The relationship we keep with God is so personal and delicate. To solidify our belief and connection with God, many of us look for that burning bush moment that completely ignites our soul, saying “YES, you are worthy and chosen in God’s eye”. I don’t know about you, but my days seeking God have been extensive, and there have yet to be any startling face to face interactions with God the way Moses got to experience in the desert. I will even admit to the fact that I have had many days were I toiled with a plethora of ideas that would pressure me to believe that God doesn’t even exist. Being as that frame of mind isn’t really an option for me, or for billions of other people here on earth, I thought a few encouraging words on the topic might serve at least one person well today. So, to all those atheists out there, I’m sorry I will not be throwing in that spiritual towel of defeat today, and tomorrow isn’t looking good either. Ergo, the quest to understand and strengthen our bond with God journeys forward.
My brain loves to quantify, measure and even chart most of my experiences in life in order for me to make sense of it all. On the days when I’m fortunate enough to have some form of conscious spiritual contact, regardless of how powerful it may have been, I usually fall short on storing the experience in my memory to draw from its strength during those days when things aren’t so bright. If you pair that inability to quantity spiritual experiences with a fully functioning built-in forgetter that consistently devalues and hides the God shots for me, it’s no wonder I can struggle with doubt.
I pray for direction, I pray for the well-being of others, I pray to understand my purpose in life, and of course I pray for that shiny house in the hills with a helicopter and a Ferrari parked out front. Did I mention that timeliness was of the outmost of importance when it comes to these humble demands? I’m sorry, but “it will all happen on God’s time” motto doesn’t jive well with my plans? That type of reasoning is for the simple minded, and wouldn’t dare apply to someone as noble as myself, would it? My prayers need to be answered immediately, because if they don’t come to fruition the way I had selfishly planned, I will most definitely being to build resentment towards God. When life doesn’t manifest your monthly materialistic blessings, it really leaves you feeling rather depressed at times.
That’s why I prayed the way I did, so God could make things unfold according to my wishes and my concrete demands. I prayed to abort the process when I faced struggle. I prayed to speed up my seasons of suffering. I prayed for times of abundance to last indefinitely. I prayed to get out situations that he clearly wanted me to stay in. I prayed that I wouldn’t have to endure some experiences that he undoubtedly wanted me to endure. I was working on the destination of my life, while God was fine tuning me for the present moment.
Sometimes he made me wait. In my non-humble opinion, he made me wait far too much! Doesn’t he know that I have places to go, people to meet, and things to do? He always corrects my excessive urgency, and says “you skipped out on that crucial step, go back and complete it”. Skipping a step? Wait, you mean to say that there’s work for me to do here? That’s nonsense, I’m far too entitled to have to deal with such trivial matters and protocols.
“If you skipped the experience with Jimmy, I’m going to send you back to deal with it with Sam. If you skipped it with Charles, you’re going to have to go through it with Adam. And, if you skipped that crucial step with Sally, you are most certainly going to have to go through it with Eleanor. You see, I’m using these people and experiences to help shape you and prepare you for what’s to come. I’m not preparing the blessing for you, Im preparing you for the blessing. The blessings are already prepared, but you aren’t quite ready to receive them yet,” God would proclaim!
The notion that blessings are already in place isn’t a typical idea to digest! In other words, the work doesn’t have to be applied to where you’re going, the work has to be done within you right now. It is processed in this manner so that when you get to where you’re going, you can handle the responsibilities and blessings you’re going to receive at that specific moment in time.
You wanted a good boyfriend/girlfriend, but you didn’t have the best track record of being a good partner yourself. You wanted to start having children, but your parenting skills hadn’t been established yet. You wanted a good job, but you weren’t too keen on investing the long hours in the library it took to develop the skills needed for the position. Anytime you get things before the were due to arrive, you mishandled the blessing because you took a shortcut to get it. Not to worry though, God will place you back into process, and orders you back to work through the missed step. He shapes us one step at a time.
You see, you can’t drive an 18 wheeler the same way you drive a car. In a typical car you can make quick turns without much thought, but if you’re driving an 18 wheeler you have to plan out your approach well before you even get to the turn. You start down shifting and gradually move yourself into position so that when you get to the turn you are positioned properly to make the turn. You go through a specific set of steps in order to get everything lined up perfectly to make that turn. As brother Luke put it, for anyone who has been given much, much will be demanded of them; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. So next time you don’t land that promotion, or the girl of your dreams doesn’t take you up on that offer to go for coffee, you probably weren’t ready to receive or endure the experience to begin with, and something better will be just around the corner waiting for you. The trouble is surrendering to that truth when we have to wait for months, or even years.
For those Christians out there who want to dig even deeper into the process of God’s timing, turn your eyes to the New Testament. Even Jesus had steps to take. They tried to crown him too early, but he escaped and disappeared for a while because Jesus knew far too well that he would have skipped out on some mandatory steps if they captured him prematurely. “You can’t crown me before you cross me”, Jesus might say. Remembering most importantly that it’s the cross that made him crowned, and so highly cherished.