Dreams, Desires and Divine Delays

Eight years at this time, I was asking God for something very specific. When it didn’t happen, I gave up praying about it. In the last eight years, I’ve rarely even thought about what I was so fervently praying for.

And then this morning, I asked again.

It didn’t take long to begin talking myself out of it though. After all, God just doesn’t work like that, I reminded myself.

But what if the desire I have really is from God? And what if it’s not my job to decide how or when God might choose to answer?

I started reading through the Bible chronologically a few weeks ago, so I’ve been in Genesis and Job. So far, no one gets what they desire right away. There’s always a delay. Sometimes, a very long one. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 when she finally gave birth to the son God had promised them 25 years earlier.

Yeah, I don’t like delays any more than you do. When I want something, I mean really want something, I want it now. Not next year. Not in eight years. Certainly not in 25 years.

I don’t know what delayed dream or desire you have. Maybe it’s to get married. Or for your spouse to finally wake up.

Maybe you’ve been longing for a baby.

You might be looking for a job or a better job or a job that feels meaningful. Maybe your current job is fine, but you need a raise or more responsibility or some encouragement from your boss.

Maybe you’ve dreamed of seeing your family whole again, but your child continues in rebellion.

Or healing. You’ve endured 40 rounds of chemo or multiple surgeries or have seen more doctors than you can count…and yet there’s no end in sight.

I wish I knew when or if the answer to my prayer will come. I wish I could tell you that your answer is right around the corner. God usually doesn’t let us in on those things though.

So what are we to do? How do we keep believing? How do we keep pursuing our dreams and desires in the face of divine delays?

Let me suggest three things.

First, choose to believe God is good. Psalm 136:1 says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.

Because our circumstances, our feelings and a thousand negative voices scream out that God is not good or loving, let me encourage you to meditate on that verse. Read it over and over and over. Think about it. Talk to God about it. Consider all the ways it’s true. And actually do it. Thank Him. Give thanks to Him for what you already have. Give thanks to Him for His goodness and love toward you.

Write that verse on a note card. Stick it on your mirror. Put a note in your phone and set a reminder to look at it. Do whatever you have to do to let it sink deep into your heart and mind. When difficult or confusing circumstances come, and they will, go back to that verse. It’s more true than anything you will experience or feel.

Second, during this season of divine delay, choose to delight yourself in the Lord. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

To delight in someone is to find your pleasure and enjoyment in that person. I delight in Robyn and my children and grandchildren. God wants me to delight in Him even more.

It won’t be easy, but try to focus on your relationship with Him, not the thing you’re desiring. A wife would naturally feel hurt if her husband only found enjoyment in sex, but not in the relationship with her. A father would be hurt if his children only wanted money from him and never cared about his feelings.

God is a person. He has feelings. He has desires. And His greatest desire is you and your relationship with Him.

Finally, trust God’s timing is best. Psalm 37:7a says, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”

Being still. Imagine your mind being still. No anxious thoughts running around getting you worked up into an emotional frenzy. No freaking out when bad news comes…or another disappointing delay.

Imagine your soul being still. Feeling content. Knowing you have no power to make this thing happen on your own…and being okay with it.

We might not think so, but God’s timing is always perfect. We may be desiring one thing, but God has a better thing in mind He’s bringing about. Maybe God needs to work on our character before the fulfillment of our desire. Or maybe we’re ready, but others involved in the answer to our prayer aren’t. We cannot possibly imagine all the factors that go into God’s good plans for us.

Of course, there is an alternative to believing He is good, delighting in Him and trusting His timing. We can get angry, disillusioned and bitter.

But since I’ve already tried that, learn from me and don’t make that mistake.

Mother’s Day

On this Mother’s Day 2016, a tribute to my wife…

The greatest blessing in my life over the past thirty-one years has been my wife, Robyn. Through her, God demonstrates His love for me. Through her, He meets my needs and encourages me. Robyn is God-in-the-flesh to me.

When I meet with couples for marriage coaching or premarital counseling, I often tell them to learn all they can about one another’s needs and wants and then outdo each other in meeting them. Robyn does that. All the time.

Her wisdom and power come from her relationship with Jesus. She loves Him and trusts Him. She seeks Him and serves Him. He is before everyone and everything else. She begins her day reading His word and praying. And she often ends her day in the same way.

Last summer, while on assignment for a month at Sharp Top Cove (a Young Life camp), she worked six to seven days a week from early in the morning until late at night. I encouraged her to sleep later, but she continued to get up early to spend time with God. She learned long ago that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12)

The Hebrew word that gets translated as “virtuous and capable” in that passage literally means: strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army and force. So to answer the writer’s question…I have. I’ve found that kind of wife. She’s more precious than any amount of money. I trust her completely. She greatly enriches my life. She’s brought me good, not harm for thirty-one years and counting.

At times, when I’ve felt myself slipping, she’s caught me. When I felt myself going under, she was my lifeline. When life was like a thick fog, she was my guiding light. Always giving hope. Always encouraging me. Always believing in me. Always pointing me back to Jesus.

