I used to think the most frustrating part of the Christian walk was talking to God and not being able to hear Him, feeling like He wasn't listening. I've been there, and when I was there, it felt like I would never come out. Thankfully, I've been delivered from that, but in the years since, I've discovered something I think is even worse. So far (at least for me), the most frustrating thing in the Christian life is knowing full well what God has promised and having to stand on those promises even when you don't see the manifestation of them.
I grew up in church. I accepted Christ at the age of 6. I went to the altar by my own volition, but I based my need for salvation on what I'd heard from my mom, my aunt, and grandma, and who they told me God was. Around age 20, at what I thought was rock bottom, I got to know Him for myself, but even before then, I knew what He said about me. Prophecies of greatness have been spoken over my life since before I was born. I've always been told that He would use me to do miraculous things. I know what God has promised me, but I haven't seen it yet. In last week's post, I said I didn't mind waiting, but I retracted that statement and admitted that I actually do mind. I'm waiting for so many things, and the truth is, I mind all the time. I get frustrated because I know who He's called me to be, but I'm still figuring out what I need to do and where I need to be to carry out the assignment that He's given me.
The Church teaches us to trust God and lists all these things He'll give us if we put our lives in His hands. They don't tell us that accepting Christ as Lord means entering into a perpetual tug-of-war between flesh and spirit, heart and mind, holiness and worldliness...prosperity gospel doesn't cut it anymore. Spiritual warfare is REAL.
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Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't trust God. It's just, I'm growing tired of being stuck in limbo, in the distance between the declaration of the promise and the fruition of it. I want to see it, and I want to see it NOW...but the thing is, I know good and well it doesn't work like that. I know that "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV), but that doesn't make it any easier. In fact, I think that makes it more difficult because it makes us want to ask Him, How much longer? When will it be my turn? It's like being in timeout. I feel like I'm facing a wall, and every time God hears me grumble under my breath in complaint, he adds another minute, another day, another month, another year to my wait.
I strive to live life on fire for God. There's nothing I love more than spreading His light and His message, but it's hard to encourage others when I feel stuck. The other day, though, still in "timeout," I realized something: This "I don't mind waiting...but hurry up!" attitude is basically the same as being lukewarm. Even in the in-between stages of life, this walk is all or nothing. In or out. Hot or cold. Black or white.
If, like me, you're waiting for something, ask yourself this: If God gave you what you're asking for right this second, would you be able to handle it? Could He trust you with it? For children, timeout is often a consequence of wrongdoing, but for Christians, that's not always the case. Sometimes, God puts you in the corner so that you will have no choice but to take time out to hear from Him. The season of "timeout" teaches us several lessons. First and foremost, it teaches us patience. It forces us to stand still and know that when the time is right, we will no longer be confined, limited by what seems to be in our way. Not only that, it also makes us appreciate the freedom that is afforded to us when we can finally come out of the corner.
The good news is, timeout is temporary. It might feel like punishment right now, but it's actually for our good! Romans 8:18 says, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (NIV). So, don't get discouraged. It may not be comfortable at the moment, but take comfort in knowing that every promise God made, He will keep, no matter how long the wait seems. Timeout is almost up!
In the meantime, let's shift our focus to show Him that we can be trusted. As my granddaddy and I used to sing, "I'll just say, 'Thank You Lord' / And I won't complain!"