Do you have any half-finished projects sitting around? It could be something you’re still working on, like finishing a basement, but which seems to drag on forever. Or, there might be an activity that you started, but just got tired of. Lots of things seem like a good idea at first, but when they get difficult and take up much of our time, the pressure of other obligations (and things we’d rather do) can starve them out, until we remember – perhaps with a little guilt – that we haven’t gone back to them in months.
Or, maybe it’s just me! I remember a latch-hook kit that I had (many years ago) as a kid. After an initial start, It sat at about 90-95% completion for years, until I actually took the time to finish it up. Today, there are still components in the basement of my house for projects that I thought about doing, but never even started (or started, but then stopped).
As human beings, we are imperfect and fallible. We don’t just leave projects unfinished, but we leave promises unfulfilled and relationships un-maintained. New Year’s resolutions are often as much a source of jokes as they are of life change. We miss opportunities and then regret doing so, because – unlike God – all we can see is the present and the past.
Still, we can be thankful that God – who created and sustains us – doesn’t suffer from the failures of his creation. Paul spelled this out in a letter to followers of Jesus from the ancient town of Philippi:
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 NLT
God doesn’t leave projects unfinished. The Bible (and history) is replete with examples of people who went through experiences that prepared them for exactly what the future had waiting for them. Esther became the queen of a nation whose people weren’t like her own. Joseph was found in a prison before his rise to power. Zacchaeus learned to deal with his stature before getting the chance to host Jesus Christ for a meal (with a side of personal life change).
Any of those people might have felt that their story was over, while they were under oppression, in jail, or socially outcast. God was just putting the pieces of history together so that He could do great things through them (and, in the process, He did great things for them, as well).
Aren’t we glad that God is faithful, even when we are not? (2 Timothy 2:11-13 reminds us that His faithfulness is not contingent on our own!) When we find ourselves in the “under constructions” portions of life, it is tempting to think that God has relegated us to the attic or basement, tossed into a box with other people whose lives weren’t destined (in our mind) for greatness. Jesus promised not to leave us, though (see Matthew 28:20), and He does not abandon His disciples.
Now, admittedly some of God’s timelines span millennia, like when He sent Jesus to earth at just the right time, after centuries of prophecies. However, He completes what He starts, even if we don’t see the progress. Like a rock wearing to a smooth contour in a riverbed, we might not see the change if we just stand there and look at the rock; however, as God’s view looks out over all of history, He can see the long-term change that we cannot.
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
2 Peter 3:8-9 NLT
So, even if you feel like you have been abandoned by God, and that He has given up on you, take heart! God may be working behind the scenes, and this part of the “project” that is your life might seem to currently be in a lull. (Even big construction projects sometimes need to wait for the weather to reach a certain temperature, or for concrete to harden.) Regardless, God hasn’t quit.
While we yet live on this earth, we are known, loved, and have a role to play. Let us base our faith on what God has done (for us and for others) throughout history, and not trust Him only for what we see Him doing in our lives this very minute. Our vision is sometimes as nearsighted as our commitments; may we trust that His are not.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.