How Long, O Lord?

The day had finally come. I gripped the large yellow envelope while my heart thumped. Here it was – the long-awaited feedback on my manuscript. Five years had been sown into this work. Five years reliving a season of my past, with all its strained emotions and extreme choices. A season which culminated in deep healing and a new beginning. I’d poured myself out on each page, slowly but willingly, spurred on by the desire to help others.

God inspired this book. He spoke to me in a dream. I saw myself writing a story describing my past battle with anorexia. I’d been asking God to show me His purpose for my life. I knew this was His answer.

The writing process had taken longer than expected. Years longer. The demands of life pressed in on me, squeezing my good intentions into short bursts of hurried typing or sleepy, late-night ramblings.

At last, I thought, I was nearing the end of the journey.

I was wrong.

The highly-recommended editor sent several pages of feedback. Six pages, to be precise. Typed. In small print.  All very constructive and practical. But hard. In short, he told me to rewrite most, if not all, of the story.

My heart sank to my shoes.

What was the point of all those years of work? How many more years would it take to finish? A sense of urgency burned within me – this story needed to be told. God had said so. Yet it seemed I’d hit a huge road block. And He’d allowed it.

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Twelve months have passed since those pages first arrived. I see more clearly now. Mr Editor was right. Alterations were needed. I’ve begun a whole new copy. Many more months will pass before I can again hold a completed manuscript.

The learning curve I’m climbing is steep. I’m thankful for the growth I’m experiencing in the process. But in my depths I groan, How long, Lord? When will the dream reach its fulfilment?

Will this process never end?

Sometimes I see others riding the wave of success, dreaming big and seeing fulfilment come quickly. Jealousy bites but I cast it aside and choose to celebrate with them. Still the hope inside me threatens to shrivel as I wonder why my dream seems ever-more wispy and elusive.

That’s when I turn to my Bible. It’s laden with stories of people who’ve also had to wait. Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, David – all were promised wonderful things. Yet the paths they walked to reach the fulfilment were long and costly, painful and confusing.

David cried out, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”(Psalm 13:1)

Despite how it felt, God had not forgotten these ones. The years He allowed between promise and fulfilment helped prepare them for their future roles. Abraham grew in obedience, Joseph in humility, David in trust. Waiting works deep change in my soul as well. Like a river rushing over rocks, the steady passing of time sifts my motives and erodes my rough edges.

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There’s nothing like waiting to show you what’s really in your heart.

Then I come to Jesus.

Even He went through a waiting process. Him, in all His perfection. Though He knew God’s plan from an early age, He walked slowly through the first thirty years of life. He submitted to His earthly parents, visited the synagogue, learned a trade, all the time knowing there was so much more ahead. Others tried to push Him along more than once. He chose to hold firm to His Father’s plan.

For Jesus, the wait wasn’t an issue of character.

It just wasn’t time yet.

When the Father gave the nod, He was launched into the fullness of His destiny and changed the world forever.

God’s perspective of our lives is so much clearer than ours. He sees the grand masterpiece that He’s creating across the globe, with each one of us a part of it. Like a skilled craftsman working with fine strands of thread, He tenderly holds each of us and weaves us into His beautiful design. He watches over His work carefully and knows just when each new detail should be introduced.

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We, with our tunnel vision, can get impatient and want to hurry things along. But interfering only creates messy tangles. Just ask Abraham.*

When the time is right, God will unveil His handiwork, infused with strands of precious gold – His glory. The finished product will be breathtaking. Magnificent. Far more beautiful than anything we could try to create for ourselves.

And absolutely worth the wait.

Psalm 31:14-15

“But I trust in you, O Lord;

I say, ‘You are my God.’

My times are in your hands.”

(Helpful scriptures:

Luke 2:42, 49; John 7:6; *Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-6, 16:1-16, 17:15-22,18:9-14;

Psalm 27: 14; Habakkuk 2:3; Galatians 4:4; 2 Peter 3:9)

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