Genesis 37: 23-28
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe – the ornate robe he was wearing – and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers, ‘What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.’ His brothers agreed.
So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[b] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
I don’t like waiting. In the supermarket, when approaching the checkout, I make my decision based on a number of variables which include counting the number of items in the trolley in front of me and assessing the age and gender of the person working on the checkout. (I’ll not share my specific hypotheses in regards to these.) When I finally make my decision and step into a queue, I then watch the one I was going to join, growing increasingly irritated if it moves quicker than the one I’m in. I also don’t like waiting in traffic, airports or restaurants - and I don’t like waiting on God. Which can be a problem because I’ve discovered that God is seldom in as big a rush as I am. He never gets frazzled, stressed or panicky. You'd think He had all the time in the world!
Joseph, as a 17 year old young man, had two incredible dreams about his future - how he would rise to prominence, promotion and position, his family would bow down to him, he would be elevated and exalted by God. His dreams were prophetic, they were from God, and they did ultimately come to pass. It’s just that they didn’t happen in the timing or in the way that Joseph would have expected. In fact, it was 13 years between the dream and the fulfilment of the dream.
What was going on in all that time? What was the reason for the dream being delayed? In our own lives, why do we spend so much time in 'God’s waiting room'?
When the dream is delayed it is because God is either defining the dream or developing the dreamer.
In terms of developing the dreamer, often we will find ourselves in a process of preparation, pruning, refining, training and equipping. God is adding what we need and stripping away that which would hinder us. This can be a very stretching, painful, frustrating, difficult and testing period of time.
For Joseph, the next 13 years involved rejection, betrayal, being falsely accused and then imprisonment. However, in the midst of it all, there was so much more happening than it would have appeared on the surface.
God is always more concerned with who we are than with what we do. When our character is constantly playing catch-up with our calling, the dream can soon become a nightmare. That’s why He takes His time in getting us ready.
Another way to look at it might be - if you’ve ever been flying a long distance, you might have had a stopover in a different country. You don’t want to be there, it feels like a total waste of time. But the reality is that you can’t get to where you’re going without spending time there.
Don’t avoid the stopover, don’t downplay the development, don’t push aside the preparation, don’t shrink away from the shaping God wants to do in your life. It’ll only make the process longer because God will take as long as He needs.