Yesterday I did some planning for some time off in Colorado in late June. I chose some places to visit and secured my flights. Between now and then, I will occasionally take a break from whatever I am doing to anticipate my enjoyment of the Rocky Mountain vistas! But, the experience will have to wait until the actual time for departure. So much of life is like that. We make plans, God gives dreams, then we wait in hope.
Where are you living in anticipation?
Are you pressing forward or have you settled, content to drift?
All of us live in that place between anticipation and realization. We have dreams, even God-given visions, that are still beyond the horizon for which we hope. If we desire to please God, to fulfill His call, faith is required! It bridges the gap that exists between start and finish, between God’s promises and obstacles that block fulfillment.
Paul describes the necessary attitude of those who would ultimately own God’s reward. He admits that there are still dreams unrealized – “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, (complete)” … so how does he live? “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV) He borrows the image of a runner approaching the finish line of the race who pours on the last bit of his strength to lean forward for the win.
Consider some examples of those who were given a vision to possess.
Jesus invited some Galilean fishermen to “Come, follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.” He didn’t say, “If you follow me, in a few years your lives will become incredibly difficult, full of sorrows, and you will die an early death as a martyr!” He let them glimpse the goal, set a vision in their hearts, and then walked with them in through the process of realizing the dream.
God spoke to Abram, “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left just as God said, and Lot left with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.” (Genesis 12:1-4, The Message) What God left unsaid, for the time, was that Abram would be a pilgrim, a wanderer, for much his life; that he would live only hoping for the promised son for decades.
Are you presently living in a ‘between’ time of life?
Did you hear the call, receive the promise, and now you’re in the race? “Press on!”
Often we catch God’s vision while we are enjoying a spiritual high, standing, as it were, on the mountain. Then, we must to get back to where we live, descending from the heights down into the valley where we encounter the challenges. Just plain determination will not be enough to finish well. Grit and duty cannot keep us in the race.
We must make time to be renewed in prayer, fed by the Word, encouraged by the Spirit. Isaiah reminds us that “Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31, NLT)
Lean forward, press on. The One who promises is faithful.
Here is a word from the Word. Spend some time letting the truth soak into your mind, your heart. “So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. It won’t be long now, he’s on the way; he’ll show up most any minute. But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” (Hebrews 10:35-39, The Message)
Let us then be true and faithful-
Trusting, serving every day.
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.
Onward to the prize before us,
Soon His beauty we will behold.
Soon the pearly gates will open,
We will tread the streets of gold.
Eliza Edmunds Stites Hewitt