The Godly Wait and See before They Do

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“Just Do It”

We all know the slogan. It may be the most popular of our era. If any marketing motto can speak for the American psyche, it’s this one.

Conversely, “a friend of God” once wrote this:

But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
—Psalms 38:15 ESV

The Bible is filled with humble people who waited on God. Waiting involves serving, abiding, and patiently expecting. Waiting always demands time.

WaitingGod dwells apart from time. He’s the attendant at both your departing train station and the station at the end of the line–at the same time. And He knows every happening in-between. You can’t fool Him, because he’s at the beginning, end, and all points along the way.

Big picture? He alone sees and understands it. No one, human or otherwise, does. Betting people would be idiots not to bet on God. He knows how the dice land even before they’re tossed.

Yet most people live by “just do it.”

Jesus lived this way:

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
—Luke 6:12 ESV

The understanding behind that waiting:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise….”
—John 5:19 ESV

Wait. See. Do.

Expect. God will answer. Then we will know our course of action.

Nothing in our cultural and societal milieu supports waiting, especially waiting on God. We rush from one forced solution to the next. When people wring their hands at the condition of the world today, the fretting results from the fruit of impatience, of a “just do it” attitude among leaders, who feel compelled to act, yet do so without waiting on God and seeing what He is doing.

Such leaders inhabit not only our government offices but also our church buildings. They even inhabit your home and mine.

No wonder so many programs and initiatives fail. Even governments and churches. Households, too. In failing to wait, we will not see, and therefore, whatever we do in blindness will never be of God.

Yet, somehow, the one who waits on God is deemed the fool.

Except by God Himself.

Doing What God Places in Our Hands–No More, No Less

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I was talking with a friend the other day about the fear of being an ineffective Christian. Both of us face some difficult challenges in our lives, some the same, some different. Those challenges have taken their toll on us both.

No one gets through life unscathed, though. Everyone has challenges. Everyone. If not now, then later. If not when we’re young, then when we’re old. Life is hard, and no one has a magic mirror to peer into the future or a gilded passport to avoid trials.

Christianity in America consists largely of two polar camps.

You have the Radical camp that defines Christians by what they do or do not do for God. Some even go so far as to say one’s ultimate standing with God depends entirely on how radically engaged one is for the Kingdom. It all comes down to what you do, and you better do a lot.

Then you have the Rest camp. “Do? What is that? I’m resting in the Lord and in my salvation!” The funny thing about that camp is that it never seems to do anything, ever. The world ends at the tip of their noses (or, in some cases, the outline of their belly).

I don’t think the truth dwells in either camp. The Church in America can lull you to sleep or work you to death. Neither is healthy–or godly.

Open, cupped handsOne day, I cupped my hands in prayer and said, “God, fill these hands.”

And He did.

He filled them with a mix of normal American life and stuff no sane person would want. Do my best for Him at work, at home, and out there in the world. You know, everyday normality. This blog was part of that mix. Then came the outrageous stuff, most of which consisted of challenges that would push me to the edge.

All God asks of me is to address what He has put in my hands right now, or as one wise Christian once told me, “Jesus hung on one cross only.”

We have this tendency to either drop our cupped hands and let things spill out, or we let guilt force us to take on so much we can’t hold it all and panic sets in.

We need to examine our lives. What is immediately before us? What is in our hands right now? Do those things to the glory of God.

Little things that daily fall into our cupped hands matter too. When God puts a person in front of me, I can give that person my attention and be in the present. I can be Christ in that moment to that one person. That fits in my hand. That I can always do. I may not be the answer to that person’s deep need, but the little bit o’ grace I dispense in our connecting matters to that person. I can always be kind and empathetic. Maybe I can help that person financially or emotionally if he needs it. But then, maybe I can’t. God, what can I do right now? In what ways can I be your ambassador to this person now? What have you put in my hand?

Regarding the challenges of life, let no one judge you. Anyone who has had to caretake a dying parent knows how debilitating such a task can be and how it consumes all of life. That’s reality, and it’s OK. It’s what is in your hand right now. It won’t always be there. God is not judging you by what else you try to carry. Sometimes, something that big is enough. It doesn’t matter what other people think of your inability to say yes to everything else they ask of you. You can only do what you can do. Taking on too much means you do everything poorly and stress yourself. Don’t. All you can do is what is in your hand. Too few Christians understand this, and one of the most toxic tricks a local church can pull is to guilt people “in the name of Jesus” into doing more than God expects.

