Human nature tends to want everything right now. We`re always in a hurry. Most of us get impatient when we miss a turn on a revolving door! When we pray for our dreams to come to pass, we want them to be fulfilled immediately. But we have to understand, God has an appointed time to answer our prayers and to bring our dreams to pass. And the truth is, no matter how badly we want it sooner, no matter how much we pray and plead with God, it`s not going to change His appointed time. It`s still going to happen on God`s timetable.Because we sometimes don`t understand God`s timing, we live upset and frustrated, wondering when God is going to do something. €œGod, when are You going to change my husband? When are You going to bring me a mate? God, when is my business going to take off? When are my dreams going to come to pass?
When you understand God`s timing, however, you won`t live all stressed out. You can relax knowing that God is in control, and at the perfect time He is going to make it happen. The Scripture says, €œThe vision is for an appointed time. Though it tarry, wait earnestly for it, for it will come to pass. Notice, it`s called an €œappointed time. It may be next week, next year, or ten years from now. But whenever it is, you can rest assured that it will be in God`s perfect timing.
I would love to tell you that if you prayed hard enough, and if you had enough faith, your prayers would always be answered within twenty-four hours. But that`s simply not true. God is not like an ATM machine, where you punch in the right codes and receive what you requested (assuming you`ve even made a deposit!). No, we all have to wait patiently. That`s a part of learning to trust God. The key is, how are we going to wait? What will be our physical, emotional, and spiritual demeanor? Are we going to wait with a good attitude and expectancy, knowing that God has great things in store? Or are we going to be upset, frustrated, and muttering complaints? €œGod, You never answer my prayers. When is my situation ever going to change?
Consider this: If you know you have to wait anyway, why not make a decision to enjoy your life while you`re waiting? Why not be happy while God is in the process of changing things? After all, there`s nothing we can really do to make it happen any faster. We might as well relax and enjoy our lives, knowing that at the appointed time God is going to bring His plan to pass.
See, you don`t have to struggle. You don`t have to go around always wondering why God is, or is not, doing something. No, when you are trusting God, you can be at peace knowing that at the right time, God will keep His promise. It`s going to happen, and the good news is, it`s not going to be one second late. Imagine how much pressure that can take off you!
If you are unmarried and are believing for a mate, you don`t have to worry. You don`t have to beg God incessantly. You don`t have to pray every fifteen minutes reminding God to send your mate. No, you can relax, knowing that at exactly the right time, God is going to bring the perfect person into your life, and he or she will not be one second late.
By the same token, if you are believing for your family members to develop a relationship with God, you don`t have to quote Scripture to them at every family function as though you were firing a spiritual machine gun. You don`t have to shove the Bible down their throats. You don`t have to be upset because they won`t come to church with you as much as you would like. You can relax and live your life in front of your loved ones, speaking naturally about your relationship with God and knowing that at the appointed time, God is going to speak to your family members.
Maybe you have some areas in your own life in which you need to improve, areas in which you need to change, and you`ve been extremely hard on yourself because you`re not growing as fast as you would like. Lighten up and allow God to change you in His own timing. We all want to change overnight, but the Bible tells us that God changes us little by little. You can quit struggling, stop worrying about it, and simply do your best to love God and live for Him, love others, and let God change you in His own way and in His own timing.
Do you see how liberating it can be when you understand the concept of God`s timing? When you are truly living by faith, you can relax in what the Bible calls the €œrest of God. That`s a place where you`re not worried, you`re not struggling, you`re not trying to figure everything out, wondering why something is or isn`t happening. The rest of God is a place of total trust. When you`re in God`s rest, you know that at the perfect time, God is going to perform everything He promised; He will bring it into being.
Why isn`t God working in my life? You may be wondering. I`ve been praying, believing, and waiting, but it seems God is not doing anything about my marriage. That difficult situation at work hasn`t changed. None of my dreams is coming to pass.
Understand, God is at work in your life whether you can see anything happening externally or not. In fact, one could almost make a case that God often works the most when we see it and feel it the least. You may not see any progress. Your situation may look the same as it did three months or even three years ago, but you must trust that deep inside your life, God is at work.
Beyond that, behind the scenes, He`s putting all the pieces together. He`s getting everything lined up, and one day, at the appointed time, you will see the culmination of everything that God has been doing. Suddenly, your situation will change for the better.
