To be honest with you, I really didn’t feel like going to church yesterday. We’ve had a lot of heartache in our lives lately and the ol’ “lock the doors and draw the blinds” feeling had crept back. There are days that I just don’t want to be with people because the heartache is so great. But believing God’s Word, I went to church just because I knew He expected me to. My, was that a great decision! Looking back, I don’t think there was ever a time I didn’t go to church just because I didn’t feel like it. I’ve learned that those days are the days you really need to be there because God has something good waiting for us. So off I went yesterday, with a heart filled with lead.
Our pastor started out Sunday School with a riviting discussion about how this world is uncertain and was on a roll the rest of the day. When I left my heart was full, but not of lead. It was full of the confidence that God will do His perfect work and that He’s pleased with my faithfulness. It was full with the amazement that there are people who love us no matter what, that they have an obligation to love us because that’s what real Christians do. Wow. When I got to church and looked around, all I saw were loving Christians. And I knew that if I told them everything on my heart, they’d hug me and tell me they loved me and would pray for me. That’s what church should be like. It should be a place where even the greatest sinner can find refuge. I’m going to share some pearls of great price with you that Pastor Ron gave us.
He began by telling us to not tust in uncertain things like riches, position, etc. Then he went on to say that we ought not to avenge ourselves, but we need to trust the One who knows everything and is longsuffering. Often our first reaction to being wronged is to strike out, but God’s first reaction is to use the situation to draw that person to Christ. He tells us to be patient and let Him handle it. Personally, I have a hard time doing that. I’m a “fixer.” Most of my days are spent trying to make paths straighter, fix errors and draw new lines, encourage a better way, catch wrong and make it right, etc. It can be very tiring and discouraging to act the keeper of others and on a day that I was very weary of doing so, Pastor Ron showed us Scripture that told us to keep being faithful and patient, to keep going and not quit – to endure.
James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
Frankly, that’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that He would take the pain away, to make everything right again and bring peace into my life – NOW. But that’s not what I’ve been told these past few days. I’ve been told that hard things are good and that I need to remain faithful, forgiving and not quit. I’ve been told to sit back and let Him work and to endure through it all.
James 5:7-11 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
One of my sons told me lately that he felt some people hated him. Real or perceived, it is still real to him. I assured him that wasn’t true, to no avail. Satan had recognized these feelings and really did a work on him. Bitterness can destroy, and that’s what it nearly did to him. I guess it’s a challenge to me to make sure no one around me feels the same way about me. My son’s future service to God is the fruit that I’m supposed to wait for. I’m to be faithfully guiding, forgiving, encouraging, teaching, disciplining, etc. and then let God work. I can’t always see fruit. I don’t see my efforts being used or appreciated. So, in my humaness I want to quit or despair. God tells me to keep on and endure – that He will work and I must trust Him.
Those who faithfully endure, forgive, speak the Word and suffer affliction with patience will need to endure to be happy (James 5:11). He reminded me that God is merciful, so we need to be merciful. We can’t see the big picture, but God can. We only see a small snapshot and judge from there. God see’s and knows the outcome and what to allow or do to bring about our good and His glory. We ought to trust Him just on that fact – He sees down the road where we cannot. We just want the pain to go away. We just want it to all work out. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to wait – but we must if we want His perfect work.
God also knows when His cup is full and it’s time to show his wrath. But it’s not for us to decide or do. He is waiting for fruit to grow – even through bad times, so He can reap the harvest. And remember, He lets the tares grow up alongside (evil men) and will one day burn them after He takes his fruit out (believers) and has His own secure and safe. I don’t like the tares. I spend my days rooting them out, watching for more to grow so I can get at them before they overtake us. I wonder sometimes why God doesn’t help me root them out completely, but He says He doesn’t want to do that because they have their purpose in our lives. I don’t get it or want it, but I trust He knows best. A lady once told me that the hardest people to be around are the ones God uses to root out the tares in our own hearts – for if we were only with people who kind and loving, we’d never uncover the sin that lurks within. I think she is right. It’s easy to be kind and loving back to those who are a blessing, but those who try our patience and hurt our spirits are the very ones who uncover our unloving, selfish side. If we never see it, how can we get rid of it?
After just one day with an irregular person we’re ready to smash them! But look how long God took to destroy the earth in Noah’s time – 12o years it took Noah to build the ark and all during that time, he preached repentance to the people. God gave the people of the world 120 years to get their life right and in the end only 8 people were saved. Now that’s longsuffering. How an I do any less? What do you think were the percentages in that story? Yet God thought those 8 people were important enough to save. I suppose that ought to tell us how important we are to Him. We are often criticized for being too longsuffering with our children – yet others criticize us for not being longsuffering enough. We learned a long time ago that we just need to follow God’s direction and not man’s, because we get conflicting judgements from those around us. There is a reason God gave us these kids – and for better or worse, we’re going to work for their good, point them the right way, and when God says, “Hands off,” we will let them go. Then it will be time for Him to take over completely and we are to back away. It’s hard, but we know it to be best.
Sunday God told us to be patient for His work to unfold in the lives of our kids, to endure and be a good example of patience in affliction. OK. One more day I will do what I’ve done for the past 25 years. One more day I will give Him the reins and watch Him work. One more day I will trust His timing. One more day I will accept the twisted heart and heavy weight that threatens to crush me. It is my choice and I choose Him.