Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

Building on the

Rock

“Don’t bother to give God instructions,

just report for duty.”

Corrie Ten Boom

 

What About Hope Deferred?

So we have seen that faith is a heart-persuasion that results in some form of outworking, and that faith is strengthened and supported by the evidence of our daily testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness. But what about those times when it seems God's promises are not fulfilled? Is 'hope deferred' a fact of life that I must just accept, something with which I must learn to live? Hebrews 11 sites many examples of people who received a promise from God, but died before that promise was fulfilled. Yet it appears that these people did not seem to suffer from 'hope deferred.' As I wrote last week's post, this question of ‘hope deferred’ was in the back of my mind. Then, when I selected the picture of the viaduct for the post, I felt the Spirit speak through that picture. He drew my attention to the fact that the bridge is not built on a solid wall, but it is supported on columns. I felt the Spirit say that the parts of the bridge suspended between the columns, remain suspended and firm, because of the strength of the columns on either side. I felt Him say that those parts of the bridge that are suspended, are like the promises that are not yet fulfilled, and may not be fulfilled in our lifetime. But these suspended portions do not crumble and fall because they are firmly supported on either side. PersonaI Testimony I have experienced 'hope deferred' on several occasions in which the 'hope deferred' was so intense it almost shipwrecked my faith. Yet each of these times, God met me in very real ways that resulted in my discernment being quickened, and my faith ultimately being strengthened. On one of these occasions, despite many promises, and even several dreams that spoke into the situation, hope seemed to be deferred over and over, and this in the midst of pressing deadlines and threats.  Yet, as the days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, and the months to years, the deadlines were also postponed, without explanation - not formally, but the deadline came and went, and the threats were not carried through. Though my heart felt like it was being pounded during this time, I began to notice a bold strength rise up, so that the threats no longer frightened me. The bold strength was rooted in layers of evidence of God’s goodness that were being built up in other areas of my life. Eventually my situation came to the end of it's road and the threats became an ultimatum. It was at this point that God brought the fulfilment of the promises He had made regarding this situation. Is ‘Hope Deferred’ from God? God is the Author of Life - life and vitality. A heart that is sick is not part of life; it does not build and encourage, but discourages, drains energy, and breaks down faith. So 'hope deferred' clearly does not come from God. The word ‘deferred’ means to ‘draw out, drag along, prolong.’ When I look at my intense situations of 'hope deferred,' the 'deferred' aspect came from a presumed 'due date,' or a misunderstanding of what God was promising. But like the story of Lazarus' death and resurrection, Jesus does not work to our time-table. He has promised to provide all we need, but He comes in His time. Jesus always has a higher purpose in mind, and that purpose is always good - for you as well as for His Kingdom. In the account of Laszarus’ resurrection, Mary and Martha expected a healing, but Jesus planned a resurrection, so He purposely delayed His journey to His friends. A Bigger Picture God does not work with individuals in isolation; He has a far bigger picture in mind. Yes, God does see and care about your personal situation; He has promised to take you through it victoriously, but if you look from the frame of your needs, you will set yourself up for hope deferred. If faith is built on anything other than God's character - as He has defined it - then that faith has a weak foundation that can crack and topple all that is built upon it. We see our need and we determine the solution: "I need money to settle a pressing debt," "I need a spouse," "I need..." We grab hold of the promises of God in the Bible and consciously, or unconsciously, set a 'due date.' But Jesus says, "You need to find your contentment in Me, so that you can abide in My peace and be a representative of My faithfulness"; "You need to find your satisfaction in Me, so that your marriage will be richer and more fulfilling, and it will be a model, not only of marriage as I intended, but of Christ and the Church"; " You