Most of us long for miracles. And Jesus’ perfect life, death on sinners’ behalf as the fulfillment of Passover, and His physical resurrection prove that He is willing and able to meet our greatest needs: complete forgiveness and a new heart to follow Him as our living King. But even in the Bible, most of the journey with Jesus is lived in the moments between miracles. In this 50-day series, we’ll consider some of those moments leading up to the next great miracle in the New Testament: the fulfillment of Pentecost and the incredible growth of the Church.
God isn’t in a hurry. That’s part of what we see in John 21:12, and that’s what I saw from a second story window in New Hampshire back in 1997. I had just finished being examined by a board for what I thought was my final step toward ordination to become an Army Chaplain. What I’d initially told my wife would be a six month process was now two-years, and the board had just added a third. I’ll try to summarize a long and hard but wonderful story.
I had discerned God’s calling to serve as a Chaplain while I was serving in the Alabama National Guard and as a youth minister in a small church in Tuscumbia, Alabama. All of the youth and parents confirmed my love effectiveness in teaching, counseling, and mentoring, and I also loved the military that I’d experienced in Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training. I wanted to use the skills and passions God had given me to help Soldiers and their families.
But after my wife, Lauren, and I married in 1995, it was a year-long process for my denominational leaders to church work with the Army to begin my commission process. Then someone in the Army process lost part of my paperwork, and the military board only meets every six months. Then the senior Chaplain who interviewed me would not recommend me. That added another six months. Then my denominational board said, “because you’re a relatively new husband and father (my wife had two young boys from her previous marriage), we want to assign you a mentor and meet with you again next year. For God’s Word cautions us that ‘if anyone cannot lead his own family, he should not lead the Church.'”
They clarified that they’d not seen or heard anything contrary about my leadership of my family. In fact, Lauren was very supportive, and our relationships were visibly quite good…for the first few years. The board just wanted to be ensure that we had the best foundation before we headed into the difficult, often family-shaking work of ministry, especially in a military context.
That’s when I left that room on the second floor of a denominational church and went to the window to tell my wife. She had been sitting in the van reading a book by Warren Wiersbe. When I looked down, I could see it through the windshield on the dash, turned up for the title of the book to greet me: “God isn’t in a hurry.”
I laughed out loud.
Our extra year at Fort Drum gave us more time with great brothers and sisters in Christ, mentorship in two good churches (ours in Watertown and the denominational church in Ithica), and, most of all, more time to build basics of love in our marriage and with our children. What we didn’t know yet was how hard it would be for several years after I was commissioned in 1998. If we hadn’t had that extra time with such wonderful mentoring and friendships with other more mature followers of Jesus, I’m not sure our marriage would have survived later.
Similarly, the Lord Jesus wasn’t in a hurry to push Peter and the others off into ministry. He knows that what we need most is time with Him to experience His love. So He made them breakfast and set aside time to eat together.
The Lord’s calm is both assuring and convicting to me. How often to do push and rush to get as much done as possible, missing the real opportunities to spend time with each other, to notice each other and speak to each other and hear each other? As I’ve heard a few times, I’ve never seen a tombstone that honored someone with “Here lies (so and so) who worked so hard that their family rarely saw them.”
People are Jesus’ work. The Father’s will for Jesus and God’s will for us is to love Him and our neighbors in need. And the first thing they needed was simply breakfast. Not a working breakfast of cramming it down while focusing on the “important” stuff. Just breakfast.
May we love our neighbors with what they need right now and receive Jesus’ love in what we need to follow Him by faith in Him right now. He’s not in a hurry.
I hope today’s thought and others in this series will be helpful to you as you journey with Jesus in the moments between miracles.