I hate ‘loose ends.’ Where possible I like to work in a way that completes tasks in a timely manner. When I mow my lawn, I do it – trimming, sweeping up – before I go into the house. A job that could stretch over an entire afternoon can be completed in less than 2 hours, if I stay with it to the end. But, oh what temptation hits me about an hour in. “Take a break, sit on the deck, finish later!”
Much of life resists tying up loose ends quickly. Many experiences are processes. Becoming a mature follower of Jesus is not an event, never just one choice. It is a daily decision to listen, learn, and act in a way that conforms to the Word and Spirit. Making our way through sorrow demands endurance and patience, too. As much as we want to just ‘’get through it” the Lord sets the pace. There is one truth that is absolutely foundational for us. It is knowing that He will bring about the Great Resolve, that His plans will work out. Habakkuk, the prophet, thought that God had stopped working. Everything was going wrong! His nation was heading for destruction. His heart broke. But, a man of faith, he went to prayer. Here is what God spoke into his heart. “Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else. But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked; but the righteous will live by their faith.” (Habakkuk 2:2-4, NLT)
When He puts us in His waiting room, leaving us in a situation that to all appearances isn’t going well, we are tempted to conclude that He has forgotten us. Press on! Stay steady. Don’t lay down, play the victim, or throw away your hope. The knots will unravel, the pieces will fall into place, and – in time – you will know that He’s been at work all along.
Paul talks about the purposes of God working out in life. We like him, often have to accept that God’s plans are so much different than ours! Paul was is under house arrest in Rome, kept from his preaching travels in the Empire. Those who looked at his life’s situation concluded that God had sidelined the apostle in a dead-end place. Some even made fun of him, saying that he was finally getting what he deserved. The truth was that God was multiplying Paul’s ministry effectiveness by putting him among the ‘movers and shakers’ of the Roman world in a way unthinkable in human plans. As Paul continued to be faithful, even those dark days, the Spirit whispered assurance and helped him to see that there was a plan.
Paul explained that “everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.” (Philippians 1:12-14, NLT) He was evangelizing the soldiers of the palace guard, the elite young men of the realm! Every day they stood in the room where he prayed, wrote, counseled, and taught. They learned about the living Lord. Some were converted and took the message back to their homes and families.
Are you in a miserable place? Does one hard day follow the last? Has grief or pain seized you in a grip that feels deadly? Allow the eternal Word to strengthen your faithful resolve to walk with the Lord. He promises- “the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. “So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause.” (Isaiah 55:11-12, The Message)
Wait, weep, and trust the revelation of the Great Resolve. God’s counsel is found in the word from the Word for today. “Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And a righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn their backs on God and seal their fate. We have faith that assures our salvation.” (Hebrews 10:36-39, NLT)