“But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” II Kings 5:11
“One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?'” John 5
Jameson did a lesson last night on these passage and talked about how we all, like Naaman, want God to answer our needs and desires in an instant magical way. We don’t want to put in the hard work ourselves to bring about change. Did the man who was an invalid for 38 years really endeavor to put in the hard work to get to the water? Probably not. And like him, we put forth a little effort, and then we want someone to help us, we want God to swoop in and do a miracle and fix things for us. It really got me to thinking.
I have things I have been praying about for a long time. Yet how hard am I working on bringing about the change I want? I am in a holding pattern, making some efforts, but also tolerating my situation. I keep thinking that at some point God will change my circumstances to an environment where change is more possible. Every day, I procrastinate putting in a concerted sustained effort, or even planning to put in a concerted sustained effort.
About 5 years ago I was in a spiritual swamp. I wanted to be sharing my faith more and studying the Bible with people more, but I couldn’t seem to really change. Finally, once day I said, “I am going to make this the most important thing I’m doing. I am not going to do anything else until I share with one person a day.” And when I did that, I met someone who wanted to study the Bible! And then, from places I didn’t expect, three more people started studying the Bible. God was working, but I needed to start putting in the intentional effort.
Continuing with this blog entry, I am combining these thoughts with my study of Ezekiel. I have been sporadically reading through the prophets in chronological order, and I am up to Ezekiel 21. The people Ezekiel prophesied about were complacent. They knew they were doing wrong, but they thought God didn’t care much. They tolerated their current situation. They procrastinated on changing.
But God’s wrath was coming. And for all time, there is absolutely nothing as powerfully terrifying as God’s wrath.
Yes, I will cut off both the righteous and the wicked! I will draw my sword against everyone in the land from south to north. Everyone in the world will know that I am the Lord. ” (v. 4)
I groan because of the terrifying news I have heard. When it comes true, the boldest heart will melt with fear; all strength will disappear. Every spirit will faint; strong knees will become as weak as water.”
Although Jesus averted God’s wrath for us, it’s good to remember that there is still the threat of wrath today:
“How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:30-32)
I’m not fearful of suffering God’s wrath because of my procrastination. But the point is, my choices DO matter. How the Israelites lived their lives mattered, and how I live my life matters.
It takes a lot of energy and motivation to change. I think that is why I put it off. It seems overwhelming. And I don’t want to get busier, I just want to be able to identify and focus more on what is important. This is something I CAN do: take some time to prioritize.
Yesterday I was reading Joshua Becker’s blog on “Becoming Minimalist.” He says, “busy has become the default state for too many of our lives. But is the state of busy really improving our lives? Certainly not. . . Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honor. In fact, directed at the wrong pursuits, it is actually a limiting factor to our full potential. It is okay to not be busy.”
Becker’s advice is to, “Become more intentional with your priorities and pursuits in life. Determine again what are the most significant contributions you can offer this world. And schedule your time around those first. Busyness is, at its core, about misplaced priorities.”
What a great way of saying it! Business can be a type of laziness. I fill my life with things to do, because I don’t want to have to put forth the effort it would take to do the really important things.
Although it is finite, time is a commodity given by God. He allows me the hours I have in the day. I need to budget my time and use it wisely, just as I would my money. And every day I need to pray about it and invest some time in the most important goals.
And then I need to trust the process. God will help me change, but He probably will not bring about the changes in the way I want him to bring about the changes.
“Take off your jeweled crown,
for the old order changes.
Now the lowly will be exalted,
and the mighty will be brought down.”
God works through humility. His plan has been brought about with weakness, so that people would see that it is Him working, and not them. God chose people like Gideon to carry out his work, and won battles with reduced armies. He revealed his word to little children.
It’s always a balance. I need to make myself think seriously about life, pray, and have a concrete plan of action I commit to. But then I need to relax and trust God, knowing my efforts may not seem to pay off as I expect, but that He is always working in His way to bring about the answer to my prayers.