"All of these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were looking for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them," (Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV).
The writer of Hebrews is talking about Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham in these verses, explaining how delayed gratification was working in their life. He calls it faith, but it is also the practice of waiting for the desire of one's heart. We, of course, like these men of faith, desire our own heavenly city, the glorious place Jesus has prepared for us to live in forever!
But we also desire many things on this earth. We want a place to live, food to eat, and clothing to wear..and shoes, jewelry, televisions, mp3 players, minivans, vacations, movie tickets, scarves, dinners out, college tuition...you get my point. Our list of desires goes far beyond basic necessities.
God is delighted to bless us--a simple statement, but the foundation of delayed gratification. If we believe that God wants to bless us with the desires of our heart, then we can WAIT for Him to provide. Until He provides the tiem or the money to buy the item, we can wait, postponing our purchase until His perfect timing. Purchasing something with a credit card is not delaying gratification. Borrowing money from your child or parent is not delaying gratification.
So many times when Mike and I are helping people get out of debt, we ask them why they went in to debt. Often the statements begin with "i wanted..." or "We needed...." or "There wasn't enough money in our savings account to buy...." I always ask, "How long did you pray for God to provide this item or string of items. I am amazed at how many Christians did NOT pray AT ALL! They wanted or needed something, had no money to purchase it, and went immediately into debt, bypassing prayer.
Do we just give lip service to our belief that God answers prayer or do we just think that financial matters are not "spiritual" enough to present to the Lord in prayer and petition. Are there things that you need right now? Money to pay the electric bill or the mortgage? Money to buy food? Are there things that you want? Have you prayed specifically, asking God for these things? Can you wait for Him to provide before you pull our the credit card or borrow money from a relative?
Waiting on God can be the hardest things we do. It is not easy to do things and buy things in God's timing, rather than our own. There are so many "quick and easy" ways out for us to take. How difficult it is to set our eyes on the Lord and wait. This act of waiting is delaying gratification. We experience delays in what we desire, building self-control and godly character in our life. So, I challenge you to wait on God.
While We Wait
What do we do while we wait? We cry out to God, listing our petitions with Him, knowing that His heart is to provide our needs and bless us with our desires too. We also can save our money, setting aside a little each time we receive money gifts or paychecks. When we have saved up enough money, we can purchase the item we are longing for.
Delaying gratification means that sometimes God will say, "No. I don't want my dear child to have this thing. It is not what is best." Ouch! Can we let God say, "No!" or do we have to have our own way?
Remember money is not a separate issue in our life. Money reveals our heart. How we manage our finances gives us a glimpse into what we really believe and value. We can say anything we want to about our values, but there is no clearer indication of what we value than what we spend our money on. If we can get our thoughts and values lined up with God's Word, the rest will be easy.
For the Joy Set Before Us!
(Meredith Ludwig Curtis)