But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. II Peter 3:8
Ugandans have a wonderful expression, “slowly by slowly,” which we would probably translate, “little by little.” I, personally, prefer slowly by slowly, especially when I’m waiting for something to transpire. When it doesn’t happen within my timeframe, the days and weeks can drag on and on. The image of time as a snail precisely expresses my attitude as I wait for God’s intervention.
The faith walk can be described quite accurately as “slowly by slowly.” God gives us a word or direction, and we can often expect fulfillment just around the corner. Truth is frequently just the opposite. And sometimes it may seem that God doesn’t respond at all to our cries.
God promised Abraham a son; he waited twenty-five years for Isaac’s birth. Joseph dreamed of ruling; the reality occurred about thirteen years after his kidnapping. The Children of Israel were told they’d be returning to Canaan; after 400 years of slavery and then forty more years of wandering, they finally reached their homeland.
The people of Israel believed for centuries that God would send a Messiah, but for so many, that promise was never fulfilled because Jesus came in a form and with a mission they couldn’t accept. Paul strongly desired to go to Rome. That wish was granted, but Paul made his journey as the Empire’s prisoner. God is sovereign.
God’s promises are true, and he is faithful, but he doesn’t operate in our timeframe or according to our human schemes. The distance between promise/prayer and fulfillment/response is determined by God’s wisdom. We may mentally acquiesce that “his ways are higher than our ways” (Isa. 55:9), but we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with disappointment when his time and methods don’t concur with ours.
Walking by faith is just that. God speaks a prayer to our hearts or a word to our spirits and then asks us to trust him for its fulfillment. We pray for perfect healing; God answers by taking our loved one to perfect health in heaven. We ask for a loan; God gives us a grant. We ask for more grace in a difficult relationship; God removes that person from our lives. We ask that God does whatever is needed to bring someone to himself; God answers in ways we’d never imagined.
Slowly by slowly, step by painful step, through dark and perilous passages God asks us to trust his profound love and to walk with him. He asks us to trust that all his plans for us are good and that all things will work together for good (Jer. 29:11, Rom. 8:28). And while we lean and trust, we learn and grow. We shed much of our self-assurance and those selfish attitudes that lead us to trust ourselves more than our loving Father who is using delays and his methods to make us more and more like him and more and more dependent on him.
“My times are in your hands” (Psa. 31:15). Give him time to work out his perfect plan. God is never too slow and never late.
Father, strengthen our faith and help us to walk confidently with you even when we don’t understand your timing and your ways. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.