Years ago someone told me that God had written on His calendar the day that I would meet my future husband, so I should stop worrying and enjoy the single life until that day arrived. If I had known an entire forest would need to be killed to produce the required number of yearly calendars, I may not have responded as well as I did to her words of advice.
What do you do when the promises of God seem not just late in coming, but well beyond their expiration date?
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there is a big difference between enduring and maturing. To endure is to hold on until we get to the metaphorical other side; to mature is to learn something along the way.
Too often I believe we are enduring when we should be maturing. In other words, we are more concerned with the answer than with our attitude.
Hebrews 12:2 says: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus was looking at the fruit, not His feelings.
The Discovery Bible program says the following for Hebrews 12:2: “Joy (5479/xará) is completely grace-dependent and therefore circumstance-independent; ea rthly happiness however is circumstance-dependent. ‘Happiness’ depends on favorable circumstances (‘happenings’); joy depends only on knowing God’s favor (grace).”
Jesus endured because He had the grace to experience the fruit of joy, and so can we. If I’m only watching the calendar until “that day” (I meet the one, the bill gets paid, the relationship is restored, the child is born … ), then I can easily miss the grace available to enjoy the daily journey with an attitude of gratitude rather than an expectation of an answer.
It’s a fine line between the two. I am not saying to stop expecting blessings from God. He wants to bless us, and that’s biblical; but if getting an answer overrides developing my attitude, then I’m missing the point of spiritual maturity.
Recently I was speaking to a group of singles in Asia, and I said to them “I don’t know how to explain it, but I know beyond any doubt that I’m living my best life right now … as a single.”
Do I still want to get married? Yes. Do I wonder why I’ve not had the blessing of children up to this point in my life? Absolutely.
But even in the questioning I still know that God’s hand is directing me. As I’ve sought to radically obey Him every step of the way, He has worked (and is working) all things together for my good … including the things I don’t understand.
For me to believe anything else leaves me open to seeing my heavenly Father through eyes of doubt, which leads to deception, which leads to desertion. Just look at Peter. The moment he began having doubts about Jesus (when Jesus was arrested and Peter denied knowing Him), he opened the door to deception. Not only did Peter deny knowing Jesus, but he was deceived into thinking that was the end for them all, ignoring all the truth Jesus had spoken to them over the past three years. Then he went one step further and deserted his calling by returning to the safety of the sea. That is, until he had an encounter with Jesus in John 21 and was reminded of the power of love.
It was that love that reignited the calling and that calling that enabled Peter to endure the challenges yet to come in his life … ones he could now face with the maturity of knowing the God in him was stronger than the unanswered questions surrounding him.
Part of the reason I wrote The Power of a Promise was to look intently at the question of trusting God when a promise seems late in coming.
How do you hold on? Should you hold on? Where is God while you are holding on?
These questions and more are explored in the book as we look at six key stages a promise must go through until fruition. Jesus is our best example — He was the promise given before time began and the one that endures as a legacy long after time is finished.
So it is with our promises: They may look different than we expect, but in Christ they carry influence that leads us further than we dream.
We can trust His love. And yes … we can also trust His calendar.