Tag Archives: The Fire of Delayed Answers

Giants of Faith.

Hebrews 11.1Do you ever look around you and really admire the people that God has placed in your life? Whether they are family, life-long friends or friends He brings you only for a season, look at those people and learn from them and thank God for them. I know I do. As I was reading in Chapter 6 of The Fire of Delayed Answers this week, I was reminded of so many amazing people.

Chapter 11 in the book of Hebrews is often called the “faith chapter”—and for good reason.

Hebrews 11:1-2 says “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith.” (The Living Bible)

The rest of the chapter goes on to list giants of faith—Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, among many others. All of these examples are given as a testimony of faith and an encouragement to those of us who have come behind.

I love the pillars of faith of the Bible. But as I look around me, I see giants of faith every day—people I have known for years, who are incredible people of faith. Many of them have walked, and are still walking, through circumstances that would tear many people apart, or cause them to turn away from God because it seems their struggles never end. Some of these people have endured the same struggles for years.

Illness and disease. Loss—loss upon loss. Estrangement from children. Death of children, of parents. Mental illness. Deep emotional pain. Raising children with special needs. Suicide. Financial struggles. Legal struggles. Joblessness. Divorce. Living in the middle of aging parents and growing children.

But these people, all the ones who are in my mind right now, have never wavered in their faith. They all wait with certainty, with hope, with confident assurance. I think these are the ones Bob Sorge is referring to when he says, “In the face of delayed answers, it takes great faith to persevere in seeking only the face of God—to ‘cry out day and night to Him.’” (Chapter 6, The Fire of Delayed Answers)  And perhaps Jesus would include them in the blessed servants “whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” (Luke 12:37 NKJV)

These are the ones who are persevering, crying out to God and are given over completely to “vigilant watchfulness” and “intense, prayerful alertness in the Spirit.”  These people are watching and waiting and praying without ceasing in great faith, while they wait with expectation for God to bring them through. All the while, they continue to press forward. It amazes me and blesses me.

There is a great reward for each of them, whether their answers come now or later or in eternity. In the meantime, each of them is an encouragement to me. They minister to me and some of them don’t even know it. I watch them and I learn from their examples of great faith and strength and I say to myself, “THIS is how you walk through the darkest valleys of life. THIS is faith.” And though my heart breaks for their sufferings, and I pray for their deliverance, my heart is also filled with awe and gratitude for their great faith and strength.

Look around you and be encouraged by how the giants of faith in your life walk through the fire of delayed answers.

Thank You, Father, for blessing me with such people and may You act swiftly and send their answers speedily. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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In our acceptance, we can wait.

When I was growing up, I never saw either of my parents take a drink. Though there was that time I found a bottle of blackberry (or some kind of berry) wine tucked away under the kitchen sink. It sounded gross to me, so I moved on.

But when I was twelve, I knew my older brother did his share of partying, and I also knew that, though incredibly annoying to me, he was super cool in the eyes of my friends, and apparently the whole world. I, on the other hand, was not so cool and kind of on the fringe of the cool kids. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me.

One weekend when I was twelve, my parents were going out of town (a couple of hours away) to a conference where my dad was going to be preaching. I was staying with my friend for the weekend. To make a really long and embarrassing story short, my friend and I ended up hanging out with some of my older brother’s friends (my brother was not there) and playing a drinking game in which, interestingly, my friend and I (the only girls there) seemed to be the only ones slugging down the Budweiser. Ultimately, we were discovered by her father, in our very inebriated state, while trying to sneak in. My parents had to come back from their weekend to collect me. Then, they had to go back to the conference, with me in tow, where I am sure they were completely mortified. I know I was. The worst thing about it all was disappointing my parents.

Though I don’t think at the time I was intentionally looking to do what I did in order to gain the acceptance of those other kids, I can look back on it now and see that that is exactly what I was doing. I wanted to be cool and to be liked by those other kids. I didn’t want to be viewed as the goody-goody preacher’s daughter (a label I now proudly wear, by the way!).

By the grace of God, neither my friend nor I was harmed that night. But we could have been. Because of our desire to be cool, we ignored the good sense that we had and that inner voice of God saying, “Don’t do this.”

Everyone wants to feel accepted and to fit in. If you know any teenagers, or were ever a teenager yourself <grin>, then you know this to be true. And you also know that people will do some terrible, stupid, ridiculous, dangerous things to get that acceptance.

I think this is a perfectly natural, human, desire. Since God created us for relationships and He created us to need each other, it makes sense that we would want to feel like we are loved and accepted by others.

But if you aren’t grounded in your acceptance in Christ, it can be a slippery slope, as I learned that night. And in the end, not only am I pretty sure I failed to gain the acceptance of those kids, but I also broke my parents’ trust and their hearts. Oh, and I looked like a complete fool—much to the enjoyment of my older brother.

