Impatience, Broken hearts and Christian Ministry.
Devotional thought of the day:
3 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4 and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5 In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 6 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. Romans 5:3-6 (MSG)
The world is cold and seems to be asleep. You often look on it, from your vantage point, with a glance that would set it on fire. Lord, may it awaken! Channel your bursts of impatience and be sure that if we manage to keep our whole life alight, we shall set every corner of the world alight, and the way it all looks will change. (1)
By no means am I naturally patient. It is not the gift I’ve been given, and this is seen quite easily. This morning, getting some lab work done, I was frustrated that there were 4 others before me. I know ther has been as many as 20 before, but this morning, with places to go, people to minister to – waiting 10 minutes seemed like a month.
I am especially impatient when it comes to dealing with pain. You know – the physical pain of them drawing blood ( 4 quart vials it seemed like! ) Or the spiritual pain of grieving, or the pastoral heart pain of watching people choose to do that which will hurt them.
“Why won’t they listen?” we ask.
“Why won’t they at least try it God’s way?”
“when will they ‘get it’?
Every minister I know has suffered from such impatience, such heart break as people continue to choose their own way.
Most of us have been tempted to hammer them, to “use the law” to crush them until they repent, until they conform to God’s plan. (or at least ours) We want to find something to do to turn them into “supersaints”, to help them overcome all their sin,, to get their acts right and for them to become the next Billy Grahams. We want that prodigal to turn for home as soon as he gets to the end of the driveway. It doesn’t always work that way though.
But can we have God’s patience, the father’s patience with them, and still pray and encourage and take the moments we have to call them back to Christ?
It’s hard… its really hard…dang it, it’s hard.
The apostle Paul notes it as well,
18 I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, 19 keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. There are some, you know, who by relaxing their grip and thinking anything goes have made a thorough mess of their faith. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are two of them. I let them wander off to Satan to be taught a lesson or two about not blaspheming. 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (MSG)
What a challenge this is! How our soul, itself broken and impatent, struggles with such days of ministry! Yet, learning to discern when to speak – and how to speak, and when to let the prodigal go is a skill that comes with maturity.
I find it interesting that Romans finds the solution in trusting Christ, in looking to His promises, the work we expect that He will do, in any time of trial, and that includes this one.
Escriva’s comment is similar – that we funnel our impatience into our own life, opening it up to see God work in us. TO see God eradicate our own sin, and the things that would quench our spirit. Paul mentions this proactively to TImothy as well, telling Timothy not to walk down the road where these brothers walked….
As I thought through this… I think it is an essential part of our ministry, to be ready, in season and out, whether the time is right or not in our mind. For prodigals do return home, and we need to be aware of how we’ve been welcomed back home ourselves.
For it is in realizing the grace we’ve been given, that we find the love and mercy to welcome them home.
So pray, intercede, contemplate God’s love for them and for us and be ready…
to rejoice in their home coming.
Lord have mercy!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1424-1428). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on October 15, 2013, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged backsliders, Baptized Life, discipleship, escriva, God, God's faitfhulness, impatience, Jesus, love, Ministry, pain, patience, prodigals, shepherding, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.