My Appointed Time
Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.
Did you know that I was supposed to be married when I was 30? No?! Apparently, my husband didn’t either because, he still hasn’t found me. I feel like he is lost or maybe he saw the wrong girl first and took a chance on her. I had a beautiful fall and small courthouse wedding in mind and then a reception that was more like a family reunion with people galore – eating, drinking and being merry!
Did you know that I was supposed to have three boys by the time I was 36? Their names were to be Jordan, Joshua, and Jaylin. That way my husband and I could enjoy a few years of marriage alone first, then usher in the joy of parenthood. No? You didn’t know that either?
None of those things happened and like many when we don’t get our way, we think of alternate plans. Sarah took matters into her own hands by telling Abraham to sleep with their servant, Hagar. Hagar then got pregnant and bore a son to Abraham named Ishmael - who by the way was not the son of promise that God would give to Abraham and Sarah. Unlike Sarah, I didn’t involve anyone in my plan of action, I simply switched gears - went back to school, started a non-profit, and lived life as it came. For once in my life, I threw out my planner, full of appointments and schedules and surrendered to God, my will for His will.
What I am now realizing as I grow older is that there is an appointed time for EVERYTHING. Yes, everything. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to sow and a time to reap (Ecclesiastes 3). But God owns that time. When we put limits and time constraints on our life, we handicap God. We take away His ability to do the impossible because we lose faith or interfere with His plans. Not that it stops God’s plans for us, because what He has destined for you is for you! I had a friend who literally prayed for a wife for two weeks. Two whole weeks!! When she didn’t appear in those two weeks, he stopped praying for her and said that God must not have wanted him to have a wife. Really? Is that your final answer?
Many times, when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the time that we have allotted, we give up hope. We lose heart and like Sarah we interfere with God’s business. Believe or not, the Bible says ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened for you (Matthew 7:7), but you notice how the Bible doesn’t give the time frame for when you will receive the blessing? It doesn’t say on the second knock the door will be opened or the third time you ask it will be given to you.
God has perfect timing. I remind myself of that often. No husband yet? It will come at the appointed time. No degree yet? It’s coming at the appointed time? No house yet? It has an appointed time? No car, finances, job, etc. yet? It will come at the appointed time. Habakkuk 2:3 says “for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry”. God is a promise-keeper. He doesn't renege on His promises. If He said it will happen, then it will happen.
So while you are waiting for your appointed time, what should you do? You should be working. Work while it is day; when night comes, no man can work (John 9:4). You should open that business, write that book, sing those songs, mentor that child. Live Life! Do all the things that God has placed in your heart to do. Every desire and every dream that He has given you, should be pursued. Have you noticed that when Boaz found Ruth, she was working in his fields (Ruth 2)? She wasn’t sitting still twiddling her thumbs. When Abraham’s servant found Rebekah she was watering the flock of camels (Genesis 24:15). Be about your Father’s business as you wait on your Appointed Time.
Keep the faith and keep working. God still has appointed times and they are not in your hands. Wait in the RED – Loved and Forgiven!
So Sarah laughed to herself and thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I have now this pleasure?”
Have you ever heard something so ridiculous that you laughed? Something so absolutely ludicrous that you threw your head back and laughed? I am sure you have. Like you and I, Sarah was told something so utterly ridiculous that she couldn’t help but laugh! Sarah was 90 years old when God came to her and promised her that she would be a mother. What?! I believe my reaction would have been the same as Sarah’s reaction. I would have laughed as well. How ridiculous does it sound that a 90-year-old woman would give birth? Sarah laughed out of a notion of utter ridiculousness. She laughed at the “impossible”.
Often times God will give us a vision, a dream or a promise and we and maybe sometimes others will laugh at the idea, because it seems so impossible. God often gives us visions and dreams that don’t match our “right now”. He grants us grace to dream bigger than our reality will allow us to think or dream. Sarah’s right now was her age. She was 90 years old when God told her that in a year she would have a baby. What’s your “right now”? Maybe it’s a dead end job or a broken relationship or a lack of finances. Whatever your “right now” is, know this – God isn’t worried about your “right now” and He doesn’t take all day to do anything.
