“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine . . . and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 This week’s assault on Facebook is 2 Timothy 4:3-4, with assorted memes and photos (one is a shot of the verse, in situ, […]
Dreams are great things. They push us, prod us, exhilarate us, give us hope for a brighter future.
They also frustrate us to no end, especially when we have a dream, a desire, a longing, an aching — for years and years and years — but despite how much we work toward it, pray about it, give it back to God in case we’re worshiping it too much — it doesn’t happen.
But it also doesn’t go away.
Does this strike something deep inside you?
If it doesn’t, then you may be one of those people who tells others,
“Just have faith! God ALWAYS answers prayer, and maybe you just need to pray more,”
“There must be some sin, or something, in your life that is causing God to not hear your prayers,”
“Give that dream to God. You’re trying to control the situation, and this prevents Him from doing as He wills.”
“Why not me, God?”
If you do understand the frustration of a long-term, chronic desire about which you pray and pray and pray, it’s pretty much a given that you know God answers prayer, but you wonder why your particular prayer is taking so, so, so long. While coveting is a bad idea — not because God is going to “get” us if we do so, but because the end result of comparing ourselves to others rarely engenders a positive mental outlook — it’s hard not to look at others, receiving their gifts and answers and joys, and wonder,
“Why not me, God?”
I am reminded of a woman who lamented, “I need this situation taken care of, soon, because I’m really very impatient,” as if patience were something most people have, and she is genetically incapable of exhibiting.
Danged if her prayer weren’t answered, quickly. And while one part of me delighted in a her being relieved from high anxiety, another part thought,
“Why not me, too, God?”
Living in Limbo-Land
Quite recently, God has opened my life to a number of people living in limbo-land, as we call it — deeply committed followers of Christ who read Scripture, meditate, seek to know God, and ALL have some strong, unshakable dream or desire that is at least five years old.
Now while we in this limbo-group know well the story of God’s promise to Abraham for a son even though “his (Abraham’s) body was as good as dead — since he was about a hundred years old — and that Sarah’s womb was also dead,” (Romans 4:19), we are also acutely aware that none of us experience personal visitations from the Almighty, verbally promising us the fulfillment of our dreams. And so, when time continues to pass with little or no advancement of this deep, aching, insurmountable desire that many of us never asked for in the first place, our prayers start to look like this:
“Is what I want, what I ache for, in Your will? Is it taking so long because it’s just, like the promise to Abraham, going to take a long time? Or is it taking so long because it will never happen?”
It does not help, my dear friends who do not know what I’m talking about, to comment,
“Maybe God doesn’t approve of this dream — have you ever thought of that?”
All the time, amigo, all the time. It’s not like we haven’t asked Him.
You Know What I Mean?
If you’re nodding your head right now, and you are tired of wondering what is wrong with you, allow me to share what I’ve learned in nine years, and counting, of waiting:
1) God isn’t playing games with you, because that’s not what He does.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Jesus asks in Luke 11:11-12.
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
I know, I caught that part, too — He’ll “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” Like you, I’m more interested in getting the answer to my heartfelt prayer, but I have an idea that the guidance, teaching, care, and love of the Holy Spirit is a fairly necessary component to a truly spiritual life, one that communes with God and rests in Him.
2) I know you’d rather have a solution, now, but in the process of it happening, you really do become a better person.
James 1:2-4 tells us,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Remember the impatient lady above? She gripes and whines a lot, which isn’t a characteristic of a mature person. She is one of the last people I would go to for wise, thoughtful, considered advice.
3) Nobody gets an easy ride.
The apostle John in Revelation 1:9 writes that he is our “brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus.”
Prosperity doctrine, which has seeped into our very consciousness even when we slap it away, constantly whispers that, “God has a plan for your life, and He wants you to be happy, prosperous, safe, and secure — NOW.”
This empty promise, not backed by Scripture, causes many to falter in their faith when things don’t turn out the way the preachers promise; unfortunately, the faith in the preachers remains at the expense of faith in God. It’s important to recognize that the most put-together person we envy isn’t as stupendously successful as we think they are. We only see superficial externals — not the pain that is masked within, nor the changes that inevitably take place as time passes.
4) Your dream may not go away because it’s a valid one, and a very good one, and it will take time for God to transform you into the person who can live it.
When you’re tempted to ask, “Is this dream real, God?” read Romans 8:26-27:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
“And he who searches our hearts know the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
The Spirit knows God’s will. Let Him take over on this matter.
Are you living in limbo-land? Believe me, you’re not alone. You never are.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity.
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