Feel like you missed God's vision for you life, or are searching for His plan? Or wondering what the next age has for you?
In Exodus 3: 7-8 when Moses is standing before the Lord at the burning bush, the Lord says this: "...I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good land and a large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey."
And in Exodus 4: 30-31 we read: "And Aaron spoke all the words of the Lord that He had said to Moses, and did the signs in front of the people. And the people believed when they heard the Lord had visited the children of Israel...and they bowed and worshipped the Lord."
But not a single one of them save Joshua and Caleb, saw that land flowing with milk and honey. Did God lie, or can we miss Him to such a degree we never see the promises?
What we have here is a failure to communicate - or do we?
Notice that in telling Moses He would bring them into the land of milk and honey, the Lord was sharing the highest and best and most appealing aspects of His plan. He didn't fill in the details about the walk through the desert. He didn't describe the fact they'd have to conquer the people who lived there. He gave the vision in completion, the mature and finished result - a land flowing with milk and honey. That vision was to sustain them.
In Genesis 12 over 400 years earlier, we see the Lord did the same thing with Abraham. In verse 1-3 we are told this: "The Lord had said to Abraham, 'Get out of your home country and away from your father's family, to a land I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you, and make your name great, and you will be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
What a great promise!
He laid out the complete and mature vision, the end result of a best case scenario. And of course Abraham starts walking. If you look at it on a map it is a distance of over 1,000 miles (1609km). But when he gets to where God wants him, 12: 7 says, "And the Lord appeared to Abraham and said, 'To your seed I will give this land." You've arrived Abraham. Put down roots!
And we are told Abraham built an altar to the Lord right there, followed by taking a walk around his new country. While he was still surveying the land v10 says: And there was a famine in the land, and Abraham went down to Egypt to stay there because the famine was so bad in his land."
Having a famine in the land isn't necessarily a sign you missed God. But you may have to change plans to adapt to the famine, and come back to the vision later - as Abraham after some years returned to the land.
Do you see a pattern developing?
The Lord will always tell us the finished product, the mature vision, the complete plan in a best case scenario. He will always leave out the details of what it will take for us to see that vision come to pass. He might let you know it will be difficult, but He rarely fills in the blanks in any real detail. After all, we walk by faith, not by sight.
Even the apostle Paul experienced this. When he is retelling his testimony to King Agrippa in Acts 26: 15-19 he says this: "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a servant and witness both of these things you have seen, and to things about which I will appear to you later. Delivering you from the people (Jews) and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send you."
The Lord spoke of great things
I'm appearing to you now, and I'll appear to you later with more information. I'll deliver you from the people and send you to the Gentiles. Wow that sounds amazing. But let us read what Paul went through to see that vision come to pass, from II Corinthians 11: 24-27:
"Of the Jews I've received 5 times, 39 stripes (195 stripes across the back in 5 separate beatings). Three times beaten with rods. (Custom of taking a cane and beating the bottoms of the feet). Once stoned (to death according to Acts 14: 19-20, which most believe he was caught up into heaven/Paradise as per II Corinthians 12).
Three times shipwrecked, a night and day floating in the ocean...and he goes on to talk of betrayals, peril of robbers, weariness, fatigue, fasting, in cold and not having enough clothes to stay warm, plus the emotional toll of care for people.
We do know the Lord told Ananias in Acts 9: 16 the Lord was going to tell Paul some of the things he would suffer if he accepted the call on his life - but if the pattern fits, the Lord didn't fill in a lot of details.
Do you think Peter knew when the Lord told him that He would make him a fisher of men, that he would one day die a martyr's death? He wasn't told that until John 21: 18-19. At that point he knew too much, was in too deep. Did he know when he left his fishing business in Luke 5: 9-11 that he was leaving it to die a martyr's death? Fishers of men sounds so meek and mild and noble and - just nice. By the way, you're going to die by crucifixion when you're older, people taking you where you don't want to go - still feel like being a fisher of men?
You are normal
I can't think of anyone who has hit the mark perfectly all their lives. Abraham decided to 'help' God by producing Ishmael with Hagar, and look at the mess he left the world with as a result. He is the father of our faith, yet look at him. Moses never got to see the Promised Land. Jonah got swallowed up, Elijah hid in a cave, John the Baptist asked if Jesus was really Messiah or should they keep looking, Peter denied the Lord 3x, and on it goes.
Don't lose sight of the simple fact that you and I are already in eternity. We look at things God has told us and don't see them come to pass, and mark our mortality on a calendar wondering what went wrong, or continuing to repent of sins long since forgiven. We forget we are already in eternity, already living forever.
What doesn't happen in this life, can come to pass in the next age - in fact I think many things He says to us He intends to be for years or decades after this body has died. Our life Jeremiah says, is life in this age is like our breath we can see on a cold morning. That is the Lord's perspective, so He is invested in us for the long haul.
There is a lot of prophecy in the Old Testament that won't be fulfilled until the next age, so why is it so hard to believe something He tells us today will be fulfilled in 50 or 100 of 200 years? His Word will not return void, but will accomplish what He said. Look beyond the life in this body, and realize you're already in eternity.
In this way the pressure if you will, is on Him, not on us. If God ever gives you something and you think, 'I can do that', then it isn't God. If it were, you'd take glory in it yourself and could stand before Him saying 'Look what I did for you all on my own!'. That's not going to happen. The vision that is TOO big, TOO glorious - that is God's vision. The one which requires miracles to come to pass.
Miracles? Yes, like a way too old woman and man having a baby. Like a stuttering guy who requires his brother to speak for him and has this wooden staff that does miracles. Like an apostle who had people bring their sick lest even his shadow should pass over them, or a man who had pieces of cloth he had touched heal people. If you can do it yourself, it isn't God. If you will need miracles to see the vision completed, it may be God, that the glory is of Him, not of us.
More next week...how it works, the decisions we have to make, and what about all that lost time?
Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org