a little wisdom from the boys

"For all I know, there's more I don't,
Oh, the little I have learned.
For every year of knowledge gained
is a negative year I've earned."

- from Backwards with Time by The Avett Brothers


the God of the meantime

I've been reading through the book of Genesis lately. As the first book of the Bible, Genesis is where we learn of God's creation of the cosmos, the plunging of that cosmos into futility by mankind's rebellion and, most importantly, God's immediate action to redeem and restore mankind and the cosmos. Because of this the book was given the title Genesis, the book of beginnings. While reading over the stories of the men called the Patriachs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) I've come to the conclusion that Genesis could also be called the book of waitings.

The account of Abraham is merely one example. It's recorded that when Abraham was 75 God called him. Meaning that God placed a call on his life and set him apart for a specific purpose. God told Abraham (known as Abram at that time in his life) to move away from not just from his home, neighborhood, or city, but from his country. God tells him to go to an unknown land and promises to give that land to his descendants. God also promises Abraham that he will make him into a great nation and that he will be a blessing to all the nations of the world. There was only one problem, the man had no children, his wife was barren and they were both advanced in age. Yet God assures him that the promises he has made will come to pass. Abram and his wife vacillate between faith and doubt in this God who makes absurd and impossible promises but they wait on him nonetheless. More than two decades later, when Abram is 99 and his wife is still barren, God comes to him and changes his name ot Abraham, "Father of a Multitude." God has the audacity to tell Abraham that he has already made him the father of a multitude of nations, despite the fact that his wife has never given birth. However, a year later Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age. Abraham saw this one promise fulfilled but he waited for that fulfillment for 25 years. The real kicker is that while God held true to his word and brought to pass everything else he told Abraham he would, Abraham never saw the rest of it. He never saw his descendants possess the land and become a nation and he definitely didn't see how God blessed all the nations through one of his descendants named Jesus a few thousand years later. However, after waiting 25 years and seeing the amazing way God kept his promise of an heir Abraham lived the remainder of his years (75 more of them) in confidence that God would do all he said he would.

Genesis, the book of waitings, is filled with stories like this where God tells a person he is going to do something and then they wait while he takes what must have seemed like forever to do what he promised. It seems that God's timing has never been the timing his people would have preferred, yet his timing has always been perfect and ultimately for the good of his people. His perceived "slowness" served to build their faith and trust in him. It also brought them to a place of resolute confidence in his ability and willingness to bless and save. His "delayed" fulfillment of promises also served as a furnace in which the dross of his people's selfishness and folly was burned off. The length of time reminded them that God was truly the one in control. He is the one who determines not just the whats, but the whens and hows as well. In this way they saw themselves more and more clearly and realized that his promises were made and kept solely because of his grace. The extra time of waiting demonstrated to them their own unworthiness and the greatness of God's love and faithfulness.

While I certainly hope that we don't have to wait 25 years I do pray that our time of waiting to return to New Zealand may have the same outcome. I pray that we would realize more and more our unworthiness to serve him anywhere. At the same time I pray that we would clealry recognize his immeasurable grace in doing just that as well as seeing his power displayed as he brings it to pass. As things stand it seems to us that the amount of money needed to return to New Zealand is impossibly huge, but we also believe that nothing is impossible with God.

We have assurance that God has called us to Auckland in the recent past and I look forward to what he's going to do in the future. He has brought things to pass which confirm this. It's the meantime that's the problem. The everpresent waiting of our daily life now tends to grind us down. However, we don't serve a God who exists only in the past or the future. We serve the God who is with us in the waiting, in the meantime. And in the meantime it is my hope that he would build within us a humble and patient confidence in him. As we learn to wait I look forward to being taught how to love him more in the meantime.