Having time on your hands can sometimes be a good thing. Not always, just sometimes. I am not very good at doing nothing. I like to do stuff; to keep busy. But, I am learning that God occasionally expects a certain kind of patience from us.
For some months Cornerstone has been closed. I have already discussed our reasoning behind closing the building, so I won’t go into that again, except to say that we believed it was God’s will that we stopped what we were doing and took stock.
During the ensuing weeks and months, I have been on something of a steep learning curve, particularly in the area of writing for this blog. I had felt the need to write a real down-to-earth discipleship course, based entirely on what Y’shua (Jesus) said in the gospels. It is called Red Bricks (red because it deals mainly with the red letters – the words of Y’shua; and bricks because each one should form part of a structure that helps people become true disciples). If you are interested, you can find it here.
I have also felt inclined to dispel some of the myths of the gospels that the modern church seems to have got confused about, hence the series ‘Myth Busters’. And, just because the words are there in my head, I have also started to explain the mysteries of the Revelation. With Revelation, I have long felt that it has been over complicated (like a great deal of issues) by the church. It is as if the modern church feels it has a monopoly on remaining mysterious, when Y’shua dictated the letters to The Seven, with the sole intention of making Himself clear. The series on The Seven can be found here.
I enjoy writing (mostly – although I often end up with a very stiff neck), and I like to try to help other disciples by finding ways to explain what the gospel means in practical terms.
As a result of my labours, I have noticed something of the way that God works, that I thought I might share with you. I can’t quite put my finger on when this particular personal revelation began, but it started around the time I first started preparing Red Bricks. I realised that it wasn’t me teaching others, but God teaching me. Let me try to explain.
When you as keen to learn the things of God as I am, you find that progress in oneself is often hard to measure. It feels like everything is taking forever. I want to run before I can walk…always. As I am writing, I often catch a glimpse of something, some deep spiritual concept, and find that as the words go down, God unpacks the idea in my mind. Then, once I have grasped the concept there comes a period of practical outworking of it. Finally, once I feel confident about, there comes a test, designed to prove that I am practicing it. I have learned that it takes a particular kind of discernment to be able to spot the tests when they come.
A good (and very well known) example of how God works, strangely enough, can be found in the film Evan Almighty. There is a scene, which many of you will know, where Evan’s disillusioned wife is sitting in a diner eating, and she strikes up a conversation with Morgan Freeman, who is playing the role of God. He says to her that if someone asks God for patience, He doesn’t just make them patient, instead He gives them opportunities to learn and prove their patience. Obviously, such nuggets of pure gold wisdom are seldom found in the reams of film that Hollywood spews out, so when it does happen, it is easy to recall.
And, I believe that is exactly how God works with me. Throughout these past few months that have seemed, in a way, dead to me, I have been on something of a journey. A bit of a cliché, I know…after all, we’re all on a journey. But, it is a journey nevertheless. There is a great exchange in the book of Genesis between Pharaoh and Jacob, that supports this notion:
“Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?”
And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of my years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years.” ” [Genesis 47:8-9a NKJV]
And, I am finding, that the longer the pilgrimage or journey, the more patient I am becoming.
God said to us to wait. So, we wait. Sometimes, I try to meddle with that waiting, like I have today. And God, who is patient with me, waited for me to realise my foolishness, before reminding me that He is teaching me. He can manage all of this perfectly without any meddling from me whatsoever. He’s got it covered.
So, despite today’s meddling, over recent days I have realised that this whole detour or hanging around, is all for a very real purpose. It isn’t just to teach me patience. No. It was to teach me something much better than that – the difference between flesh and spirit.
As I said, I was preparing Red Bricks when I first noticed something. It was as I was looking at what is often called the Sermon on the Mount, that I realised that Y’shua was simply trying to teach all of us that living a life led by the Spirit is The Way. A life led by the flesh, is no life at all. It only leads to death.
Imagine that our hearts are like a rudder on a boat, directing the course of our journey. We can allow this rudder to be steered by the flesh or the Spirit. I could, for example, have a fleshy desire for food, or recognition from others, or lust, and allow these desires to steer my life. But Y’shua wants to tell us that if we allow such desires to rule us then it will only lead to death. If, however, we allow ourselves to be led by His Spirit, we will have abundant life. The only things we should pursue are the things that satisfy our spirit. Nothing that the flesh drives us towards will ever bring any lasting satisfaction.
So, whether it be a nice Harley Davidson, or a lovely home, or any of the things that the flesh whispers to our hearts as being desirable, remember this – only Y’shua has what we need to be satisfied. Nothing else will satisfy us. Nothing. No matter how shiny the packaging is, or how subtle the advertising, none of the things that the world promises will satisfy, ever.
I may have been frustrated at times with all this waiting, but today I realise that I need to wait, for unless I have fully learned to live my life according to the Spirit, then I won’t be living at all. The apostle Paul has a good perspective on this that I shall leave you with:
“Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts.” [Romans 13:13-14 NKJV]