Delay is not Denial!

Read Genesis 16 for context.

Genesis 16 is the account of Sarai, Abram and Hagar. It’s got a plot line that would rival any episode of ‘Days of our lives’. Sarai and Abram have received a promise from God many, many years before but they have grown impatient and frustrated with God’s apparent memory loss of his promises to them. Due to their impatience and impetuosity, Sarai comes up with a bright idea, to help God’s promises to come to pass. She offers her husband, her very own maidservant as a wife. Just brilliant! Of course, Abe being a red-blooded, half moron male decides it’s a brilliant idea as well and ends up sleeping with Hagar and ‘kaboom’ ‘WW1 the prequal’ begins in the centre of the household. Some principles that emerge for our benefit today are:

  • Don’t misinterpret delay as denial – We live in the space-time continuum, God doesn’t. He exists outside of it. His purposes are established in alignment with his timing which is, in the grand scheme of eternity, perfect. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Some promises of God come to pass quickly, some take a lot longer to come to pass and we being finite, impetuous human beings want everything the moment we conceive the idea or hear God’s word to us. When God’s promises delay we conclude that we heard wrong or that God is not interested in us anymore because we must have done something wrong. To conclude this would be to conclude wrong.
  • When you misinterpret God, you try to accomplish in your own strength what can only be achieved in God’s strength. That which is born of the flesh must be sustained by the flesh. That which is born of the Spirit must be sustained by the Spirit. Too many of us are tiring ourselves out, unnecessarily, because we are pursuing things, God has never sanctioned or ordained for us. Attempting short-cuts to get close to God’s promises only ever ends up in conflict and frustration. It causes conflicts in relationships and it actually delays what God wants to do anyway.
  • Cutting corners on God’s promises leads to bitterness and more pain. The ‘Hagar Highway’ only ever takes you into bitterness and more frustration. Near enough isn’t good enough. Good enough isn’t satisfactory from God’s perspective. God has plan A and he intends to bring plan A to pass. Don’t settle for short-cuts when deep down you know you are just being immature, impatient and finding it difficult to trust in God (Prov 3:5-6).

I know exactly what delay feels like, because I have lived in delay most of my ministry. Trust me, shortcuts never provide the answers you are looking for. They are simply a mirage. Instead, run to God. Ask him the hard questions, remind him of his promises. Do what he’s asking you to do right now with what he has put into your hands. Stop complaining to others and start complaining to God. The funny thing is, he can take it from you way more than you think he can. He may even give you the answer you are looking for.

Grace!

Connect your Vision to your Diary!

I define vision to be a clear and compelling God-given picture of the future (as per my Vision book 2006). I think it’s also more than that but we have to define it in some way.

I was speaking to Steve Addison last week and he feels that the word ‘vision’ has been over-used and that it doesn’t mean a whole lot  anymore. He prefers to use the word ‘Need’ and suggests that when God gets a hold of a leader, he re-defines their character with his character and opens their eyes to a particular need and gives that leader energy and ideas to resolve the need. Not bad at all, I like!

Whether you call it a need, or a big cause or the big idea, I don’t care. What I care about is that you connect your big vision to your daily schedule = Diary! If you don’t, you’ll be like me sometimes and get totally frustrated with feelings of not accomplishing what God put me here on the planet to do. Can you identify with this?

When I have felt frustrated for longer than a few days, I ask myself, why? Invariably, it generally comes down to a disconnection between the great cause God’s put in my heart and my own daily schedule. It’s really simple, if you want to see your vision come to pass and avoid feeling like you are wasting your time, then you need to know what jump starts your heart and you need to actively schedule the right activities in your diary around the big idea.

One of the best bits of advice from all the books on time management I’ve read is simply this, “Organize and Execute around your priorities”.

When I feel frustrated with vision output vs time spent I return to the prayer closet and ask God to speak to me about what he has called me to do and what his vision for my life’s work is. When I do this, he always, always, always says the same things but the whole process distills life into its rawest and simplest form. I’ve found that after 2-4 weeks of living post this encounter, life gets complicated in the minutia and demands and expectations of others. I have a real problem with people approval and I have OCD expectations of myself. This makes for an intense feeling of drivenness that I like when sanctified but I hate when not. We are to love people but worship God, not people. We are to love results but worship God, not results.

Your diary should reflect the vision you are seeking to fulfill. If it doesn’t, your kidding yourself. The big rock activities of your week should be spent on the big rocks of your vision. My vision for Activate Church is:

  • Disciple thousands of people
  • Transform the community we are apart of
  • Plant churches across the globe
  • Produce resources to help people grow in their ministry

While there are things I do that don’t fit into anyone of these big rock categories, If I don’t get intentional about aligning my diary with these goals, I get frustrated and my family feels like they’re living with a bear who has a sore head. You get the idea? Make it work.

Grace!