Saturday, January 16, 2016

Urgency or patience?

What's the place of urgency for the saint?

Urgency for Christians is often preached as a positive. For instance, the following story I've heard from the pulpit:

Satan was discussing with his demons how to dissuade Christians in their service advancing the Kingdom of Christ. They began offering suggestions:
"Tell them there's no God."
"No," replied Satan. "They won't buy that. They've seen too much evidence of his presence in their lives."
"Tell them Jesus never rose from the dead," another said.
"Just as bad. Besides the evidence from history and the martyrs, they see the evidence of it in the salvation God has already given them."
"Tell them there's no hurry."
"THAT'S what we need."

I think there is truth to that; we certainly lose our passion and opportunities through our tendency to procrastinate. And yet, I find also that I fall most readily into sin when I operate with a sense of urgency. I get tunnel vision, prioritizing the whatever must be done and thus ignoring the needs of those around me. Like just today when I lost my temper with my dog as I was trying to take the trash out to the dump. We've been working on teaching them not to run out in front of vehicles, but so far it's only associated with my Grand Prix, and I was using our new (to us) pickup. So both dogs were running to where I couldn't see them as I was backing out, and so after unsuccessfully trying to distract them with food and then inviting them to come with me, I decided to just shut them in the house. Well, since Diogenes knew I didn't want to let him out but I neglected to command him to "Stay," he bolted as I left. When I finally cornered him, I was harsh with him, even though the things I was upset with him about were the things I haven't put enough time in to teach him completely yet. He's very good about staying when I tell him to stay, so I should have remembered to tell him instead of assuming he would. And he hasn't had enough time to learn yet that NO car should be crossed paths with. But I was caught up too much in the task at hand to be patient enough to take a teaching opportunity. Terribly ironic for someone whose ministry is supposed to be teaching.

That made me very thankful that the Lord is "compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness." He knows where we're at, when we know better and when we're still learning, and knows He will get His purposes done in spite of our weaknesses, and so is always patient enough to teach us.

Maybe that's part of why, even as we've seen the real urgency for our ministry increase in the last few years, seen Satan build up ways to trap people's minds, God has concurrently given me this sense of--hard to describe--helplessness? A realization that this task of growing transformational education in Africa is far too big for me or our small team to accomplish, that it will have to be His mighty work through our simple obedience. If I fell for the "have-to-get-it-done" drive I tend towards, I would probably lose patience with people and miss the real point of ministry, which is to grow us all into Christlikeness.

Lord, forgive me and change me. And thank You for my colleagues who exemplified that patient teaching for me.

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