There are many personal promises from God I’m still waiting on. Words I’m holding onto in faith. Things God told me He would do sometime in the future. Some of them are big things, things that are much bigger than me.
But some of them are just about me.
Those personal promises are usually the hardest for me to believe because if they don’t come true, I’m the only one who will be affected. Just little ole me. They seem the most likely to have been misheard. Because mightn’t I have just wanted to hear God say that instead of actually hearing it?
Well, recently, one of those personal promises was fulfilled. Actually, it wasn’t even a promise. It was a mere request I made of God. But I put it in the promise category because God was the one who prompted me to ask.
Ask Me for a piano, God said. Not a keyboard, but a piano. You know that’s what you want.
That was over four years ago, and it felt like a big deal at the time. It was scary asking for something superfluous He might not give me. I felt vulnerable baring my heart when I might end up disappointed.
Now the answer to that request is sitting in my bedroom like no big deal.
The thing is, getting this piano was a pretty straight-forward process. It didn’t drop down from heaven on a cloud. No funds mysteriously appeared in my bank account. No benefactor graciously gifted it to me. I went to a store, picked out a piano, and paid for it with my savings. Simple. Mundane. Ordinary.
In fact, some might say that God didn’t make it happen, I did!
I suppose that’s true. I took the initiative to buy the piano. I searched for a piano store on the internet. I found a friend to drive me there. I picked out a piano. I paid for it. The actual act of buying the piano was anything but mysterious. But even so, I can’t help feeling amazed.
The beautiful instrument sitting in my bedroom is more than a piece of furniture, a worthwhile investment, or a demonstration that I am capable of getting something done. To me, it is proof that God meant what He said to me four years ago. God wasn’t just teaching me how to ask for things. It wasn’t just a theoretical exercise. He actually wanted to give me a piano.
And now He has.
I may have physically bought the piano, but without God’s encouragement and timely reminders, I would have given up on this dream long ago. I would have settled for a keyboard. I would have buried this part of my heart. I would have put it off indefinitely. At just the right moment, God turned my attention back to this dream and showed me that while it had seemed impossible before, it was now very much within my reach.
Waiting on God’s timing is very challenging. I often get impatient and start to doubt. God tells me again and again, My timing is perfect, but it’s not always easy to believe. God reminds me of how long Abraham had to wait for Isaac. Abraham was an old man when the promised son finally arrived. That couldn’t have seemed ideal. That couldn’t have made sense to him. But God made him wait that long on purpose.
Abraham waited 25 years. How long has it been for you? God sometimes asks me.
I am genuinely thankful for the waiting because it stretches and proves my faith. I may say I trust God, but only during the wait do I find out whether I really do. In the waiting God teaches me patience, compassion, and appreciation. But one phrase in particular has been strengthening me lately: The waiting is only for a season.
Sometimes the wait seems endless, but the very nature of waiting is that it ends. You tell someone to wait when something is coming. (Unless you’re dishonest or manipulative. My God is neither of those things.) Watch me do it, God said to me long ago. So I’m watching. I’m waiting. I’m sowing in my prayers. And one day, I’m going to reap.
When God makes promises, God means what He says. It’s not a mere character-building exercise. He is giving us something real to take hold of. Real hope.
Discernment is always required when listening for God’s voice. It is possible to hear wrong. We must be wary of making idols of God’s promises or of grasping so tightly to God’s words that our requests become demands. Our belief in God’s goodness should never be contingent on circumstances.
Sometimes, however, it’s not a matter of discernment, but of perseverance.
While the promises may not float in on a cloud or appear in a miraculous poof, they will come. While they may require our participation, patience, and initiative, they are often not as far away as they seem. We don’t see any signs of their coming for the longest time, but then one day we look up and realize that what we once thought was impossible is already within reach.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy.