"In a year..."
I enjoy most things “instant”. “Fast” and “quick” are so much a part of my nature that I frequently catch myself feeling impatient with my Keurig for taking all of 30 seconds to brew my morning coffee (immature I know!). Though this particular trait of mine can lead to high productivity when accomplishing tasks such as housekeeping, grocery shopping and even my job, it proves challenging in other areas of life. The list of “non-quick” realities in my life is extensive, creating a near constant internal angst, particularly in my journey with Christ.
There have been those glorious instant moments, like when He transferred my young self from what Colossians 1:13 describes as the “domain of darkness” into the Kingdom of light – done , , fast, forever! And since then, there have been moments when His Word leaps off the page of scripture and into my heart and I know instantly something has changed in me. Instant. Instant.
But I have also come to the resolve that though our redemption is instant, our sanctification is a slow and steady process over our entire lifetime. There is no express lane available on this road.
Several years ago, during a particularly difficult time, I found myself crying out to the Lord for an instant fix. I deeply desired Him to swoop down and resolve the painful situations surrounding me. I begged Him to bring immediate relief, fully convinced that my God, who had spoken the world into being can whisper and change the course of situations. My heart was hemorrhaging and my instant nature was asking of Abba Father for Him to place a weighty tourniquet on the wounds and just stop the bleeding. Instead, He planned to heal the wound.
His healing process was tedious and lengthy – not instant. Early in that process, while crawling through the book of Isaiah, I stumbled across a simple phrase issued to the Prophet (Isaiah 21:16): “For thus the Lord said to me, ‘within a year…’” The sentence uttered to this humble servant went on to describe his particular setting and situation, ending with the beautiful promise that the archers and mighty men, sons of the enemy would be “few”, simply because the Lord, our God had spoken. It was yet another “instant” moment in my life, when His Word spoke promise and truth over me, yet it involved a process that was not instant – “in a year."
I will spare the gruesome details of that yearlong journey, but I will not shrink from declaring His faithfulness to fulfill what He has spoken in my heart. It was a year, and those places the enemy had established archers and mighty men unraveled to become few and weak. Years have passed since that “year” – but time and again, as impatience stirs in my nature for instant change, results, resolve and solutions, His sweet Spirit takes me back to the passage. I hear His voice once again: “There is no instant in this situation, the story is not over, wait and see what this looks like in a year.”
I have just spent the past 12 months inching through the book of Hebrews. It was not for the purpose of teaching, but for the purpose of learning. I’ve experienced many beautiful moments with the Lord during this time, and I am deeply thankful He invited me to meet with Him there. For you see, the author of Hebrews clearly understood as He began penning the “heroes of faith” list found in chapter 11, the concept of “non-instant”. Not one of the faithful warriors listed saw the immediate action of our Sovereign God, most instead died in the wait. Their faithfulness was not characterized by the resolve of their need (the appearing of our Messiah), but by their obedience in the wait. I have concluded that though my flesh may scream in the process over my perceived inactivity of God, the “non-instant” is in all reality a generous invitation to me. He invites me to “be still”, to “know” to “walk through the valley” with Him, to “listen” and to “watch”.
As God moved on our hearts a couple of years ago to plant a church in our city, my “instant-ness” once again surfaced. “We need a place to meet”, “We need a Core Team”, “We need a sponsor church” – and, of course, “We need money!” (Church plants always need money – so we think!). The sacred, piercing voice of my Father was heard over and over through those initial months: “This is not an instant need; it is an instant want.” And, just as He has done throughout my entire sanctification process, He proved utterly faithful in the arrangement of details, according to His perfect timing. I was freshly visited with the gift of “wait”, “be still”, “trust” and the encouragement to walk forward in obedience even when I did not yet see the resolve.
A year in the life of a family and in the life of a church can alter the atmosphere from desperate to devoted, from broken to beautifully mended. I am trusting as we look toward the future with the chaos of our entire world, that the same attentive Abba who governs the daily-ness of my life and my local church is also at work in the nations. He is attentive to the cries of His people for the Prince of Peace to return and set all things right. He is aware of the abuses, the angers, the deep, deep wounds inflicted by the enemy. Though my flesh cries out for “instant” relief, my soul knows well that His purpose and glory is revealed in the “wait.” And so, we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We “still” our anxious hearts, and calm our busy spirits – and we wait on His glorious return.