We often talk about dreams. Those inner visions that propel us forward to fulfill our divine destiny. But what happens when they are late in arriving, even after you have worked and struggled to bring them to fruition? How do you deal with the delay between the dream and that moment you know you have arrived at the desired outcome? Sometimes there is so much disappointment in the delay that it may seem difficult to move forward into all God has for us.
The longer I live, the more I thank God for the DISAPPOINTMENTS in my life. Some of my WORST moments now serve as some of my BEST altars! – Raymond Woodward
Have you ever had a God inspired dream that didn’t happen as quickly as you thought it should? Yes, you had worked at it, but it seemed that many obstacles came against you. Finally, you gave up in despair and the dream lay dormant. Think with me for a moment about the delay for the Children of Israel when they had been freed from their bondage in Egypt and were told by God they would inherit a land of promise. Most of us are probably familiar with the story and how their fear talked them out of their future. It is a sad story of an often experienced reality in our own lives.
As I was thinking of this I wrote down how I believe God may use delays in our own lives. I will get to the dangers of a delay later this week, but check out these 3 things about delays and how they are a part of the design of God.
God uses delays to prepare us. God uses delays to get us ready for those difficult times that we are going to face during the course of our journey. These delays are designed to fortify our faith and make us stronger.
God uses delays to test us. Deut. 8:2, “God led you through the wilderness for forty years… testing you to find out how you would respond and if you would obey Him.” God uses delays to test how we will respond under pressure and to test our loyalty and obedience to Him. Although the Israelites were responsible for their time in the wilderness, God still used it for their good.
God uses delays to train us because sometimes it takes longer to get Egypt out of us than it does to get us out of Egypt (TWEET THIS). God uses the delays to break those habits and thought patterns and train you in His way of thinking and doing things. The best thing to do when you are in God’s waiting room is be patient and let God do His work in your life.
If you find yourself in a delay and the dream is not becoming a reality in your life, I challenge you to look at the delay in a different light. Next post we will discuss the danger of what we often face when in the midst of a delay. Till then – KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
In our last post, we discussed the way God uses delays in our life to teach us in three major areas. God uses delays to prepare us, test us and train us. Today I want to look at the danger of not fully understanding why we are being faced with a delay. If you and I are not careful we can fall into the trap of caving into the pressure of a delay, and find ourselves in some major trouble as a result.
When looking at the children of Israel, we can quickly discover four major approaches to the delay they faced. As a result of each of these, only 2 out of the original million plus, ever made it into the land of promise. The Israelites made these four major mistakes that cost them their promise. When faced with delays in our own lives these 4 areas should be something we avoid.
Let's take a closer look:
Don't Fear - This is the first mistake the Israelites made. There are a lot of reasons for the delays that happen in our life but this one is our own fault. God says don't be afraid. They were afraid to go forward at the Red Sea. And they were afraid to enter the Promise land because of the walled cities and the giants. They had enough faith to move out of Egypt but they didn't have enough faith to move into the Promised Land. They were afraid.
Don't Fret - Fret means worry. Don't get worried. Don't get uptight. We do that when we get into delays. We worry, get uptight, get stressed out. Worry may give you something to do, but it will only cause strength to drain from you. When you worry you bind the hands that can help you. God responds to faith not fear. Learn to trust God in the delays you face. After all, it is God that is leading you. God's children began to fret and it cost them dearly!
Don't Faint - When you go through the delays in life, don't faint. Don't get discouraged. Don't lose heart. Don't give up. Don't throw in the proverbial towel. This is the third thing the Israelites did and it kept them out of the promised land. Numbers 14 tells us the story: "All the Israelites grumbled against Moses... `If only we had died in Egypt! ... We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt." They gave up on their dream. They caved in. They had been in slavery 400 years but now because they are having a little bit of delay they want to go back to Egypt. "If only" and "go back" are phrases that are tell-tale signs you're discouraged -- that you're fainting, losing heart.
Don't Forget - Psalms 103: "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forgetnot all his benefits..." During the delay, time causes us to forget many things. When there is a delay, we tend to forget our dream. We tend to forget what God had done in our life. We tend to forget God's goodness to us in the past. We tend to forget that God is with us. We tend to forget God's power. We tend to forget how important it is that we stay in God's strength and we start focusing on all our problems than on what He has done for us. We cannot forget all God has done in our lives in order for us to move forward into the promises He has for us.
I trust that as you look at these posts you will begin to see what God has in store for you and how He desires you approach the delays that come into your life. Remember you have a God that is for you and not against you.
These two posts were originally written in 2013 and have been updated in their current form
Often I find myself writing things down or posting thoughts that never get beyond the pages of my journal or some random twitter feed. This last week has been one of extreme challenges and while trying to process some of the lessons I felt God was trying to teach me, I wrote a couple things down that I thought I would pass along here on my blog. These thoughts will not “blow your mind”, they are just simple thoughts during some challenging times.
