"GOD DOESN'T CALL THE QUALIFIED,
GOD QUALIFIES THE CALLED".
On this Earth, there is no place like the arid badlands of hope deferred. It’s a place that is lonely, and hidden, yet familiar to the souls that have been lured by the strength of dreams. Dreams of living your calling; dreams of laying your head in the sweet night with fulfillment; awakening to a world where your hopes and reality are singing in harmony.
Sojourning on this ancient path of faith, I’ve grown an eerie familiarity with chasing the mirages that have led here. It’s a phenomenon that births, when the very hope we so tightly gripped suddenly slip between our fingers. And all thats left in our hands? a tattered map to these very badlands. It’s a place where people marred by the collision of devotion & betrayal reside. Devotion flowing through our veins, from foolishly running after any whisper or storm of God; yet scarred with betrayal, from the hopes and expectations that seemed to have turned against us.
It’s quite frightening how all the bravery that kept you running, can quickly leave you over a canyon without the wings to carry you over. Icarus comes to mind; how one can soar with wings hand sewn with hope, only to rise too close to the blazing sun made of dreams. The fall from high hopes is draining. Humbling. A downright buzz kill. And to be candid, I recently found myself prostrate on the floor, speechless, with only tears that could speak on my behalf to God.
I was frustrated. I was tired. I am tired.
Ultimately in that moment, I was losing hope in, well … hope. Without too much detail, 2015 was another year along the dotted lines of this tattered map. Again, I found myself with a sick heart from hope deferred (Prov.13:12) But how that journey started could have never been further from the truth. All the dials were set to believe this was God. Regardless of having to move to Los Angeles, leave my family & friends, take a huge pay cut (even as a missionary), rejecting other opportunities …. I had a dream and a word of the Lord. Prophetic words spoken five years ago were coming to life: Word. By. Word. I had the fear of the Lord, and others felt it too.
Expectancy as you can imagine was through the roof. What ensued was anything but. Moving seven times, not getting paid in the last six months, seeing four major projects dissolve before launching…. I felt like I was in a prison. A prison to my own expectations, my own dreams, and being cornered by the dangerous tension between asking God questions, and questioning God. Was this not the answer to years of praying? to be launched out and no longer wander? Wasn’t this the end of my desert place?
Thoughts of injustice, entitlement, and fear were taking a hold of me. It’s crippling when you follow the Lord on faith, and everything you least expected run into you head on. It was as if the light at the end of the tunnel, wasn't a growing light of hope, but an incoming train. And so I began to think maybe, just maybe, on this leap of faith … I may have missed it.
But as I lay in my pool of silence, God reminded me I wasn’t the first, but one of many familiar with these prison walls. There was Joseph, son of Jacob; a young boy born with favor who chased dreams, only to be sold into slavery by his own brothers into a decade of hardship. If any moment of favor was placed upon him, it seems the world had a habit of turning against him. His dreams from God were met with betrayal and slavery; his righteousness was met with imprisonment by Potiphar’s wife; and his compassion to help an inmate led to abandonment and being forgotten. Deferred hope, was an unwanted companion.
Moses shared in his suffering. Set apart for a life of favor and royalty, overnight he was driven to 40 years of lowliness in the shepherd fields. Everything was stripped away; all the comforts, dreams and passions from his youth. But in God’s kindness, He encountered Moses and called him to deliver a nation. Yet armed with the word of the Lord, the signs, wonders & plagues, Moses faced empty expectations as Pharaohs heart refused. Every meeting with Pharaoh, was met with rejection that chipped away hope. In his humanity, I could see his obedience being tempted to be lured toward unbelief. Pharaoh finally did release Israel, yet before the dust could settle, Moses found himself leading millions toward an impending death sentence. The Egyptian military was behind them. The Red Sea was in front of them. The hits wouldn’t stop coming.
We can only imagine the heights of hope from which he fell, when Moses felt the salty breeze of the Red Sea. But we know how this story, and how all the others have ended…
God was faithful. God is faithful.
So much so, that deferred hope in the Kingdom,
Is for us, and never against us.
At first glance, it's easy to believe Joseph & Moses were the products of increased strength or strategy. Perhaps it was the royal Egyptian education of Moses, or the management knack of Joseph. But over the balconies of Heaven, the cloud of witnesses saw a very different story: men who paid a price to learn the art of surrender. Men who bowed to YHWH instead of their own hopes and dreams. Through trials and tribulations, God was committed to use every moment to leave no stone of worldly hope unturned. Every sting of disappointment, was met with a call to die, and let God live in them. No plan of Heaven, great or small, was to be contained within a soul not fully yielded to God.
To this day, this law, has never changed.
No matter where the pieces may have fallen, I have focused this blur of deferred hope and begun to see Heaven’s waiting room around me. I'm learning It is here where our cries to know God and be used, are mysteriously being answered. It is the resting place for the God chasers; the war room where our hearts are trained for battle. It's designed to be a sanctuary for the dreamers, soaked with the tears of surrender, that have forged god-fearing heroes.
So for those with a sick heart, silence thy soul. Breathe deep. And take hold of the loving truth behind these badlands. God has never in history been surprised by setbacks, and He's not starting with ours today. Don't misinterpret these moments in life, and prematurely give up. Regardless of how deferred hope may feel, God is working miracles from within; the only place where God can dig a well deep enough to contain His purposes. We are not alone, nor misunderstood. We are in the company of generations that have gone before us, kneeled with us, and prayed our very words to the same unfailing God: Our Heavenly Father who has molded generations of sinners toward their destinies.
As we embark unto 2016, remember there is no ocean, army or prison cell that can stand in the way of God’s purposes for us. Surrender joyfully. Die willingly. And witness God split the seas on our behalf.
Love you all more than you know.