In The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge writes about Doeg the Edomite. He was an outsider, and one of King Saul’s servants. Knowing Saul was in hot pursuit of David, Doeg saw an opportunity and ratted out the priests of Nob, who not only failed to inform on David, but they also sent him away with provisions. As a result, Saul ordered all the priests to be executed and Doeg took the job on, since none of the other servants dared to murder the Lord’s priests.

Sorge suggests that “being an Edomite, Doeg probably struggled to feel accepted as one of the people of God. He longed for approval and had natural ambitions for greatness in the system. Although killing the priests would not have been his preferred way to gain a higher position, he found in the reporting and killing of the priests a way to gain the favor of Saul. Instead of allowing God to bring him to greatness, he manipulated it for himself wickedly.”

And then there is the opposite of Doeg: David. David, who trusted in the mercy of God and vowed to continue to wait on God (Psalm 52:8-9 NKJV). David, who waited on the Lord to bring him favor and promotion, instead of taking matters into his own hands out of his desperation.

Oh, he could have done it. But he didn’t. And his “friends” did not understand why David did not just go ahead and take care of Saul when he had the chance.

But what I don’t think they knew was that David did not need or desire the approval of the men who surrounded him. He knew, without a doubt, that he was loved and accepted by God and was anointed by God to be King—in God’s time. David was confident in his acceptance by God,  so David knew that he did not have to do anything because God had it covered. All he had to do was wait.

G. Campbell Morgan

I imagine that David’s cave buddies viewed him as weak. Hiding out in a cave? Running from Saul? Not taking care of matters himself? What a wimp! Right?

What they failed to see, was the profound strength of David, their future king. I think waiting is often seen as weakness, or as not taking care of your business—like a man should! They did not see the strength in David as he sat back and rested and waited for the Lord to move. It takes great strength to patiently wait on the Lord and to trust Him. And what’s more, strength is gained in the waiting (Isaiah 40:31 ESV). Waiting produces great character and blessings from God—something David learned and for which he was richly rewarded. As for Doeg, Sorge tells us that he is never mentioned again in the Bible.

We must know the Source from which our acceptance comes. Then, like David, we can rest in that acceptance, wait on the Lord and trust that He will come through for us and bring us into the amazing blessings He has planned for us.

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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Being real with God.

“Lord, all I’ve got today is tears.” He said, “Then give me your tears.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers

I try very hard in my life to be real. To be transparent. And I am always drawn to others who are.

Some people might look at me and say, Oh, that Joell, she is so funny or she is a positive person…and I really am those things, most of the time. That is real, but I tend to keep the not-so-happy stuff to a minimum. To put on my happy face and press on. Nobody loves a Debbie Downer.

There are times when I feel so downcast, and I don’t want to dump that on people. I don’t want to be a whiner. And truly I don’t want to seem too needy. And so, I will hold back. There are times when it is just too painful to be completely bare, and so I save that for the quiet times when I am alone with God and pour that out to Him. He is always my soft place to fall, the lap to crawl up into, a safe place where I know He is always willing to hear me cry. He doesn’t mind if I get whiney from time to time.

Truly, I have struggled with depression in my life. I have had my ups and downs just like everyone, and though I always try to find the silver linings and figure out what God is teaching me, I have still found myself really down in the dumps at times, and sometimes for no apparent reason.

I think of David, who feared for his life and was driven to live in a cave—for years—as a fugitive, and who must have experienced the very darkest despair. I read his songs to God in the book of Psalms—the way he cried out to Him and begged God to have mercy—and I am comforted.

I have often heard it said that God’s Word is His love letter to us, and it most certainly is. It is also his letter of “Hey, I know what you are going through. I’ve been there. Read this. Hear my voice. Stick with me, because I am sticking with you. You are going to get through this.” It is His book of comfort and encouragement. It is also a demonstration of the lives of men and women who walked with God through unimaginable circumstances: Job’s suffering, Joseph being sold into slavery and his subsequent imprisonment, David’s depression and loneliness. God never left them.

He will not delay His love

Because David was in tune to God’s great love for him, David was, as Bob Sorge says in The Fire of Delayed Answers, “secure enough in himself to give honest expression to his real feelings and emotions.” Sorge speaks of his own struggle with depression, and in his emptiness, felt he had nothing but his tears to give back to God. Sorge says, “He doesn’t ask us to give Him something that we don’t have. When you feel empty give Him whatever you have within you, little as it may seem.”

Even if it is your tears. Or your anger. Or your frustration. Or your fear.

Give it to Him. He wants it all.

And what he wants more than anything is your heart and my heart. That is what He is after. He wants it whether we are feeling on top of the world or whether we are living in the cave, like David. God is always real with us. He wants us to know that we can be real with Him.

Even when we don’t understand what is happening or where we are headed or when the fire will be over, He does, and though He may delay his answers, He will never delay His love.

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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