One of the most common experiences of every sincere person who is seeking to walk faithfully with the Lord is the seemingly universal experience of having to go through a season of “waiting” for the Lord to bring something to pass.
One of the more frequent and somewhat naïve observations that people share with me when they visit North Way Christian Community in Wexford for the first time is something like this: “God really blessed this church by giving you this piece of property right in the middle of all this development. You’re surrounded with people, businesses and a genuine neighborhood feel”.
When time allows, I like to pull out a photograph of the property that we purchased in 1992 and which became the permanent home of North Way Christian Community when we completed our first major building in 1994. To the surprise and sometimes astonishment of just about everyone, all they see in this aerial photograph is about thirteen acres of relatively cleared and seemingly flat land that had been the location of the Wexford Starlight Drive-in Theater. There are no town homes, apartments or condominiums around that piece of ground; there are no businesses, banks or institutions of any kind anywhere near the piece of property. There is no road behind the piece of land and, in fact, the jersey barrier on Route 19, does not even have an opening to turn into the piece of property that we had purchased.
Then, if given the opportunity, I’m able to share that this ideal location was a gigantic leap of faith by the leaders and congregation of North Way in 1992. No one had foreseen, let alone predicted, that such an enormous amount of development would take place all around our little piece of ground. In fact, it’s fair to say that because of North Way’s substantial investment and our physical presence in that neighborhood, many other businesses, residences and institutions (such as the Allegheny Health Network facility) all began to see the potential for this relatively small parcel of land in north Wexford.
But I also try to share with honest humility and detail is just how difficult it was to wait on the Lord to open the door to that piece of property. Numerous times in our regular corporate prayer meetings and even more so in my private times of personal prayer, I believed that the Lord had clearly directed us to expect that He was going to provide a “home base” for our church in the Wexford area. For a number of those years, many of us thought it was going to be in the original restaurant building that we rented from 1981-85 and then purchased and occupied from 1985-93. For a number of years we tried to make that property work and also pursued the acquisition of surrounding parcels in order to add on to our building and expand parking in such a way as to make room for the growing number of people that were being led by the Lord to North Way. And even though I had personally made 10 or more visits to the Starlight Drive in Theater property in the previous years, nothing looked like it was ever going to become available in that area, and especially that flat and very desirable piece of ground right on Route 19.
A lesson that applies to most all of us has something to do with when God seems to speak something that resonates deeply in your heart. You really believe the Lord has spoken a promise to you and you know that something significant is going to happen. But then, as months and then eventually years go by, and nothing happens, we often begin to question whether or not we heard from God. That’s when a thorough study of scripture reveals that almost every significant breakthrough from God goes through a time of difficult waiting before it comes to pass. Abraham waited for decades to have his first naturally born son. Moses waited for forty years in the desert before God called him out. King David waited for well over twenty years before the prophecy of Samuel that he would become King of Israel would come to pass. We could go on and on in the redemptive history of God’s people, both high profile and very hidden but great servants of our King!
So, the message that I hope to leave you with today is that if you find yourself in the middle of a time of waiting, rather than choosing to question God’s voice, choose to reaffirm the promise that you believe and in fact know in your heart that God gave to you. What God normally does not give you is a timetable as to when that promise will come to pass. However, for those who wait in a posture of faith and thankfulness, the Lord never disappoints as His presence becomes the down payment of His promise and eventually becomes more important than the promise itself.
Blessings to all of us who are waiting!
P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the one person that has taught me more about ‘waiting patiently’ than anyone else on the planet; my partner and friend for 48 years as of July 25th. You may know her as ‘Carol’…. a name I only use when my list of more affectionate appellations aren’t appropriate. Thank you for living patiently!!