Have you ever felt like the Lord gave you a promise? Like he placed a picture in your head or a desire in your heart and when it first happened, there was nothing that could deter you from knowing it was the Lord?
He had given you a promise.
So, you set out to do your part in bringing it to fruition. You may have even shared your promise with a few of your closest friends. You know – the ones that wouldn’t think you were wack-a-doodle. (Thank God for those THOSE friends)
And you went on your way, a dance in your step, and excitement in the air.
Until… time passed and nothing happened. And not only did nothing happen, but God seemed to be absent. Or silent. Or ignoring you. Or all of the above.
Suddenly, all of that excitement and expectation started to fade. And worse than that, you started to think that maybe God never gave you that promise after all. Maybe you dreamt it up. Maybe you told yourself what you wanted to hear. Maybe, God wasn’t going to use you at all. Maybe you were right and the Lord would never use you for that…
Those thoughts are heartbreaking.
I know, I’ve had them. In my life, there is nothing that will bring me to a place of depression and darkness like the fear that God is finished with me or that the promises that I feel he’s given me – he didn’t.
Recently, in a situation where I feared God had given up on using me, or worse – that he’d never actually planned to use me at all, he led me to Joshua, chapter three.
The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years and were finally about to enter the land that was promised to them. But first, they had to cross the Jordan River and it was at its flood stage – wild and raging.
Keep in mind, God had previously parted the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to walk right through, so they were more than likely expecting the same in this instance. They were hopeful and expectant. They’d seen this exact problem before, but God had kept his promise and delivered them safely to the other side.
Since when has God ever been predictable?
Following God’s orders, Joshua instructed the priests carrying the ark of the covenant to reach the edge of Jordan’s waters, and stand in the river. Behind them, the people of Israel lined the banks in anticipation of seeing God move the waters and make a way for them to cross. I imagine that they stood excitedly watching the heavens. Waiting for the winds to come and for the walls of water to erect themselves.
But nothing happened. The water raged on.
Can you imagine all the people standing on the banks of the Jordan wondering where in the world God was? Asking why he wasn’t showing up like he said he would?
I don’t even want to think about the complaining and cursing that was taking place. I would think that it may have sounded something like this: “Lord, you asked us to step out in faith and we did. Now where are you? Why aren’t you acting on our behalf? Did you bring us all this way after all these years only to let us see the promised land but not enter it?” (Sound familiar?)
But little did the people know…
God HAD stopped the water from flowing. He had done just what he said he would – he just did it differently than he had with the Red Sea.
Three miles upstream, at a place called Adam, the water was completely cut off. God had acted but it took time before the people could see it manifest before them. The water that was at Adam before being cut off had to make its way past the banks of Jericho and then, suddenly the ground became dry and the people were able to walk across the great Jordan River.
All in all, the priests stood in the Jordan for three days while the Israelites not only filed across the river, but built an alter in the middle. It was only after they finally came up out of the river that the waters returned and were again at flood stage.
So how does this apply to you and me and those promises in our lives that just don’t seem to be coming through? We have done all we think we can do and God hasn’t done his part (or at least it doesn’t appear like he has). What do we do?
How do we wait on a promise from God?
We stand. Hopeful. Expectant. Believing. Trusting.
We walk up to the river bank. We look out and eye our promise, and we stand.
We stand in the midst of the questions that threaten to knock us over. And in the darkness that often feels like it might pull us under.
We stand. Because somewhere upstream, in a place we can’t see, he has been at work putting the pieces in place for us to see our promise come.
If you’re in the place of wondering about God’s promises in your life, be encouraged. Don’t give up. God is always at work on our behalf – even when we don’t see it or feel him.
So, just stand.
This is what I wrote, when I was going through a time of standing, and I hope you can say this for yourself:
“Here I am with my family and incredible friends, wading out into the water and taking my stand. The water is raging and the burden feels heavy, but my feet are planted firmly on The Rock and I won’t budge until I see the hand of God reach in, work his miracle and then, we’ll walk into the promise land together.”
Let’s face it, none of our Spiritual Gifts is patience, but take this FREE Spiritual Gifts Assessment to find out your gift and where you fit best.