In Due Season
David had a big dream for his life. He had a desire to make a difference, but as a young man he spent many years as a shepherd, caring for his father`s sheep. I`m sure there were plenty of times when he was tempted to think that God had forgotten him. He must have thought, God, what am I doing out here? There`s no future in this place. I want to do something big for You. When are You going to change this situation? But David understood God`s timing. He knew that if he would be faithful in obscurity, God would promote him at the right time. He knew God would bring his dreams to pass in due season. He said, €œGod, I`m trusting You. My times are in Your hands. He was saying, in effect, €œGod. I know You are in control. Although I don`t see anything happening, You are working behind the scenes, and at the right time, You`re going to change this situation.
You know the story God brought David out of those fields, he defeated Goliath, and eventually he was made king of Israel.
Perhaps you have a big dream in your heart€”a dream to have a better marriage, a dream to own your own business, a dream to help hurting people€”but like David, you don`t really see any human way your dream could happen.
I have good news for you! God isn`t limited to natural, human ways of doing things. If you will trust God and keep a good attitude, staying faithful right where you are and not getting in a hurry and trying to force things to happen, God will promote you at the right time, in your due season. He will bring your dreams to pass.
If you`re not seeing God move in your life right now, one of two possibilities must be considered. Either your requests are not God`s best and will probably not be answered the way you`d like, or it must not be the right time. If God were to answer that prayer the way you are hoping, it could interfere with His ideal plan for you.
God Sees the Big Picture
Today, our television program is aired on networks across the United States and in numerous countries around the world. That has been a dream come true for me. I loved broadcasting my dad`s ministry all over the world. But toward the end of my dad`s life, he didn`t want to do too much of that anymore. He just wanted to relax and serve the church.
At one point I had arranged for a large number of radio stations to carry our weekly broadcast. I said, €œDaddy, if you`ll come down to the studio for maybe an hour a week, we can make all these radio programs.
To my dismay, Daddy responded, €œJoel, I don`t want to do that. I`m seventy-five years old, and I`m not looking for anything else to do.
I was so disappointed. I thought, God, I`m young, and I have all these dreams to touch the world; I have lots of energy; I don`t want to do less. I want to do more!
But something deep within me kept saying, Be patient. It`s not the right time.
I made a decision that I would keep a good attitude and honor my dad. I didn`t get in a hurry. I didn`t get frustrated and start struggling and trying to make things happen in my own strength or in my own timing. No, I simply remained faithful and kept doing the best I could.
At the time, it didn`t seem that God was doing anything with Daddy`s dream or mine to broadcast messages of hope all over the world. But a few years later, when my dad went to be with the Lord, it all became clear to me. I never dreamed that I would be the pastor. I never dreamed that I would be the guy in front of the camera one day. But now I realize that God put those dreams in my heart for my own life, for my own ministry, not just Daddy`s. Had I not been patient and stayed in God`s perfect timing, I don`t believe I`d be where I am today.
We don`t always understand God`s methods. His ways don`t always make sense to us, but we have to realize that God sees the big picture. Consider this possibility: You may be ready for what God has for you, but somebody else who is going to be involved is not ready yet. God has to do a work in another person or another situation before your prayer can be answered according to God`s will for your life. All the pieces have to come together for it to be God`s perfect time.
But never fear; God is getting everything lined up in your life. You may not feel it; you may not see it. Your situation may look just as it did for the past ten years, but then one day, in a split second of time, God will bring it all together. When it is God`s timing, all the forces of darkness can`t stop Him. When it`s that appointed time, no man can keep it from happening. When it`s your due season, God will bring it to pass.
Suddenly, things will change. Suddenly, that business will take off. Suddenly, your husband will desire a relationship with God. Suddenly, that wayward child will come home. Suddenly, God will bring your hopes and dreams to pass.
Shelby was an attractive woman in her mid-thirties who genuinely desired to be married. She had prayed and prayed but had never even had a serious relationship with a man. In fact, she told me that she hadn`t been out on a date within the last two or three years. She was tempted to be discouraged, assuming that nothing was happening, and that she might spend the remainder of her life as a single woman.
But one day she was driving home from work when she had a flat tire and had to pull her car over to the side of the freeway. A few seconds later, another car pulled over behind her, and out stepped a handsome young man. He not only changed Shelby`s tire, he invited her out to dinner. About a year later they got married, and today they are wonderfully happy and in love.
