The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths” (Pro 3:5-6 NKJV). But what if your path leads through pain, pressure, and problems? John the Baptist’s did. He didn’t deserve imprisonment. After all, he was the forerunner of Christ and the voice of God in the community. Plus, he was Jesus’ cousin. So he sent Jesus a message asking, “Are you really the Messiah, or should we keep looking?” Paraphrased: “Lord, if I’m in your will, how come I’m in this situation?” It’s a question motivated by unfulfilled expectations. We think, “Lord, I’ve obeyed you, how come things aren’t working out for me?” And it feels worse when you’ve faithfully served Him. Writing about her daughter’s death, Meg Woodson says, “I’ll never forget those shrill, piercing screams, that the God who could have helped, looked down on this young woman who was devoted to Him…and decided to sit on His hands and let her death top the horror charts.” Talk about unmet expectations! Jesus could have saved John, but He didn’t. Instead He sent back word: “Don’t worry, everything’s on target, the kingdom is being built. You did your job well” (See Mt 11:4-5). It probably wasn’t the answer John hoped for. He was looking for solutions to temporal problems while Jesus was busy establishing an eternal kingdom. So next time God doesn’t seem to meet your expectations, it’s not that He doesn’t care; it’s that He sees the big picture and He’s handling issues you can’t even begin to comprehend. So trust Him!
God promised Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Ge 12:3 NKJV). That’s a big vision! But God knew Abraham had the faith to embrace it. If you hate what you have to do in order to pursue your vision, something is wrong. Examine your motives. See if there are inconsistencies between who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. Have you taken ownership of the vision? Do you have the heart for it? If pursuing your vision causes you to violate your values, then you need to get another vision. Maybe the problem is your attitude. (1) Are you too idealistic? You must accept the way your vision is unfolding, and change your expectations concerning how long it’ll take. Ninety percent of all disappointments stem from unrealistic expectations. (2) Have you stopped dreaming daily? You must let yourself dream a little bit every day, explore possibilities and embrace options. Be creative. Continuing to dream actually helps you move forward. (3) Do you appreciate each small step of progress? One way to fill fulfilled is to celebrate each success. Recognize when you pass milestones. Thanking God for your progress will encourage you to keep moving forward. (4) Have you made personal growth your goal? The only way to fulfill a big vision is to grow with it. The bigger the vision, the bigger you have to be to achieve it. What is God revealing to you in your current situation? How can you grow? The greatest reward of pursuing a vision–is who you become as a result.`
If you’re not moving closer to your dream, you may not be tenacious enough in your pursuit of it. And the key to greater tenacity is not necessarily working harder at the same things, but being willing to change. Change what? (1) Your thinking. Are you convinced you can’t succeed? Do you describe yourself and what you’re doing in negative terms? Are you afraid to get started because conditions aren’t favorable? Do you stop trying to move forward when you don’t have the resources you need? If so, you need to change your mindset, to break the cycle of negative thinking. (2) Your perspective. Do you have a short-term mindset? Are you expecting success in days, weeks, or months? The greater your assignment, the longer it’s likely to take. So recalibrate your expectations and create a more reasonable timetable for yourself; otherwise, you’ll live in frustration and defeat. That’s not God’s will for you. Paul’s desire was “that I may finish my race with joy” (Ac 20:24 NKJV). God wants you to experience joy in the pursuit of your goal. (3) Your ways. How are things going in your personal life and in your home life? Are you ready to deal with the habits and hang-ups that stand between you and success? What can you do today that will bring you closer to your dream-no matter how small the progress? Author and publisher Robert Collier says, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”