There are two things about human nature that are universal. We want any pain to cease immediately. And if we do something right, we want to be rewarded immediately
After all, that’s how we train our animals. Do this and there is immediate gratification.
In our dogs’ case, that equals food, pleasure.
When it comes to our piety, our faith & devotion, we tend to feel as if we should get some kind of hall pass on pain. After all, doesn’t God want us to be happy? I want my pets to be happy. But then I’m not trying to build character into my dogs.
Can you imagine a world in which God rewarded piety immediately? Sports would be non-existent. Because you can’t have two winners at the end of a game. What if both teams held a Bible study and prayed before a game? God would be in a pickle.
Ultimately we would become selfish and slaves to all of our prurient interests.
But it’s still a hard concept to shake. When God sets out to be build character in us, He includes suffering.
To be clear there is nothing wrong with asking God to remove the pain in your life. And we should expect God to bless our spirituality. That is pretty much the theme of Proverbs.
Let’s just not put God on a timetable. Perhaps a better solution is to make Proverbs 3:5-6 a daily reality:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths (ESV).
Let’s trust God to decide when it’s time to reward our piety.
Most of us probably approach the subject of wisdom from only one angle.
We simply want to know what to do next. Let’s call this particular wisdom. Perhaps you are looking to buy a new car and you want to make the right choice. Or it could be a career decision or any number of current decisions.
For starters there is popular wisdom. In many ways this is not wisdom at all, but if we have bought into the surrounding culture’s mentality, we think we are wise. I’m not sure you want to pray for this type of wisdom.
Many have unknowingly bought into the flavor of the day. But anyone can go along with the crowd. Absalom was all style and no substance, which incidentally makes many politicians, celebrities, and sport’s stars our modern-day heroes. But Absalom proved to be deceptive, and he hurt a lot of people.
With that in mind let’s dig a little deeper. Perhaps a good place to start is to read and reflect on the two chapters mentioned above. Here’s the bottom line: We can be wise and unwise at the same time. Full of wisdom and devoid of wisdom at the same time. Seems paradoxical, but a very real reality.
There are four main characters in those chapters, and they all possess wisdom. Not all wisdom is used wisely or for positive reasons. Some actually use their wisdom in order to manipulate others. Sad, but true.
That in itself calls for wisdom.
We’ll come back in the next post to discuss the types of wisdom you need to pray for. Until then read and reflect upon the two chapters mentioned above.
A while back I lost my driver’s license. First time that has ever happened to me. No big deal, right? After all, how many times have I had to pull it out and show it to a police officer in the last two decades? None. Actually the only time I need to pull out my license is when I go up to Skyline Drive. And if I fly I need it. So I was not too worried or in a big hurry to go to DMV.
While driving home I get a call from Dick’s. Evidently I dropped my license in the store, and it was picked up and put in the safe. Finally someone figured I could probably use it. So now I won’t have to ruin a day with a painful visit to the DMV.
When I first lost my license I did not even notice. It could take weeks or months before I actually realize it is missing. Life is sometimes like that. Way too often I hear of another marriage breaking up. Wonder how long it took the couple to realize they had lost ‘it.’ Wonder if they remember when the wheels started coming off.
Think with me. What things are often lost but never found or recovered.
1. Integrity. You can build it over a lifetime and lose it in an instant.
2. Marriage. Fortunately my driver’s license was found and restored, but if it had not, a replacement could have been made. But too often in life things get lost, relationships start heading south, and there is no quick recovery. The pain may last for years and even intensify.
3. Devotion to Christ. Even Christ-followers have been known to lose their first love for their Savior (Revelation 2:4). Scary. Because not everything that gets lost gets found.
Check your wallet and make sure you have not lost something important.
We just went in for desert and it was very difficult to narrow it down to just one. So I settled for the Napoleon.
Let’s just say it knocked my socks off!
Satisfaction to the max. As we left I was satisfied that I had made the ultimate choice.
