I am not very good at waiting. I don't really enjoy the journey, I am always pressing for the destination. Waiting seems like such a waste of time, so inefficient. Waiting feels like going nowhere, accomplishing nothing. I see the end and I want to be there... now. Ugh.
I have had the great privilege of meeting a lot of church planters and others who feel like God is calling them to do great things and go to great places. I love hearing their dreams. I often hear in them the same weakness for waiting that is mine. I was recently reminded of a talk I heard several years ago on this subject given by Rick White, the Lead Pastor of City View Church. Rick was talking primarily to a group of men who dreamed of planting churches. Joseph, the biblical character of Genesis was the main character of his talk.
Rick told the story of Joseph, who as a young man had a clear vision, or dream from God. In the dream, this youngest brother saw all of his older brothers bowing to him. Joseph saw that one day he would lead over his older brothers. The dream was real. The vision was from God. Yet when Joseph shared the dream with his family, his brothers became incredibly angry - ultimately selling him into Egyptian slavery and convincing their father that he had been killed.
The story gets worse for Joseph! He went from servant to prison, being accused of crimes he didn't commit. Everything seemed to constantly be against Joseph. He was experiencing nothing even close to the dream that he dreamed. More than 20 years would go by before Joseph was moved from prison and servant to leader and ruler in Egypt. Even more time would go by before everything lined up and Joseph's brothers bowed before him in Egypt. (You should read the story if you aren't familiar with it - wow!)
Rick's big point to those men, chomping at the bit to lead the church that they had dreamed of was wait. Wait. Wait on God. Maybe he has given you the dream and desire for today, but maybe he has given you a glimpse of what will be in 30 years - I say that with angst in my own soul.
So what can we learn from Joseph's story?
- The destination requires a journey.
Joseph couldn't lead when he had the dream. The events that followed telling his family about the dream were all necessary for Joseph - they made him who he was. As hard as it sometimes is, this is true for us. The journey is God's way of shaping us into the people that we need to be.
- God is Sovereign in your journey.
Nothing happened to Joseph by accident; it was all a part of God's great plan for Joseph, for Egypt and for Israel. When we are faced with setbacks, delays, and news we didn't want to hear, God is not surprised! It is all a part of His plan. So in those times, pause, rethink, pray, process - but rest in His control, His wisdom, and the truth that He has your best interest in mind.
Joseph struggled with events, no doubt. But in the midst of them he humbly grew. He grew in experience. He grew in wisdom. He grew in his ability to lead. That is why he became a leader. With others, I have had to tell guys with great dreams that they weren't ready - weren't ready to lead, weren't ready to plant churches. It is never easy to say and rarer still, easy to receive. It is, however an opportunity to grow and learn.
- Be faithful where you are.
There were lots of stops and detours for Joseph. Jail was not the destination of his dreams. Yet even there, Joseph was faithful. He followed God. He trusted God. He served well. That is what He calls each of us to do in our journey as well. Don't become so consumed with where you are going that you lose sight of where you are. Be faithful where you are. Serve faithfully. Continue a life that is characterized by faithfulness, joy and trust.
- God is faithful to finish what He starts.
This is a journey of faith with a destination that requires faith - believing that God can do and will do what He has promised. If it is a dream from Him, a vision that He has given - He will see it through. You can count on that because He is faithful, true, and able.
Waiting isn't really passive when it comes to faithfully following God. It shapes who we are. And from that, sometimes great things are birthed - Joseph became a great leader, Egypt was saved from famine, Joseph's family was saved from starvation. The nation of Israel would be birthed out of these very events. Sometimes waiting is the hardest. But when we actively wait, faithfully following God - it is always best.
I am praying right now for all of my fellow dreamers!
Dream big. Trust big.
If you are dreaming big or want to be a part of a church that dreams big, I'd love to hear from you. Email me.