Now, think about the odds of such an occurrence. That certainly was not an accident or a coincidence. That was God at work in the lives of two young adults. Think about the timing involved in their meeting. Her tire had to go bad at just the right time. There had to be just the right amount of traffic on the freeway. Had there been too many cars, he would have been late; too few cars, he would have been early. That young man had to catch just the right elevator leaving the office. He had to get stopped by just the right amount of traffic lights. All the timing had to go down to the split second in order for his car to be shortly behind Shelby`s when her tire went flat.
Don`t ever think that God is not at work in your life. He`s making things happen even when you don`t realize it. Just stay in an attitude of faith and learn to trust His timing.
When I was in my early twenties, I had an experience similar to Shelby`s. I had never really dated much during high school or college. I was a sports nut, and I was busy playing baseball four or five nights a week. I really didn`t have any time for a social life. But I eventually tired of hanging out with all those old ugly guys, and I decided I was going to find somebody a little better looking.
I prayed that God would lead me to the right person. I said, €œFather, I know You have somebody already picked out for me, so I`m trusting You to bring us together at the right time.
Two or three years went by and nothing much happened, but I didn`t get in a hurry or try to force things. I didn`t get upset and say, €œGod, why aren`t You doing anything? No, I just did my best to stay in the rest of God. I said, €œFather, I know You are in control and even though I don`t see anything happening, I know You are working behind the scenes on my behalf.
One day I noticed that my watch had stopped. My friend Johnny and I were going up to the gym to work out, so I decided to stop at a jewelry store along the way to get a new watch battery I went into the store and met the most beautiful girl I had ever seen! I thought, God, You have just answered my prayers!
We struck up a conversation, and I discovered that she was a good Christian girl. I thought, That`s great, because if you weren`t a Christian, you were about to become one!
She not only sold me a battery for my watch, she sold me a whole new watch! And she`s been spending my money ever since.
But think of all the factors that had to fall into place for me to meet Victoria. My watch battery had to stop. I had to have a reason to go to a jewelry store, not simply a Wal-Mart or a convenience store. Then I had to stop at the particular store where Victoria was working. Keep in mind, there are hundreds of fine jewelry stores in Houston. Then she had to be working that specific shift. She could have been off that day. Somebody else could have waited on me. But all these pieces came together perfectly, because God was in control.
To live your best life now, you must learn to trust God`s timing. You may not think He`s working, but you can be sure that right now, behind the scenes, God is arranging all the pieces to come together to work out His plan for your life.
You may be experiencing some difficult times, and perhaps your circumstances have seemed static and immobile for quite a while. You may not be able to fathom how your situation can ever move forward. But you need to know that God had the answer to your prayer even before you had the need. God has been arranging things in your favor long before you ever encountered the problem.
A pastor of a large church in America unfortunately got off track and made some very poor decisions, resulting in his resignation. His family fell apart, and he left the ministry. It was a very sad situation. By all outward appearances, he had a bleak future. Several years went by, and the pastor was trying to get his life back together. He still had a heart to serve people, so he decided to travel to South America to assist some missionaries there. While he was in Brazil, he visited a little church. When he met the pastor, something very strange happened. The Brazilian pastor looked shocked and then began to weep. The pastor clasped the American`s hands and began to pray in Portuguese.
As the pastor prayed for him, the American felt an unusual presence enveloping him, almost like a warm glow purging him of his hurt and pain. He said, €œFor the first time in several years, I felt that I was able to let go of the past. I felt totally free and totally restored.
When the prayer ended, the American asked his interpreter, €œWho is this man? And why was he praying for me like that?
Through the interpreter, the Brazilian pastor said, €œTwenty years ago, I was praying and suddenly your face came into my mind. And God said to me, €˜One day you will help bring healing and restoration to this man.` Today is that day, and you are that man.
Now here`s the truly amazing aspect of this story: Twenty years prior to that event, the American was not even a Christian, much less a pastor. He wasn`t even serving God. But God knows the end of the story before the first word is written. Twenty years earlier, He had placed a vision in one man`s heart that involved another person, then for two decades, God designed events in both of their lives to bring them together on that platform in that little church in Brazil, so one man could see the fulfillment of his dream, and another man could be reassured of God`s love and forgiveness.
