I love new beginnings. Whether it’s the beginning of the school year, the start of a new Bible study, opening the pages of a new book, or beginning a new season in life. New beginnings breathe life into my soul with the anticipation of possibilities. When the Lord impresses a passion on my heart, I experience the same joyful anticipation. My thoughts jump from one idea to the next, excitedly wondering “how and when” it all might work out.
I recently finished the Bible study The God of the How and the When by Rabbi Jason Sobel and Kathie Lee Gifford. Having completed their previous study The Rock, The Road, and the Rabbi, my expectations were high for Rabbi Jason’s “and yet there’s more” teaching style. Just when you think you know the ins and outs of well known Bible stories, Rabbi Jason reveals the rich Jewish history and teaching that makes the Bible that much more incredible.
Although I anticipated to grow in my scholarly knowledge through this study, I didn’t anticipate how important it would be for me in my faith journey to see repeated reminders of the importance of trusting our God for our “how and when.”
Maybe in another blog post, I will share some of the cool new Hebrew words and back stories that I learned after completing this study. But today, the Lord impressed on my heart the simple, but profound truth that the God who inspires the call on our lives, also has the “how and the when” of how He will complete it already figured out. Having a willing heart to respond to the plans He has for our lives is just the first step. Having the patience to wait for when His timing is right for the “how and when” His plan will be completed is a whole other story.
Through this study, Rabbi Jason and Kathie Lee explored how Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joshua, and Mary all answered God’s call to follow His plans, but His answers didn’t come “how or when” they imagined.
- Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years from when God first promised to make them the parents of many generations until their firstborn son Isaac was born. They walked by faith, leaving the only community they ever lived on route to the land that the Lord would show them in time. Though they tried to take matters into their own hands a few times, God didn’t give up on them. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old when God’s promised son Isaac was born. This is our first clue that God doesn’t view age with the same constraints that we do. His calling extends past any time boundaries we might put on them.
- When Moses was 40 years old, he couldn’t stand by any longer while the Egyptians continued to mistreat his fellow Israelites. Although he was raised in Pharaoh’s household, he began to empathize with his fellow Israelites. Overcome with anger over the injustice of how they were treated, he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating a fellow Israelite, and he had to flee for his life to Midian. Forty years later, when he was 80 years old, God called to Moses to return to Egypt to lead his fellow Israelites out of slavery into the land God originally promised to Abraham. For the next 40 years, God guided Moses through the wilderness until the age of 120. God graciously allowed Moses to look at the land his ancestors had dreamed about moving to some day. Although it took longer than he anticipated, God continued to fulfill the calling He had for Moses’ life in just the right time.
- After going on a spy mission to scope out the Promised Land, Joshua excited shared about the provisions that waited for them in the Promised Land. Unfortunately, ten of the other spies disagreed with Joshua, and this lack of trust delayed the Israelites from going straight into the Promised Land. Joshua patiently waited 40+ years until it was God’s perfect time for the people to occupy the land. Joshua was the kind of person who didn’t seek out leadership opportunities, but instead followed the Lord with his whole heart and didn’t rush God’s plans for the “how and when.” Humbly, Joshua spent as much time as possible in the Lord’s presence outside the tabernacle and became Moses’ right hand man. Although Joshua didn’t ask to take over after Moses passed away, God called him and paved the way for him to take this role when it was God’s perfect timing.
- After an angel brought the good news to Mary that she has found favor in God’s eyes and that through the Holy Spirit, she would conceive and give her to the Messiah, Mary humbly praised God for this blessing. It would take 30 years of being Jesus’ mother before the world would begin to realize that Jesus was more than Mary’s son. Jesus was God’s own son and the Savior of the world. Instead of taking matters in her own hands as she certainly experienced the brutality of the Roman officials, she trusted that God’s plan for His Messiah was better than the people’s hope for a victorious military leader. Jesus would rescue us from an even worse ruler: sin. Mary trusted that the Lord would reveal the right timing for the “how and when” for Jesus to be revealed as our true Messiah.
God didn’t need Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joshua, or Mary to figure out the “how and the when” for the missions He had for their lives. Rabbi Jason refers to these missions from the Lord as “holy interruptions.” When God interrupted the plans they had for their lives, He didn’t ask them to figure out how His plans would unfold. He just asked them to trust Him with the “how and the when.”
Friend, our lives are full of waiting periods. We especially find this to be true the more we set aside our own longings and open up our lives to the calls that He places on our individual lives. As I think through the “holy interruptions” that the Lord is currently pressing on my heart, I find myself eagerly anticipating the end results while restraining myself from trying to rush ahead and figure out how I will get from point A to point B.
If we could figure out the “how and when” all on our own, where would faith come into play? Would it really be God’s plan for us or our version of what His plan might look like? Even on our best day with our best efforts, our achievements can’t match the beautiful plan the Author of our lives has in mind. When I think about the seasons where I stepped back and fully submitted to waiting, I can see evidence of His provisions every step of the way.
So, if you are finding yourself in a similar waiting season, I want to encourage both of our hearts that no matter how much we want to take control and make things happen, let’s take a deep breath, and ask the Lord to give us patience to wait on His “how and when.” Just as it was for Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joshua, and Mary, God has His perfect “how and when” for our lives, too.
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