I Gave God Time

by Andy Wood on January 19, 2009

in Life Currency, LV Cycle, LV Stories, Time, Waiting

(For once.  Sort of.  Actually, I didn’t have much of a choice.)

The house was quiet, as it usually is at 4:30 a.m.  I was awake, stretched out on my face on the living room floor.  I’d been studying the life of Abraham.  I’d been studying my life, too.  It was Fall 1997.

Two years earlier, I’d been through a “crash and burn” experience, followed by a difficult, but amazing healing and restoration process.  Through it all, I had a more intimate relationship with the Lord, a greater marriage than ever, and an awesome relationship with my kids.  I was serving on the staff of an exciting, dynamic church.  Just one thing was missing.

“Lord,” I asked.  “When will I get to be a senior pastor again?”

There as I prayed, Abraham’s faith became mine, and I received the freedom and faith to enter into new territory with the Lord.

“You haven’t told me what kind of church you want,” I heard Him say.

The faith began to rise, and I began to write:

“hunger for spiritual awakening… fight the devil, not each other… a bridge between those who are seeking more in their relationship with God and those who are looking for balance… celebration worship… practical, Scriptural teaching and preaching… balances holiness with grace…a healing place, where broken lives and ministries can be restored… balanced between effective evangelism and practical discipleship.”

These weren’t just requests – they were claims.  They came with the confidence that God had heard my prayer. There’s faith, and then there’s faith. It was settled.

What ensued can only be described as an odyssey.

Being a man, I tend to assume that things are supposed to move in linear fashion.  First step A.  Then step B.  But God doesn’t function that way.  He is far more concerned with making me someone than he is giving me something.  So when I immediately assumed that I could start looking and Robin could start packing, I missed it.  When I assumed that the fulfillment of that vision was “a church out there somewhere,” I missed that one, too.

In between, I lost count of the number of days I had a head-on collision with more vision, followed by disappointment and confusion.  I’ll mention two.  On December 27 of that year, the Lord spoke to me through his words to Jacob:

The land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.  Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth, you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you. (Genesis 28:13-15)

Jacob was on a journey in search of his future; I was, too.  The Lord seemed to be saying that He would “give” me the territory as a place of great blessing and multiplication, and that He would fulfill His promises to me.

Problem was, it wasn’t happening.

I never could reconcile the disconnect between what I thought I heard the Lord saying and what I was seeing with my eyes.  There were no opportunities.  Only closed doors.

In early 1998, the Lord spoke two other things very clearly into my life:

(1) He was fulfilling His purpose in me, regardless of what my eyes were seeing, and
(2) in the words of Habakkuk, I should “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  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 2:2-3).

Had it been somebody else’s life, it would’ve gotten funny.  But it was mine, and I wasn’t laughing.  I went to half-time on the church staff and started an itinerant ministry.  In 2000, about the same time the itinerant ministry was drying up, I was downsized from the church staff position.

Uh, Lord, this thing’s going backwards.

This was followed by two years on the road as a consultant.  In between were preaching opportunities – really meaningful ones.

And that vision, that word of faith I’d received?  What was I supposed to do with that?

The year 2002 brought an abrupt exit from the road, and several months of bivocational pastoring, along with helping my wife run three restaurants.  But what about the vision?  The words seemed cold and distant.  The disappointments and delays left me with the conclusion that I’d simply missed God.

“I think you should pray about starting a new work.”

In 1999 or earlier, I would have laughed.  I had a lot of respect for those who did that, but it wasn’t me.  But now, in the fall of 2002, someone pressed in.

“I was praying,” he said, “and I had a vision of you leading a new church.”  Almost as just a courtesy, I told him I’d pray about it.  But through a series of confirming steps, in a matter of just weeks, the Lord showed me He wanted to do a new thing – to create a new “wineskin” for the fulfillment of a vision that had nearly died.

People began calling me, asking when and where we were meeting.  Offering to help.  More excited than I was.

On January 19, 2003 – six years ago today – we had the first official worship service of Turning Point Community Church.  When all was said and done, 215 people took part in that first service.  More than once I heard, “I’ve finally found a home, after months of searching.” The rest, as they say, is his-story.

Just before I was to get up and preach on that magical day, I opened my Bible to go over my notes.  There, folded inside the outline sheet, was a note from Joel.  Here is what it said:

Dad,
I can’t believe it!  Today has finally arrived, and with it comes excitement, joy and fulfillment.  I cannot explain to you how proud I am of you and what God is doing through you.  GOD IS USING YOU IN A MIGHTY AND AWESOME WAY!  Your time has come.… My prayer for you is that in God blessing Turning Point, he reveals himself to his children through you…. You aren’t only my dad and my friend but you are my hero.  I am so proud to call YOU father.  But I am even more proud to be called your son.

Later from Cassie:

I just wanted to say that I love you and I’m so proud of you…. I’m glad that you’re my pastor and I’m even more glad that you’re my daddy.  It is so refreshing to see you utilizing the gifts God has blessed you with, and to see Him fulfilling His purpose–His destiny–in you.  As I was driving to get the offering baskets today, my eyes filled with tears as I said to the Lord, “Thank You for this Turning Point…not just for the church, but for this turning point in the life of my family, and in the life of my father.”  You and mother are my heroes, my strength, and a constant example of what courage and grace can do.  I can’t thank God enough for you.

They were two one of the most incredible pieces of encouragement I have ever received.

Hebrews 10:36 says, “You have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.”

God faithfully keeps His promises.  But sometimes, for His good purposes, He delays their fulfillment.  Sometimes He’s waiting for us to complete our assigned task.  Sometimes He’s waiting for our repentance or faith.  Always, He’ll do what He promised.

I gave God time.  Not without some cynicism, frustration, and a few echoes of David (the big crybaby) when he wailed, “How long, O Lord”? I guess in my situation it was more a case of, God took time.  But oh, was it worth the wait.

His vision for you is worth it, too.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mattie January 19, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Andy, that’s the first time I had heard the story of Turning Point! How awesome is the Lord?!!!! Bro, my eyes filled with tears as i read. Though I’ve never been inside her doors, I’m sure TPCC is being used by God in a mighty way, and I know He’s given her a great shepherd to illustrate His care for them in a very real way. Keep giving Him time, bro!

Pam January 30, 2010 at 5:37 am

Wow, what a great story. TPCC is an AWESOME home that God brought together through you and other many wonderful people. Thank you Andy. Praying for you always.
Pam

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