Over the holidays, a family member was telling me a story of when he was a child. His uncle took him out into the Gulf of Mexico to go fishing. The sea wasn’t as calm as some would like it to be that day. As the rolling of the sea was having the effect of turning the boy green, the uncle asked if he would like to put his feet on some solid ground.
They were many miles from the coast so the boy replied, “I would really like that, but there is no land in sight.” The uncle knew these waters and steered the boat to a sandbar that was nearby. What a relief it was to stand with his feet firmly on the sand.
Fishing and Waiting
There were a number of boats around the sandbar and several other fishermen. The uncle left the boy with some fishing gear and a stern, “Don’t leave here with anyone else,” promising that he would return to pick him up.
It was a great day of fishing, with the boy filling his stringer with fish. The other fishermen and boats began to leave as the day wore on. Several asked the boy if he wanted a ride back to the coast. Remembering his uncle’s instruction, he obediently declined each offer. When the last boat was leaving, it was really hard to decline that ride as the tide was shifting and the boy was now standing in a foot or so of water.
The water continued to rise until it was higher than the boy was tall. As he bounced his feet off the sand to keep his head above water, the boy kept thinking, “Maybe I should have accepted a ride with one of those other boats.” Wondering how much longer he would be in the water, waiting for the promise of his uncle, doubt grew more and more.
After what seemed like an eternity, the boy started to hear a glug glug sound. It was getting louder and louder when he realized it was the sound of his uncle’s boat. As promised, the uncle came back to pick up the boy, just where he had left him.
Promises, Dreams, and Prophecies
I love God’s promises. They are scattered all throughout the Bible. We will often claim this one or that one as we see their application to our life. But have you noticed that just about all of the promises have a command or instruction attached to them? Just as the uncle promised to return, he gave the instruction not to leave. If the boy hadn’t followed the uncle’s command, he wouldn’t have been there to be picked up.
Many of us have had dreams that we believe are from the Lord, or prophecies spoken over us. We like to latch onto the exciting promises or those things that resonate with our desires. In doing so, we develop expectations which God may or may not have intended us to have. We may make life decisions based on what we are sure is a promise of God.
I believe that God still speaks through prophets, dreams, and visions. However, we must be careful in our interpretation of those words. It’s easy to pick and choose the parts we like and gloss over the hard stuff. In all of it, we must be intentional to seek the Lord over the promise. His desire is to walk in continual relationship with each of us as His children.
Our perspective and understanding of things is extremely limited, just like that of the boy in the story. As the young boy was wishing for land and expecting none, the uncle knew where to find ground. When he was enjoying the fishing on the sandbar, he was not aware of the ways the waters shifted. As he anxiously waited for his uncle to return, he wondered how long he would be treading water.
When we are journeying with the Lord, we need to be aware of our limited understanding. What we think something means may be completely incorrect. How we interpret a dream, a word from another, or a promise of Scripture needs to be through relationship with the Giver of our life. In that relationship as a child of God, we can have assurance of His goodness and His complete understanding.
Faith is required to trust the Lord, especially in those times of our inability to see and know the fullness of the situation. This is often uncomfortable and, likely, will be difficult. His ways are not our ways (See Isaiah 55:8-9), which means we have to surrender to His understanding, not stay in our own.
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
God’s timing of things is, at least in my experience, not the same as I would schedule. I have many stories of His provision arriving just in time when I was sure it would come earlier. There’s been times that I have been sure something would happen in a certain time period, only to be left waiting.
The waiting is one of the hardest things we have to learn on this journey with the Lord. We can choose to fret and worry, get upset that God is not answering, or jump the gun and make something happen on our own. It is far better when we choose to obey the instructions given, even when we don’t understand, believing that the Lord will do His part.
There are definitely times I’ve felt like that boy, bobbing in the water, bouncing off the sand, wondering when God will show up and fulfill His promise, questioning if I missed my chance. He is never late, though our perception of when He should show up is often erroneous.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
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