What to Do When We Can’t Build It All
Why can’t and shouldn’t everything be done in our time?
1 Kings 8:15-19 says: And he said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to David my father, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there. But I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’”
We all have grandiose dreams. But isn’t it interesting that sometimes God reserves things to be done by the next generation or a generation far down the road? Should that make us angry, or instill in us patience and a need to teach?
I think this passage can tell us a lot about how we often think of the next generation. When a church starts to decline, there can be the fear that it will die in that generation and that those that were there for the decline must be the ones to bring about resurrection. But, what if during those times we were more willing to pray and see if God is bringing something to a close that He wants the next generation to move beyond? That is a huge fear in the church, that we might not be the architects of everything.
I believe there is something to be said through this passage in seeking counsel from the next generation about their ideas of the future of our churches. We shouldn’t be surprised when their view of the church differs radically from what we see or believe. It can lead to a tightening of the grip on our leadership positions until we realize that it’s too late.
Here are some observations on church leadership I see from this passage:
(1) God has definite timetables.
God may well tell us it’s not our time to do something. Do we have the faith to be patient in those times and realize that the Lord is good and if He chooses, He will allow us to continue on? Or, are we going to invoke manifest destiny and move forward anyway?
There are often no easy answers to questions that arise from discerning God’s will, but I believe that there are definitely times when we will hear from the Lord and He will say that it is not time for something to be done. That comes from the passion on our hearts, a deep look into the culture around us and an honest assessment of our gifts for possible alignment. Will we be patient when God speaks? I hope so.
(2) God makes choices; our calling is to support those choices with more than just our words.
People will say they support something, but when it comes to handing off the mantle of leadership, things change in a hurry. We procrastinate, make excuses, and nothing changes. We must put together plans to allow for the next generation to be raised up. Either we can do it, or God will.
(3) We must learn to grieve the loss of a dream in a healthy way.
When the Lord calls us in a different direction than we want, it hurts. Badly. I see no harm in grieving the Lord’s decision for a time as we contemplate our trust in Him and allow Him to strengthen our faiths. Something has been taken from us, and the Lord is willing to comfort us in those painful times. Are we willing to learn to grieve, because through that process, we can find hope and a reminder that the Lord doesn’t leave us or forsake us, but desires our growth. With all loss, in Jesus Christ there will be a resurrection.
I can’t imagine how hard it was for David to hear from the Lord that he wasn’t going to be the one to build the Temple, especially when he had his heart set on it. But, he realized that it wasn’t being fully removed from him as his son would be the one to build it. I hope to comprehend those plans that the Lord has in store for my sons and not for me, and I hope that I respond correctly in preparing them for that great honor that awaits them. Amen.