With God, Preparation Time is Not a Waste of Time

Dear Friends,

Many years ago I knew that God was directing me to train as a junior school teacher, and I was confident of his guiding hand in choosing the right college for me. I knew with certainty that this was what God wanted for me and I had no doubt that at the end of my training God would also lead me to the school he wanted me to teach in.

However, at the end of the training there was no job for me, I worked voluntarily in a school and as a supply teacher but no full-time job as a teacher opened up.  I found this so strange as I had been convinced that this was God's call on my life.  What was the point of all that training if there was no work at the end of it?  Wasn't it just a waste of four years of my life? 

Then when I became ill I never imagined that the illness would continue through most of my 20s and all of my 30s.  They were years when really I should have been in my prime, with plenty of health, strength and energy.  Such a waste!  All of that time when I could have been so productive, yet the reality was I could do very little.

However, God sees things so differently to the way we see things.  I believe that with God, none of our past experiences are wasted.

Yes, I still believe that it was God's will for me to go to teacher training college, but I also now know that his purpose for this time was different to my purpose. His purpose, as I moved away from home, as I experienced four years of further education, was that I would be prepared and equipped for what he wanted me to do in the next season of my life.  As a result I learned much that enabled me to step into my ministry at church and my ministry as a wife and mother.

God never saw my years of illness as wasted time as I did.  He was actually using it as a time of preparation. To prepare me for what he was calling me to do next.  I'm certainly not the same person I was before my illness, because all the time he has been changing me, teaching me, shaping me and equipping me for his service.

In the Bible, individuals often needed to go through a time of preparation before they were ready to be used by God.  For example, for Joseph it was 13 years of working as a slave and also experiencing imprisonment before he was ready to step into what God was calling him to.  In Psalm 105:16-22 we read "16 He (God) called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. 17 Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them - Joseph, who was sold as a slave. 18 They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. 19 Until the time came to fulfil his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. 20 Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. 21 Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions. 22 He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased and teach the king’s advisers." (NLT)  The words in verse 19 show that God's time of testing Joseph was a time to prepare him for the role God had purposed for him.  These years were not wasted ones.

Moses' time of preparation took 40 years in the land of Midian before God called him to lead God's own people, the Israelites, out of Egypt, see Acts 7:20-3830 “Forty years later, in the desert near Mount Sinai, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush...Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt...  Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and saviour. 36 And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years.  Acts 7: 30, 34b, 35b-36 (NLT)

David's time of preparation included working as a shepherd boy, his anointing by Samuel the prophet, and then spending years on the run from King Saul. God took him through 15 years or so to ensure that he was prepared and equipped to become King of Judah. Those years of preparation were not wasted years, they were necessary so that when God's time came he was ready to be a good leader of God's people.

Then, of course, we have the example of Jesus, who spent years in preparation so that at around the age of 30 years he was ready to step in to the ministry God had called him to.

Perhaps as you look back over your own life you remember certain times, years which, from your point of view, just seem to be wasted years. However, from God's perspective, they've not been wasted years at all, they've been times which he has used to change you, equip you and prepare you for the next season in your life.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 we learn that there is a time for everything, "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT) and in verse 11 we read "God has made everything beautiful for its own time." (NLT) I just love that last sentence, don't you?  It gives me such an inner thrill, to know that God is working in my life, working in your life, and he knows the season you and I need to be in right now, whether it's a season of preparation or a season of action, whichever it is for you and me, God is the one who is making it beautiful.  It may be hard for us to understand or believe right now, but that doesn't make this statement any less true for each one of us.

To Think About:
Have you grieved over what you believed were your wasted years?  How would your thoughts and feelings change if you saw these years from God's perspective? 
When have you experienced times of preparation?  What do you think God was wanting to teach you?  Do you know what he was preparing you for?  If not, ask him to show you.

What season are you in at the moment?  Can you see how God is making everything beautiful for its own time?



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