June 13, 2020

Hey, I am losing track – is this the 8th week since we’ve met? Wow, anyone beginning to wonder, “How long”…?

“How long” – I’ve been thinking of that phrase this week.

First it popped up in my morning devotional schedule, when on Thursday I read in Psalms 13 these words… “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Ps 13:1,2

As I read I thought how common to man, is that thought, that we question God’s timing (or commitment); especially when it involves our deliverance. Then I remembered seeing that phrase in other passages of scripture. For example Psalm 35. Verse 17 reads… Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue my soul from their ravages, My only life from the lions. PS 35:17

It seems like we ask that a lot. Note these passages Psalms 6:3, as well as Psalms 62:3; 74:9, 10; just to cite a few.

So, I thought, we people are an impatient bunch

Then I wondered; “is the state of man to be, nervous about deliverance? Are we whining too much, expecting too much too soon? Is our concern for immediacy legitimate?

I hear others say things like this: “Is he punishing us and if so, is this really a fitting judgment? I get the impression, from my old prison ministry days, that my Christian brothers are feeling the same pinch as all incarcerated criminals; complaining about the terms of their sentence – it’s too severe, too long – it’s not fair?

“Not fair”? “Too long”? Does God make such mistakes?

Let’s think about this. Is God ever late? How can the eternal be late? Perhaps our perspective is based upon our anxiety and nervous apprehension as we await the next unknown; just as we wait the dawn of a new day. On those days the sun seems to come up rather slowly, but it’s always, faithfully, on time”.

Furthermore, let’s ask; does God have an eternal purpose that can’t be rushed if it’s to have its most profound success? Perhaps He takes “time” given the complicated nature of His work and those with whom He is working on! Or Is your God, like the prison master of a rock quarry using the venue as judgment – with a single purpose to hurt, to crush the daylights out of His victims, turning stone to dust? Or is He, like an award winning “vintner” first mashing, then straining, containing, fermenting and finally bottling us “grapes” in order to guarantee a finer outcome? Certainly He doesn’t tarry simply to make us hurt or squirm; but to build, to bless.

So, perhaps it’s theologically inane to ask such questions, for time is not an issue with God – Peter reminds us of that …”But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”

Therefore, we can unequivocally say that God does not delay – He can’t, He is outside of time. Instead it’s about purpose – so He is “on purpose” about all He’s doing, therefore He is also “on time”!

BUT WAIT! Did you know that God also asks that question? Yep, He does. Check this out; here’s a few examples…

  1. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Exodus 10:3
  2. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? Exodus 16:28
  3. The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? NU 14:11
  4. How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. NU 14:27

Ah, so now we see God wondering about “timing”? Yet he knows all things, for besides being eternal, He is Omniscient!

So it isn’t about theology, it’s about emotion, relationship, covenant faithfulness, gratitude, obedience, partnership; disappointment.

Therefore, that is where I will stop. We don’t need to wonder “how long”, until we get out of COVID-9 jail. We need to work on how to build a better relationship with the One who is certainly the judge of all, but is also our Redeemer, Lord and Abba Father.

Peter reminds us about God’s “tardiness” when He writes9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.

Therefore, since His purpose is to refine and renew us, we need not be “disappointed” by the duration of this season of life, with its challenges and questions. We need only to rest in the One who as determined a blessed future for us. Armed with the knowledge of His great love for us, we can resist the temptation to complain or even wonder, “how long”? Instead we can endure and say to The Lord, “Refine me through this, that I might come out a person fit for fellowship with a King, a wine ready for His banquet table.