Our pastor is preaching through the book of Acts. Last Sunday he covered Saul’s conversion and name change to Paul. He mentioned something I’d never given much attention. After his conversion, Paul spent three years in the desert, after which he went on to Jerusalem where he eventually met with the apostles. They sent him back home to Tarsus where he stayed for seven years before beginning his missionary journeys.
Three years in the desert plus seven years at home equals ten years. One of the most famous evangelists in the Bible spent ten years between his conversion and the work that God called him to do. He wasn’t idle during those years. He immediately began preaching in Damascus after his conversion. But the bulk of his ministry was TEN YEARS in the making.
In our D-Group studies, we’ve just finished reading through Joseph’s biography and are beginning to read about David. After God revealed to them His purpose in their lives both of them had life lessons to be learned before they were ready for what God had in store. And it wasn’t an easy, comfortable waiting room. Joseph was in prison and David hid in a cave.
I’ve had some disappointments over the last week. My writing isn’t going as smoothly as I would like. Publishers aren’t beating my door down to make me a New York Times bestselling author. (Please know I mean that tongue in cheek.) I’ve spent much of my spare time over the last year working on a new manuscript. I’ve listened to podcasts about professionals in my character’s fields while I’m driving so I’m working on their character development even when I’m not at my computer. Hours and hours get poured into a work with no guaranteed result.
Because I love writing. Because God has given me at least a modicum of talent that I want to use for His glory. Because I believe with everything inside of me that one day the right publisher will come calling.
But the waiting is hard.
It was hard for Joseph when the baker and cupbearer were released from prison and did not remember him. He remained imprisoned longer than he wanted, I’m sure. And the imprisonment wasn’t even his fault. He didn’t do anything except be born to jealous brothers and reject the advancements of his boss’s wife.
It was hard for David when King Saul attempted to kill him multiple times and he was forced to hide out in a cave like a criminal. He didn’t do anything to warrant that either except have a heart for God.
I go back to those biographies when the waiting becomes hard and long and tedious. Neither Joseph nor David wasted their time waiting. They kept doing what God called them to do where He put them. I don’t know how Paul managed his time during the ten years he spent waiting for his first missionary journey. Maybe he didn’t even know there would be a missionary journey so he just kept telling people about Jesus anyway he could.
That’s what we’re all called to do. While we think we’re waiting on God to put in motion the “big thing,” we’re called to keep living faithful lives telling the people around us about His love.
I’ll keep writing, pouring hours into research, and tapping the keys on my laptop until the letters wear out. He hasn’t made the promises to me that He made to Joseph or David, but He has promised the same faithfulness.