Wednesday, 31 July 2013

All In God's Time

If you've been keeping track of my health updates you'll know that I am waiting to hear about the blood test I had on Monday, and maybe this will be the thing which allows doctors to get to the bottom of what has given me these health problems for the past 6 months.

So, one thing I need to develop is patience. And yes there is that predictable gag of "God give me patience - NOW".

But patience is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Note, not one of the fruits - ignore any ideas that there are 9 gifts and 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit, and that we will have some gifts and some fruits, but not all. Jesus tell us that we will bear fruit if we abide in Him (John 15:1-8).

And later, Paul tells the Romans:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. (Rom. 1:1-5).

You can't sit around and expect to be given peace, or joy etc. These things are developed, often through tough times, when your own resources have gone and you learn to rely on God.

What is your image of peace? Is it of green countryside, with the water babbling in the brook, the Sun shining in the sky, and little bunny rabbits skipping through the fields? Or is it a storm at sea, with Jesus peacefully asleep, and the disciples having to learn that they are in the safest place possible, viz. being with Jesus. (Mark 4:35-41).

I have to say that yesterday I wasn't feeling well, but had this strong sense of peace and comfort. And I was then being grateful for the good Christian friends I had been given - some I've known less than a year, some for over 20 years. And what has made those friendships strong? It's been the going through things together, it's been rejoicing and mourning together (Rom. 12:15). You learn the "inner man" not in a contrived 90 minute kickaround, but in how they respond when things are tough for you and/or for others.

One thing I want to add about patience. We might know that something is God's will for us, but we also need to ensure that we don't try to force His hand and it goes wrong.

There was an old lady I knew. You might have got a TARDIS, gone back to when she was young and told her that she and her boyfriend would end up together. And they did. In the light of that knowledge of their future, they might have gone out, bought the ring and the dress and got married. Happy days.

But the full story is different. The Second World War meant they lost contact. They both had happy marriages, and over half a century after losing contact, they met again - through a mutual friend who didn't know their story - when they were both widowed.

They could have forced their future in the knowledge that they would be together. But they would then have missed out on so much that life had in store for them.

Or you could have taken your TARDIS further back in time and told Winston Churchill that he would be a wartime Prime Minister. And with that knowledge, and with the major posts of President of the Board of Trade and Home Secretary under his belt, he could have made a bid for wartime leadership, and then wonder why David Lloyd-George got chosen instead.

No-one is ever shown their full destiny. Even when it is partly known, how do we respond? Do we wait for God's timing or decide "God has promised this, let's claim it"? How do you proceed - your way or Yahweh?

God promises Abram (later called Abraham) a son and heir from his body (Gen 15:1-6), rather than everything being inherited by one of his servants. And we learn that Abram believed and was considered righteous for believing. But then Abram tries to force his destiny, by having sex with Hagar, and her having a son (Gen 16:1-4).

But when God promised Abram a son, He wasn't talking about Hagar's son Ishmael. Abram had to be patient, and his wife Sarah gave birth to the promised son, Isaac (Gen 21:1-7).

The contrast is with David, who has been chosen by God to be King of Israel (I Sam. 16:1-15). Later, Saul - who is turning into a bad King - decides to relieve himself in a cave where David is hiding from him, and David's men are urging him to do the simple thing (I Sam. 24) - kill Saul and claim the Kingdom. After all, God has promised David the Kingdom, hasn't He? Go and claim it.

But David has other ideas - he will not raise his hand against Saul, who is, despite everything, still the anointed King. He waits until he hears of Saul's death and then mourns him (II Sam. 1). And then David asks the question of God:

After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.” (II Sam. 2:1).

Basically, David isn't assuming "OK, Saul's dead. It's my turn". He is asking God whether he can now claim the throne.

And that is the difference - David knew his destiny, and waited for it to be played out in God's timing.

No comments:

Post a Comment