In June of last year, I posted the last original post on this blog. I say original because it was not just a copy and paste of our monthly prayer letter. I’ve gotten out of the habit of posting those too, and I need to get back to that habit. Pray with me I do.
The post from last year I am referencing can be found here: https://fieldnotesjax.com/2019/06/
It was about patience, and a little incident I experienced that, frankly, I forgot all about until I re-read the post this morning. I re-read it because I want to write yet another piece on patience. It’s a topic very close to my heart. Especially when I recount the history of our building project.
In September of 2017 I announced the building project at our 65th ministry anniversary banquet. Over the course of 2018 we saw God bring in the money, in drips and drabs, and occasionally in floods of generosity. By September of 2018 we were very close to our funding goal and ready to start. Then Hurricane Florence hit and every contractor in the area was swamped with work, we could not find one able to take on the project. By January of last year we were ready again. We hit our funding goal and went through City Council and Zoning board meetings, got our approvals and by February had found a contractor. I jubilantly began proclaiming ‘We will be under roof by Easter!’ and then, ‘By Independence Day!’ and again, “We will be completed before Thanksgiving!’ None of that happened.
At every turn, there were delays. There was a large increase in the funds needed. After all, our estimate was done in 2017. City regulations again threatened to stop us. Sidewalks to nowhere, a single parking space that will cost $5k, and still the possible need for a handicapped lift (That will cost in excess of $10,000- possibly much more) hangs over the project.
Along the way the Lord has sent us great helps. The Jacksonville City Manager has been especially helpful, sponsoring legislation to change the city’s sidewalk rules that would ultimately exempt us from moving a retaining wall and pouring a sidewalk that would cost an additional $12K to build. I have several groups volunteering to come help with finishing the inside of the new addition. I am acting as the contractor for sheetrock, insulation, painting, flooring and trim work (for those of you who don’t know, I grew up the son of a painter and carpenter, I have a lot of experience in these trades). The Marines and Sailors we minister to are incredible encouragements. They are so excited to see this happen.
But it hadn’t happened yet.
Last night at 9:05 I received a text from our contractor telling me that the concrete guys would be at the center this morning to start the foundation work. I arrived at the Center 12 hours later to this:
After 2 ½ years of praying and anticipating, setbacks and shortfalls, God is fulfilling a promise he made to me back in 2017. I just finished reading Genesis in my daily Bible reading. The story of Abraham rang true as I compared his journey to mine. Though my promise from God was not as expansive or history making, it was important to me. Abrahams journey helped me in these last few days before the promise became real.
In Genesis 16 Sarah is tired of waiting and gives Abraham her maid to have a child by. Ishmael, the father of all Arabic races was the result and to this day we are dealing with the family feud between the children of Ishmael and the children of Isaac. I am reminded not to presume the will of God, but to wait when He sees fit to delay in our estimation.
James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Remember that Jesus waited about 36 years to accomplish 3 ½ years of ministry.
Paul had to go to the desert for 3 years to be trained by God for the Gospel ministry even though he was already a learned teacher of the Law.
Hebrews 6:10-15… For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
One of my favorite sayings, which I use at The Center during Bible studies, and in public when waiting in line at stores is “Patience is Power.” Read my previous post for my explanation of that.
Waiting is hard, but it is worth it. Right in the middle of Peter’s admonitions of how to grow and what to do is patience…
II Peter 1:5-8…And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Patience, my friend, patience.