It only takes a short amount of time to read from chapter 12 to chapter 21 in the book of Genesis. If you read a chapter a day, it would only take 10 days. The promise that Abraham received in chapter 12, however, took 25 years before Isaac’s birth is recorded in chapter 21. That’s a long time to wait on a promise! Hebrews 6:12 encourages us to be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. The church talks a lot about having faith and receiving the promises of God, but often patience is forgotten. We want it yesterday! When the answer doesn’t come quickly, we tend to waver and struggle with unbelief.
In a day of instant everything, it is important to remember that God takes time to work. He could have finished creation in one day, but instead took six. Many people still have a wrong idea about God, thinking that He is like a great magic genie that can do anything at any time, but that’s not correct. Why didn’t He just fix everything immediately after Adam sinned? Why did it take 4000 years for the messiah to finally appear on the scene? Why did the disciples have to wait until Pentecost for the Holy Spirit to come?
Perhaps you are feeling discouraged because something hasn’t turned out right for you, or certain prayers seem to be going unanswered. Remember that God loves you, and He has already heard. He is the wise and loving Father. Certain conditions might have to first come together, maybe in the situation, or perhaps even in you. We don’t let children drive cars until we know they are ready. We wouldn’t give a load of money to someone who doesn’t know yet how to manage it. The season may not be here, or perhaps you might have to stand on the promise and rebuke some spiritual enemies. But there is peace in patience. We are not talking about gritting teeth and waiting, but resting and trusting.
God cares and has already got it under control. It’s yours in due time. Through the Bible we see the concept of a proper or due time:
Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee (Isaiah 49:8).
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1Peter 5:6).
Now here’s where the place of rest is. The Word doesn’t say that God’s mighty hand is going to crush you and humble you. It says to humble yourself. God’s mighty hand isn’t pressing you down, it’s there waiting to lift you up. But you have to humble yourself and allow Him to do His work. It’s not talking about lying in the dust and groveling. It’s talking about lifting up your hands in praise and saying, “I’ll let you take care of it Lord!”
We often get like back-seat drivers with God. We want to navigate and tell Him what to do. We try to manipulate things to work out for us the best we know how. I am learning to wait on Him, to be patient, to humble myself and say, “You take the wheel.” Then He will lift me up in due time, not too soon and not too late. He knows what to do.
I remember in China visiting several remote villages. There were people groups in those places that didn’t speak standard Chinese. I remember feeling terrible once, thinking, “even if we were allowed to preach here, we couldn’t do it!” I was just learning Chinese, but these people spoke their own completely different language.
Sometimes we can feel helpless as a baby, but we don’t need to be a baby about it! At least, I didn’t need to feel so down. Years later, I met some tribal Christians from Thailand. They spoke the right language, and I was able to bring them into some of the very places where I had before felt so helpless. The gospel was preached and heard! God has His ways, ways that you might never have dreamed of.
It is through faith and PATIENCE that we receive the promises. Don’t give up too soon. And know that by being patient, you are being godly.
Gardeners or Gardens?
God is patient, and when we are patient, we are like Him.
Jesus often spoke of the kingdom of God in relation to seeds. In Matthew 13:19 the seed is the word of the kingdom. Later in the same chapter, verse 38, the seeds are the sons of the kingdom. In Mark 4: 26-29, the kingdom is likened to the way a seed grows. Then in Mark 4:30-32 the idea of growth is continued in the progression of the mustard seed.
So we get the idea that God is a gardener. This means that He is patient just as a farmer is patient, and is even called the God of patience in Romans 15:5. The kingdom works according to gardening principles, and is not according to how we often would have it. We are more like city folk who grab for the conveniences. We want answers now. We want our healing now. We want our situations resolved NOW! But God works according to His own ways, and in His own setup, He is patient like a farmer. We, on the other hand, often expect a yield of fruit when we haven’t even planted any seed!
As sons and daughters, made in the image of God, we also need to think of ourselves as gardeners. Most don’t see themselves this way. Many in the church see themselves only as the garden. They exist only to be fed and watered, and when things aren’t going well they find themselves wavering in the faith. Patience is difficult in this “I’m just the garden” mindset. But if you renew your mind and understand that you are more than a garden, and that you are actually gardening, you can find patience more easily.
You’re not just a receiver. You should see yourself as a sower. You are here to bring life to your world. Then you understand that a field takes time before it produces. You understand that a garden doesn’t just appear overnight. And as farmers well know, there are factors that are beyond your control, you rely more on God for the showers of blessing to fall upon the land.
Take Heed to the Seed
Take heed to the seed! The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil (2Thessalonians 3:3). Farmers have something to do, but they must also trust in the Lord. Here is the vision, or the seed to firmly plant in your heart: The Lord is faithful. Take heed to this seed and patience will rise up on the inside. It is the Lord who sends the rain, so pray also: the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ (vs.5).
It is important to seek the Lord for the showers of blessing, but it doesn’t all just rest upon Him. Jude 21 says to keep yourselves in the love of God. So it is important to be in the business of establishing your own heart as well as seeking God for the rain. David encouraged himself when he was in one of the most desperate of situations (see 1Samuel 30:1-6). It is necessary to shoo away the crows of doubt and fear that would come upon your garden.
Therefore, as you garden, seek the Lord, encourage yourself, and then you also need the others:
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:23-25).
This is the purpose of going to church. It’s not about going to be entertained. It’s not about doing your weekly religious service. It’s not about how much you like the service or dislike the service, although I hope you like it. It’s about getting together with others who are like-minded and provoking each other unto love and to good works. Not a religious work or performance, but a bolstering up of the life of Christ in us, that we may overflow and bring it to others.
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (James 5:7-8).
Zechariah 10:1: Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.
The Lord is coming. That’s not just about the second coming of Christ, but I believe it also means that He is coming into your life and ministry in fruit producing ways. Just be patient as you farm. Understand that there are seasons. The early rains germinate the seed, and the latter rains enhance the crop before harvest. I have read that farmers also appreciate moderate dry spells, knowing that the root system can develop and grow deeper, and then when the rains come there is a more abundant yield.
Take heed to the seed. God is working. The coming of the Lord draws nigh!