A few weeks ago I celebrated my twenty-first birthday. One of my closest and dearest friends drove four hours just to spend the day with me. I had the day off, and I received some awesome handmade birthday cards from a few members of my Inn family. All around it was a spectacular day.
The previous Saturday I was on the phone with one of my sisters who told me she was sending a birthday package in the mail for me. Trust me when I say I got excited! Knowing I had a letter coming would have been enough to make me giddy and impatient for it to arrive, but a package…ohh my, I couldn’t wait! Then after many more birthday phone calls from my parents and the rest of my siblings I found out some of them were sending me cards and packages as well! By my excitement you would have thought, “Poor child, she’s never gotten mail before.” (Let’s be honest, apart from advertisements, bills and government notifications mail is pretty fun and exciting!) Since those conversations I faithfully checked my mailbox daily (ok, multiple times a day, but who’s counting?) for cards and packages. I almost wish they hadn’t told me. I get so excited, to the point of impatience. Terrible, I know.
Then the Lord reminded me that sometimes I’m the same way with Him. Ouch. Almost two years ago He gave me a promise and I was struggling big time with impatience, doubt, and His perfect and wonderful timing verses, well, mine. Six months later at Christmas He gave me an analogy to help me better understand His promises. It goes something like this: The promises of God are like a gift or package that someone tells you they are sending to you in the mail. The package already belongs to you, you just haven’t received it yet. It first has to be addressed and sent, then sorted and do some traveling, and then finally the mailman brings it to your home. You don’t know exactly how long it will take to arrive, or if it will arrive by way of UPS, FedEX or the mailman, all you know is that it IS going to arrive.
So the point is, when God gives a promise you can bet He will stay true to His word. He will be faithful. But He doesn’t guarantee a timeline to go with it. I won’t lie. Sometimes this frustrates me. But when I can put myself aside I can see the beauty and blessing in it. He has been so wonderful and loving as to promise something to me in the first place. He has given me enough information to give me hope and a vision, but He has withheld His timeline, His “when, where, and how,” so that I remember I still need Him. Without Him I can do nothing – including to receive the promises He gives to me.
If it’s coming in the mail this implies an understood waiting period. Sometimes short, other times long. Papa God has been faithful to prepare and send the package (He’s the mailman too), and I need to be faithful to patiently wait. Thankfully He is gracious and patient with me and gently corrects me when I get impatient and have my eyes too much on His promise rather than on Him. And I think sometimes He chuckles when I ask Him silly, flustered questions and says, “Oh child, if you could only see that I know what I’m doing.”
Oh, and for the best part: after all of my checking and re-checking the mail and finally realizing it will get here when it gets here, five days after my birthday I walk outside after church and suddenly my parents and two of my siblings walk out from behind a car!! They shouted “Surprise!” gave me a huge poster board card, brought a present or two and packed a giant picnic that they, my Inn-family, and myself all got to enjoy together! Did I receive the package they said was coming to me? Yes. Did it come the way I fully expected it to come? No.
In fact, it was FAR better than what I had expected.
As for His promise, I’m still waiting. But that’s ok. I don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t have to be anxious. He knows what He’s doing. I don’t have to think about it 24/7. If He said it will come, then it will. In His timing – after all, it’s impeccable. Every second I have to wait draws me closer to the arms of my Papa. A package is so hard to wait for when you know it’s coming, but it’s the waiting which makes it that all the more worth it when it arrives. Who knows, His timing and way of delivery just might surprise you. And even in the midst of all the expectations that have been built up you just might gasp and say, “A package? For me?!”
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9