We recently finished our 6-week series through the book of James, and I think it’s worth noting how James ends his letter because he ends the discussion on making faith work by talking to us about what I call “the Persistence Factor.”
James 5:7-8 (NIV)…
7Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.
And then, in order to unpack this idea a little further, James paints the following picture:
See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
“You too, be patient and stand firm…” James essentially says, “In order to really make your faith work and reap the benefit, you’ve got to understand the importance of being patient and the Persistence Factor. You’ve got to get good at developing the skill of patiently waiting and standing firm.”
This means we need to learn to see and recognize (much like a farmer planting seeds) that this doesn’t happen overnight. No farmer plants seed, comes back the next day to find nothing, and then concludes, “I don’t see anything. Guess this stuff doesn’t work.” And yet this is exactly how many of us respond when we don’t see the seeds of our faith producing what we had hoped for.
The farmer and all those who would embrace the Persistence Factor understand there’s a process involved–You’ve got to water the seed. Cultivate it. Keep the weeds out. Give it time to grow. And even before that, the soil needs to be prepared. There’s always a process involved.
This is so important because everyone of us have moments along the way where it seems like this faith thing doesn’t work. It just doesn’t happen. We had a dream that died, a prayer that didn’t get answered, a promise that didn’t come to pass.
And if we don’t understand the process and the Persistence Factor involved we’ll get discouraged and disillusioned. You’ll talk yourself out of God’s Word for your life and tell yourself, “This faith thing doesn’t work.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ve just forgotten the process involved.
The Bible says in Eccl 3:1 (NCV)…
There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.
Did you know that every season in your life is valuable? God doesn’t waste any of it. There are at least four seasons of the process we all experience. More than likely you are in one of these seasons right now.
The first one is the DREAM.
That’s when a seed of faith is first planted. God gives you a dream for your marriage or family, a dream to see your friend come to Christ, or maybe to see someone healed. Or you have a vision for your future–to be out of debt, free from an addiction, or to start a new career.
And you’re pumped! This is always the most exciting part of the process. The dream is fresh and alive and new. You’re excited and you can hardly keep from telling everybody about it.
But inevitably, every Dream moves into the second season of the process: DELAY.
This one’s a little tougher.
The Dream, the Word from God, begins to be tested in your life because you’re not seeing any movement towards it. In fact, many times it feels like your’e going in the exact opposite direction!
The person you’re praying for gets worse…
Your friend you’ve been inviting to church doesn’t want anything to do with God…
Your child whom you’ve been trying to mend the relationship with won’t talk to you…
You want to be financially free and you’ve started tithing. Then the AC in your car goes out!
Does any of this sound familiar? It always seems to happen that way, doesn’t it? Doubt can make your Dream fragile. The enemy comes to steal the seed of faith from you before it ever has a chance. It’s in this season where it becomes much more difficult to maintain your focus, and a lot of people give up.
But if you hang in there and press through you get to make it to the next season of the process: DEATH
That’s right, the dream actually dies. The vision you had doesn’t happen the way you saw it happening. You start to wonder if God ever spoke to you at all or if you’re just delusional.
It’s Abraham when he’s 100 and still doesn’t have any kids. It’s Joseph wasting away in a prison, wrongly accused and forgotten rather than being in a position of influence. It’s David running for his life from Saul, hiding in caves like a fugitive instead of being king. It’s Jesus crucified on a Roman cross and lying in a tomb when the disciples were expecting Him to rescue God’s people.
They all experienced a death in the process. A season where the dream was dead. Hopeless. It seemed impossible and foolish to have ever thought it could happen. And the tragedy is this: Very few people ever make it to the other side of this.
So many good people die with their dream. What do I mean by that?
They become angry with God. They get bitter. Cynical. Jaded. Jealous of the success of others. They quit dreaming. They quit believing. They still love God, but their faith grows cold. They may even go to church and manage to manufacture the motions, but for all intensive purposes they’re dead on the inside.
But here’s the thing about a seed and the way our faith journey works–What you think is dead has only been planted. The potential within the seed can never be released without it being buried, lying dormant, and experiencing a death. It’s an absolute essential part of the process.
Jesus said it best in John 12:24 (NIV)
…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
This is why you can never allow yourself to stay discouraged or to quit. It’s an essential part of the process, and when you’re in this season you’re closer than you’ve ever been before to the final part of the process…DESTINY.
Now, here’s the amazing truth I’m learning about Kingdom Dreams as they relate to our Destiny: Kingdom Dreams are always seeds. In other words, and this is big so don’t miss this, the Dream you begin with only represents your Destiny in seed-form.
This is why when we step into our Destiny it never looks like what we thought it would look like when we launched out with our Dream. That can often be confusing until we realize that the reason our Destiny doesn’t look much like our Dream is that our Destiny is always so much more.
That’s the way seeds work, isn’t it? Just as a magnificent oak tree bears little to no resemblance of it’s former acorn-life so your Destiny in God will far surpass the seed that is your God-Dream.
And now you know why Ephesians 3:20 says…
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
If where you are looks nothing like the Dream you started with, don’t be discouraged and don’t you dare give up…It’s not supposed to. The fact is your wildest Kingdom-Dream will never come close to your actual Destiny. It’s just a seed.
Be patient. Stand firm.