A little girl peeked up over the edge of the missionary’s display table waiting patiently for her turn to ask the missionary to sign her Bible. She loved having the missionaries sign her Bible and would often open her Bible just to look at the page where their names had been written. This little girl had accepted Christ as her Saviour when she was 5 years old. She knew that she was a sinner and that she could not pay the price for her sins. She understood that the only one who cold pay for her sins was Jesus. Sitting in her Mommy’s lap she prayed and asked Jesus to take her sins away so she could live in Heaven with Him one day. As she grew she was in awe of missionaries who were going to take this same message to people all over the world. She loved to hear them tell about the people and see the pictures they would show. When she attended Vacation Bible School each summer her pastor’s wife would stand up front showing pictures of missionary stories always leaving off at a part that would make the children want to come back the next day to hear the story. One year the Pastor’s wife told the story of Tifam a little girl who lived in Haiti and whose witch-doctor father got saved at the end of the story after trying to kill the missionary. When her Pastor’s wife said that she had been a missionary kid in Haiti, this little girl was in awe. God was nurturing in hear heart a love for missionaries. At the age of 13 this young lady heard a college group give a readers-theater presentation about the life of Jim Elliot. Intermingled with the script were songs about missions and yielding one’s life entirely to God to do whatever he would ask. That evening, she surrendered her life to be a missionary wherever God would desire. Over the next year God used two specific things to further reveal His will. After reading more extensively about Jim Elliot who was slaughtered by the people he had been trying so hard to reach, this young lady began to have the interest in the people groups of the world that had never heard the gospel. At a youth conference, a veteran missionary spoke of the number of people groups in the world that had never once heard the gospel. She knew that God wanted her to give the gospel to those who had never heard.
Ten years later, that little girl who had been peeking over the edge of the missionary’s display table was now waving good-bye to her family for what would be the first of many good-byes. Little did she know how the next four years would change her life. With missions in mind she learned all she could about becoming a missionary, at least from the text-book point of view. During those years, she met the man who would become her husband and whom she would serve the Lord with the rest of her life. Upon graduation from college, she and her new husband took a missions trip to the country in which they believed God would have them reach the people with the gospel. During her time in this country God confirmed in the hearts of her husband and herself that this was where God would have them to live one day. Little did she know that that “one day” would be further off than she realised. All of her hopes and plans to be off to the mission field immediately following college were dashed when God led them to work with a new church plant in Canada. This was her second good-bye. Since the commitment was only for 5 years, it was only a small disappointment. At the end of those 5 years, it still was not time to go as the young couple now with 3 children moved on to another church where God lead them to continue serving Him. After 2 more years, it still was not time to go and off her family went to serve in yet another church. The young couple was starting to wonder if they would ever have the privilege of going to live in the country among the people they loved so much.
Almost exactly 10 years after seeing her new country for the first time, that young lady now stands before you. Finally beginning the journey to reach our new “home”. Please turn in your Bibles to Proverbs 13:12. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” The word “defer” means “to put off to a later time or postpone”. Though I had been given the text-book learning about being a missionary. God had many things He needed to teach me which I could not learn from any book except His Word as I read it and walked through life with Him. Many times over the last 10 years my heart was sick as we waited for God. Being in God’s waiting room is not easy. Waiting has been hard, but I can see God’s hand in my life over these past years and I’m so thankful now that God did put me in His waiting room until I was prepared. Today I would like to share some of the things God has taught me.
My life’s verse is Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”
“That I may know him. . .” Knowing God has many dimensions. The lesson that I most recently learned in knowing God, is the one lesson I should have learned first. To truly know Him I must worship and adore Him. We must know God’s person to be able to adore Him. This has set me out exploring the Bible about Who exactly this wonderful God is who has given us the privilege of serving Him. There many passages about Who God is, but a good one to consider is I Chronicles 16:23-36. As I continue to study about Who God is, I stand in awe that He would even allow me to be part of the plan He has for bringing mankind into a relationship with Him. Yet this knowing Him is the most important aspect of serving Him; for if I worship and adore the Heavenly Father and truly know Him no thing He asks of me can be too great in comparison to Who He is.
The verse continues, “. . .and the power of his resurrection.” His resurrection was victory--a victory over death and hell. I thank God that through the last 10 years I have been allowed to know him in victories that He has given me in my life. He has allowed me to snatch souls from the clutches of hell. He has allowed me to help young Christians grow. He has allowed me to be a blessing to other servants of Him. All this only because of Him. During these times of victory being in God’s waiting room was not so hard.
As we read on we see that the verse says, “. . .and the fellowship of his sufferings. . .” Shortly after I graduated from Bible college I faced a particularly difficult trial. A godly lady showed me this verse and directed me to this phrase and the little word at the beginning of it, it is the word “and”. She taught me that so often we are glad to know God in the power of his resurrection but do not want to know Him in the times of suffering. Jesus suffered many more things than I ever will, but there are certain things that He wanted me to suffer to that I could truly know Him and learn to be like Him. During the times of difficulty, the times of suffering, are when being in God’s waiting room is difficult. This was when my heart has felt sick. I longed for my hope not to be deferred any longer, but God was still working. How could I truly claim to love and serve Him if I was not conformed to His death as the verse states in its final phrase?
As you go through these pivotal years in your life you may have dreams of doing great things for God. Dreams are good. Having a vision is biblical. But if God decides to allow you to sit in his waiting room for a while, don’t be discouraged. Remember you are getting to know Him in preparation for the task He has ahead. Also remember to continue to be faithful to what He has you to do in the present during your time of waiting.
Remember Proverbs 13:12? “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Have you ever had to wait for something you really wanted? Maybe it was a toy you wanted when you were a child, maybe it was saving to buy your first car, maybe it was waiting to see someone you hadn’t seen in a long time. Do you remember how good it felt when what you were looking forward to finally happened? It was much more exciting then it would it have been if you had not been required to wait for it. This verse shows us that it is the same with the desires God places in our hearts. If we trust Him while he prepares us through learning to know Him in His person, through victories, and through difficulties, “. . .when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”