need to know Me more intimately, so that you will be My witness ..." And He uses your need to draw you deeper into 'oneness' with Him. He has no 'due date,' but waits for your surrender into His love. How do you surrender into His love? By letting go of trying to "make it happen"; by stopping the striving to achieve your desired outcome. I am not saying that you just stop everything and let God do it all while you sit with hands folded. There is a cooperation and co-labouring with God. But when you begin to continually bash your head against a wall, when you feel the need to manipulate, dominate, or even intimidate people to get what you want, step back. When you feel that the full weight of the responsibility to achieve some task, rests upon your shoulders alone, then you need to lay it down, step back, and get back under Jesus’ yoke. External Pressure What about deadlines set by others? Solomon tells us that the mind of kings is like channels of water; God turns them wherever He chooses! (See Proverbs 21:1) I had a deadline that was extended repeatedly, over a four-year period! And this was not from a person with compassion, but from a cold, impersonal, government department. On other occasions He has given me work strategies so that I could meet my deadlines, or He has stilled the interruptions so that I could do what needed to be done. These are ways He has worked in my situations. He may do something completely different in yours - and this is the point: Do not try to pin God down to a specific outcome, time-frame, and/or  specific way of accomplishing His outcome. If you do, you will set yourself up for ‘hope deferred’, because God works according to His purposes and ways, which are far higher than ours. He also has His own time-table, not related to minutes or days, but rather purposes fulfilled. Dealing with Delays So, instead of setting yourself up for 'hope deferred,' lay down your strong desire for a specific outcome and the expectation of a specific time-frame. Lay these down at the foot of the cross, and saturate your being with the knowledge of God’s goodness, faithfulness, compassion, and mercy. As you do this, do whatever your hand finds to do; take the next step that you can see, and do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, even when it feels counter-intuitive. And as you do this, keep giving Him any negative emotion you may experience, like fear, anger, or frustration. As you give Him your negative emotion, ask Him what is the lie that underpins that emotion or feeling. Confess the lie He reveals to you, and ask Him for the Truth that destroys that lie. Meditate on that truth until the lie literally dissolves. God says through David, in Psalm 46,  “Cease striving and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  We are not called to striving, but to rest. Not to inactivity, but to restful service. Restful service is not about 'ambling along,' but working with all our might, while being propelled by the power of the Spirit of God, as a wind in our sails. Hebrews 11:3 tells us, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Though you cannot see anything happening, it does not mean nothing is happening. The outcome is being formed out of what is unseen. Suddenly it will appear and you will realize that His solution had further-reaching implications than you had imagined. Hope deferred has it's roots in a lie.  But desire fulfilled is a tree of life that grows from the seed of faith in a good and faithful God. It is so easy to focus on what is not happening, what is not working, what is wrong, and what we don't have. The world squeezes us into this mould. But Paul tells us to intentionally change the way we think, so that we are transformed into the representatives of a completely different Kingdom; a Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit. So let us set out each day, intentionally seeking to build faith by looking for God’s goodness and faithfulness in every facet of our lives. Then, in those times when all around us seems dark and we just cannot see His lovingkindness anywhere, then let us look beyond the limitations of our physical senses and rest on His unchanging nature that we have already come to know and deeply trust.
As you touch or hover over each picture in the four small squares above, they will be magnified in the main square. This demonstrates what happens in our minds; what we focus on becomes enlarged in our minds, to the exclusion of other things. When we get to see a larger frame, and see how the smaller parts fit together, our understanding often shifts.
Prev Next
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

