As I sit down to draft this post, I have to admit that I’m kind of intimidated by the high standards that I have to live up to–after the beautiful, heartfelt posts by Sarah, Hailey, Audrey and Jane Maree.
So I’m not going to try and one up them or anything, I’m just going to do exactly what they did–attempt to share my heart with you.
2016 was a wild ride for me–in good ways and bad. 2016 was a year of learning to be fearless, face things that frightened me, learning new things, overcoming obstacles and so many other things.
2017 wasn’t. 2017 was a year of, well, nothing.
Okay, that’s not true. Stuff did happen. A lot of stuff happened, but none of it impacted me the way the events of 2016 did. As I was considering this post, I began to wonder–what has God taught me? If I was writing this last year, I would have said courage, facing the things that frightened me, but I struggled to work out what God had been teaching me this year.
And then it came to me as I was reading the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph is pretty much the poster boy for ‘what was meant for evil has been used for good’, but something else jumped out at me as I reread the story that was so familiar to me from Sunday school days. Joseph was patient. Joseph waited.
In Genesis 37:2, it states that Joseph was seventeen years old when he had his dreams, in which his whole family bowed down before him.
In Genesis 41:46, it says that Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh and became vizier of Egypt. And his brothers didn’t come to Egypt and bow down before him until the famine was approximately two years old. Since the good times lasted for seven years, that adds an extra nine years.
Thus, it was approximately 22 years later that Joseph’s dreams, which he’d had at the age of seventeen, came true.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like waiting. Be honest with me, who does? It must have been agonising and frustrating for him to wait over two decades to see God fulfil His promises, especially when everyone else’s dreams came true almost immediately.
But the Bible doesn’t show Joseph grumbling or questioning God. It shows Joseph working diligently, ruling fairly and following God, being ready to move on as soon as God called him to, but not being unhappy where he was, even when that place was prison.
Joseph is not only an excellent example of trusting God when bad things happen to us, he is also an example of waiting on God to fulfil His promises, patience when everything seems so long and hard and monotonous.
When I was in Sunday school as a little kid, I was taught that God always answered prayers, but that He answered in three different ways: Yes, No, and Not Yet.
2017 was a year of “Not Yets”. It was a year of prayers that seemingly went unanswered. Lord, may I win this writing competition? Not yet. Lord, may I finish this? Not yet. Lord, would you open this door? Not yet.
I don’t believe God has said no to any of these things, though if He has, I’m ready to accept that. He has just said wait on my timing.
Next year is shaping up to be a year of enormous change–for my family, for my church, and probably even for my country. It might be another year of waiting and of patience. Or it might not be.
In Leviticus 25:4, God gives instructions to the Israelites to plant crops in their fields for six years, but on the seventh year to let the land lie fallow. To give it a break. This year, for me, has been a year of lying fallow. But that doesn’t mean it was wasted. Because it wasn’t. 2017 may not have been as momentous as 2016, but it was every bit as important. It was a year of rest and of learning that you can trust God, even when He doesn’t seem to be doing anything.
A caterpillar has to wait in its cocoon before it emerges, or else it will never become a butterfly. For the caterpillar, no waiting, no patience, means no flight.
And if, like the caterpillar, I have to wait before I can emerge, if I have to lie dormant before I can fly, then I’m happy to wait and spread my wings another year.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31