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PATIENCE – when the vision tarries !

The book of James is often rightly termed to be the book of proverbs of the New Testament. It is because it deals with how there needs to be a practical application of your faith, for faith without works is dead. And, applying the same logic, it would also mean that, when God has promised you something, you also have to wait till He does it. The book of Hebrews also attests to the same truth, when it counsels you not to throw away your confidence that has a rich reward; and that with patient endurance, after having done the will of God you may receive your promise from Him.

And, in the fifth chapter of his epistle, James describes the nature of the patience that needs to be in you, as he compares it to the action of a farmer, who sows, but then has to wait, when three things come into play, to determine his harvest. They are the nature of the land or soil, the rain, and the seasons. As in the natural, so it is in the spiritual, is the established truth. It is the principle that the Lord also builds upon, when the Pharisees came to test Him, by asking Him to show them a sign in the sky. He rebuked them, as He asked them in reply, why they were able to interpret the coming weather by looking at the sky, but on the other hand, were not able to interpret the signs of the times. [Matthew 16:3] By saying so, He points out that it is possible to have an understanding concerning times and seasons, in all aspects of your life.

See, how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently until it receives the former and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish yourselves, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. [James 5:7,8] Being patient, at times, may seem impossible, but would become possible when it is the patience of Christ which is in you. And, it comes to you, to reign in you, when you are connected to Christ, knit together in a relationship with Him, and sensitive to the voice of the Spirit, who speaks to you through God’s word. Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart. Nevertheless it is the Lord’s counsel that will stand. [Proverbs 19:20,21]

A course correction :

A timely course correction is very much a part of God’s leading, in the course of your walk with Him, and it involves being led by the Spirit every step of the way, as He takes you on a learning curve, that always leads to progress. For, the danger of wandering off in the strength of your flesh is always there, led by the wily traits of the evil one. It is why Paul uses very strong terminology to warn the Galatians, who had started off rightly in the power of the Spirit, but then tried to complete their salvation through works of the flesh, or try to do things in their own strength, instead of trusting in the Lord who has done it all for them on the Cross. ‘Who has bewitched you ?’, he asks, making the origin of their wrongdoing very clear. [Galatians 3:1] And, how it can all lead you to not being a part of God’s kingdom is also later made very clear by the apostle. [Galatians 5:19-21]

Thus, it is very vital on your part to be sensitive to the voice of the Spirit, and it is the outworking of God’s promise to you that declares, ‘I will keep my eye upon you, to instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go’. [Psalm 32:8] For, it is His individual attention that He gives to you, a very personal care and counsel. And, any course correction that He wants you to receive and embark upon, will only lead you to progress and development, and raise you up in life, and never bring you down. In your life’s happenings today, even in your times of pain and sorrow, God has heard your every prayer; He has seen your every tear. And, His purposes for you will never be thwarted, for He can do all things. It was Job’s realization of the truth of God. [Job 42:2] And, it came, after a long and convoluted journey within him, not helped in any way by his three friends, as he tried to come to terms with the sudden onslaught of tragic events that had come in his life. And then, the truth that finally settled his heart in repentance that brought peace, revealed God’s magnificent ending for his life, which was a twofold restoration, of all that the devil had worked in his life !

Patience, even in times of inordinate and inexplicable delay, thus becomes possible in you, when you know that it is all about the purposes of God, and have a right understanding in you concerning the seasons of your life, to know that God has made all things beautiful in its time. It is when you know, that there is a time for every purpose of God under the sun, here on earth. Patience, that the Bible describes, is about the patience of Christ, in you; and it is connected to the purposes of God. In this context, studying and meditating upon the proclamation of God in the words of the prophet Habakkuk, throws light, in the area of seasons that you and I go though, when what God has promised is seemingly delayed. For, God’s purposes for your life never changes. And, the blessing of Abraham, that saw him being blessed by God in every way, is available for you today, by grace and through faith, when you are His child.

