To be alive is to have delayed ambitions. There are times when God’s to-do list postpones our dreams . . . indefinitely! Maybe it’s graduation, a job, a better job, health, marriage, a promotion, ministry opportunities—a delay in one or more of those areas is an experience common to all.
And it’s nothing new. Take a number and stand behind a long list of biblical characters waiting while walking. Abram and Sarai are promised a child of their own but must wait twenty-five years for Isaac’s arrival. David is anointed the next king, but he must wait more than a decade while he runs for his life and lives in a cave. Paul is called to evangelize the Gentiles, but not before he punches the clock for fourteen years in the wilderness. It’s God’s way of doing things. Delaying the fulfillment of our dreams seems to be part of refining and rescuing ambition.
How we live when ambitions are delayed significantly shapes who we become. God uses the wait to teach us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.
Wait isn’t a popular word. We like it about as much as a toddler does. But waiting is a tool God often uses. Scripture is full of waiting—we’re taught to wait for God to act (Ps. 25:3; 27:14; 37:7; 130:5; Isa. 49:23; Hos. 12:6), to wait for our adoptions as sons (Rom. 8:23), to wait for the return of the Lord and his righteousness (1 Cor. 1:7; Gal. 5:5; Titus 2:13). We’re to wait in faith, knowing that Isaiah’s words are true: “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him” (Isa. 64:4).
Waiting is God’s backhoe in the excavation of our ambitions. Waiting unearths and brings to the surface what we really want.
Yet waiting is a strange thing. God’s purposes are not a bus stop where we just sit, waiting for the right option to come by. No, we keep walking while we wait, and we wait while we walk. This may sound ironic, but it serves many purposes. Waiting purifies our ambitions. We may be tempted to think that if our ambitions are delayed, they will fade. This isn’t true of authentic godly ambition.
Excerpt modified from Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey.