Monday Morning Devotion-December 28, 2020
Behind the Scenes
But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will not be delayed. Habakkuk 2:3
Christmas 2020 is now a memory. While the warmth and joy of this special occasion lingers on it is time to start looking ahead to a new and hopefully different new year. With all that we have been through in the pandemic-plagued year of 2020 there is great hope for better days ahead in 2021.
As always, the best way to start out is to commit to God in prayer our hopes and dreams. In so doing we need to keep in mind that a complete overhaul probably won't happen instantaneously. While we keep the faith, it is important to consider that good things will happen in God's timing and that might not necessarily be in ours.
With that in mind let's revisit this message from 2006. It still holds true in 2020 as it will in 2021:
Ever had a circumstance that you prayed about and it didn't turn out the way you had wanted or expected it to? Maybe nothing even happened at all. You were frustrated. Maybe even a little angry. Gosh, why can't I get an answer or the right answer from God? This is something that I have thought through completely and I just can't seem to pull it off. I'm getting no help from the Big Guy upstairs.
Did you ever consider that you might have given up too soon? But, you say, "Jim I prayed for this for five years and nothing happened." I repeat the question. Did you ever think, "Maybe I gave up too soon? This could still happen?"
I'm sure you've heard this before, but it bears repeating and applying some deep thought to it. Our timing is not necessarily God's timing. He's a little smarter than we are. He can see how an immediate answer to your prayer could adversely affect something or someone in your future. Be assured of one thing. God is working behind the scenes to bring the best out of this. But it will happen on His timetable, not ours.
That's the hard part to accept because we are always in a hurry. We are impatient. As Joel Osteen says in Your Best Life Now, "Most of us get impatient when we miss a turn on a revolving door." That's pretty impatient.
Osteen adds, "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!)." That's why it is important to try to understand God's timing. Making the effort to do so can relieve a lot of stress. There's a lot of peace that can be derived from just resolving to let God work behind the scenes without interference from you.
Pray about it. Ask God to work it out in His timing, then go on with your life. That's the best you can do, so don't get mired down in depression, or expectations of immediate gratification. God is on the job. He hears your prayers. When His perfect timing is allowed to work it out, then the best result for your ultimate good will be attained.
In fact, as Osteen says, "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."
There are things God knows that we don't know. We are only thinking of our situation and our desired outcome. Perhaps, to bring about the best conclusion someone else will need to be involved. Maybe it is someone we don't even know. There might be some things in that person's life that need to be changed, resolved, or worked out before they are even in a position to help with our needs in this situation.
We do get impatient and sometimes we try to force the action. We say, "Well I've prayed about this and I'm sure this is what God wants, so I'm going to do it." Sadly, we are setting ourselves up for a fall when this kind of thinking prevails. God may allow us to go ahead because he has endowed us with a free will which he will not violate. But, since we are proceeding in our own timing and not His, God won't bless our efforts. So, we have to complete this in our own strength, not His. That's the scary part. It's why we fail, at times, when our stubbornness has obscured God's vision for us.
Osteen says this doesn't mean that we are "to 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." If and when it's right for you God will open the door. It will happen.
Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas was started by Joel's Dad, John Osteen. After some setbacks in his life he and about 90 people cleaned and fixed up the East Houston Feed and Hardware building for the new church. The building was dirty, had holes in the walls and the floors, but they felt they had God's approval, so they carried on. They were right. It was the proper time in God's timetable. He had plans for that church and it began to grow.
Many years later after the growing church had moved to a new location, Pastor John saw that the congregation was rapidly outgrowing the new digs. He also saw that a lot of ministers throughout the country were building large sanctuaries and creating mega-churches.
So, he told the congregation the church would embark on a building program. Joel says that two or three times his Dad announced to the congregation that they would have the groundbreaking ceremony for the new sanctuary in the fall. Each time, however, when fall rolled around the elder Osteen would put it off because he did not feel peace about the project. He just didn't think it was in God's timing.
Eventually the pastor felt it was the right time even though his critics thought he was crazy. to them it seemed to be at the worst possible time. In his book Joel Osteen points out it was two weeks before Christmas; his Dad had just returned from having open-heart surgery; Houston was in a recession with its economy at an all-time low; and over 12,000 businesses had gone bankrupt the previous year. Using man's logic, it was the absolute worst time to begin an expensive building project. But, in God's timetable it was perfect timing. The building program began and within a year the congregation gave enough money that the church building was built debt free. Today, Lakewood Church is one of the largest churches in America as Joel Osteen follows in his late father's footsteps.
God is working behind the scenes to get things right for your prayers to be answered and your dreams to be fulfilled. As Joel Osteen says, "When you're in God's timing you can be in the midst of the biggest challenge in your life and you'll still be filled with joy."
Prayer: Lord give us the wisdom to understand your perfect timing in our lives and the patience to know that you are always working behind the scenes. Amen!