Our culture is so inundated with the concept of instant gratification. We frequently hear that it’s the big businesses that caused our economic meltdown, the banks taking large bonuses, or the poor lending, etc. I don’t get paid the big bucks that the politicians do, but you want to know the real reason why our economy is in the state that it’s in? Instant gratification. Everyone feels they deserve the house they can’t afford, the clothes they can’t afford to pay cash for, the meal that’s easier to buy than make at home. My co-worker and I were discussing on our drive to Charleston today that our culture has this mindset that we must have it now! We always blame our culture for issues, but it hit me today that even people in Bible times suffered from these issues. Think back to Rachel when the Lord wouldn’t allow her to conceive. She gave her maid to her husband to bear children, and she did it more than once! The Lord later allowed Rachel to conceive, but she had to “have it now.” Our generation is no different from those in Bible times. We are all still sinners who are impatient and think that we should know God’s plan.
Even as I type, I find myself worrying about a few different issues. I pray that the Lord would calm my heart, but I “want my answers NOW.” I have been trying to remember that God’s timing is way better than my own. When I get upset, I try to tell myself “it’s not my will, but Thine.” Try to make that your daily philosophy.
Many times as a kid I committed to read through the entire Bible in one year. Inevitably, I would start in Genesis and stop not long after I started. This routine went on year after year after year. This year, my youngest sister-in-law and I have committed to keep each other accountable. We are reading through the Bible together, and we are also doing a short Max Lucado study on the books of Colossians and Philemon.
What I have found to be really refreshing about our Bible reading is how the daily reading is split up between the Old Testament, Psalms, and New Testament. I have found it very inspiring lately to read through the Old Testament stories recently. I have been really inspired by the faith, and even lack of faith, by many in the Old Testament. We’re still early in the book, so you have Abraham who loved God SO much, he was willing to put his son on an altar, raise a knife in the air in preparation to kill his son….or back up in the story to Sarah who laughed at God because she had such little faith about conceiving a child. Then, I think of Rebekah who followed a stranger out of her land because she believed God called her to go. Why can’t I have faith like those in Bible times?
Recently, I have felt like the Sarah’s of the Bible…laughing at God. I don’t literally laugh at God, but I struggle with what’s in front of me. Many times I suffer from unbelief or just simple confusion. There are many concerns and decisions in our lives right now, and I feel like I’m laughing at God. I want to be the Abraham’s of the Bible and be willing to sacrifice my deepest love to serve Him. A girlfriend of mine sent me an e-mail this week about something unrelated to what I’m feeling, but it has stuck with me. Here’s what she said, “But Monday I had a really long talk with God and decided that I was going to pray “big” and lay it all on Him.” Do I talk to God? The chapter Emily and I covered in our book on Colossians last week was about prayer. Do I spend time in prayer to God? Not often enough. I want to be one of those people that when I tell someone I’m praying for them they know it to be true. Do you know someone like that?
Over the last few months I have been thinking about my prayer life…yes, I used the right term thinking….not necessarily praying. How many times do you set out with the right intentions to pray, but then get distracted, fall asleep, or simply get bored? I struggle with my prayer life. When I tell someone I will pray for them, I do my best to think of them through the day, but my prayer life shouldn’t simply be requests. It should be praises, meditation, listening, etc. I’m working through a study on the book of Colossians and Max Lucado wrote a really good reminder of what prayer should be. I wanted to share it with you.
“So what are the basic New Testament guidelines for effective praying? Pray unselfishly and with a pure heart (James 4:3). Pray relentlessly (I Thess. 5:17). Pray believing that God will work (Mark 11:24). Pray according to God’s will (John 15:7). Most of all, pray with a heart that is surrenderered to God’s ultimate purposes (Luke 22:42).”
This also goes back to what my girlfriends and I were discussing Tuesday during our run about the Lord’s will. Our final determination about the balance between God’s will and our free will is our heart, and that’s what Max Lucado says based on Luke 22:43, have a heart surrendered to God’s ultimate purposes. May I make that my goal on a daily basis.
We are a blessed couple. There isn’t much more I can write that can’t be centered around that very large fact. As I sat at my desk, exhausted on the verge of complaining, I remember, I have a job when many others are praying for just the same thing. As I put on my running clothes to go out in the 31 degree weather, complaints or excuses were quick to flood my thoughts, but then I remembered, I have two God-given friends waiting to run with me, I have legs that work to run, and I have a body that is not my own.
On our run/walk for the evening, the girls and I got talking on the subject of God’s Will, our free will, and what we need to be doing in our daily walks. I have never been in a position to take a leap of faith or rely soley on God for my future, and that is where I stand at the beginning of 2010. It’s a scary position but an exciting one too. The next time you are reluctant to be faithful and wait for God on something or even to do something where you feel like you’re spinning the wheels, think about Noah. I have started reading through the Bible with the hopes of reading through the whole Bible. I’m doing it in conjunction with my brother-in-law’s church plan called 365Revolutions – Hearing from God daily. We read a chapter or two each day from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Psalms.
I have been impacted by the story of Noah recently. I think about the “leap of faith” I’m taking where I must rely soley on God….do I really know what that means? Noah was one of the last people on earth who trusted God. We find it hard in our day to trust and follow God, but there are many more of “us.” Noah was one of the last if not the last. In addition, He started building a boat the size of at least one football field without having ever seen rain before. THAT is faith. Let’s strive to be more like Noah (obviously, primary focus is to be like God, but Noah’s faith is one that should be replicated).