For me writing things down helps me process whatever struggle I may be going through at the time, giving me a clearer perspective on the steps needed to keep moving forward. Hopefully one of these will speak to you and help you as you attempt to overcome the challenges that might be in your path today!
Leadership Thought #1
Leadership! Trying to become a successful leader is not always something that is easy. Seldom does success come with no battle or struggle. Being a God called leader means you will experience great pain, loneliness, and misunderstanding but it also means you will experience great victories and watch as God does amazing things in the hearts and lives of those that you have been called to lead. In spite of the pain and the struggles that so often are a part of leadership, keep pressing forward – the end result is worth the struggle!
Leadership Thought #2
One thing that is certain about life and leadership is simply this – You will be wounded. It is a part of being a leader. However, how you respond and continue forward with that wound is extremely vital to your future success. Too many don’t know what to do with wounds and end up letting the wound fester and become infected instead of getting the proper treatment, letting it heal. If we are not careful we can become like a wounded animal that lashes out at others when touched or approached. You cannot allow your wound to control you for it will destroy the direction of your destiny. Everything you do will be tainted by the wound. No matter who may reach out to bring healing, if you are not willing to allow healing to come, you will resist and end up in a worse condition than what you started with. Find healing and restoration. Discover that the God of creation is still the Balm of Gilead and He can bring healing into any wounded situation no matter how bad it may be or how hurt you may feel. Wounds appear in many forms. Some of them we bring on ourselves and some come from those we trust. This is a necessary part of growth and God allows wounds to come so we will draw nearer to Him in search for healing in our lives. I love the words of Jesus that Luke wrote down:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, Lk4:18
Leadership Thought #3
I found this quote by accident (read it somewhere I think) after I listened to a friend of mine speak about impacting cities for God and it resonated with me, so I thought I would include it in this post.
Here are some random tweets I sent out scattered throughout the last few days that may be beneficial to some that are facing insurmountable obstacles in your path. Remember you were created to move beyond the limits that others or circumstances may have placed on you!
Hope you have an awesome week ahead and you attempt great things for God in your life!
We have all been hindered by personal viewpoints in our lives, either formulated by our own perspectives of our failures or past circumstances. Sometimes we are even tripped up by the words and actions of others. What is so sad is that these perspectives often keep us from moving forward, keeping us from getting past those limiting moments in our lives.
This morning I woke up, early than I desired to be honest, and these three perspectives began to take shape in my foggy brain. It is nothing earth shattering but I thought I would just write them down and maybe somebody, somewhere would find strength in these primitive early morning thoughts. Now please understand, this was a few hours before my first cup of coffee, if it doesn’t make sense we can blame it on that! 🙂
My Past Cannot Define Me – Be honest, how often have we allowed failure, trials or struggles define who we are moving forward? Too often to count I am sure but if the truth be told, your past has no defining power over your life if you decide those things are behind you and there are NOT YOU! I refuse to allow my past to decide who I am in my present or in my future. It was the Apostle Paul who stated; FORGETTING those things BEHIND ME – I PRESS…!
My Present Cannot Limit Me – Look around you… Go ahead and examine your current circumstance and condition and you will quickly discover that what we think we need to keep pressing forward is usually not in our grasp. This is where FAITH comes in. I may not see how I can move past the current obstacle in my path but I do know a God that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all I can ask or think so I choose to look to HIM instead of the mountain in my present journey. I must not allow what I cannot see to limit the perspective of my destiny. I must keep pressing forward…
My Future Cannot Frighten Me – The biggest problem Israel had when spying out the land was FEAR! God had given them the land but their own perspective convinced them they were not able to step forward by faith into the promises of God. I refuse to allow what is coming around the next corner, even though I can’t see it, to keep me from putting one step in front of the other. I still believe that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord! They may be ordered but I must do the stepping!
Hopefully today someone can take these three perspectives and incorporate them into your life. God has great things in store for you and most of the time it is our OWN perspectives that keep us from moving into the promises of God. Lift up your eyes today – you have a GOD that is FOR you and not against you!
If it hasn’t been challenging enough living life single-handedly, I am facing a new challenge with an upcoming surgery on my right shoulder. Now if you are not aware, at the end of my right shoulder is the only hand I possess, so to say the next few weeks are going to be a bit challenging is an understatement. However, if it doesn’t challenge you it will never change you! My grandfather used to say – “Boy, ain’t nothing but a hill for a stepper!” I am not sure what he was driving at but I guess he was talking about this one word that has been a driving force in my life, attitude.
I believe it was Winston Churchill who said: “Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference!” I believe that statement is true. Attitude is the driving force behind every decision, emotion, action and thought in our lives. If our attitude about our current situation is faulty then the direction we move will lead us to the wrong destination. Will challenges arise? Will there be moments where it feels like you can’t take another step? ABSOLUTELY… However, if I can understand my attitude determines my direction and once I set it correctly, it will lead me in the correct path, then I am halfway to making it to the right destination. Attitude is everything!
