Friday, July 14, 2006

With Faith and Patience

I'm sure there are many of you out there who have heard or sensed the call of God on your life for some particular area of ministry. For me it is missions--for you it may be something else. But after a time, when we don't see it happening as quickly as we are expecting, we begin to question what we think we've heard. "Maybe God didn't really say that." Or, "Maybe He was just testing me, to see if I was willing." I'll admit, I've done that a few (million?) times myself! But sometimes we have to realize that just because He's given the call or promise to us, doesn't mean that the timing is right for it to happen.

I've heard Joyce Meyer say that we live in a "microwave society"; we want it all right now! And when we don't see it manifest within the first few moments, hours, days, or weeks, we are tempted to give up and say that it wasn't really God. Or, worse yet, we complain to Father God. "I don't know why I didn't get to lead the choir (...get to preach in the sanctuary...or get to go on that mission trip). God, it's just not fair! I thought you loved me. You said you'd give me the desires of my heart, and it didn't happen!" [Pout, sniffle, sigh, stomp!]

I really like what James said in James 1:2-4 (KJV):
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
I've thought about that scripture, especially the part that says, "let patience have her perfect work," . How does patience have her perfect work? Let's look at what the author of Hebrews had to say in Hebrews 6:10-15 (AMP): [Bolded Emphasis Mine]

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for His name's sake in ministering to the needs of the saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do. 11 But we do [strongly and earnestly] desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity [all the way through] in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of [your] hope until the end, 12 In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith (by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises. 13 For when God made [His] promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, 14 Saying, Blessing I certainly will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you. 15 And so it was that he [Abraham], having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained [in the birth of Isaac as a pledge of what was to come] what God had promised him.

Did you see what it said!?! Faith people are to put "absolute trust and confidence" in God's power. We can't look at the clock or calendar and say, "Well, God hasn't come through, I guess I'll have to take care of the arrangements myself." (When we do that we end up with an Ishmael situation!) Nor can we say, "It didn't happen, I guess it just wasn't meant to be." And then go off and forget about the call.
In order for patience to have her perfect work, we must not give in to the temptation to give up! I heard someone share her testimony one time and she simply said, "I'm still here! I haven't given up!" It's hard when it seems like we've waited for "forever" and still haven't seen a manifestation of the promise or fulfillment of the call. But Hebrews says that it is "by practice of patient endurance and waiting" that we inherit His promises. The following picture was taken in 1986...TWENTY YEARS AGO...when I was training at Food For the Hungry's Missionary Training Center to do overseas missions and relief work in Africa.
Sandi in "The Kitchen"

At that time the call on my life was already several years old, and I was impatient then. It's twenty years later... I haven't set foot on African soil YET. But the call and the dream are still as fresh as they were 20+ years ago. And I'm Still Here! I haven't given up!

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