God knows what you can and cannot do. Keep your eyes on Him. Learn to say no when He wants you to. Never feel guilty for saying no when it’s God leading you to say it.

If the contents of that open hand begin to overflow, get help anywhere you can. God rewards the resourceful, and admitting to being overwhelmed is no sin. Where humility is, Jesus is. You’re not a superhero, so don’t try to be. We are all dust; without God, we can do nothing.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the man going on a journey gave five talents to one servant, two to another, and one to a third. He didn’t give five to the servant who could handle two only. Similarly, he gave five to the one who could handle that many in the moment. When the talent dispenser returned to his servants, all he expected was to see what each servant had done with what each was given. Each was accountable solely for making something out of what the journeyman had placed in their hands. No more, no less.

Those Rest folks need to step up. Those Radical folks need to calm down.

Where are you?

Know that you can do only what God has placed in your hands at this time. A year from now, what is in your hands may be different, possibly more or perhaps less. Give your best to God for what you have before you now, and stop beating yourself up. If only one thing occupies your hands right now, do it for His glory. If God wants to add something, He will. Trust Him to get it right. And if it seems too much, trust that God will put people in your life to help. Ask for that help and keep asking until you get it.

Most of all, trust God. Pray over everything He puts in your hands and never stop offering it back to Him as you partner with Him to make it happen. In the end, it’s not really about you and how well you perform anyway. It’s about moving the whole Kingdom forward. And that happens one cupped-hand item at a time.

No More Fear: Peace, Love, and Confidence as a Witness for Jesus

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The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
—Psalms 118:6 ESV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
—John 14:27 ESV

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
—1 John 4:18 ESV

If you were to ask me what word described American Christians at this moment in time, I would not hesitate. That word is fear.

Fear of terrorists

Fear of homosexuals

Fear of whichever political party is not ours

Fear of someone who might take our means of defense away

Fear that America has been usurped by people who hate America

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear.

Social media is increasingly a fear fest, where the whole world can see American “Christians” publicly display their myriad fears of this or that.

Desperation undergirds that fear. Powerlessness too. People are flailing, looking for anything they can grab onto, as if they’re drowning. Which they are—in fear.

I was born near the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. My father told me he was sure his soon-to-be first child would never see the light of day, obliterated in a nuclear exchange between the world powers of that time.

We can talk about whether this age is more rightful in its fear than that one, but that’s missing the point. We always seem to be missing the point, which is this:

For the Christian, there must be no fear.

Jesus commanded that we not be afraid. Is that not enough?

For the person who does not know Jesus, there is good reason to fear. But there is no good reason for the Christian to be afraid. If Christians fear, it is because we love our lives too much. It is because we fear punishment. It is because we are not perfected in love.

If that’s you, go to the Lord and let Him deal with that fear in you.

Every generation of Christians believes it is the terminal generation, the final one before Christ returns. Whether this generation is or isn’t changes nothing. The Lord says, “Don’t be afraid.”

Everyone is watching the news for more terrorism, more war, more natural disasters—more of everything that should cause fear.

The Christian instead responds with peace amid the turmoil, love amid the hate, confidence amid the questions.

The Christian is the one lost people go to for comfort because the Christian knows the One in whom she trusts is faithful.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
—Romans 8:35-39 ESV

Lost people watch us. They search for something, anything different about Christians that shows us to have something no one else possesses.

Standing on the rockThey look to find someone who loves his enemies.

They seek to find someone who models fearlessness.

They long to find someone who is a rock of peacefulness, unmoved by shifting tides.

People everywhere are dying for the Church to be unflinching in the face of fear.

Christian, if you refuse to give into fear because you rest on the finished work of Jesus and on His faithfulness, then the result will show in your words and actions. You will be an ambassador for Christ and for His Kingdom, which not only cannot be destroyed, but also cannot even be blemished in any way because it is impervious to anything that comes against it.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
—John 12:25 ESV

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
—Romans 14:8 ESV

Even if you die, nothing can be taken away from you, because Jesus has already given you everything, and your life is hidden in Him. What is His cannot be taken away from Him—ever.

Be an instrument of peace.

Be a vessel of love.

Be the person who does not fear.

Be the person who comforts others when they do.

The world is watching.