The appointed time :

I will stand my watch, and set myself on the rampart; And watch to see what He will say to me; and what I will answer when I am corrected. [Habakkuk 2:1] The prophet’s attitude is one of willingness in receiving a course correction from God. And then, God’s assurance comes to him, as a revelation of His unchanging truth, and one that speaks into your heart even today. Then the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie; Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. [Habakkuk 2:2,3]

The appointed time is how the Lord operates, at all levels, right from His plan for mankind as a whole, to you, as His individual child. For, He did not give up, when Adam sinned to lose the blessing that God had spoken over him in the garden, where all that He and Eve needed was prepared for them, and the vision that God had for them was a glorious one, reflecting His glory to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over His creation. God continued in His plan for the fallen man, where through the wondrous Cross, man stands redeemed. For, in the fullness of time, at the appointed time, God sent His Son, to die for you and I, and for the sins of the whole world, all of humanity, to those who chose to put their trust in Him, and accept the free gift of grace by faith. And, the dominion that was given to man, one that the first Adam lost through the fall, was once again made available to him through the Cross, that he may reign in life through Christ, the Last Adam.

For, if by the one man’s offense, death reigned through the one, how much more, those who receive, abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. [Romans 5:17] You have dominion now, over your circumstances, through Christ in you, who is the wisdom and power of God. And, just as He did not change His plan and purpose for mankind as a whole, but only wove into it a grand design of redemption and salvation, God will never change the plan and purpose that He has designed for your life. Instead, He will bring about a marvelous change in you, and in your circumstance, to make His intended purpose for you come to pass. But the timing of it is in His hands. It is then that everything will be beautiful, and it is why the Bible very specifically talks about the ‘appointed time’.

‘But when, Lord ?’ :

This is where the words of the prophet speak, to reveal profound truth, concerning the ways of God that are much higher than yours and mine. Where there is no vision, people perish, is the wisdom that comes through the book of proverbs. And, in the world, there are people who have a good idea or a genuinely good vision to bring about a positive change in the lives of people and in the society. But, there is a vast difference between a good idea and a God idea. The vision, that comes to you from God therefore, is one that needs to be preciously preserved, to flow into the lives of others, for it will surely come to pass. It is the prophetic assurance of Habakkuk. And, it is when you grow more and more in your knowledge of His love, about who He is, and His mighty power described in His word, and His mighty acts of deliverance in the lives of His people, that you will find your restlessness and lament subside, to be replaced by a godly expectation.

You may not be able to see it yet, but even now, at this very moment, God is working on your behalf ! To you, it may seem to be a delay, but His ways and His thoughts are immeasurably greater. He works according to His time. He is God, and He is in no way bound or limited by thoughts and works that are merely human. Therefore, when it all finally comes to pass, you will find that what God brings about is much beyond what you thought, dreamt, or your wildest imagination, as the saying goes ! And, it is why He is God !

Even in trouble :

The Bible never bypasses or skims over lightly, the troubles that people go through in life. It is recorded by the prophet Jeremiah, in words both emotional and heart rending, in the book that is very aptly titled, ‘Lamentations’. And, the emotions that are recorded in it, are words that you and I can identify with, for there are times of darkness and sorrow in every person’s life. The interesting fact though, is that, even the book of Lamentations has only five chapters ! And that too, it is in a very organized and thoughtful fashion, even in a literary sense, with an absence of any kind of confusion. In fact at the center of it all there is a declaration of hope, to the one who trusts in the great mercies of God. In our lives though, our lamenting may go on and on, as a mega serial that shows no sign of ending. But God’s word can do a wonderful course correction. And as a result, even in a time of deep trouble, you can have a mind that is organized, as you trust and find your rest in the God, whom you know to be the One who will never fail to fulfill His promises.