Building on the

Rock

“Don’t bother to give God

instructions, just report for duty.”

Corrie Ten Boom

 

What About Hope Deferred?

So we have seen that faith is a heart-persuasion that results in some form of outworking, and that faith is strengthened and supported by the evidence of our daily testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness. But what about those times when it seems God's promises are not fulfilled? Is 'hope deferred' a fact of life that I must just accept, something with which I must learn to live? Hebrews 11 sites many examples of people who received a promise from God, but died before that promise was fulfilled. Yet it appears that these people did not seem to suffer from 'hope deferred.' As I wrote last week's post, this question of ‘hope deferred’ was in the back of my mind. Then, when I selected the picture of the viaduct for the post, I felt the Spirit speak through that picture. He drew my attention to the fact that the bridge is not built on a solid wall, but it is supported on columns. I felt the Spirit say that the parts of the bridge suspended between the columns, remain suspended and firm, because of the strength of the columns on either side. I felt Him say that those parts of the bridge that are suspended, are like the promises that are not yet fulfilled, and may not be fulfilled in our lifetime. But these suspended portions do not crumble and fall because they are firmly supported on either side. PersonaI Testimony I have experienced 'hope deferred' on several occasions in which the 'hope deferred' was so intense it almost shipwrecked my faith. Yet each of these times, God met me in very real ways that resulted in my discernment being quickened, and my faith ultimately being strengthened. On one of these occasions, despite many promises, and even several dreams that spoke into the situation, hope seemed to be deferred over and over, and this in the midst of pressing deadlines and threats.  Yet, as the days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, and the months to years, the deadlines were also postponed, without explanation - not formally, but the deadline came and went, and the threats were not carried through. Though my heart felt like it was being pounded during this time, I began to notice a bold strength rise up, so that the threats no longer frightened me. The bold strength was rooted in layers of evidence of God’s goodness that were being built up in other areas of my life. Eventually my situation came to the end of it's road and the threats became an ultimatum. It was at this point that God brought the fulfilment of the promises He had made regarding this situation. Is ‘Hope Deferred’ from God? God is the Author of Life - life and vitality. A heart that is sick is not part of life; it does not build and encourage, but discourages, drains energy, and breaks down faith. So 'hope deferred' clearly does not come from God. The word ‘deferred’ means to ‘draw out, drag along, prolong.’ When I look at my intense situations of 'hope deferred,' the 'deferred' aspect came from a presumed 'due date,' or a misunderstanding of what God was promising. But like the story of Lazarus' death and resurrection, Jesus does not work to our time- table. He has promised to provide all we need, but He comes in His time. Jesus always has a higher purpose in mind, and that purpose is always good - for you as well as for His Kingdom. In the account of Laszarus’ resurrection, Mary and Martha expected a healing, but Jesus planned a resurrection, so He purposely delayed His journey to His friends. A Bigger Picture God does not work with individuals in isolation; He has a far bigger picture in mind. Yes, God does see and care about your personal situation; He has promised to take you through it victoriously, but if you look from the frame of your needs, you will set yourself up for hope deferred. If faith is built on anything other than God's character - as He has defined it - then that faith has a weak foundation that can crack and topple all that is built upon it. We see our need and we determine the solution: "I need money to settle a pressing debt," "I need a spouse," "I need..." We grab hold of the promises of God in the Bible and consciously, or unconsciously, set a 'due date.' But Jesus says, "You need to find your contentment in Me, so that you can abide in My peace and be a representative of My faithfulness"; "You need to find your satisfaction in Me, so that your marriage will be richer and more fulfilling, and it will be a model, not only of marriage as I intended, but of Christ and the Church"; " You need to know Me more intimately, so that you will be My witness ..." And He uses your need to draw you deeper into 'oneness' with Him. He has no 'due date,' but waits for your surrender into His love. How do you surrender into His love? By letting go of trying to "make it happen"; by stopping the striving to achieve your desired outcome. I am not saying that you just stop everything and let God do it all while you sit with hands folded. There is a cooperation and co-labouring with God. But when you begin to continually bash your head against a wall, when you feel the need to manipulate, dominate, or even intimidate people to get what you want, step back. When you feel that the full weight of the responsibility to achieve some task, rests upon your shoulders alone, then you need to lay it down, step back, and get back under Jesus’ yoke. External Pressure What about deadlines set by others? Solomon tells us that the mind of kings is like channels of water; God turns them wherever He chooses! (See Proverbs 21:1) I had a deadline that was extended repeatedly, over a four-year period! And this was not from a person with compassion, but from a cold, impersonal, government department. On other occasions He has given me work strategies so that I could meet my deadlines, or He has stilled the interruptions so that I could do what needed to be done. These are ways He has worked in my situations. He may do something completely different in yours - and this is the point: Do not try to pin God down to a specific outcome, time-frame, and/or  specific way of accomplishing His outcome. If you do, you will set yourself up for ‘hope deferred’, because God works according to His purposes and ways, which are far higher than ours. He also has His own time-table, not related to minutes or days, but rather purposes fulfilled. Dealing with Delays So, instead of setting yourself up for 'hope deferred,' lay down your strong desire for a specific outcome and the expectation of a specific time-frame. Lay these down at the foot of the cross, and saturate your being with the knowledge of God’s goodness, faithfulness, compassion, and mercy. As you do this, do whatever your hand finds to do; take the next step that you can see, and do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, even when it feels counter-intuitive. And as you do this, keep giving Him any negative emotion you may experience, like fear, anger, or frustration. As you give Him your negative emotion, ask Him what is the lie that underpins that emotion or feeling. Confess the lie He reveals to you, and ask Him for the Truth that destroys that lie. Meditate on that truth until the lie literally dissolves. God says through David, in Psalm 46,  “Cease striving and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  We are not called to striving, but to rest. Not to inactivity, but to restful service. Restful service is not about 'ambling along,' but working with all our might, while being propelled by the power of the Spirit of God, as a wind in our sails. Hebrews 11:3 tells us, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Though you cannot see anything happening, it does not mean nothing is happening. The outcome is being formed out of what is unseen. Suddenly it will appear and you will realize that His solution had further-reaching implications than you had imagined. Hope deferred has it's roots in a lie.  But desire fulfilled is a tree of life that grows from the seed of faith in a good and faithful God. It is so easy to focus on what is not happening, what is not working, what is wrong, and what we don't have. The world squeezes us into this mould. But Paul tells us to intentionally change the way we think, so that we are transformed into the representatives of a completely different Kingdom; a Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit. So let us set out each day, intentionally seeking to build faith by looking for God’s goodness and faithfulness in every facet of our lives. Then, in those times when all around us seems dark and we just cannot see His lovingkindness anywhere, then let us look beyond the limitations of our physical senses and rest on His unchanging nature that we have already come to know and deeply trust.
As you touch or hover over each picture in the four small squares above, they will be magnified in the main square. This demonstrates what happens in our minds; what we focus on becomes enlarged in our minds, to the exclusion of other things. When we get to see a larger frame, and see how the smaller parts fit together, our understanding often shifts.
Prev Next