When the Unexpected Is Incremental

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By Christine Caine

Little by Little

I’ve had to learn something that God wants all of us to remember through every leg of our journey: The only way to obtain the promises of God is through faith and patience. That applies to everything, including any words, goals, plans, dreams, or visions he’s placed in our hearts. God makes the promises and our part is to persevere, just as the writer of Hebrews told us: “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12, emphasis added).

Maybe you have a dream, a goal, a plan you’ve been working toward for years, and you feel God has forgotten you.

Maybe you have wanted to:

• Start a business

• Go back to school

• Build a non-governmental organization (NGO)

• Serve in your community

• Become a foster parent

• Go on a mission trip

• Lead a ministry

Whatever it is, God has not forgotten you. The dreams, visions, and plans God places in our hearts take time, lots of time. And during all that time, God is working in us so he can work through us. Again, our part is to exercise faith and patience in the process. Faith is believing God, believing that God is who he says he is, and that he will do what he said he would do. Patience is our capacity to tolerate delay—to wait. It’s trusting that God is good, God does good, and God knows what he is doing—no matter how long it takes and no matter what our purpose may be.

As I have walked this out in my own life—from those years of traveling around the countryside of Australia to stepping into every initiative since—I have found God’s process to be strategic and tailor-made for my life. It is the same for your life, and God’s journey for you. But living our lives with purpose—walking in faith and patience—often feels counter cultural to us. We live in a digital world connected globally by the internet and social media, so we have instant access to everything from news to products to real-time videos of world events. As a culture, we consider it normal to get everything we want on demand. Even our reality TV shows give the illusion of overnight success, but there are no overnight success stories really. No one picks up a microphone one day and rises to stardom the next. There are years of hard work in between the beginning of something and whatever it is we deem as success. There are significant life lessons to be learned in the years of working toward a goal. And for us as believers, there are places God wants us to go through—that take time—so he can prepare us for the future he’s designed for us.

When people ask me how I got to where I am today—leading Equip & Empower Ministries, A21, and Propel—I remember that night on the cot and smile. I don’t have five steps to destiny or seven keys to ending global injustice. All I have to share is the process God has walked me through, which is same one I’ve seen him walk everyone through when they embraced the dream he placed in their hearts—whether it was becoming a doctor, a teacher or a journalist, operating a franchise, or staying home to raise a family.

Step by Step

In God’s little-by-little process, steps are essential for success, whether it’s in our personal life, professional life, or in our spiritual and emotional development. When I started traveling through those small towns, speaking in high schools to youth and inviting them to nighttime crusades, I was taking steps. I was building on what I’d learned working with youth at church and in the youth center. Those first two steps prepared me for my work with Youth Alive. And that third step, which lasted seven years, prepared me for the next steps. But it all began with the first step:

• I went to church.

• I said yes to serving at a cleanup day.

• I said yes to volunteering at the Youth Center.

• I said yes to serving as the New South Wales Director of Youth Alive.

• I said yes to being a coordinator in the Hillsong Network.

• I said yes to starting Equip & Empower Ministries.

• I said yes to initiating A21.

• I said yes to launching Propel.It’s not that one thing led directly to the next thing, it’s that one step led to the next step—and I couldn’t bypass any of the steps. It was like climbing a set of stairs, and what I learned on each step gave me the wisdom, knowledge, strength, confidence, and maturity to succeed when I moved up to the next one.

Here is an example of just one way that happened. When I worked for the Youth Center in Sydney, before I went to serve with Youth Alive in the countryside, I started meeting with government advisors to discuss youth policies. I went to school after school conducting seminars and working with the faculty to develop after-school programs and to write curriculum. How could I have known then that someday, through the work of A21, we would develop a curriculum called Bodies Are Not Commodities that is now distributed throughout schools in the United States, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and Australia? How could I have known that God would use my early years of writing and developing a local curriculum to produce a global one?

God knew the end from the beginning, but I did not.

God knew he was preparing me, but I did not.

God knew all the unexpected moments were leading somewhere. I just trusted him and took steps, and he has never wasted one step. “The LORD directs the steps of the godly,” writes the psalmist, “He delights in every detail of their lives” (Psalm 37:23 NLT). There are no express elevators to our destination, because God does not take elevators—he directs our steps. And if we’re growing, little by little he shows us just one next step at a time.

Taken from Unexpected by Christine Caine. Copyright 2018 by Christine Caine. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

Christine Caine

Christine Caine is an Australian-born, Greek-blooded lover of Jesus, activist, author and international speaker. Her primary passion is to make Jesus’ last command her first priority by giving her all to see the lost saved and to build the local church – globally. Christine also has a passion for justice, and together with her husband, Nick, founded the anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign, which received The Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice in 2017. In 2015, they founded Propel Women.