Thursday, July 31, 2014

Waiting and Acting

My wife and I have wildly different personalities when it comes to getting things done.  On one far end of the spectrum you have me, the cautious personality.  Not knowing exactly how to do something causes me to lock up and do nothing until I know more about it.  For those who know me, it will come as no surprise to hear that I am the worst handyman in the world.  My wife recently asked me if I could try to fix our hose roller upper thingy(I think that is the technical term).  The thought of doing something that I don't know how to do has caused me to not even think about it....for two weeks.....My wife is saint like in patience.....

On the other far end of the spectrum my wife likes to jump without looking.  She may have no clue what she is doing, but she is going to, by force of will, fight her way through it.  Even if she ends up breaking something.  Which has often happened. 

These differing approaches to life have been no small source of conflict in our marriage.  She gets frustrated with my constant waiting to act until I "know" more....and I become a stress ball when she decides, at midnight, that she is going to cut a hole in our basement door......without first measuring it for a potential kitty door.....

There needs to be a balance in life between these positions.  Running head first into a problem can often lead to head trauma.  Sitting on your hands too long can cause you to miss the window of opportunity. 

When the Gospels end Jesus has given the disciples all the "information" they need and gives them the universal Christian marching orders to "go and make disciples". on....?  Nope....they go and "wait". 

In Acts 1 Jesus' final words was to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit.  And so they go and wait on God.

As a Pastor, husband, father, and amateur chicken farmer I am really good at "knowing" the right things to do.  I would be perfectly competent to compile all the pertinent information and data into a reasonable instruction manual for anyone to operate in these capacities.  If you would ask me what should be the first 5 things a Pastor should do in leading a church, I could quote you chapter and verse the tried and true formulas of "success". 

If the best information is so readily available why do so people experience "failure" at the virtually same rate they experience success in their marriages and ministries?

We act with the right information at the wrong time.

To illustrate this let me take a hypothetical scenario from my own marriage......My wife is currently in the final few weeks of pregnancy.  She is tired, can't sleep great, sore, etc.  And like most pregnant people with two small children to deal with as well, she can get a bit ummmmm.....irrational......(don't hit me).  Say my beautiful bride forgot to do something she said she would do, and then later she is feeling exhausted and emotionally frayed and is expressing her burn out to me.  Who thinks it would be a good time to bring up her mistake????

If you said yes....welcome to the couch.....

The information is correct, and in most contexts addressing the problem is probably a good thing.  But the wrong timing is destructive! 

The disciples have all the information they need to preach the Gospel, but they need to wait on God's timing.  In Acts 2 we get the amazing story of the Holy Spirit causing them to preach to the crowds that can each hear the message in their own native tongue.  The event is so powerful that vast crowds place their faith in Christ. 

What would have happened if they hadn't waited on God's timing?

Surely they would have still experienced success.  The Gospel does not come back empty.  But the powerful testimony of Christ resurrected would have not been infused with the very real and present power of God Himself.  It would have been just the words spoken by mere men.  In God's timing it became not the disciples testimony, but the active and visible work of a risen Savior. 

In the church "industry" there is no small number of self-help books and leadership manuals that promise greater returns on your ministry investment.  Many of them directly contradicting the others in their proffered operational paradigms and practices.  And, don't get me wrong, the information and insights they provide can be extremely beneficial to grasp and utilize.  But....we have a tendency to take that information and then apply it through the lens of our own planning and understanding. 

To take a silly example that many people may have experienced in some capacity.  We know studies show that unchurched millenials appreciate contemporary music more than an organ and hymns.  Armed with that information churches will often start exclusively doing contemporary music.  One church that I have dealt with dropped traditional music in their older church(median age 45+) and started contemporary style worship.  Which frustrated the older and faithful members. 

So did they at least reach the young and unchurched?  Nope.  Their idea for contemporary music was singing along with 20 year old CD's of songs that were "cool" in the mid-90's.  Not exaggerating.  So they frustrated their older people, and looked embarrassingly idiotic to the young people that did find their way in the doors on a Sunday morning. 

The information wasn't wrong, they just mishandled it and mistimed its application. 

How do we get our timing right then?  Whether in ministry, marriage, careers, or, family?

The backdrop to the miracle in Acts 2 is that the believers were gathered TOGETHER, seeking God's will.  It doesn't explicitly state they were praying.  But we know from the New Testament testimony that prayer and worship communally was what believers did when they got together. 

There will rarely be a time when you get some audible instruction to "go".  But your timing will not be right if you aren't worshiping and praying with God's people and seeking their fellowship, encouragement and advice. 

Whether you are trying to nail down the right time at home or in church....who are YOU praying with?  Who are YOU waiting with?  Who are YOU seeking counsel from?

Do you want to get your calendar aligned with God's? 

Be with His people.

Getting the timing right will profoundly shape your future

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