In my junior year of college, I was in desperate need of a computer. I had a simple, yet cherished word processer that was near and dear to me, but as a business major, I was competing with people with $2,000 Apple Macs. Trying to find a vacant computer in the library each day was like looking for a needle in a haystack. So I resolved that I would compete by getting up each day at 2am and working until 6am. Surely the library would be empty by this time.
My mother had a fit. She did not like the idea that I was out around the campus that time of the morning. But with diligence, I got my work done and competed with my classmates with those high-powered computers. I kept praying about how I would come up with the money to buy a computer, but being on scholarship with limited work study hours, I didn’t see a way to get a computer.
I was like Sarah I just laughed. My right now was my finances. I had no way of even buying a bad habit because my pockets were so empty. However, one day while at home, I stumbled across an ad in an Essence or Ebony Magazine. At the end of the ad, there were 5 questions. If you answered them correctly, they would send you a computer. Too good to be true right? Like Sarah, I laughed! But you know what? I sent in that form and about 6 weeks after answering that ad, a brand new computer and printer showed up at my house. My mom and my grandmom were in awe; I was overwhelmed. Had God really heard my impossible prayer? Had he answered in the most “ridiculous” way? My Daddy-God had come through.
I can’t imagine the joy that Sarah felt at having a son in her old age, but if it was anything like the joy I felt when that computer arrived, it was one of the most exciting and overwhelming days of my life. In verse 14 of Genesis chapter 18, God asks, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord”? I now know, there is absolutely NO. THING. too hard for God!
The message… God always gets the last laugh. Trust him and Believe His promises. Don’t forget to laugh and live in the RED!
Handing Out Hope
Romans 4:18 (KJV)
Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, so shall thy seed be.
In January of 2000, I moved to Nashville, TN to work for Saturn Corporation, a subsidiary of General Motors Company. I had mixed feelings about going. Intrinsically, I knew something was happening in my life. I felt much like Abraham, when God sent him away to another land. The move to Saturn in Springhill, TN was hard because I was leaving my family behind. We are a close knit clan, so leaving them for just a 3-hour car ride was still hard. In October of 1999, we had just buried my uncle Walter, who was like a father to me, so my heart was still tender. But God orchestrated this move to Nashville and I was obedient to the call.
No sooner had I arrived in Nashville, (Franklin, TN to be exact) did my mom get diagnosed with Leukemia. Devastation is the word that I would use to describe my whole life at that moment. My mom was my very best friend, my confidante, my champion, my “Day 1” as the young people say. Instantly, I knew that I had to start a radical prayer journey. I knew that God would meet me on this journey. I started getting up every morning before going to work in order to pray and read my Bible. My prayer was that my mother would be healed. From the moment, I found out about her illness, I started chasing God.
Every Sunday, I would attend church and take copious notes and then re-read them as I got time throughout the week. I now realize that I was in a spiritual battle. Since the battlefield is the mind, I had to constantly take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). The catch - I had to make sure that I knew enough word to snatch them back. So I attended Bible Study, Sunday School and even joined the tape ministry. Every Sunday, I was granted access to old cassette tapes that weren’t purchased in prior weeks and I loved it. In my car, in my home, and at work I listened to the word of God, ran to the Bible to read the references and memorized verses and scriptures with fervor.
In the midst of my pain, I learned to hand out hope. It was like I was an ear hustler, an eavesdropper. Every time, I heard someone with a problem, I’d offer them a cassette tape. You’re having problems, in your marriage? There’s a cassette tape for that! You have a wayward kid? There’s a tape for that! Financial struggles? There’s a tape for that! And that’s how my ministry started. That’s how I started HANDING OUT HOPE!
Those cassette tapes brought me so much joy and hope! They taught me to hope against hope. I was like Abraham, believing even though the situation was unbelievable. They gave me courage to keep going and I shared that courage with others every day, every week. The tapes weren’t some magical pill or a placebo that hid my pain, they contained the faithful word of God that did not return void and did what it promised to do.
Isn’t it amazing how God uses us when we are down to our last, when we have counted ourselves out and have thrown the towel in, in defeat. Ever wonder why? I believe it is because at that point, we have surrendered our will to His, given up the fight, and finally learned to live in the RED.
