Yesterday I wrote about God’s patience. He is patient beyond what we can imagine, yet when He sends the Spirit into our lives the fruit includes patience. Not just any patience. His patience.
However, when God is ready to act, He acts. He doesn’t hesitate. When it’s go time, it’s time to go.
We can see this in how God approached things with the Israelites coming out of Egypt. He took them the long way. Instead of taking them the short cut to the Promised Land, He took them through a sea. Literally. Then they meandered through the wilderness for a while. Finally, when it was time to enter the land of milk and honey, God said go. Now. It’s time to go. What did Israel do?
They hesitated. They didn’t immediately go. The result? They wandered for forty years while those that hesitated died. They didn’t hesitate the next time.
When we read the Gospel of Mark, we can see this in the actions of Jesus. Don’t just read what Mark writes without catching how writes. Immediately shows up a lot. Jesus does a lot of things IMMEDIATELY.
Perhaps an even better example of this is found in Luke. Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, gets sick and dies. Jesus gets word of this. You would think he would rush to Martha’s and Mary’s side. Instead, He pauses. He waits. Then when it’s time, He says “Let’s go, boys.” Why? Why does Jesus take his time only to immediately go into action when you least expect Him.
Why does God take a group of stubborn people on a wandering journey only to bring them to point where they will hesitate and have to wander another forty years?
Why does He confound us by not showing up when we expect only to come out of nowhere just when we are about to lose hope and give up?
I believe Jesus gives us a clue during that story of Lazarus. He says something important when initial word of Lazarus’ sickness reaches him. He says, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified in it.”
Jesus pauses. He is patient. Then when it’s time, it’s time. Why? For God’s glory.
That is one of the hardest things for me to grasp. I continually struggle to wrap my mind around this. But I know it’s true. And I don’t quit working at it.
God does things in His time, but when it’s time, it happens. The immediacy of God is something that I haven’t got hold of yet, and sometimes don’t like. But I know that it’s better than anything I can do in my own time.
Do you ever struggle with the immediacy of God?
I like fruit. Apples. Oranges. A banana here and there. Some grapes. Love. Joy. Peace. Self-control.
Yes, I began naming fruit of the Spirit there. I imagine us having this fruit something like this. The Father sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. That’s what Paul writes in Galatians. It’s in the Bible, so I take that as truth. It’s as if we come to know Christ so the Father plants the Holy Spirit into our lives. The result?
He begins producing fruit in our lives. I mentioned a few of the fruit above. There’s one, though, that seems to be the hardest for me.
I’m just not a naturally patient person. I trade the wonderful flavor and aroma of popcorn popped in a pot on the stove for a bag in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Truth be told, I do this in many more areas of my life as well.
I have patience it seems. It just isn’t developed and fully grown yet. It’s like a green tomato that teases and promises to be ripened, sliced and smothered with Duke’s mayonnaise on my sandwich. As Axl and the other GNR boys might have said, “All it takes is just a little patience.”
If our patience is a special kind that enters our life through the Spirit, it means that God is an extremely patient God. After all, He doesn’t measure time like we do. A day is like a thousand years. A thousand years is like a day. He is patient, waiting for the day that all who will come to Him is complete.
He is patient.
What I am just beginning to grasp is that He has given us His patience.
He trades the microwavable bag of popcorn for the kind where he heats the grease, stirs and shakes the kernels until they pop a delicious bowl.
And even though he has given us this patience, we can’t outpatient Him. He can wait until the perfect time. He wants ours to grow. He longs for ours to ripen until it’s ready to be plucked from the vine.
You want to be more patient? He has given you everything you need. He has given you patience.
How is your patience these days?
I have a confession to make.
I have never mowed the yard on a Sunday.
You can pick your jaws up off the floor. I know that was a startling revelation, but it had to be done.
Seriously, though, I’m not getting on you if you have or do. That’s your business and between you and the Lord. I don’t because it was how I was raised. We didn’t do any unnecessary work on Sunday. We fed our cows, but that was about it. Sunday was a day of rest. I compromised that with my first job working in a grocery store. We had to haul hay once so that we could get it in before it rained. There were some exceptions.
I understand that you may have to work on Sunday. That’s ok. I get that. Not everyone can work a Monday through Friday or Saturday job. My preacher friends work on Sunday. Trust me, preaching is work. Physically it can have the same effect of running a distance race. I’ve done it and can attest. It will wipe you out.
