And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are–northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.” – Genesis 13:14-16.
When I was saved 33 years ago, I received the first glimmer of God’s call upon my life to preach the Gospel. However, being a baby Christian I quickly forgot about it. In 1979 while my wife and I were sponsors for a group of young people at camp during the summer God spoke to me again. This time it was clear to me that He wanted me to preach His Word and I was willing. Jeanie was not as willing and could see little evidence in my life of any capability of preaching or of being a pastor. This was perhaps one of the most painful moments of my life – hearing God’s call but being prevented from responding. It is difficult having a calling, a vision, a dream from God and not be able to immediately launch out to see it fulfilled.
Abraham encountered something very similar in that God gave him a promise, a dream, a vision, a call when he was about 75 years old but the beginning of the fulfillment of this did not occur until much later. In fact, Abraham was about 25 years older before his first descendant, a son, was born. Think of all those years of knowing what God wants in your life and you want it too but it is not happening. Why Lord? Abraham and Sarah try to bring about the dream through their fleshly efforts. First, they try adoption, and then they try having a substitute mother but neither of those courses of action was God’s will. God had another plan even though it did not seem feasible according to human wisdom.
From the perspective of 24 years, I can see why God used my wife as a timing mechanism. From 1979 to 1990, God moved in my life to grow me and prepare me to be able to be a pastor. Through the hours of prayer about why I was waiting and when the waiting would be over, I came to recognize the Father’s Voice. Through the years of reading and studying God’s Word, I grew in knowledge and wisdom of His will and plan. Through the years of increasing responsibility in the church God molded me into the shape necessary for future service. God did much the same in the life of Abraham. During those years of waiting God molded Abraham into the father that was needed – a father of faith.
I can laugh and rejoice now about how God used my wife to delay and then as an indication that the time had come for the call to become a reality. Because when God revealed through prayer and His Word beyond any doubt His will – Jeanie was more than ready at that point to move forward in faith with me.
Looking back now, I can see that for Abraham and me those years of waiting were not wasted years. No, those were valuable years of preparation for the service that was ahead. Without those years, I would have been at a loss when encountering many of the situations that I have faced as a pastor. With those years, I have been able to be an instrument God could use to a much greater extent than without the years of waiting.
Has God given you a promise, or a dream, or a vision, or a call? Are you frustrated because you have not seen fulfillment? Are you tired of the waiting? Are you anxious to move on to the next stage? It is in the waiting that God prepares you for the fulfillment of what He has for you. It is through the praying and the searching of His Word that you grow to become what is necessary to effectively fulfill all that God wants for your life. Don’t rush this time! Work hard at the preparation that you know is needed before you can be what God wants. Remember God is never late and He is always, always on time.
(Waiting is not wasted time.)