For many years, I lived in the all too common atmosphere of a very busy life. Like so many of you who might be reading this post today, my day would start early and end late and with few exceptions, most days were full of activity, interaction and a myriad of responsibilities and opportunities.
I was always aware in those times of the importance of prayer because I knew that I would be making decisions throughout the day without having the time to pray through issues that might come up regarding my calling as a pastor or in my personal life as a husband, father and a very blessed man with scores of important relationships. Things would be moving along so rapidly that I literally had to schedule times where I pulled away from 10-12 hour work days in order to be sure that I was keeping my mind and heart open to the rhema (proceeding) words from the Lord.
In this particular season things have changed rather dramatically. My schedule is not nearly as full and it’s fair to say that I have ample time throughout the day to prepare for meetings and to pray spontaneously as I’m facing situations and/or circumstances that require the Lord’s wisdom and guidance.
In fact, just this week I was recognizing that I had begun to be somewhat frustrated and somewhat perplexed at just how slowly things were unfolding in a number of areas where I had anticipated a significant response.
I wonder how many of you would agree with the statement that some of the most revealing times in our lives are when things don’t seem to be progressing or, put another way, the only thing that one can do is to wait for the Lord to act on our behalf.
During those times, we become very aware of other needs and/or desires in our lives that aren’t really important but begin to be replayed over and over again in our minds. It’s not exactly worry or fear, it’s frustration and perplexity that begin to mark our day to day thoughts.
Perhaps this is why Jesus said very clearly in the Sermon on the Mount that we are “not to worry about your life and what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” “For who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 5:25 & 27
The reason why the Lord so clearly commands us to avoid this pitfall is that “your heavenly Father knows that you need them,” so “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:32b-33
When it comes down to it, frustration, perplexity and certainly worry are simply the external revelation that we are not trusting God with the very things that He promised He would take care of. It’s hard to imagine infidelity being clothed in such an innocent wrapper, but that’s indeed what it is. We are not trusting in the Lord for the most basic needs of life while at the same time declaring our absolute trust in Him for the most consequential things in life such as our purpose, calling and ultimately our eternal destiny.
In a couple of cases I’ve been waiting to hear from individuals concerning opportunities that we discussed and commitments that need to be considered or affirmed. I can’t really do anything to speed up this process and yet I find myself thinking about these things and being frustrated that I can’t seem to make anything happen to change it.
My posture should be to celebrate the fact that my Lord (and my friend!) has promised to take care of such things and that I should give evidence of my confidence in Him by being thankful and full of praise for His sovereign rule in my life.
It’s interesting that Jesus warns us that what is likely to choke out the word in our life is not “sin” or “the devil.” No, it’s the cares of this world. (Mark 4:18)
Needing to have things to do, being tempted by the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things, whether tangible or simply achievements, are powerful enough to choke out the rhema word of God to us.
This need not cause us fear or frustration. Rather, it should cause us to examine our lives and be certain that beginning each day and throughout the hours that we are given we live with a spirit of praise and thanksgiving for the sovereign grace of God in our lives and build our expectation on His promises to take care of us and the undeniable assurance that He knows every detail of our needs and will be faithful to care for us because that is His holy, divine nature.
When things seem slow, it may well be the Lord simply testing our faith to see just how trusting we really are; not because He needs to know, but because we do.