It's Christmas time. Don't you love it? I mean the original purpose and meaning of it. Not the American made, stress, go into debt, rushing through it impatiently, social-media-perfect-life version of it. Did you know that there are 24 chapters in the gospel of Luke - so if you start on December 1 and read one chapter a day, you will know the life and ministry of the little child who is celebrated this season so much better by the time Christmas Day comes? How about this? Let's walk through it together during December.
Let's start with the concepts of time, timing, rushing and delays.
Zechariah and Elizabeth waited for a child. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple, Zechariah doubted the angel. But God's timing for the birth of John the Baptist and the announcement to Mary of her pregnancy was not messed up timing. While God's timing is never convenient (Mary can attest to that) here's what else we can learn.
At the right time, God can do anything instantly. This is hard for us to accept and the most difficult place for us to be in life is in God's waiting room. It's when we are in a hurry for something to happen and God isn't.
Some of you are in a hurry to:
start a family
launch a new business
close a big deal
retire financially sound
accomplish a big goal, dream, or milestone and God isn't in a hurry but you feel you are running out of time.
God can do more in a second than you can do in your lifetime. Well if that's true, then why do we have delays in life? God allows delays in our life for two reasons.
1. to test our faith
2. to build our character
I have said before that God is more interested in our character than our accomplishments. While we are working on our achievements, God is working on us in the waiting room. The waiting room is a place of preparation. It's where God molds and grows our maturity, our faith and our resilience. We are not waiting on God in the waiting room, he is waiting on us to grow up. He will not give us the things we are in a hurry for until He knows we are ready to receive them and we have the character and trust in him to sustain them. It is a fatal mistake to assume that God's goal for your life is material prosperity or popular success as the world defines it. The abundant life has nothing to do with material abundance. Faithfulness to God does not guarantee success in anything in this life. Never focus on temporary crowns, focus on who you are becoming in God's waiting room.
The phrase "at the right time" is used about 96 times in the bible. One of my favorite verses it is mentioned is in Isaiah 49:8. God promises "At the right time I will answer your prayers!" WILL, not might. A delay is not a denial. Goodness, that's a tough one to grasp. I mean, we understand when a child throws a tantrum in a store when we as parents explain they can't have the toy, snack or treat right now. But when God says it to us as adults? We become immature children. We doubt. We question. We stress. We worry. We are anxious. We are irritable. We get spiritual ADD. And we experience all sorts of negative emotions.
So what are we to do in the waiting room? Realize that the delays are by design! Here's what we should do:
1. Fear Not means to trust God.
Faith cancels fear. Again, 365 times we are told not to fear. Trusting God is the #1 stress relief in life. Psalm 31:14-15 "I trust you Lord. You are my God and my times are in your hands." Surrender it all.
2. Fret Not means to be patient and humble.
Stop worrying. God is never early and he is never late. Waiting on God patiently is a statement of faith. No griping, no irritability (especially if those around you are being blessed) No comparing! (remember how it steals your gratitude) Worry is worthless and makes you miserable. It's stewing without doing. Shape your worries into prayers. 1 Peter 5:6 "So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time."
3. Forget Not means study God's promises.
6,000 promises God makes to us in his word. Can you name them? If you can't name them, how can you claim them? God has offered to do astounding things if you trust him. James 1:25 "If you keep looking closely into God's perfect word that sets people free, and you keep studying on it, and you don't forget it, and you put it into daily practice - you will be blessed in ALL you do." The word all here in Greek means....all. Every area of your life will be touched by the hand of God. Stressed? Or blessed? It's your choice. Use this as the first promise you memorize, it's fabulous.
4. Faint Not means don't quit.
Be diligent. Have endurance. Keep on, keeping on. Galatians 6:9 "We must never get tired of doing what is right and good, for at the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up or quit." This Christmas, what do you feel like giving up on? Your marriage? Your career? Your dreams? Yourself? One word - DON"T! Don't give up, look up. You, can do hard things!
You may be waiting. This Christmas it may still look like it's never going to happen. But Jesus came at Christmas to bring his saving grace. Don't wait to accept it. Jesus gave himself to pay for the sins we commit while we are in the waiting room. He is the proof that God wants all of us to be saved. And that proof came, at the right time.
This Christmas, how can you focus on becoming the person God wants you to become so he can answer your prayers?