As you go through your trials and tests, don’t forget to tap into the spirit and find out how God wants to use your pain. All pain is for a purpose. I promise; pinky promise. In the midst of your pain, don’t forget to hand out hope!
Stay in the RED!
Living in the RED!
I love the Lord! But I have road rage... The kind of road rage that has sent me zooming behind someone issuing idle threats, blowing my horn, and acting completely out of character. The same passion that I put into everything else in my life, I put into my road rage. It’s the kind of road rage that makes me see RED! Bright beautiful red! Well, I used to. One day I had road rage with my grandmother in the car and she was mortified, outdone and disappointed in her granddaughter. And all the heat and aggression I felt went out the window when I saw my 85-year-old grandmother clutching the door for her life! Whew! What an awakening! Since then I have significantly reduced my road rage to an under my breath whisper or a silent roll of my eyes.
Because I have this outlandish case of road rage, I often struggle with my Christian walk. In the middle of an amazing worship song that I am singing in my loudest voice on the freeway, someone will cut me off and I will have an overwhelming desire to revert to road rage. It’s a daily struggle! And because we have people in our lives who want to remind of us of what we once were and forget that we are delivered or in the process of working on deliverance, we constantly berate ourselves for the sins that we struggle with. Is Road Rage Bad? Why yes, it is. Is God pleased with it? Why no, He isn’t. Is it a sin? Anger itself is not a sin. Even Jesus got angry. But when we sin as a result of our anger, that's where we mess up. That’s why I pray about it daily.
Along with prayer, I try to Live in the RED! Now I know, you might say, RED? Yes, Red. Red is often associated with anger or rage. Any bank, financial institution or business would laugh at me if I told them was trying my best to live in the RED, and they will tell me that “you are crazy”. They may call a psychiatrist or a therapist to speak to me immediately. Why? Because living in the Red in the financial world or even in your world, means that something is wrong. Living in the RED means that the books are unbalanced, there is a deficit, debt has amassed. In the financial world, it is a tragedy to live in the RED. Black is the expression that means you are on the right track financially. Living in the Red is not the place a financial analyst or CPA would tell you to go or do. But as a Christian, it is my honor to tell you to live in the RED.
My struggle daily is road rage. We all have a thorn in our flesh. What’s yours? Living in the RED is a reminder that we are LOVED and FORGIVEN! Now I no longer see RED, I live in the RED.
When I think about RED as a Christian, I think about the blood. In Hebrews 9:22, the b part of the verse says that without the shedding of the blood, there would be no remission of sin. In the old testament of the Bible, when people made a sacrifice, they took an animal - one without spot or wrinkle or any kind of blemish and offered its blood in order to atone for the sins that they had committed. However, these were not permanent sacrifices. Each time you sinned, another sacrifice had to take place. You know how much sacrificing would have to take place to cover all of our sins? You ever heard of the phrase, Obedience is better than Sacrifice? Well of course, it is better to just do the right thing than to keep offering sacrifices.
When I think of RED, I think about love. I think about the EVERLASTING (Jeremiah 31:3) love that God has for me. The shedding of his blood was a symbol of His love for me – for us! I think about Jesus staying on the cross, not calling legions of angels, suffering and dying, JUST FOR ME! I heard a preacher say once, that if it would have just been me, He would have still laid down His life. For the ONE!! Let that hit your heart and spirit… Just for You… Say it with me… JUST FOR ME!
The ultimate sacrifice… Jesus’ blood would forever and ever free us from another sacrifice. After Jesus’ blood was shed on the old rugged cross, there would be no more sacrificing, no more shedding of blood. In his own words, “It is finished.”
Therefore, living in the RED means that we live under the blood. We live under an umbrella of the Father’s LOVE. We are sinners saved by a Savior who offered us salvation and grace and for that I am grateful. When God wants to punish us and dares to issue a deserved consequence for our sin, he sees RED - the blood of His only begotten son that was shed for me and you and for all who will call upon the name of the Lord. Living in the RED is simply living, a blessed, loved and forgiven life. I would love to say, I (we) get it right EVERYTIME, but I (we) don’t; God did! I am living in the RED and so thankful for the love I have and the blood that was shed!
Don’t forget to Live in the RED!