When facing challenges, attempting to operate with the correct attitude, we must remember a few things I am convinced will help us:
You can only correct what you are willing to confront – Hiding behind an excuse, blaming someone else for your condition or just being plain lazy, will never get you to a place of overcoming whatever challenge you may be facing. I have to confront my attitude about the circumstance and strive to look at it from the right perspective. View affects vision and if I am not looking at ‘it’ correctly, I will try to find a shortcut through the problem. I have to face it and push through it!
You are never exempt from a challenge – Life Happens! Struggles come and struggles go and understanding they happen to EVERYONE is a step in the right direction. Some people only think bad things happen to them. Look around – someone, somewhere has it worse off than you and is facing a more difficult trial than you are. Don’t let your attitude get sour during the trying times – Remember that God is with you and He will not put more on you than you can handle!
Finally, This too shall pass – I love the scripture that states, “Weeping may last throughout the night, but joy comes in the morning” Hang on, you are going to get through this and hopefully once you do, you will be able to look back and see the lesson that was necessary for you to learn in the struggle. I know it is easier said than done when you are in the middle of it all but while you are walking through the valley pick up some stones that will remind you that God is for you and has a plan for your life.
Well, I better sign off. Just wanted to encourage someone in the middle of the struggle – Keep your head up – there is some good stuff ahead of you.
If you have been a follower of my story or a frequent reader of my blog, then you know the story of my 4th grade teacher Mr. Jenkins, and the impact he made on my life at a crucial time. In 2009-10 I released the children’s book “Thank You Mr. Jenkins” and was excited to see the impact this story had on teachers, students, parents and those facing unique challenges in life.
For some time now I have been considering revising and updating this book “Thank You Mr. Jenkins.” I am in the process of talking to a publisher about getting this book rewritten and expanded and I am excited about the possibilities of those it can impact even more in the future.
Below is a video that we had recorded a few years back detailing this story and introducing Mr. Jenkins himself. It is a little long but it goes into detail concerning the impact this teacher had on my life and his perspective of a day that forever changed me and my perspective of who I am. I hope you will enjoy this story and pass it on to teachers and those that help make a difference in the lives of students or those struggling with differences. I pray this story will continue to make an impact in lives across the world.
Currently, in the Sargent household we have 3 teenagers but in just a couple of weeks that will all change as my oldest turns 20! It is hard to imagine that my wife and I are at this stage of our lives. Seems like yesterday when we were bringing our first born home from the hospital. Time waits for no man and unless we recognize the stages of life, time will pass us by and we will not capitalize on the importance of each segment of life. There are lessons to be learned in every season, some good and some bad, but necessary none the less.
As a parent every stage is important. The things my teenagers are being taught currently could not have been taught to them when they were 5 or 6. It would have been impossible for them to comprehend at that moment in their lives. But now, lessons that will sustain and guide them as they grow older are being taught and hopefully they are being grasped. However, sometimes as a parent you have to put on your teachers hat and instruct as life reveals difficult assignments everyone must face. To ignore these moments is to ignore the incredible opportunity we have been given as parents to shape and govern the trajectory of our child’s life.
There are many lessons that must be taught. Things such as: the importance of faith, wholeheartedly loving and living for God, the quality of human life, respecting others, understanding the value of our time, talent and treasure etc… The list goes on but each is as important as the other in the development of our kids. This all hit home recently in a decision my wife and I made with our kids when it comes to cars and driving. Yes, we are at that stage – two of our kids are now driving!!! (Can someone say INSURANCE COSTS?!!!)
We have told our kids that if they want to purchase a vehicle, they must save half of the money needed to buy the vehicle and whatever they save would be matched by us. Now you must understand something – my middle daughter who is 17 IS A SAVER!! She socks it away like crazy. This is great but BAD when she reminds us often how much she has been saving for a car. All I see are dollar signs flashing as I begin to compute my end of the deal and realize I better do something quick or we are in trouble….
These type of decisions and guidelines sound great when they are 11 and don’t have ways to get much money but now, when she is 17, I may have to sell my other arm to match the offer I made. I thought I was being clever and teaching them a valuable lesson, and I was but now I have to keep my end of the bargain. So, I have decided to sell my truck and get me something used and reliable to get around and find something for her that will get her from point A to point B without breaking down on the side of the road. Of course she is excited and I’m nervous but such is the stage of the life we are in right now. I have learned as a parent I must keep my end of the bargain – it teaches me a valuable lesson as well as my kids.
Each stage brings new fears as well as new joys as we see God work in the lives of our children. I want to continue to guide them through life by providing wisdom and mercy. They will not always make the right decisions but I must recognize these moments as opportunities I can leverage to teach the valuable lessons necessary to become what God has destined for them to become. This is tough but it is important!