Wait For It

by Ed de la Cour on July 29, 2012

 Habakkuk 2: 1 - 3         "Wait for It"

       I suspect many of us believe just getting by day after day is some great success.  The pressures of having multiple jobs, kids in sports, and other large responsibilities which we place on ourselves, joined by the intensity of the current economy and twenty-first century living, make for a life that is blur of one tiring activity followed by another.  And then, your pastor wants to talk to you about having vision, talking about getting God’s view of your life, talking about sharing God’s vision for our church, and about being excited for what God wants to do in our town.  You might just want to turn him off.  You may want to change the subject.  But, let’s not change the subject and please, don’t turn me off.  Listen to what God is saying to you, and think about the level of engagement God is inviting you to have with life.


       Our preaching text is taken from the prophet Habakkuk, one of the shorter books in the Old Testament, and for reasons that are wholly inaccurate, referred to as a “minor prophet.”  There is nothing minor about any part of the Word of God, nor about the messages His servants are given.  If this is a name given because of size, then shame on us for being so shortsighted and having such limited minds.


       Habakkuk brought a complaint before the Lord.  It was a common variation on the theme of why evil and injustice and violence are allowed to prosper, why the wicked are tolerated, and why it seems to take God so long to come to the aid of and rescue the poor.  This is a passage to which we can apply a great deal of our own thoughtful energy as we think about where we are in life and where we’re headed.  Because we are busy, because we are self-absorbed, it’s hard for us to care a great deal when someone says, “The Lord has given me a vision of the way life ought to be.”  Yet, when we ourselves are so troubled by some aspect of life that we find we arepraying to God for help... for clarity of understanding... for direction, God will often present us with the very thing we have been trying to avoid – a vision of the future God is working to create.  He will give us an assignment that will provide us with passion for that future, and a desire to see it brought to pass as well. 


       As we look over the surface of the waters these days, many of us are impressed by how fiercely the storms of life have dealt with our national and cultural institutions.  Some examples: marriages are dying for lack of interest; millions are gripped by one kind of addiction or another; children simply are allowed to wander off into oblivion.


       Because it may be easier to go with the drift of the cultural flow does not mean it is helpful to do so, that it is right, or in any way advisable.  Our culture is falling into destruction before our eyes.  You and I are in a position of being able to offer a hand up and not simply wave good-bye as the people we love fall into hell. 


       We cannot allow this sick and dying culture to define us, to label us, or to say what shall be important to us.  To allow such an accommodation means accepting utter failure.  We are not prepared to take that route.  To let ourselves believe that it is all too much work is simply unacceptable as well.  God is saying to the church, if you want to be around after the day of judgment, then get your life purpose from the Lord.  Gain God’s vision for your life from God’s Word.  Get God’s vision for our church from His Word, so we are enabled to stand before the people of our community and declare to them a clear vision for their lives, a vision that includes the redemptive love of God for them. 


       When Habakkuk made his complaint, it was not an idle question thought up over a strong coffee.  He was captivated by what he saw and absorbed by the consequences of the actions of the wicked.  In fact, he knew that the devil has a strategy for destruction, that the downfall of people is the devil’s personal joy and prime directive.  In 1:17, Habakkuk identified that plan, “Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?”  The devil wants to say, “Yes!”  The devil wants nothing more than for lives to be destroyed, for families to be broken, and for millions of souls to be sentenced to hell.  Habakkuk did not like what he saw, his heart was stirred, and his passion for righteousness inflamed, so he called out to God.


       As chapter two begins, Habakkuk determined to stand his ground, to be as a gatekeeper, to be as a watchman on the wall of the city, and to wait until he heard a word from God.  We are not accustomed to waiting.  Many of us got rid of our coffee makers in favor of a Keurig so we could have that cup of coffee all the more quickly.  We are all about quick.  We’d rather skip the formalities and just live together rather than marry so we can have the joy of sex but without having to wait for the maturity needed to take hold of the responsibilities of marriage.  We even want our spiritual maturity to be microwaved into existence.  We’ll vote for the short cut any day.


       So Habakkuk waited.  He waited until he heard from God and then God told him – to wait some more.  God said, “Though it linger, wait for it.”  That is a hard truth for us to hear.  We want our answers from God to come quickly and easily.  We want to see results sooner than later, now and not tomorrow.  Not surprisingly, we would much prefer a glorious display of God’s mighty power over a long and boring life of obedience.  We want God to jump to our tune and to play by our rules.  It is always a shock for the American Christian to come to terms with the fact that God does not work for us.


       God’s response to Habakkuk begins in verse 2 and it is a very revealing statement which is going to serve us well as we consider what God may be saying to us and what He may be speaking into our lives.


       God cautions us to write down what God says to us, to pay attention to His revelatory words.  A friend said to me the other day, “Caffeine is proof that God loves us and wants us to pay attention!”  It is the spiritually intelligent Christian who pays attention to the Word of God.


       From verse 4 on, God gave to Habakkuk specific revelation about the wicked enemy who so concerned the prophet.  Perhaps right now, that particular revelation will not as relevant for us as it is for us to listen with a fresh heart to God, to incline our ears toward Him and to stop talking long enough for His heart, His priorities, to begin to register in our souls.


