Buckingham Palace just before the changing of the guard, London, England, UK

God’s never late, we’re just impatient

I want things done when I want them done. When I’m ready for something to happen, I want it now. I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to be patient. And the last thing I want to do is to sit back and let God take care of it. Why? Because His timetable absolutely runs too slow for me.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned–or maybe relearned–in the last six months it’s that God’s timing is truly perfect. I know I’ve posted about it before. It seems to be a reminder I get frequently, but maybe that’s because I need it frequently.

Buckingham Palace just before the changing of the guard, London, England, UK

Buckingham Palace just before the changing of the guard, London, England, UK

Today’s verses are Habakkuk 2:2-3.

Then the Lord said to me,
“Write my answer plainly on tablets,
    so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
This vision is for a future time.
    It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
    for it will surely take place.
    It will not be delayed.

Yesterday morning I watched my best friend hike up the ramp to the security line at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport where she would board a flight that would ultimately end in Manchester, England around 2:30 a.m. this morning (US Central time). It was the day I’d been anticipating (with equal parts dread and excitement) since January. I knew she was leaving, but neither of us were really sure when. We were both waiting to see when God would give the go-ahead.

He did. And Katie jumped.

I don’t know why she couldn’t go in June, which is when she had originally planned. I know I was thankful for the extra time with her, but it wasn’t what she had expected.

There are so many things in life that don’t happen the way we plan for, and sometimes that can be really frustrating. I’m a planner. I like things to work out the way I expect. And then when God turns my plans on their head and things turn out better than I could have ever dreamed, I know He’s up there shaking His head at me. Maybe someday I’ll learn. I’m still working on it.

I guess I just felt the need to remind myself that God really does know what He’s doing. I know that. And I believe it with all my heart.

He’s not late.

His plan is progressing exactly the way it’s supposed to, in the time it’s supposed to, with the people it’s supposed to. No accidents. No coincidences. And when everything is ready, He’ll say jump–and that’s when we need to be ready to spring into action.

Waiting can make you weary after a while. I know that better than most. But you just have to remember that if God’s answer seems slow in coming, it’s because He’s still setting up the pieces. If it seems to you that He’s not moving, just be patient. Just keep waiting. And you’ll see. He’ll come through. He always does.

It just doesn’t always look like you expect it.

You may leave in July instead of June. You may invest your life in other people instead of your own children. You may switch careers. You may leave everything you know behind.

Everything happens for a reason. Even waiting.

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Keep on keeping on

Perseverance. Dictionary.com identifies it as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.”

I’d like to think that I’m good at persevering. I think a lot of people would like to believe that about themselves. Perseverance is one of those character qualities that everyone knows is good to have. Unfortunately, it’s one that’s a real struggle to keep hold of.

By its very definition, having perseverance means you’re going to run into trouble. I mean, sure, you can persevere without trouble, but if can you really say someone is persevering if they don’t encounter trouble or danger or discouragement? Can you persevere through good times? Sure. But it doesn’t feel like persevering.

I thought of this word when I read the verse this morning, Romans 12:12.

12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

 It’s a very simple verse. Nothing fancy. No frills. But when you get right down to it, it makes no sense at all. Talk about a non sequitur! It goes from rejoicing in the hope we have to exhorting us to be patient in trouble. That doesn’t really flow. If I had been writing, I would have said to rejoice in our hope and then I’d go on to talk about something happy. But I didn’t write this. God did. And He knows what He’s talking about.

Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

I kind of talked about this yesterday, but have you ever not gotten something you asked God for? Have you spent your entire life serving God and you feel like all He ever seems to give you are trials and tribulations and tests? I know people like that. I know people who have encountered ridiculous things in their lives for no reason I can see. They don’t deserve it. They’ve never done anything to deserve it. Yet God seems intent on allowing every possible bad thing on Earth to happen to them. But some of these folks never give up. They are able to look past the awful circumstances in their lives and see that God is still working and that He has a plan. And on days where I would be crushed underneath a weight of gloom and doom, they’re rejoicing. That is true perseverance.

I was curious this morning about the phrase “confident hope.” I have blogged on it before, but I’ve never searched for it. So I did a Biblegateway.com search and the exact phrase “confident hope” appears five times in the New Living Translation of the Bible. Three of those times is in Romans.

Just glancing through these verses, the confident hope Paul (through God) is talking about is our salvation. And not just our faith in Christ, but our lives down here as well (part of our salvation is living out our life on Earth). Because of what Jesus did for us, because of His sacrifice on the cross, we have hope. And not just hope but confident hope that God knows what He’s doing, that He never makes mistakes, and that He always keeps His promises. And because we have that confident hope, we can rejoice in it and in what God is doing in our lives.

By rejoicing in that confident hope, it’s a lot easier to have patience when trouble comes my way. I’m know if I’m focused on what God has done in my life and what He is currently doing, it’s a lot more natural for me to keep rejoicing when everything crumbles around me. And if I’m still in that frame of mind to rejoice even when the world is falling apart around me, prayer becomes an instantaneous response as well when I don’t know what to do — or even if I do know what to do.

I have to mention that the verse does say “keep on praying” which indicates to me that it’s something I have to repeat. Paul here is assuming that I’m already praying and that I need to continue, persistently. I need to persevere, which means I need to continue in spite of the discouragements, the disappointments, the sadness or the trouble that weighs me down.

It’s not easy. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t be perseverance. It it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.