Sunday, 24 February 2013

Managing Time

I think time management is one of our biggest problems. Most people will think I am talking about myself. I don't mean being late for appointments, which I confess to being - way too often - but failing to fit our thinking into God's time. We click the link and we want to move to the next page; punch in the code and expect our money in the slot; send up a prayer for healing and expect a flash and a puff of smoke. God didn't fix the problem? You must be doing something wrong. This is supposed to work.
Then Elihu continued and said,
“Wait for me a little, and I will show you
That there is yet more to be said in God’s behalf.
“I will fetch my knowledge from afar,
And I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
“For truly my words are not false;
One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
“Behold, God is mighty but does not despise any;
He is mighty in strength of understanding.
“He does not keep the wicked alive,
But gives justice to the afflicted.
Job sat with sores and groaned and raged, and God let him sit there until the time was right. I'm curious about how much of his pain came from the trouble Satan gave him and how much of it came from the advice his friends tried to give him. One tried to wait for the time. He sat silently with Job for three precious days. But in the end, those odious friends increased Job's suffering. They said things that were, for the most part, true. It's obvious that they were well-meaning enough. But they thought God would zap Job with healing when Job said the right words or did the right thing. They were wrong about Job and they were wrong about God, all because they couldn't believe that God would ask anyone to wait. They gave advice when it was still time to give comfort.
For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. (Isaiah 49:13)
God comforts. God heals. He will not leave us alone forever, but most of the time, His healing takes time. It doesn't happen like Benny Hinn and his ilk would have us believe, with the wave of an arm. We are like children in love with magic. We think faith means being sure that God can do it. He can heal you. Right here, right now. But what if faith means being willing to wait for God to heal you? Not here, not now. The healing our Father gives is rarely instantaneous. It takes time. It lets us hurt and wonder. It challenges what we really believe. It breaks the idols we have labeled "God", and shakes the foundations of our understanding. It gives us the impetus to toss out all that is merely comfortable and not immovable.
...that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:7)
If love is being willing to suffer, then faith is being willing to wait. clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you...But the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, restore, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. (1 Peter 5:5-7, 10-11)
Job's friends thought they were stronger than him, as evidenced by the fact that he continued to suffer and they did not. They were trying to be helpful, but their helpfulness was lined with pride. In the end, God demanded that they ask Job to pray for them.

These days I have been heart-hurt, and it has left me, like Job, weakened and confused and complaining to God. A friend I counted on for comfort gave me, instead, advice. It was good advice, but it was bitter to my soul, and it increased my complaint. Then came a text message from Mom and Dad - "Come home whenever you want." Love. No judging my weakness. No pointing out my foolishness. No preaching. Just the Father's heart revealed in a mother and father's desire to shelter their own.

That message sent me running straight Home - into the arms of my heavenly Father. Those words echoed in my heart all weekend, and healed my hurt, a little bit at a time. In the end, it was comfort, not advice, that made me strong enough to hear hard truth from God and willing to take on the responsibility of loving those who don't love me.
...your right hand has held me up, and your gentleness has made me great. (Psalm 18:35)
My response to hurt was wrong, and I knew it, but I was powerless to overcome it with that knowledge. Instead, understanding, comfort, sympathy - these have drawn out the bitterness from my heart, and I am ready to forgive. I am ready to be a servant again. I am willing to bear hurt for Jesus' sake. I am willing again to forgive both those who hate me and those who love me too little.
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then shall you call, and the Lord shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness; And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in the darkness, and your darkness be as the noon day: And the Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they from among you shall build the old waste places: you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of streets to dwell in. (Isaiah 58:6-12)
I have learned from this experience. May God save me from my desire to impart wisdom, most unwise, and give me the patience and the humility to do the hard work of undoing heavy burdens, sharing what is mine, allowing weak people to see my own weak spots. May He keep me from pointing fingers at the problem when it seems so clear to me. May He make me less a teacher and more a repairer.

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