       The vision we will receive for our lives is very similar to the vision Habakkuk sought from God.  When vision arrives, frequently it comes to us cloaked as prophecy, as a word that is designed to quicken the spirit and arouse the heart to action.  It’s not simply a good idea; it is a revelation from God.


       For example, God will stir the hearts of His people who have begun to see the significance of their lost friends dying without hope.  That vision, that extreme reality is difficult to swallow because it is so final, so devastating, and eternal in nature.  It comes to us coupled with a realization of some depth that God seriously and passionately loves this world and that God has formulated a plan to save people.  The plan of salvation arrives as a revelation to us as we gasp at its simplicity, as we realize it is the only hope God is offering to our neighbors.


       It is the prophetic word which declares the revealed vision of God to the church.  When we received our Mission Statement and the Vision for the church, it did not come as a contrived or a manufactured piece of eloquence.  It was not a joke or a catchy slogan.  Years ago, God declared this church to be a safe harbor, and that prophetic word came to us long before it was safe to claim it publicly, long before our church was a safe place for broken people to find hope.  God’s declaration did not make our church safe, but as the years passed, the word of the Lord and the activity of God combined to make the necessary changes in all our hearts.  The vision arrived with some realizations as well, as we recognized God was already at work in us, already at work in our church.  God was already doing this work.  Beyond praying, all we did was write down what God was saying, what He was doing in us.  We slowly recognized what His hand was accomplishing.


       As the people of God received the prophetic word and agreed that word is God’s vision for this church, we were galvanized into action.  The word of God is not lazy.  Isaiah said, “So is My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55: 11)  We saw God had invited the recovery community into this church.  We saw ourselves becoming friends with them, praying for them, loving them and their children, and welcoming God to bring those He is calling to Himself.


       That the vision should be made plain is important.  The phrase reads, “so that a herald may run with it.”  That means the vision is so carefully phrased and easily understood, the vision can be communicated in a compelling and uncomplicated way.  Not all visions are given by God.  Some are just really good ideas and while other visions may be compelling, they are not necessarily focused on the Kingdom or oriented to the Gospel.  They may just be a commercial promotion, some great business idea.  Because God promises to fulfill the visions He gives, that is why it needs to be written down, so you’ll remember it was God’s idea when it comes to pass.  The statement needs to be compact enough to be engraved on a tablet, as it were, and easy enough for a herald to carry it while he runs ahead with the news.  God’s visions need to be compared before and after.  It is an awesome witness to the faithfulness of God when we can see what God gave and how He worked to make it happen.


       When God’s people hear God’s vision, it becomes apparent this is a revelation from God.  The Lord is speaking to His people.  God is giving them their Kingdom assignment.  It will seem quite normal.  Unquestionably, this is from God!  Because the vision will be stated forcefully and forthrightly, God’s people will receive it as such and they will be galvanized into action, aroused to awareness, spurred on and encouraged to take whatever steps and cover whatever distance may be necessary in order to see the vision come to fruition.  Have you received God’s vision as your assignment?


       When God gives His church a vision, it speaks of a future that is to be preferred over whatever the current reality may be.  The vision is a prophetic statement made to a church... a family... an individual, directing that person or group to interact with their community with the Good News.  The vision is a declaration of what God desires and what the Lord is bringing to pass on behalf of this place. 


       When we receive God’s vision, that is sacred moment.  There is a huge anticipation as we wait for its unveiling, but the revelation of the finished product, the Lord says, “awaits an appointed time.”  When the day the vision is fulfilled arrives, that is the appointed time, that is the culmination, the climax of that part of divine redemptive history.  If we receive the vision as from God, we are therefore making ourselves available to God to be whatever it takes and to do whatever it takes to see the vision accomplished.  Does the Upper Cape know that Jesus Christ IS the safe harbor of God?  Not yet.  Does the Upper Cape know that the presence of Jesus is a secure place to rest and a safe place to be?  Not yet.  Does the Upper Cape know Jesus as their refuge from the wickedness of this world?  Not yet.  Does the Upper Cape know that Jesus is the love of God who forgives and saves completely?  Not yet.  What will it take for that vision to be received in your heart?


       There is nothing quick being promised in this vision.  God says, “Wait for it.”  Wait for it.  Being obedient to the heavenly vision, as Paul said in Acts 26:20, is a matter of faithfulness and obedience.  Paul refused to take the easy way out or to set aside the vision of God for personal comfort.  You might be a masochist, choosing to wait and wait because you enjoy the pain and frustration of waiting.  Or, you could simply be a person who is obedient to God and to the vision you’ve been given.  Wait for it, because “it will certainly come and not delay.”


       It may all be a matter of timing, but it is God’s timing.  We are waiting for what God has promised, but we are not depressed and we are not discouraged, because He who promised is faithful.  Moreover, the scriptures encourage us to hope.  God is all about timing.  God is all about the kairos time, the opportune moment when the time is right.  People are forever either jumping ahead of God or wanting to wait forever for something to happen.  But our God is proactive and we would be wise to remember what God says about this time in which we are living today, and it is found in 1 Corinthians 6: 2“‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  Today is that day.  So, while you’re waiting for it, allow God’s vision to take root in your heart.


Edmund C. de la Cour, Jr.
First Baptist Church of Pocasset
298 Barlows Landing Road
Post Office Box 1080
Pocasset, MA 02559

Church Office: 508-563-3164