Abraham was seventy-five years old when God made him this promise:
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).
When the promise arrived, Abraham and Sarah (then known as Abram and Sarai) did not have any children of their own. Becoming a “great nation” would require this to change. More to the point, it would require having children. In this same chapter (12), God promises to give Abram’s offspring the land occupied by the Canaanites. Again, offspring indicates children.
A few years pass and Abram is growing concerned: ““Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” (Genesis 15:2). With a sense of resignation in his voice, Abram simply states, “You have given me no children.”
Have you been there?
A word from the Lord, a promise from God captures your heart and your imagination. Your hopes soar. And then nothing happens, at least nothing that you can see or experience. You know God’s timing is not your timing and so you wait. And wait some more. Until finally, you feel like you need a conversation with God to clear the air — get things straight.
I felt called to church planting in the spring of 2001. The call was as clear and convincing as any direction I have ever had from God. However, the door to plant our church didn’t open until 2005.
Those intervening four years were great years. We served alongside a fantastic church in Georgia who loved us and we loved them. We saw people come to faith during those four years of ministry. And yet the call to church planting was never far from mind.
Never far but dim at times. On occasion I would wonder if and when God would open the door.
Then the door did open and we returned to San Diego to start LifePoint. We were blessed to work with old friends, helping people find their way back to God. It was the riskiest and most exciting move I have ever made as a pastor — and I would do it again in a heartbeat. There are no words to describe how it feels to watch people meet God for the first time and to see how it changes everything.
Perhaps that’s why it hurt so much to finally say goodbye, knowing that the doors would close and our unique corner in the kingdom of God would be disperse and be grafted into other communities.
I struggled with that decision for months. On the one hand, I had been called to church planting with such clarity that we moved across the country, took a pay cut, worked two jobs, and had a blast. On the other hand, shutting down seemed like the right thing to do.
I’ve had to remind myself over the last two years that the call I received wasn’t for a limited time but for the rest of my life. Lord willing, we will have the opportunity again — and we’ll be more experienced and just as passionate.
God responds to Abram’s despondency with simple reminder:
“‘Look up at the sky and count the stars — if indeed you can count them’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be'” (Genesis 15:5).
God is God. We are finite; he is infinite. We can try to count the stars; he created them.
The next time you find yourself waiting on God, wander outside at night. It’s a good reminder.