My concern is that you take some sort of sabbath. You need a day to kick back and not work. The Lord did it. After six days of creation, He rested on the seventh. And He’s God. He wasn’t tired like you and me.
I hope you take a day where you can turn your focus away from the normal things you face during the other six. I hope you have a day where may pay special attention to the Lord. No, I hope this isn’t your only day you do this, but one where your focus is heightened.
I hope you spend some time with family or friends on this day. You make it a day that you just hang together. Maybe see family you haven’t seen all week.
Most of all, I hope you have the true Sabbath in your life. If you know Christ, He is your Sabbath. He is your rest. You want rest? He offers it to you.
Do you have a Sabbath?
One of the recurring themes that keeps coming up in my thoughts is the fact that we’re all in this thing together.
Batman was solo when he first started. Eventually Bruce Wayne took Dick Grayson in as his ward and Batman gained a sidekick with Robin.
A menace from outer space terrorized the Earth in 1960. Joining to combat it was Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. None of them could face the threat alone. They came together to defeat it.
Iron Man debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. The Hulk followed a couple of months later. Iron Man 2 came around two years later and then Thor and Captain America showed up in 2011. The Avengers assembled to face Loki and a huge cosmic threat in 2012 to face what they could not face alone.
These comic books and movies are just glimpses of what we need to understand about our faith. We can’t do it on our own.
An eye can’t live without an ear or the rest of the body. They’re each connected to the other and cannot stand alone.
Neither can we.
We aren’t Lone Ranger Christians. We aren’t Tontos either. We’re more. Much more.
We aren’t flying solo. I’ve only really flown twice in my life. What I realized that there was no flying solo. Teams made the plane fly and land and everything in between.
We’re all in this together. Let’s go out and prove it now.
How does your life show that we’re all in this together?
If you have been in the church for any amount at all, you have heard one of those good old churchy words that has been handed down from generation to generation.
You have used it, and may have given one or two. You know the word:
What if we called testimony what it really is. It’s a story, right? Our story. The story about our relationship with God, about what Jesus has done in our life.
How do we go about it? What do we do? Here are four steps to telling the story of what God has done in your life.
- Describe your struggles and victories. Be honest about them. Don’t try to hide your warts, but don’t glorify them either. Tell about your victories, but don’t hang your hat on them. Make them part of your story, but not the entire story.
- Don’t whine….or brag. Don’t make your story a time to simply talk about how bad things have been about your life. Don’t brag about everything you have done in your life either. Just tell it like it is.
- Be humble. Don’t let pride rule in your story. Pride is one of the easiest to let creep into our lives. It can easily become part of our story. Remember where you’ve been and where you’re going. Realize Who has done it all for you.
- Glorify God….not yourself. It’s so easy to twist things so that you get the glory. We like for the spotlight to fall on ourselves. Make His name known, not your own.
You have a story to tell. You can call it a testimony if you want. Be honest in telling it. Tell about how things really are. Know the trajectory of your story. Make sure that it really comes down to Who it’s all about.
What else would you add about telling your story? What is your story?
So often in the past, oh I don’t know how long, we have been told that religion is not where it’s at. We have learned that it is man’s attempt to reach up to God. It’s our try to link from here to the Lord on our own. It’s us building a tower up so that we can reach heaven. It’s our climbing a ladder, step by step, in our attempt to earn God’s favor.
Instead, the message we hear is that we live in a relationship. One that is based on the relationship that the Father has with the Son and the Holy Spirit. A relationship that involves an invasion from Heaven. One that began with normal familial relationships and spread to friendships among those that followed Him. A relationship that causes us to be adopted into God’s family and makes us Abraham’s descendants.
What if, though?
What if it’s actually both?
What if the relationship Christ establishes in us creates a religion that is not our attempt to simply reach God on our own?
Since the old things have passed away and the new has come, why isn’t religion new? Why doesn’t Jesus flip the script?
I think he does. We just don’t like the word religion once we come to know Christ and that’s ok. I don’t really care. As long as the relationship is driving the religion, we’re all good. As long as it simply isn’t us doing it all on our own, in our own power, in our own flesh, then we’re good.
Is it religion, relationship or both?
I’ll let you answer that one for yourself.
Which is it?