In the same way, God already has the answer to your prayers before you have the need. He has already been arranging things in your favor. And who knows, maybe five or ten years ago, God spoke to somebody about the situation you`re going through right now, and He is shaping events to bring your paths together. You can`t fake that sort of thing. You`d be foolish to try to manipulate such events. No, God is in control. You may not think anything is happening, but remember, God often works the most when we see it and feel it the least. Learn to trust His timing. Don`t get in a hurry; don`t grow impatient; don`t try to force doors to open. Don`t try to make things happen in your own strength. Let God do it His way
I remember a number of times when my dad tried to start construction on a new sanctuary for Lakewood Church. The congregation had grown too large for our facility, so several times over a five-year period, Daddy had architects draw up some preliminary plans for a new building. But just as he was about to break ground, Daddy would sense a caution from God. He didn`t feel right about pressing ahead. He didn`t have a peace in his heart about the matter, so he`d put it all on hold.
At that time, my dad was in his early sixties, and a number of younger ministers across the country were building large sanctuaries. Daddy felt pressured to build before it was too late. He`d get all fired up about starting the new project. Two or three times, he announced to the congregation, €œThis fall, we`re going to break ground for our new sanctuary!
Fall rolled around, and Daddy would get up in front of the church and say, €œI`ve changed my mind. It`s not the right time. I don`t feel a peace about it. See, Daddy was smart enough to know that he needed to stay in God`s perfect timing. And the congregation possessed enough confidence in him to patiently abide by Daddy`s convictions.
The sad truth is, if you push hard enough, and if you`re so stubborn that you must have things your way, God will sometimes allow you to undertake a project without His blessing or at the wrong time. The problem with that, of course, is when you start something in your own strength and in your own timing, you`re going to have to finish it and maintain it in your own strength. When you let God start something, He`ll finish it for you. He`ll provide everything you need.
When we try to force open doors and make things happen in our own strength, the end result is a constant strain on us and a drain on our resources. Life becomes a constant struggle. Nearly all joy, peace, and victory dwindle from your existence. That is not a place of contentment and satisfaction.
If you are in an area like that today, you need to do your best to get out of it. I`m not suggesting that you break up your marriage relationship or renege on business contracts. That would only exacerbate the problem. But if you are doing things that are not hearing any fruit, and they are giving you a perpetual headache, there`s a good chance that God didn`t initiate that endeavor or relationship. Or perhaps it is part of God`s plan for your life, but you are out of His timing, and you are proceeding under your own power according to your own timetable.
Be careful! If God isn`t in what you are doing, you need to make a change. Here is where many people miss God`s favor: They know God has spoken to them; He has placed a dream within their hearts. But they then set about trying to fulfill God`s plan on their own. We must be aware that if we get out of God`s timing, it`s the same as getting out of God`s will. We need to be patient and let God bring His plan together at the appointed time.
That is not to say that we should sit back passively and expect God to do everything. No, we have to aggressively pursue our dreams. But if a door is not opening, don`t try to make things happen in your own strength.
My dad was a big enough person to get up and tell the congregation, €œI missed it. I thought this was the time we were supposed to begin building, but it is not. It`s just not the right time.
Amazingly, when God finally did lead Daddy to start construction, it was during what seemed to be the worst possible time. It was two weeks before Christmas, and Daddy had just gotten out of the hospital following open-heart surgery. Added to that, the economy in Houston was at an all-time low. The city was in one of the worst recessions that we had ever seen. More than twelve thousand businesses had gone bankrupt during the previous year. By all logical business standards, beginning a new building€”one paid for by donations looked as though it was going to be a major mistake. Cynics and friends alike told my dad, €œYou`d better not start right now. You`re never going to raise the money. That building`s going to sit there unfinished.
Daddy thanked them for their opinions, but when it`s God`s timing, it doesn`t matter what the surrounding circumstances look like. It doesn`t matter what people are telling you. If God says it`s time, then He will bring it to pass.
Daddy initiated the building program, and in less than one year`s time, the congregation gave enough money that the building was built debt-free! Had Daddy tried to do that in his own strength, in his own timing, even if the economy would have been red hot, it still would have been a constant struggle.
Understand, when you get out of God`s timing, you are stepping out of His favor. When you step out of His favor, you are operating on your own in the dark. I`m not saying that when we do something for God, we`re not going to have adversity. But fighting the good fight of faith outside God`s timing can leave you constantly struggling, never having anything go your way, never having any joy. On the other hand, when you`re in God`s timing, you can be in the midst of the biggest challenge of your life, and you`ll still be filled with joy God will give you all the grace you need. If you will learn to trust His timing, He`s promised that at the right time, He will bring your dreams to pass and answer your prayers. The answer will come, and it will be right on time.