Musician Tom Petty has a song that sums up waiting perfectly…it’s the hardest part. Waiting is part of the process with God and, it’s the hardest part. Dreaming is the fun part, right? I can dream for days on how I’m hoping something will turn out. I can build an entire city off of one small dream in my head. I can draw up the blueprints and the budgets and all the plans to make every single detail come to life. I can believe fully that this dream is the call on my life and exactly what I’m supposed to do. And then I can wait while God brings it to pass. As a follower of Jesus, I only have so much power and in order to see the fulfillment of the dream, I need God to complete the work. Until He does, I wait.
Waiting isn’t the wilderness, although it may seem like it. Here’s the pattern I see: calling, wilderness, waiting, realization. Each of these steps has value and purpose and each help us grow in our faith. I believe God started calling me to New York City (NYC) when I was a kid. My wilderness season was decades of growing up and when His timing was perfect, He brought me to International Project and showed me a vision for loving people in a way that deeply honors their traditions and cultures while showing them the love of God. Now I’ve seen the promised land and I have to wait on God to bring the financing through in order to step into the realization. It’s hard, harder than I imagined and so, this morning that has me wondering if I’m waiting wrong.
Now, how can you wait wrong? I mean, let’s be honest, waiting is actually pretty easy because you are…well, you’re waiting right? What makes waiting hard is the value we place on the destination over the journey. If I’m sitting in the doctor’s waiting room (an entire ROOM named after the thing we dislike…that’s irony) feeling anxious and frustrated that the doctor is running behind, I will miss the person sitting next to me who may need some extra attention. So, this morning I’m feeling God’s invitation to pay more attention to what’s going on around me and less attention to the act of waiting. I’ve placed so much value in arriving in NYC, perhaps I’m missing out on a part of this journey where I am meant to learn some important truths.
In all honesty, I actually know this is true because I’ve grown by leaps and bounds over the past few weeks. God has been breaking up my false securities and leading me to trust more in Him than in anyone else. He’s shown me ways in which I have placed more importance on man’s approval than His and I’ve stepped out of some old habits. He’s shown me that I actually DO know how to hear Him speak and follow Him, and I am doing both. My faith has gotten so much deeper and, without the waiting, I would have missed all of it. Yet, I believe there is more here for me.
If my faith in God is solely based on His bringing a dream to fruition, then it is a shallow faith. My faith should never be dependent on a present circumstance, instead, it should be dependent on the persons of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I keep coming back over and over to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of what I’m hoping for and the utter certainty of what I do not see.” (A little paraphrased by me.) My faith is not in New York City, my faith is in Jesus. What I’m actually hoping for at the end is to serve God with my whole life and that by exercising that faith, He will will lead me into the places of service He has for me in His perfect timing. My faith and my dream are different. My faith says, “God, you are all I have, there is no plan B.” My dream says, “God, you have planted seeds of love for the people of NYC and I see you leading me there.” My waiting should in no way impact my faith in God but I’ll be honest, it has threatened my faith.
I have no earthly or heavenly reason to ever doubt God. None. He is faithful to the end and I can recount His faithfulness over and over, just like I can count my faithlessness over and over. God has brought me through deep darkness and while I may be scarred, I am not ruined. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is taking me to NYC. The only part I don’t know exactly is when and I can’t allow my not knowing all the details impact my belief in and love for God and what He is doing in my life. My heart’s desire and current plan is to go in July but, (gulp) at this point I don’t know if that is God’s timing. I’m trying to raise funds for our work and honestly, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’ve never heard “no” say many times and in so many different ways. It is hard to not take each one personally and let it drive a nail through my heart. And, that’s exactly what I have to do…not let the no break my spirit or my faith.
Here’s the deal, I have no control over my life. And, I hate to break it to you, neither do you. When you give your life to Jesus, you give up your control. So, when things don’t come together like you thought they would, you have to find a way to still give glory to God and praise the work He is doing because He is teaching you something all the time. God wouldn’t have planted the seed of loving people and loving NYC in my heart to never let me go there and serve Him. That would be cruel and God is not cruel, He is love. I am thankful that I know exactly what I want to do with my life and where I want to serve Him and when everything is perfectly in place, I will go. Until then, I will wait and in the waiting, my trust in God will continue to grow.
Find out more about the work in New York at http://www.internationalproject.org. It’s exciting work!! If you would like to partner with us financially, you can give at http://www.internationalproject.org/give and put “KBOWMAN” in the comments. Thanks!