmael – a burden that God never meant for Abraham to carry. When we fail to wait for God’s timing and choose to launch out on our own, we often end up caring for something that, with patience, God would have done for us.
Often what seems to be a delay is merely a time of preparation from God. It may be as simple as The Lord placing events and people in a place to make the dream come true. For the Israelites it was a population increase that was needed. Joseph’s dream came true but not until he was sold into slavery and accused of rape. But when the time was perfect God fulfilled everything that Joseph could have dreamed and more.
P.S. They stayed in their situation for 40 years. That was their fault!
Doug Rea is senior pastor of Connections (www.ConnectionsAlbany.com).