His purpose remains :

God’s original intended purpose for your life will never change, because He is a faithful God. It can be seen displayed in the life of Abraham, where His very first conversation with him, was to call him out that he may be blessed to be a blessing. [Genesis chapter 12] And, thus began Abraham’s walk with God; it was one that saw detours and mistakes on Abraham’s part, but God dealt with it all in truth and justice. But, His original purpose for the life of Abraham is seen fulfilled, in the twenty fourth chapter of Genesis. The promise had come to pass, for Abraham was blessed by God in every way.

And the faithfulness of the God, whose purpose remains unchanged even now, thousands of years later, sees the blessing of Abraham continue to flow into your life, for by faith you too now are a descendant of Abraham. The passage of time is immaterial with Him, for He remains true to His word forever. And it is why, you can know and be certain that no matter when He does it, whether today, tomorrow, or whatever time it may take, the fulfillment of His promise in your life will come. And it is when it comes from His hand, when He does it, it is then that it will be beyond all what you thought or dreamt of, to bring within you an intensified satisfaction and fulfillment. It is then that you can stand in awe to say, ‘It is the Lord’s doing; and it is marvelous in our eyes’!

Though it tarries …it will not tarry :

There seemingly appears to be a contradiction in the above promise from God, but it really is not so, for it may be delayed in your eyes, but God works according to His timing and season. It is then that the fulfillment of your vision will be beautiful in His sight, for it is He who has made all things beautiful in its time, and not us. All things in life, both big and small, have a season that is right for them. It can be seen, even in an ordinary coconut, for it needs to be plucked at a certain time, in order to yield tender coconut water and, a little later on, if it is to be used for cooking purposes. In your life and mine, God knows, the right time and season for the things that you are waiting for, to happen, and He is never late. He is the God who is always on time ! Therefore, you need not be frustrated or anxious, but can rest in the knowledge that God knows what is best for you.

The posture of waiting :

It is by remembering, all that God has done in your past, to reveal His power and love towards you that you can wait, without becoming restless and anxious. The Israelites were commanded by God, to be still, as they faced the Red Sea. It was a place that was ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’, both literally and idiomatically ! The pharaoh was behind them, and the sea was in front of them. But God wanted them to wait; and there was a purpose. For, it was because He was going to perform a glorious miracle, right in front of them, to part the sea into two, that they may be delivered, and their enemy would be destroyed. Earlier, every one of the ten plagues that God worked on their behalf was against a particular Egyptian god, to overwhelmingly display that He was the Great I AM. And, it was after they had seen all those miraculous powerful works of God that the Israelites stood before the Red Sea, to hear God say, ‘Be still’. And therefore they should have been able to hearken to the voice of God.

Their response though was one of panic and confusion. But, as you remember all the good things that He has already done in your life, it need not be yours, when God’s counsel to you, is that you should wait for the promise to be fulfilled. And even while waiting, the lesson that you learn is that He is always walking with you, talking with you and encouraging you. Therefore through it all, you can grow to the place where you know God’s time, in the happenings of your life.

And, His time is always the right time ! :

God was with Elijah in his weariness and despair, to care for him physically and emotionally, before revealing to him that he had a long way to go. It certainly was not the time of his death in the sight of God. And the prophet who at that point wanted to die, ended up not seeing death at all ! It is the God in whom you can put your trust and confidently wait, though outwardly, what you are hoping for may seem to be getting delayed.

Jesus was never in a hurry ! :

The Lord always knew when His time had come, and He also knew when His time had not yet come. Not immediately after Mary’s words to Him, it was a while later that Jesus performed the first of His signs at the wedding at Cana. [John 2:4] God always knows the right time. It is the reason why in your Christian walk you need to learn to encourage yourself in the Lord in your times of waiting, and rest in the knowledge of it. It is what the psalmist does, as he speaks words that bring peace and quietness, in his own soul. [Psalm 62:1,2] Being still is to cease from your fleshly striving, to be led by the Spirit in His wisdom and strength to act in the knowledge that He has done it all for you. For then, when your promise comes to pass in God’s right time, your confession will be similar to that of the Israelites. To them their deliverance from hundreds of years of captivity was like a dream. [ Psalm 26:1]

God’s perfect timing comes through with even greater clarity in His raising of Lazarus from the dead. He did not rush to the scene, when word was sent to Him, that Lazarus was very ill. In fact, both Martha and Mary, were disappointed that He did not do so, and made it clear to the Lord Himself !. [John 11:3-44] It was a time of desperate urgency in the lives of the family whom Jesus loved, and yet He waited, to go after four days had passed.

‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’ :

He waited because a magnificent truth was going to be displayed; that of Him being the Resurrection and the Life. It was at that point that the truth was made clear to Martha that He was Christ, the Son of God and the Messiah whom they were all waiting for. [verse 25-27] And, many who saw it believed in Him, from then on. Jesus even at the very beginning knew the gravity of the situation, but also knew how it was going to end, and declared it too, by saying that it will not end in death, but it was for God’s glory. [verse 4] It was why He was able to pray to His Father in assurance and confidence, knowing that the Father always hears His prayers. It was not an apologetic prayer on His part for arriving late on the scene !

The point to be taken from this is that, even in your life, He knows it all, even your time of desperate need. But, God may wait, to answer it in a manner that is a blessing to you, and also one that brings glory to Him. Thus, to display His truth in your life, He will do a miraculous work. And, in how He does what is good to you, many will see and believe in Him. It is why though the vision tarries, it will surely come. For, God will do it in His time and in His glorious way.

God’s perspective of time :

He is the God who inhabits eternity, forever and ever. Therefore , But beloved, do not forget this one thing; that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:8,9] God is very much on time. But, His timing is different from yours and mine, for what is very precious in His sight is a transformation of your inner character. And for that to be accomplished in you, He may wait, before He sends forth the fulfillment of His promise.

The child who throws a tantrum at the touch of a button in order to get what it wants, in the way that it wants, and whenever it wants, will be lovingly disciplined by its parents. And a good parent will not succumb to it, though they very much want to give the child the best of everything. How much more will your heavenly Father want to give you all that is good and the very best ? But, He also wants you to learn the gift of patience, when you are yoked together with Christ, your Lord and Savior, to walk together with Him, in His nature that is patient and long suffering. And in your walk with Him, if you rush ahead of Him, He will just stand. But if you are unable to match His pace, He will carry you along. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light, and you will have rest for your soul. He will never beat you up, in order to teach you. He teaches you in a manner in which you can learn with ease. Therefore, your promise will certainly come to pass. And, even if it delays, just be patient, and wait, for it will come.

For all to repent – be patient :

It is the attitude of the loving God who is patient and long suffering towards His creation. [2 Peter 3:8,9] The words of the apostle Peter are spoken in the context of the Lord’s second coming, but it need not be restricted to it alone. In every area of life, when it comes to interactions and relationships between two people, one has to be prepared to give, and another has to be ready to receive. The Lord has to work in both of them, for only then the transaction would prosper and be complete. And, it sometimes takes time, and therefore, it requires the quality of patience to develop within you, as you walk closer and closer with the Lord, to learn from Him who is meek and gentle in heart. And ultimately His patience will become yours.

Let your prayer be therefore, that God will do His work of transforming grace in you, so that all that is hindering the blessing of God from flowing in your life is removed; for, what He has purposed to do in your life can never be thwarted. As you humble yourself to draw near His throne of grace, to look upon His countenance, and be transformed from within to become more and more like Him, let all hurriedness in you leave, to be replaced by a divine quietness and patience, and true wisdom and strength from above fill your very being. And, give thanks unto the Father, for He can do all things, and, His purposes can never be thwarted. Therefore, may His eye be upon you, to instruct and counsel you, and may His grace enable you to do His purpose in life and be blessed, so that He may be glorified.

In the Name of Christ Jesus Amen.

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