Recently, Stuart and I listened to the amazing reports of New Tribes missionaries telling how they have taken their families, moved into unreached primitive tribes, and begun the persistent and patient translation work required to take the gospel and plant a self-reproducing church. It takes years to accomplish this.
Years ago, we served in a mission with a saying, “Go where you’re sent, stay where you’re put, and give what you’ve got!” The leaders of New Tribes told us that the hard part of this philosophy in missions today is the middle part, “Stay where you’re put.” It takes perseverance to “stay put” in such places.
There is no way around it. Even with today’s technology, unknown to the founders of this mission, this hard and dangerous work takes time. It means taking on the hard work of waiting - waiting it out sometimes in life-threatening situations.
At the same time I was listening to the reports of these wonderful servants of God, I was preparing to speak at a C. S. Lewis convention. As I worked on my presentation, I was reminded of something I heard years ago. It was a simple, but profound statement: “Miracles take time.” The words “miracles” and “time” seem at first to be an oxymoron. But Jesus Himself was proof of it. Think of the Incarnation. That miracle of miracles took nine months!
When we first came to America, we learned we had the oldest oak tree in our front yard. As we raised our three teenagers to know and love the Lord, I would sometimes go outside, looking at that towering tree, and pick up some acorns to encourage my heart. It takes time to grow an oak tree, I would say to myself! I think I heard a whisper, “Hope on; “miracles take time,” and a miracle that takes time is no less a miracle.”
Have you been pleading for God to intervene in your child’s life? A child perhaps who is making bad choices? Are you praying for instant godliness, for quick transformation? Are you waiting for a marriage to heal? Are you trying to find out the will of God for your life? Are you impatient for the Lord to lay it all out? The end of it, the middle of it, as well as the very next step?
This is not to say miracles cannot happen “all in a moment of man-time.” I have experienced it. Others bear witness to it, too. But God’s clocks, I have learned, keep perfect time, and I must keep my little fingers off the face of His “timepiece” and trust Him with the schedule. The Bible tells us, In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son (Gal. 4:4). There will be a fullness of time according to His wisdom and knowledge.
But God, unlike us, is in no earthly hurry. His purposes transcend our little clocks and watches. And I’m glad about that. Be encouraged. Who knows what we and those we pray for would lose if we received instant answers to our prayers? Certainly our character would lack luster! Our faith would remain weak.
Persist. Pray on, and on, and on. Don’t lose hope. Ask for your miracle, of course, then trust God for it according to His will and in His time. One day you will be able to see in retrospect the love of God in His puzzling delays.
Miracles Take Time
Waking to Grace at the light of the dawn
Feeling depressed and a little forlorn
Needing a miracle
Needing it now
Impatient and worried, I bowed.
“My child, I have heard your repeated request
And at the right moment, I’ll do what is best
Take this time to know Me
In a way never known
And we’ll talk when I get you back home!
“Then you’ll praise me and see in the heavenly sphere
That the timing was right though the pain was severe,
You would never have known
What My presence could be
If you trod not this path with me.”
Jill Briscoe - 2009