Waiting While Moving Forward

Abraham (the patriarch formerly known as Abram) set out from his homeland of Ur in obedience to God’s leading. The problem: there was no set destination. I can imagine the conversation–a rather brief one. Abraham to God: “So you want me to pack up the family and all of our things and leave?” Yes. “But you’re not going to tell us where we’re going?” No. “Okay, just wanted to make sure I understood ALL the details. Thanks Yahweh.” End scene.How terrifying! To leave everything familiar in the name of obedience, only to have no idea where you’re going. But that was the journey God had in store for Abraham and Sarah–and it was a foretaste of how God would lead His people in coming centuries as well. For it didn’t stop with Abraham.

Consider the Exodus. The people of Israel are in captivity for 400 years. They are rescued by Moses, which I can only imagine as being accurately depicted by DreamWork’s The Prince of Egypt. But the people set out for the promised land. This time there’s a destination. Here’s the conversation. Israel to God: “How about a time-frame? Something. Anything. Any idea of when we’ll arrive?” No. “Okay, thanks Yahweh. Grumble grumble grumble.” There was something more important regarding the journey than the actual destination it would seem.

Lastly, think about all the saints since Jesus declared he would one day return. “How long O Lord?” However long I want. “Okay, glad we got that straightened out.” So how then do we live in the gap? The gap between God’s declaration to move in obedience and the actual culmination of reaching a destination?

We journey along with the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before. We sing with the great chorus of saints who praise God the Father, Son and Spirit from the heavens. We steadfastly and faithfully take one step forward at a time, not knowing exactly where we are going but trusting wholeheartedly the One who has called us to move. And so, we wait while moving forward. As best I can tell this is the Christian life, to patiently await the Lord’s leading while walking where He’s already led. But be of good courage, for many have gone before and are walking with you even now.

Peace be with you.


  1. Louis Tullo · November 14, 2011

    Great post Patrick! This kept me in mind of a phrase from my pastor’s sermon yesterday – “faith married with patience.” It’s been floating around my head since he said it and the examples you give really highlight a way in which that plays out. When it comes to faith in God and His promises sometimes we’re called to act (in accordance with His will) and sometimes we’re called to be ready for the moment when He will cause something to happen. In any case we need to be patient, which is truly difficult especially as people who so often long for immediate gratification when we’re promised something.

  2. patricklmitchell · November 14, 2011

    Louis, your pastor would be thrilled to know you remembered anything from the sermon, let alone something so important! Great distinction on being called to act and called to be ‘ready’ to act. Immediate gratification is one of the greatest little devils with which we contend today. God, from what I know, doesn’t seem to operate in immediacy.

  3. Louis Tullo · November 14, 2011

    It’s so true! The context of the phrase was in relation to Abraham’s second failure in honoring his wife while in a foreign land in Genesis 20. Yet again, he introduces his wife as his sister, but this time God speaks to the pagan kind Abimelech to give Abraham a rebuke. I’m really enjoying the series! Plus, it helps when your pastor also happens to be your cousin. 🙂

    I’m actually preparing for seminary right now, taking a few classes at SBTS, and know exactly what you mean when you’re saying how amazing it is for someone in the congregation to remember what’s preached from the pulpit. Hopefully, God increases the retention of every congregant as they hear His Word!

  4. Julie Snodgrass · November 15, 2011

    Words of wisdom here Patrick. God just asks for obedience… A planners worst nightmare.

    • patricklmitchell · November 16, 2011

      Having married a planner (and wishing I were one) it is extremely difficult for your types. I do think we only really grow when we’re uncomfortable though…at least it’s true for me.

  5. Pingback: Lessons in Waiting | Anxious to Impart

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