Many Christians feel like oddballs in their local churches, confused why serving God holds such little joy or passion. Not fulfilling. Just frustrating. I get it. Let me explain.
I hold as my single claim to fame the day I danced for the judges at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. But I’ll be honest: I never intended to dance. I auditioned as a guitar player, yet when the judges called me back the next day, they asked me to dance as well! Bad idea.
End of audition. I immediately lost the job. Why? They misplaced me.
You know where else I see dancing guitarists? The church.
My prayers don’t go far enough. Maybe your prayers need some stretching too. Often our prayers begin and end with asking God to change the way things are around us.
Our prayers have a familiar pattern:
- “Provide enough money this month”
- “Protect us as we travel”
- “Heal my friend from pain”
These are fine prayers, and all legitimate, but incomplete. They just don’t go far enough.
Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane helps us stretch our prayers past our pain.
As much as we wish it were otherwise, life has no easy answers to our struggles. Oh, I know, I know . . . God is the Answer. But what happens when the Answer doesn’t answer?
Because God can stop our pain, we think He should. So we pray. And pray.
But nothing happens.
That’s what occurred with Mary and Martha. They sent a message to Jesus that their brother Lazarus lay sick. But instead of immediately traveling to Bethany, Jesus stayed right where He was beyond the Jordan River. When He finally did arrive, Lazarus had been dead four days.
In other words, Jesus had taken His sweet time showing up.
From what happened next, I see 3 lessons to help us understand why Jesus waits to answer our prayer.
Sometimes it seems the Lord leads us into a life that can’t possibly be His will. What started with such promise has become such a challenge. It’s tough to know what to do next.
What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life God has given you?
God had promised a son to Sarai and her husband, Abram. And yet at the same time, God prevented conception. This is the will of God? Go figure.
What God said is a lesson we need to hear.
One of our greatest challenges is finding balance in the Christian life. Think of a person on a tightrope. There’s never a point where they just stroll across effortlessly. Balance requires continual effort.
Have you ever noticed that somehow Jesus balanced it all? The demands of His work and ministry left Him exhausted at times, of course—yet somehow He found time to get it all done.
Jesus perfectly balanced the demands of life—with the same 24 hours we have.
There is only one way you will know God’s will for you this year. Relatively speaking, that’s the easy part. But once you know it, then comes the tough assignment: choosing to walk in it.
From the first verse of Scripture, God revealed how the Earth set the stage for the divine drama of history to take place (Gen. 1:1). From its formless, void beginning, the Lord fashioned the Earth with His intention in its details. From this ground, God made physical people spiritual beings in His image.
Finding and following God’s will was no different for Adam and Eve than it is for us.
We have the same problem they did.
An interest in my stepdad’s guitar at age 15 sparked an interest God has used to guide my life. I’m sure God works in a similar way with you. In fact, I know He does.
(Photo: By Pisethinfo. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
More than 30 years ago, I started playing songs on the guitar by John Denver, Jim Croce, Don Francisco, Gordon Lightfoot, and Dan Fogelberg.
I was hooked. I lived and breathed with the instrument. In a few years, I had written more than 100 of my own songs. It seemed this is what God wanted me to do with my life. I decided to pursue the dream of becoming a Christian artist.
- I majored in music (classical guitar) from North Texas State University (now UNT).
- I attended Dallas Theological Seminary so that I could learn to write theologically sound songs.
- I had an influential person with connections in Nashville who promised to introduce me to the right people.
I was ready. Cue the lights. Then God uplugged my guitar.
Playing guitar for all these years has taught me more than music. It has taught me these 3 lessons.
If we knew what God knows, we would choose to wait for His timing rather than push Him to act now. God made His creatures to live in dependence on the Creator. As such, we wait for the provision.
(Photo via ooomf.com, by Tyssul Patel)
As much as we hate it, dependence demands waiting. Refusing to wait amounts to independence and even rebellion from the one who created us.
Insisting on instant gratification (even for good things) minimizes and overlooks the infinite worth of God’s sovereignty—a wisdom that sees beyond the next five minutes. Or the next five years.
Are you waiting for God to do something in your life?
If you knew what God knows, here’s what you would do.
You’ve probably noticed, but very few people attain stardom status in life. That’s probably a good thing. Solomon’s words, “money is the answer to everything,” come from an earthly perspective (Ecc. 10:19).
Among the rich and famous, so few find satisfaction—even in their success.
For some reason, it seems uncommon for exceptional lives to handle success well. Perhaps because success ranks just as much a test of character as does poverty. Maybe more.
True success is not a result of giftedness, but of character. (Tweet that.)
Have you ever considered the blessing of being average?
It may surprise you.
It’s always easier to react to life rather than to shape it. To go with the flow rather than to dig a new trench. Obviously, we want to respond well to what life throws at us. It’s assumed we should do that.
But I believe God gives us help to choose the direction of our lives. To live intentionally for Him. I don’t mean we choose what happens to us, but rather, that God has given us the freedom to make significant choices in spite of our circumstances.
Jesus’ example shows us what choices to make to live intentionally for God.
Two questions can help us do that.