Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eternal vs. Temporal

I think one of the hardest things for me in life is wrapping my head around the fact that this life is not the end goal. It is so easy to forget in a world that promotes the "now" with no regard to the "later". I was reminded of this twice in two days. Repetition is God's highlighter--maybe if I hear it enough, it will sink in.
Today's sermon was about the worshiping disciple. We were reminded (I say reminded, because I think we all knew this in the back of our heads, somewhere. Anyway, it feels like I should have known it...) that God needs to have the place of glory in our lives. That place of glory is the thing we worship. Worship, we were told, doesn't stop when the music stops, nor does it need music to begin. I was struck by the notion that, like prayer, worshiping our Creator is something we should be doing all the time. The concept of doing anything 'without ceasing' is foreign to our minds. People talk a lot, but eventually they need to take a break. They need to sleep, eat, read--whatever. Breathing is something we do without ceasing, but that is even something we can't control. We could stop breathing tomorrow; that doesn't mean the worship stops. I think this is a struggle for some (myself included) because our time lines are so linear.
I'm sorta glad God's time line is different than ours. Though I would love to know just what is coming, when it is coming, and what I need to do in order to be prepared for it, believing and trusting that He has everything perfectly planned takes the pressure off of me. It sounds like a crutch, and maybe it is. But I honestly would rather that than have to worry and plan and force my (tiny) linear plan any where near God's perfect plan.
I was reminded yet again of God's plan and His timing in my devotional Experiencing God Day-by-Day by Henry & Richard Blackaby. On 16 January (for those who might have it), they talk about the story of Abram. God made Abram a promise that his name would be great and that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:1-3). Abram had no children, but a promise from God is a promise from God, right? And so, Abram waited on God. The Blackaby's said over the course of 25 years, God shaped and adjusted Abram's character so that it would be exactly right for the task that God had called him to accomplish. A promise that took 25 years?!? Excuse me! That does NOT fit on my time line! Abram had some troubles remembering what God had promised him, but I think when he heard Isaac's first cry he remembered.
I have the same promises to hold on to. I am told I am a child of God, that He has a plan to prosper me, a plan of hope and not a plan to harm me, a way of salvation. He tells me He gives perfect peace, a spirit not of fear but of love, power & a sound mind. He promises to never leave me. I have trouble remembering to worship on an eternal time line; I have trouble remembering that God's time line is different than mine. But now that I am reminded of it, I have to wait. I have to watch. I have to see what God is needing to teach me before His promises come to fruition. Maybe that means waiting for a job, waiting for direction with school, waiting for relationships, waiting for travel plans.
But even now, in all the waiting, I am given another promise: If I wait on God, He will renew my strength. I will run and not get tired. I will walk and not be weary (Isaiah 40:31). Did you notice that the person is going from running to walking? Sometimes life slows us down. But the verse doesn't say they would sit around and not get bored or anything else resembling a noncommittal or apathetic response. The person waiting on God is ACTIVELY waiting on God. They are living in the temporal with their eyes on the eternal.

Monday, January 11, 2010

when prayer is answered

The Bible tells us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17). We are to trust God with whatever we are dealing with--relationships, jobs, our Christian walk, finances, families-- and not worry about it. Easier said than done, let me tell you.
Actually, I bet I don't need to tell you. You have probably already come across something in your life that you have struggled to give to God completely. Sometimes, it seems I am constantly telling God, "Okay you need to take care of this because I just can't" a la Hezekiah and the scroll (2 Kings 19: 14-16)
. I find it hard to learn my lessons and am often praying and returning control to God for the same things. He, however, is full of grace and love and continues to read the scroll that contains my struggles I put before him. In all of my failings, He never leaves. I was reminded of this fact once again last night.
About four years ago, I was getting ready to graduate high school. My youth group was also in a transition; the search for a new youth pastor was underway. Even though I wouldn't be in the youth group much longer, I felt that it was important that I care about the process and who was picked because it would be my sister and many of my friends that would be affected by the choice made. I wanted them to have a good godly example and to grow in God. That youth group has been through more than a few trials in four years, and is now searching for a place for their growing number. At a church meeting where this issue was discussed, many youth leaders spoke about the good attitudes the youth had about their small meeting space and the spiritual growth in spite of their small space;after this, the youth were given an opportunity to share their thoughts. With complete and utter respect, these youth members shared honestly with the members their desire for a bigger space. But not only that, they also shared their own thoughts on their spiritual growth. Though others saw growth, the youth all stated that there seemed to be a regression, a slowing even reversal of growth. This, their desire for spiritual growth, was the motivation for a bigger space, and not the space itself. I was impressed with their poise and confidence to speak to the adult members of the church.
As I was driving home, I realized that they were an answer to that prayer that I had prayed four years ago. Through the struggles they went through, by God's Grace, they came through it with the sole desire to honor God. They desire better communication with other members of the youth group. They want, desperately it seems, to have a better relationship with their God, deeper than what people think they already have. There is no way I would have wished that they had struggles or hard times; however, I am thankful that God saw fit to work things out for good, for those who love Him. And I'm thankful that God, in the round about way that He does things (round about in my mind), chose to answer my prayers. So what that it took four years for me to see results? It isn't about that.
The prayer was answered. That is all that matters. And so, I will keep praying. Keep praying for peace in a job search, peace in my relationships, peace for the future. Why? Because He is faithful, even when and especially, when I am not.