I don't know about you, but for us at Crossway, 2019 has started out at a very rapid pace! Some of you may enjoy life in the fast lane. For others, too much "multitasking" might trigger stress. Yet God has tuned me in to one of His secrets over the years: Every life situation becomes either a liability or an opportunity based on how we respond.
Our culture is in a hurry. If it were possible, most Americans would vote for 32-hour days and 8-day weeks. We have second shifts, third shifts, late shifts, and weekend shifts...We want more work, harder work, shorter times and higher standards. Quantity of time has become an asset. Quality time is now a liability. Is this true even in the Church? We are in a hurry, but God is not in a hurry. Let's talk about the high cost of shortcuts.
People are looking for shortcuts to understanding the Bible. Study notes and Bible encyclopedias abound. Why? Because people are in a hurry. Yet this is truth: We study the Word of God that we might know the God of the Word. That takes time. Did you know that God is more concerned about you, the worker, than He is about your work? God makes promises of work to be fulfilled, but from the promise to the payoff is the process. And the process is the point. Whether in marriage, family, at work, or "ministry," God is less interested in getting the job done than He is in building the character of the one doing the job. You never build character by taking shortcuts.
Exodus 13:17 suggests God avoids shortcuts. When He delivered Israel from Egypt God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. God took the long route for the good of His people, and He usually takes the long route today. Our instant society has so invaded the church that we are constantly looking for shortcuts - methods that guarantee quick results. Results, yes; fruit, no. You can't have fruit without roots, and you can't have roots unless you dig deep; and that takes time.
In Genesis 13, God gives a warning for people who love to rush ahead. Lot lifted up his (own) eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere...So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan. The Lord said to Abram...Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are...for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever (Genesis 13:10-14). One man rushed ahead and seized for himself what looked good in the moment; the other waited for a word from God and received blessing for eternity.
Beware the high cost of shortcuts. I've received personal criticism for my "long-term" approach to discipleship counseling. It's in those times I'm reminded of the "have it now," mentality of the generation I see scrambling before my eyes. People want clarity and relief in a month to issues that took decades to find root in their heart. How long does it take for an oak to grow? So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Isaiah 61:3).
God is not in a hurry. Why are you? But those who wait (dependently) upon the Lord shall exchange strength (Isaiah 40:31)
Call us if you are interested in slowing down and learning the lost art of "hearing and waiting for God." I promise, He has been waiting on you and is desperate to speak life into your trouble.