Continue Reading »

God With You

20 Days of Believing God (Day 11)

God is with us.

Not far away. Not unconcerned. Not uncaring.

God is with us.

He’s not just the God of 2,000 years ago. He’s not just the God of the future. He’s the God of the here and now.

He’s present with you. Right now. In this moment. Jesus is with…you.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14)

God became human and lived with us.

Jesus lives with you. Today. You don’t need to ask for His presence. He’s already present with you. Right now.

He is with YOU.

Are you afraid?

He is with YOU.

Are you in pain?

He is with YOU.

Are you discouraged?

He is with YOU.

Are you worried?

He is with YOU.

Is your marriage in trouble?

He is with YOU.

Are you lonely?

He is with YOU.

Not just with other people.

Jesus is with YOU.

Is It Too Late For You?

Too late for what? That’s the real question.

Is it too late to get better grades in college? It is for me.

Is it too late to invest in that stock that was trading at $10/share and grew to $100/share and split three times? Yup.

Is it too late to enjoy your kids when they were little? It is if they’re grown like mine are.

Is it too late to build a great marriage or enjoy the work you do? Maybe not.

In my last post, I talked about the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4 in my life and marriage. Season 3 was raising a family for three decades. That season ended when Amy left for Germany two weeks ago today.

What’s hitting me is the reality that season 3 is over. Done. Can’t go back. No “do-overs” allowed.

Because Robyn and I have been investing in our marriage for thirty years, we’re excited about season 4. We have a strong bond. We’re best friends. We enjoy a fun and passionate sex life. We have great relationships with our adult kids and love being grandparents. We share a common mission to advance God’s kingdom in Northwest Arkansas.

But as for season 3…those three decades of raising our children…it’s too late to change anything. What’s been done is done. What’s been said is said. We’re still involved in the lives of our children, but those formative years of parenting are now history. There’s no going back.

What about your marriage and family? What about the work you do? What about your dreams?

It may be too late for some things, but it doesn’t mean it’s too late for everything.

My friend, Jeff, and I recently recorded  one of our Entrepreneur on Purpose Quote of the Day podcasts. We discussed something business and marketing consultant, Steve Sorenson said:

“What woke me up and set me afire was the realization that had I died at that moment, my tombstone would read, ‘He Had Potential.'”

Do you have unrealized potential? To be an amazing husband or wife? Father or mother? Teacher? Author? Entrepreneur?

It might not be too late…if you get started today. Keep in mind God’s promise in Romans 8:28…

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

I’ve put together a list of “Fifteen Questions to Tap Into Your Potential…Before It’s Too Late.” These fifteen questions will help you identify what’s most important, uncover your passion and implement a plan to avoid a life of regret. Just click the button to get your free copy:

Get Your Free Download

The End of Season 3

Robyn and I began Season 1 of our life together on June 8, 1985 in Hammond, Louisiana.

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 5.06.28 PM

Because I was right out of college, we soon moved in with my parents while raising the funds needed to fund our ministry to college students back at Cornell where we’d met. I’m grateful my parents allowed us to stay with them, but it’s just not an ideal way to start off your married life together. The added wrinkle was discovering in December that Robyn was pregnant.

I remember thinking, “Oh Lord, surely we won’t be living here when the baby is born.”

Season 2 began the day we moved back to Ithaca, New York just before our first wedding anniversary. Our fund raising was complete! (Well, as complete as it can ever be when you’re in ministry.) We were on our own! For all of three months. During the last trimester of Robyn’s pregnancy. I have wonderful memories of that season. It was just a short one!

Season 3 began in the early morning of September 4, 1986, the day Rachel was born.

IMG_9176

A couple years later, we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas where three more kids were born.

Erica…

IMG_9135

Amy…

IMG_9163

Rob…

IMG_9267

And seven years ago, we made the move to Fayetteville, the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks. By that time, Rachel was already married to Richard. He serves in the Marine Corps.

Joey's pics of Rachel's wedding 101

And a few years after the move to Fayetteville, we had another wedding. Erica married Ross, who serves in the Army.

IMG_1268

As season 3 began to wind down this year, we sent Rob off to the Navy.

IMG_4284

We welcomed our first grandchild, Wes.

IMG_3260

And grandchild #2, Tyler.

IMG_6567

That brings us to today, the official end of season 3 (29 years and 25 days), when we put Amy on a plane to move to Germany where she’ll be doing ministry on an Army base in southwest Germany for the next few years.

IMG_7287

And now, Robyn and I are “empty nest.” It’s a sad, joyful, hopeful, exciting, ready-for-whatever-God-has-next-for-us kind of day. It’s the start of Season 4!

Whichever season you find yourself in, live into it fully! Soak up every moment. Work or ministry, hobbies and nice things have their place, but as I reflect back on the first three seasons of life with Robyn…I don’t care about any of that. What I’ve accomplished at work or how many square feet our house is or how much money we have in the bank (not much!) aren’t what matter to me.

How about you?