‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it’ (Ezekiel 22:14). God has spoken many things to us chiefly through His Word and in our personal lives as well. But when it comes to seeing them actually happen, some seemingly take longer than expected. We then invoke the proverb like the house of Israel, ‘The days go by and the vision comes to nothing’ (12:v22). We become like Saul who when the Philistines came against his kingdom, he decided to offer sacrifices because Samuel the Prophet seemed to delay. But ‘Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived’ (1 Samuel 13:10). When Samuel asked what he had done, Saul says, ‘When I saw that the men were scattering, and you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favour.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering’ (v11-12). Just like Saul, we may find ourselves taking action when we see that God’s promises have not come at our set time. We then feel compelled to take matters in our hands. But when we give in to the pressure of doing things our way, it is usually at the brink of breakthrough. It is then that we realize that all there was were just appearances of delay, and not actual delay.
When things seem to delay, ‘conflicts on the outside, fears within’ (2 Corinthians 7:5) begin to take shape. Things appear to be worse than they actually are. It is these conflicts and fears that compel us to take action to address the seeming delays. We intervene in situations which God has not only spoken about, but says that He Himself will do. But at mere appearances of delay, we tend to intrude into things we do not understand, only to get our fingers burnt. Like Saul, the core of the problem lies in the presumption that God’s timing is based on our surrounding circumstances. We put God on a stopwatch and when the timer ticks, our minds go haywire. We then try to bring a fix and make things happen for ourselves. But in all this, we forget that God does not operate according to our timing, for He Himself is outside space and time. In fact, He ‘changes times and seasons’ (Daniel 2:21). As a result, God’s doings have a subtlety to them, and so when He changes times and seasons, often times we do not perceive it. Just like we cannot see the actual growing of a plant, so changes in our state are not as obvious. Thus, we only fully see and understand things in hindsight, and that is why appearances of delay rank top in our causes of agony and distress. Nothing just seems to be happening! Of course nothing seems to be happening because in our natural state, we cannot see the transformation, only the outcome. That is why God marvels at us, asking, ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ (Isaiah 43:19). Often times, the answer is no, because we seem not to perceive what God is doing, we only wait to see it manifest in the physical first.
Thus, overcoming what we see as delay is a major part of Christian living. This is not a one-off feat, but a constant battle to be faced with each rising. Since appearances of delay always spring up before us, as they cannot be eradicated by our natural eye, something different is needed- something outside the physical. Thus, the Christian slogan becomes, ‘We live by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith, ‘the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1), is what eradicates appearances of delay before our eyes. It causes us to see the promise before we even receive it. Sheer insanity, it appears to be. But, ‘If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you’ (2 Corinthians 5:13). So, in order to overcome many struggles, including appearances of delay, Christians have to be out of their minds. In fact, nothing seems to make sense to the world around us because of our faith. And so, for God’s sakes, we form a vision and thought pattern that is out of this world in order to align to His will. That is why God says, ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. 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). In essence, the Christian life is forsaking our thought-pattern to accept God’s. We are literally out of our minds, for ‘we have the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Adjusting to this new mind of God is a-must in overcoming common setbacks in our lives brought about by how we perceive things. What we see, touch, and comprehend are not our realities. They are only perceived realities from our distorted biases. That is why most of our mistakes stem out from ‘I thought’, ‘It seemed like’, ‘I saw’ and the like. In fact, ‘When the woman (Eve) saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it’ (Genesis 3:6). And we all know how the account ends. The true reality thus lies in the spiritual- what we cannot see with our natural eyes. ‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what we see is eternal’ (2 Corinthians 4:18). When we begin to look at the unseen, we perceive the reality that there are no delays in God’s operations. In fact, we get to realize that in the spiritual realm, everything is accelerated, compared to the physical realm. That is why Christians find it difficult living in the present world because we have already beheld the end in the spiritual realm. Our supernatural view then clashes with the natural, which is painstakingly slower and disturbingly different from the spiritual. It is no wonder that of the great men and women of faith, the Bible records that ‘the world was not worthy of them’ (Hebrews 11:38).
Many times, Jesus demonstrates that there is nothing like delay in His operations, only the right time. When Lazarus fell ill, his sisters sent for Jesus. When word reached Jesus, He says, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it’ (John 11:4). Jesus already saw the end because He operated in the spiritual. But for the rest of the people living in the natural, all they could see was things as they were. And so when Lazarus eventually died, people went haywire. It was too late! Jesus had delayed! But is only after this appearance of delay in the natural that Jesus acted. He says, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I am going there to wake him up’ (v11). To the human ears, this statement was bonkers. To the natural eye, it was too late. That is why Martha and Mary remarked to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’ (v21,32). The perspectives of Jesus and the two sisters greatly conflicted. On one hand, Jesus saw the occasion as one that He would be glorified through it, while to the sisters, it pointed out Jesus’ delay. So, this account helps us understand that what appears in the natural as delay, is actually a divine orchestrated opportunity for God to display His glory. Thus, it is safe to say that the more the delay, the greater the glory. But depending on the lens we are using, we arrive at different conclusions. Yet, it is only the spiritual that stands. That is why Paul exposes the perception that the world forms about Christianity as opposed to the actual reality; ’genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known yet regarded as unknown; dying and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor yet making many rich; having nothing and yet possessing everything’ (2 Corinthians 6:8-10). And just to add, glorified, yet appearing to be delayed.
‘For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end, and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay’ ~ Habakkuk 2:3
‘But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay’ ~ Ezekiel 12:25
‘God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil’ ~ Numbers 23:19