This past week, I turned in my last school assignment and ended my graduate assistantship. In two days, I will graduate with my master’s degree, and two days after that I will start my first job. If you missed it, that’s a lot of change. And it’s not that I don’t like change; I love trying new things and gaining different experiences. What I hate is all the unknown. What will my new coworkers be like? Will I be good at my new job? Will I survive the 40-hour work schedule?
But even as questions about what next week will be like race through my head, even bigger questions plague my thoughts. Where will me and my husband live in 5 years, or even 2 years? When is the right time to have a baby? What exactly is God calling us to do in ministry?
I have always struggled with the sin of worry, but this post isn’t about praying against worry (another post covers that). This is about praying for the future when you’re in your “gap” period. A gap period is when you are in between God’s promise to work in a specific way in your life and His ultimate fulfillment of that promise. You may know He has called you to the mission field, or He may have given you a desire to work with children. But for some reason, you’re not there yet. You’re in a time of waiting.
So as thrilled as I am about my new job, my excitement can be hindered by my discontentment with this gap period. I want to be where I believe God has called me and my husband to live. I want to accomplish the dreams He has put in my heart. But sometimes, when we constantly pray for God to get us to where we believe He is taking us, we get impatient with the process and start disobeying Him in our daily living.
Ultimately, praying for the future means surrendering to God the present.
It means that you are giving to Him all the steps you will take to get you to a future that He has promised to give you—one that is for your good and His glory. When we pray for our future, we must pray that God would prepare us now in this gap period by drawing us closer to Him and making us more like His Son for whatever He has for us in the future.
But this prayer isn’t always easy. It’s easy to pray for God to show you the perfect house, the perfect timing to start a family, the perfect job. It’s harder to pray that God would sanctify you now for the future He has for you—to pray for contentment, patience, and all the other characteristics you will need to thrive in His plan.
Think of all the people in the Bible who had to wait on the Lord. Noah faithfully built the ark and preached repentance for 100 years before God sent the flood He promised. God promised Abraham a son, but he had to wait 25 years before God would give him Isaac. In a dream, God revealed to Joseph that his brothers would bow before him, but it was almost 20 years (and much suffering) before his brothers would fall at his feet. God promised Moses that He would use him to deliver the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land, but Moses had to wander with the Israelites for 40 years before they could stand on the banks of the Jordan River. Samuel anointed David as God’s chosen king, but David had to wait 13 years before God would allow him to reign on the throne.
Each of these righteous men had to wait many, many years before they saw God fulfill His specific promise to them. Here’s the beauty of it all, though. Their story did not start when God delivered upon His promise. No, all along God was developing the character and abilities they would need when He ultimately fulfilled His promise towards them. After years of God testing his faith, Abraham was willing to offer his son as a sacrifice. A show-off, tattle-tale Joseph was now a wise and forgiving leader. David learned how to shepherd the people of Israel from years of shepherding sheep.
God can use us even in our “gap” period.
Isaiah 26:8 says, “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”
So as I pray about the unknown of the future, I pray that I may be faithful in the present. I pray that I would obey God in everyday matters, trusting Him with the “little” things. I pray that I would not grow lazy in this time of waiting, but that I grow in my love for God and desire for His glory to be made known. I pray that I would make the most of this preparation period. Whatever your calling may be, just because you are not there yet does not mean that you cannot minister where you are.
Let us not become so focused on praying for the future that we miss out God’s work in the present. Ask God to graciously grow faithfulness in you today as you wait for His faithfulness in the future