How often do we find ourselves “sitting by the dock of the bay,” as the song says, watching other people sail around in their dreams as we wonder when our own ship will come in? We know what our gifts are, but we don’t seem to get placed where we can use them to best advantage.
God seems to delight in framing the picture of our calling on a horizon that continually moves away from us. Prophetic words lift us with excitement just before we plunge into a situation where the promise can’t possibly be fulfilled. One person is called to teach and is given no students. Another is called to preach but allowed no platform. The heart of a missionary is born in someone without the financial circumstances to travel. A leader is set in a church or organization that won’t allow that particular race, gender, age or social status to hold authority.
Why don’t the waters just part and let us make our grand entrance into destiny?
Promise and postponement
Promise followed by postponement is not a new theme. David was anointed to lead a nation, but was chased out of the king’s house. Joseph was called to lead and rescue his family, but he was promptly exiled from that very family. How did they reach the promised land of their calling? They primed and perfected their anointing in a strange land first.
David practiced leadership with the rugged band of warriors who gathered around him, even though he was barred from the palace. His hunger to rescue Israel only increased when he was forced to escape to the Philistines, so he secretly led rescue missions into Judah all during his exile (1 Samuel 27).
Joseph led slaves before he was promoted to the role of servant. There were no positions open for “dream interpreters” just then. Sharing his gift with the nobodies in prison unlocked the door to Pharaoh’s council room.
Neither David nor Joseph wasted the time they spent detoured from their destiny by letting their hearts fester in bitterness. They did not wait for someone to “discover” them or to give them an assignment. Frustrated as they must have been, they faithfully walked in their anointing in a land that was not their own. In the wilderness of delay, David developed skills as a leader of societal rejects that formed him into an outstanding king. Joseph was exalted to a position from which he could save his family by first agreeing to rescue his enemies.
While We Wait
Jeremiah tells us to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV).” What are we doing with the gift we have in our current circumstances? If we hunger to preach and minister to crowds, will we use every chance we’re given to encourage people one at a time for as long as God asks? If we long to be a missionary in foreign lands, are we forming a mission strategy for our own neighborhood while we wait?
Instead of waiting for our ship to come in, let’s step off the dock into the dinghy that’s available to us today; faithfully serving, to the degree we are able, the people who are around us. Encouraging, serving, and blessing them will forge in us the consistency, integrity and perseverance we’ll need for the destiny that awaits us on the horizon.