I remember the day quite clearly… It was your usual summer day in August, and I needed a caffeine pick-me-up. So I did what I normally do, and drove to my local Starbucks. Yet when I walked in I was utterly in disbelief that they had already started to sell their beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of PSL, but when it actually is autumn and a little cold outside, not when I am wearing shorts and flip flops. Even more recently on the first day of November, I saw that Starbucks had immediately started to push the Holidays. Red cups, holiday drinks, and trinkets galore. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but I feel like I need to start thinking about Christmas right now or I’m missing out. That somehow I need to get a head start and reach for things out of season.
And that’s what I believe is the “Starbucks Syndrome”… We want what we want now or else. It’s my right to have what I want now. Quicker the better. Rest assure, I have nothing against Starbucks or any other businesses, but I feel like it hurts us when we apply the same mentality to faith. We either try to strive and reach for something out of season or we feel bitter when something doesn’t happen because we feel entitled. Whether it’s a new job, a promotion, a relationship, or even a promise from God, we feel as though we are owed it by God, and we deserve it right now. I believe wholeheartedly that God can act in a moment and suddenly. Yet what God wants to give us, He desires to give fully rather than quickly. All things in the Kingdom of God are like a double-edged sword. What is meant to bless you can actually destroy you if you do not have the character to steward well what He gives. He wants us to be able to receive what He gives in His timing. It’s His timing, not ours. Isn’t that trust? Because it’s about relationship after all.
He cares about our dreams, desires, and wants so much that He refuses to bless us prematurely. It’s all about process! He shapes us, molds us, corrects us, loves us, holds us, and on and on as we walk with Him daily. In our relationship with Him, He wants to make us the type of person He can trust with His blessings and anointing, and He won’t give up at the first sign of our weaknesses, struggles, or failures because He is the God of covenant. The work that He desires to do in us takes a lifetime. God is more interested in the person we become more so than the things we will do for Him. He’s not looking for just servants, but trusted friends. He will stick with you through it all, and in turn He’s asking us to stick through with Him. Our covenant with God is a two-way street. It’s partnership. It’s trust. It’s knowing He has our best in mind and He only does what’s best. Even when His best doesn’t seem like it.
If you look throughout Scripture, God takes years, often times decades, to accomplish His will in the person’s life. Abraham is called at 75, but doesn’t see the realization of God’s promise until he is a 100. Joseph has a dream at 17, but only after years of suffering does he get to see it come to pass. David is anointed to be king as a teenager, but only coronated when he reaches his 30’s. The list goes on and on. And a lot of what happens in the meanwhile between promise and fulfillment doesn’t seem like “best”. However God has never failed anyone, and He never will.
So no matter where you find yourself today, He is good. He is always good! There are no shortcuts to the promises of God, and there is no rushing the process, but He walks with us every step of the way. On this journey and adventure, we are not alone. More than what He gives or what He can do through us, it’s the truth that He will never leave us nor forsake us. That He loves us. In the waiting, He loves us. In the trials and testing, He loves us. In fulfillment, He loves us. And even when promises don’t come to pass, He loves us still.
Check out this powerful excerpt from A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal to get a better picture of how God works in our lives…
“God’s first assignment for Paul did not involve immediate fulfillment of the vision of his new life. The promise that he would preach to Gentiles and kings would take years to be fulfilled. A long interim, beginning in the wilderness, would relegate Paul to relative obscurity for a decade.
Paul wound up in Tarsus, hardly a glamorous assignment… Had Paul pushed for earlier, “better” assignments, he may have had his ministry shortened by a too-early martyrdom, or he may not have emerged prepared enough to be the leader he became.
Sometimes the temptation is to manipulate situations and assignments to try to get positioned for a better platform, so God can “use them” in a “bigger” way.
Too early promotion can mean too short a ministry… The lure of the limelight has caused many leaders to miss the maturing of the commonplace. By fast-tracking themselves into premature leadership, they get into situations that are over their heads.
God uses the commonplace to build character, to expand the leader’s heart by layering experience and learning that must be available to the leader for larger assignments.
God uses a preparation model for developing leaders, not a planning model… Those who plan their ministries in advance often get where they want to go, but along the way they lose the anointing that comes only with radical obedience and trusting God to fulfill the dreams He gives… Trusting God with their destiny, they would end up with influence they never could have pulled off on their own.”