When you attend a conference, it’s a lot of back to back speakers and content. Which is why it’s good advice to review your notes and decide what is worth remembering and acting on. Over the course of 15 months I read the entire Old Testament and took a lot of notes. This was my first time ever reading the Bible this way. In approaching it like this I noticed a lot of patterns and I found a few big themes that I’m sharing as “Conference Recaps”. Welcome to Day 2!
And in case you missed it, you can go back and read “Day 1: It’s about God. It’s not about you.”
2. God is a long-term planner.
While he might have had the occasional 90 Day Roadmap, God was more likely to share the 40 Year Strategic Plan. And many times it was longer than that. While he had (and has) expectations for moments, and situations, it is my observance after reading all 39 books, 929 chapters and 23,145 verses that God is really about the long game.
I wonder when the phrase instant gratification became commonplace. (At the very least, I feel confident it was not any time in B.C.) We have created a culture that expects and demands quick responses, fast growth, and immediate change.
And when those things don’t occur at the speed we demand, we experience disappointment, depression, despair, anger and frustration. We extend our speedy expectations to every business and employee no matter the size of the company, tenure, or what they product/service they provide. We leave negative reviews to air our grievances. We go through a variety of emotions when it comes to delays in responses or reach outs. We are in awe of strangers we’re supposed to share the road with or stand in line behind who don’t handle situations with the speed we think they should.
On our very best days we are gracious and considerate. We realize whatever we experienced was not about us, that our expectations were unrealistic, and that people have a lot of life going on that we know nothing about. Since we’d want the same grace extended to us, we give people the benefit of the doubt and a break.
But. On typical days we are not like that. We are unjustly agitated (as we insist we are justified), lacking empathy (despite demanding it be extended to us), and have forgotten how to stand in someone else’s proverbial shoes. You have moments that “grind your gears” and I have mine. It’s not okay for us to keep normalizing this.
Why? In reading the Old Testament I have noticed a theme that amplifies how off base we really are.
- the creator of the universe, and you…
- the sustainer of the universe, and you…
- the one who wants a relationship with you for eternity…
… operated in the long term and spoke about the long game. He talked about it a lot, over a long time, to a lot of people. He told prophets who told the people. He told them promises they would never live to see, but should still look forward to: family, a place to call home, rescue, healing, life. And he patiently, painstakingly, waited for people to change and choose to love Him back.
And when they didn’t, he continued with his long term, from the first day of creation plan, and sent Jesus. It’s not possible for any of us to know for sure how many human earth years went by from the day of creation to the weekend of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. But it was more than 2,000 years for sure. How long is your longest plan? How long are you willing to follow God while you wait?
The people of the Old Testament had to wait. And God’s long term planning becomes evident because each long path led to another long path that led to Jesus.
A few Old Testament Examples of Long Term Strategic Planning
Note: all times are “-ish”, but nothing is a second, minute, hour, day, week or month. Think loooonger. Bonus Note: the words “second” and “minute” (actual measurements of time, not the colloquial uses) were not present in the Old Testament. So if it takes your website more than 3 seconds to load, it’s not time that was even measured. Just sit back and let it load.
- 50-100 years of Noah building the boat. (God told him it would rain. He had never seen rain. Built it anyway, every day. My pastor would say there’s a sermon in there.)
- 365 days of Noah, family and animals stuck in the boat. (Waiting for it to rain. Actually raining. Waiting for the worldwide flood to subside. A year of waiting)
- 25 years between Abraham and Sarah being told they would get pregnant and actually getting pregnant (not to mention the years of silence about it before. They were in their 90s when Isaac was born. They waited their entire lives.)
- 13 years pass between Joseph (technicolor Joseph) and his journey from kidnapping to prison to Pharaoh’s Executive Director.
- 40+ years between Moses saying “let my people go” and everyone leaving Egypt, including parting the Red Sea, receiving the 10 Commandments (twice), to actually entering the Promised Land with a totally different leader.
- 10-25 years to acquire all of the land in the Promised Land (It was a promise but there was still work to do. Cooperating with God in the land was part of the plan.)
- 340-380 years of judges before God gave the people King Saul (God wanted to be their King, but they demanded what other nations had.)
- 40 days Goliath stood in The Valley asking for a challenger before David showed up with a slingshot.
- 15 years from the time David is told he would be King to actually becoming King (Saul’s behavior wasn’t helpful in this).
- 70 years being in Babylonian Exile (the story you know of Daniel in the lion’s den and his friends in a fiery pit happened during this time. So does Esther and several other events you might have heard about.)
- 400 years between the last prophet and Jesus being born.
So I ask us again. How long are we willing to follow God while we wait? Some of these people did. Some of them didn’t, and there were pretty epic consequences that impacted the people around them and after them.
A long term approach, is not an excuse to be lazy in the moment or flippant about today. But it should change how we treat other people including ourselves.
- Stop expecting immediate results with everything everyone everywhere always. Including you.
- You are not a failure if it takes time.
- They are not a failure if they take time.
- Approach God, no matter how much time has passed.
- He forgives you, no matter how much time has passed.
- Forgive them no matter how time has passed.
Adjust my expectations to match the ones set by the God who created me. Think about and approach God with eternity in mind. Think about and treat people with eternity in mind.
Start today. Expect it to take your lifetime. Take comfort in that.
Day 1 Review: The Bible is about God. Learn more about him. Stop always trying to make it about me.
Day 2 Review: God is a long term planner. He kept his promises, and his timing and timeframes are eternal, not instantaneous.
Upcoming Review Sessions
- The wrong definition
- Silence vs. Spoken
- Bonus Notes: Did you know…