All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
Relate: I had a vision for what I would like to see happen. I had moved from Rochester NY to Binghamton NY in part to try and revive a struggling ministry. After getting a better look at the situation firsthand and having some long hard talks with a mentor and those involved, it was decided that we would be better off burying the thing and starting something completely new in its place. So for six months at the start of the new school year, I poured my heart and soul into a few freshmen trying to start up a new thing.
At the same time, I was also working hard at creating a networking group called interfellowship. The dream was to see all the various Christian groups on campus working together as one, praying for each other and even coordinating their calendars so that they could all help better reach the campus for Christ. For six months I struggled at getting this going and it was just starting to pick up steam when I left.
I wish I could say that God called me onward but really it was more a matter of my poor budgeting and a lack of faith in God’s provision. I would end up spending about three years first in Houston TX, then Springfield MO, and finally in Long Island. I can easily say that Houston and Long Island were the spiritual and social low points of my life. So when I arrived back in Binghamton NY after what I call my “years of exile” I arrived a broken man.
What should have helped but instead proved a source of jealousy was the fact that those things I had been working so hard at before leaving both seemed to have taken off and proven wildly successful after I was gone. It wasn’t until I was reading this verse, and then remembering a message from my college days that I was able to praise God for what He had done.
React: Back at my college, at a Friday night mission’s service, one missionary asked a challenging question that has stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing somewhat but he asked, “Are you willing to be a seed that must be planted and dies so that others might experience fruit? Would you be willing to labor away in obscurity seeing little to no results only to have the guy coming after you experience a revival that changes the world?”
God had promised Abraham that He would give him every piece of land on which his feet tread. But when Abraham died, many decades later, the only piece of land he owned was a burial plot for his wife. His son Isaac received the same promise but he owned only a little more, was in constant conflict with his neighbors and his boys hated each other to the point of plotting murder. Jacob inherits the promise but for his twilight years he doesn’t even get to live in that promised land himself. Joseph then takes over leadership of the children of Israel but his bones have to wait four centuries to be buried in a land he hadn’t seen since being carried away as a captive slave when he was a child.
Just because God has promised me something does not mean that I will see it happen before my final exhale. If God has promised me something it will happen, but I might need to be the seed that falls to the ground and dies for that promise to bear fruit. My calling is not to be successful. My calling is to be obedient and faithful.
God, give me the faith to wait. Give me the faith to continue to press onward even when the clock continues to spin and Your promises continue to seem delayed. Help me to have a better perspective of what it means to work for Your Kingdom, not my own. Use me in every way possible, even if it means I am to be a seed. When my impatience begins to cry out, “When, Lord?” Give me the faith to be able to hear Your, “not yet…”