A few weeks later and we were back in the same area, and thought “Why not?” So back into Hot Cakes we went.
Keep in mind we probably only go there about once a year. At any rate, I thought this time it was a no-brainer. Get another Napoleon. So I did.
But this time was different. Not nearly the amount of satisfaction as the first one I had gotten a short time earlier.
It’s so easy to overdo a good thing. That’s one of my weaknesses.
It reminds me of Peter up on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, James, and John. Peter was having such a good time that he suggested to Jesus that they all just stay there. However, Jesus knew the euphoria would soon wear off. What would not wear off is their relationship with Him.
Satisfaction. We crave it. We make choices based upon what we think will satisfy us the most. But just like that it is gone. We loved the desert, but an hour later it’s over.
We go to the theme park with the kids and they are on cloud nine…until we leave. It’s at that point that we tell ourselves that we should have ridden one more ride or skipped another particular ride. And then we slip into dissatisfaction.
Satisfaction. When it arrives it tends to be short lived. I love sinking my teeth into a meat lovers pizza. But moments later it’s gone.
New lawn mowers age, new clothes get old, and vacations go by quickly. But when tomorrow comes there will be more choices.
Wonder what will satisfy me tomorrow. Whatever it is it will likely be short-lived. But that’s ok. My ultimate satisfaction is not meant to be found in things and stuff. It is to be found in my relationship with Jesus Christ. In John 6:35 Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
That’s ultimate satisfaction!
What are you looking to for satisfaction?
Most of us are probably somewhat familiar with the origin of our Thanksgiving holiday. We could trace its history all the way back to the Reformation, the decline of biblical values in society, and the desire of some Christians to be able to worship freely.
However, what is most familiar is the story of the Pilgrims. They started out in England and from there went to Holland. They felt that God was leading them to plant a colony where they could worship and live their lives as the Bible taught. Because they separated themselves and moved in 1608 to Holland they were called “Separatists.”
After twelve years in Holland they packed up again once again in search of religious freedom and a desire to expand their Christian faith. Later the Separatists became better known as Pilgrims which means travelers or wanderers.
That led ultimately to a voyage to America in 1620. The Mayflower landed late in 1620 with only about one third of its passengers considered to be Separatists. Upon arrival not everyone was interested in working to his full capacity and for the first couple of years food was in short supply.
It was at that time William Bradford decided to divide the land and let each household be responsible for meeting their own needs. It turned out to be a very wise decision, as production in the colony went way up. As Bradford later writes he is careful to give God all the credit for numerous events, the decisions that were made, and for leading them in specific ways.
While we have read about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 after the Pilgrims’ first growing season how often do we stop and give thanks for how God has led us? Let’s not forget that that first year was not incredible. One third of the colonists died during that first winter because of malnutrition or disease. The point is we don’t simply thank God when life is overly bountiful, we also thank Him in lesser times. That means we all have a story to tell where God gets the credit.
Carol and I built our first house and lived in it for several years as we added on and finished the basement. Our house was simple and small, but our lives were about to change. We went out on a date on a Friday night. Right after we dropped the kids off at some friends Carol suggested that we take a look at a piece of land she had seen advertised on the highway.
At this point I was in no mood to build another house. After all we had just finished the one we were in. For some reason (I believe God led me), I said ok, “Where is the property?”
We drove by and by Sunday evening we had a deal on five acres of property. It was there that we built our second house and from a financial standpoint it turned out to be the biggest turning point in our lives.
Like William Bradford, I hope to be able to always look back and see how God has worked in my life. Too much happens that I simply cannot take the credit for. What if Carol and I had not gone out on that Friday night? We learned later that another buyer had the money to buy it at 8am on Monday morning. What if Carol had not gone out that day and seen the sign?
The bottom line–God is at work in your life. Have you noticed? Have you taken the time to recount how He has led you?
This Thanksgiving, take some time to review God’s providence, His working in your life, and thank Him.
Thanksgiving: Give God the Credit!