Anyone who has ever tried to get to a destination and met with construction delays, accidents or obstacles of different kinds knows the frustration. What a waste of time to be stuck in a traffic jam.
In Acts 23:11 Paul received a specific word of direction from God while he was in Jerusalem. The Lord told him: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Now, what do you think how long it took for Paul to get to Rome?
To make a conservative estimate, considering the transportation available at Paul’s time, he should have gotten there in no more than 2-3 months-but it took him 5 years.
Here is what happened: Immediately following his call from God, Paul’s enemies formed a conspiracy to kill him. His life was in real danger. Paul could have asked: “How come God, you let this happen if you asked me to go to Rome and to serve you there”? First, Paul was put in prison for his own protection but then he was “forgotten” there for two years. When he finally got moving in the direction of Rome, the ship he was on encountered a terrific storm. They shipwrecked off the island of Malta but made it all safely to land. As Paul is warming up at a fire, a poisonous snake bites him. Everyone there expects him to drop dead any minute-but Paul miraculously lives, unaffected by the bite.
Finally after 5 years he arrives in Rome, yet not as a free man. He is under house arrest, with a guard watching him-but he has freedom to share and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ.
What can we learn from Paul’s situation?
- The way to get to our destination may be quite different from what we envisioned it to be. God’s Word is filled with examples of people who were seemingly sidetracked from their order, yet they kept faith that it would happen according to what God had said. Noah for instance built on a huge boat in the middle of dry land for 120 years, while his neighbors laughed him out of town. Moses was called to deliver God’s people out of slavery but he was placed at the backside of the desert for 40 years until he was ready. Joseph had a dream as a boy that he would keep his people from certain starvation, but he was almost killed by his own brothers, sold as a slave, put in prison being completely innocent… until the word of the Lord had tested him-and it came to pass.
- Delays are never a hindrance to God’s purpose in our life.
- Delays are not denials (God hasn’t taken back his dream/vision for you).
- Delays happen, so the Lord can build patience in our lives.
- God is more concerned in building our character than in getting us to a destination!
- Nothing done in the will of God is wasted.
So, no matter what happens, hold on to God’s call, vision and direction when delays, trials and difficulties come and keep on hoping, even when all hope seems to be gone. In all the above stories, there were considerable amounts of delays and troubles-but in all cases God’s will was done. It will be in yours if you trust him and hold on!
© 1999 Volkhard Graf, YWAM Native Ministries
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