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!
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.
Two Keys to Becoming Effective in the Life of Others
It is Memorial Day. I sit in the living room of my home looking outside at the beautiful foggy San Diego county weather and I am in a contemplative sort of mood. You know those moods you get in when you have the opportunity to slow down and reflect on life and what is going on around you.
Well, this is one of those days and seeing that it is Memorial Day – a day of remembering – I am extra reflective. I am able to sit down with my computer, type away at the keyboard for this post, ready to enjoy the day with my family, and I am free! I am not worried that some enemy from another country is going to break into my home and take me hostage or hurt my family. The reason that I feel this way is because there have been countless men and women that have given their lives so that I can have this privilege – so that my family can enjoy life and freedom. They left a legacy so amazing that it is impacting generations to come.
We owe quite a debt to those that lay down their lives for what we so often overlook and seldom celebrate. Today I am grateful for the sacrifice made by many so that I can enjoy life, happiness and freedom. Thanks for the life you lived and the life you gave so that I can have these privileges.
Being in this reflective/contemplative mood also made me begin to ask myself the question – What am I currently doing to leave a legacy that others will look back on and one day reflect on the impact that was made? How am I viewing the opportunities in my life to change the way people live theirs?
We all get selfish! Admit it – go ahead – we do! We live the majority of our lives thinking about US! What am I getting out of this? Where am I going in my life? Who is going to help me out? The list could go on but if the truth were told – true significance comes from how I spend my life in helping others. Real worth of living is discovered in the impact made in the lives of those that you have a chance to influence.
I have had the distinct privilege of being around some great people in my life. I prayed early in my twenties that God would allow me to have the opportunity to be influenced by great men that have spent their lives investing in others. Their influence has helped shaped the individual I am today and I am grateful. I want to return the favor as I move through this life by doing two things. These two principles are simple yet important. To leave a legacy we must be willing to:
SPEND OUR TIME INVESTING IN OTHERS – don’t be afraid to take the time to invest in the life of someone near you. Time is a precious commodity but the time spent in reaching out to others pays massive dividends that you cant put a price tag on.
ALLOW OUR STORY TO IMPACT OTHERS – We all have a story and it is unique to you. A life map of where we have been and what we experienced along the way. As I get older and recognize the season of life I am in, the more I recognize the lessons I have learned from the things I have been through! Those lessons can help impact someone if you are able and willing to relate it in the correct way. I have often stated – there can be no impact without contact! So many go through things griping and complaining about the struggle instead of picking up lessons that need to be learned in those difficult times and sharing it with others. The lessons discovered in struggle and difficulty are the building blocks of impact and influence. (TWEET THIS)
So I guess what I am saying on this Memorial Day is – go out and make a difference in someone’s life. It is really rewarding and I promise you – someone, somewhere is going to someday remember you and be thankful for you and the impact you made in their lives!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go. – Dr. Seuss
Most people I have met spend more time planning their summer vacation, than they spend planning their life. Instead of living by design, many people end up living by default. Their lives become nothing more than reacting to what is thrown at them, instead of creating a plan and setting the direction of their life. You must understand that what is in your past is not your destiny. It is what is in front of you, the direction you are moving in, and your potential that really matter.
Our family loves road trips. In fact, a few summers ago we traveled over 4,000 miles and drove through five different states. It was a blast, even with the kids constantly asking, “Are we there yet?” It was totally worth it.
However, on one particular day of our travels, I didn’t pay attention to the signs as we pulled into a small little town in Idaho and, as a result, we ended up going 150 miles in the wrong direction. Of course this was a little frustrating when I finally discovered my mistake, but it reminded me of a valuable lesson: If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to PAY ATTENTION! The journey called life demands your attention.
There are two groups of people I have come across in this world: those who are reactive and those who are proactive. People who are REACTIVE just live their lives responding to the circumstances that life brings their way. The majority of people who are reactive just exist! They never seem to accomplish much because they spend the majority of their time and energy reacting to circumstances instead of trying to do something about what happens before things go crazy.
But then you have those people who are PROACTIVE! They seem to always be ahead of the curve; they shape the future instead of the future shaping them. These people are adaptive and visionary. The proactive group seems to see what is coming before it ever shows up. Not much surprises them because they spend the majority of their lives crafting the right direction for their lives to take.
Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest hockey players of all time, once said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” This is how you should approach your life as well.
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
A great example of someone in our lifetime that has been proactive is Steve Jobs. If you haven’t read the biography of Jobs written by Walter Isaacson, you owe it to yourself to get it. People like Jobs and Bill Gates and others seem to have the ability to forecast the future and start turning long before the curve in the road.
I challenge you to quit living life defensively and start living life on the offense. Go after what you want! Set the trajectory of your life in the direction that you feel you should go and just go for it! Eventually, you are going to get there and when you do – it will be worth it!
Oh, by the way – if you haven’t read the Dr. Seuss book I quoted from at the beginning of this section on direction, go buy it right now. It is called, “Oh The Places You Go.” I promise that you will enjoy it.