"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 3, 2011
This will conclude my series on waiting and patience; although I'm quite sure I could continue on with this subject for a few more weeks.
We live in a fast-paced world, with every convenience at our fingertips. The concept of waiting has almost become foreign, and when we are in a situation where we must do so, we often find ourselves whining and complaining for being so inconvenienced. It's uncommon to find someone who doesn't own a cell phone or are connected to internet in their home. And we certainly don't want dial-up internet where we may have to wait a few seconds, but we want the highest speed available.
Jon and I were recently visiting with one of my cousins and his wife. They mentioned that they didn't have internet in their home, so often got left out of family news and activities. A baby shower was being given for their niece and they didn't know about it, until it was already over with. When the wife mentioned to her sister that she hadn't heard, she was told, "We put an invitation on facebook." The internet has become so common, that often people fail to consider those who aren't connected. And receiving an invitation in the mail has become almost obsolete.
And wanting everything instantaneously is one reason people have gotten themselves into so much credit card debt. They don't want to save their money and wait before making a purchase. They see something they want; they want it now; so they purchase it using their credit card. Or perhaps they want to go on a vacation or a weekend get-away, but don't have the money, so they charge it on their credit card. And it's nothing for individuals to have more than one credit card. Granted, there can be legitimate reasons for doing so, but too often it's because they have a card maxed out, so sign up for a new one. People live in the moment, not planning ahead or considering the consequences of over-spending.
There's an irritating commercial that I mute every time it comes on. There are people yelling throughout the whole thing, "It's my money, and I need it now!!" I think it's for structured settlements or something along those lines. But this seems to be the attitude of a lot of people. We want what we want NOW! And we have somehow been led to believe that we deserve it, and should have anything and everything that our heart desires.
And Twitter? I have to say that I just don't get it. I could care less what all my friends and family are doing every hour of the day, so why would they want to know my every move? And why would you take the time to stop what you're doing to type out a message every time you go somewhere or do something or have a thought? Some things need to be left personal, and we don't need to be all up in everyone's business all day, everyday. But then that's just my opinion!
People tend to fuss if they have to wait in a doctor's office. They fuss if they have to wait in line at a checkout at the grocery store. They don't like it if they have to wait in a drive-through at a fast food place. They get antsy if they have to stop at too many red lights. They don't like to wait for their food at a restaurant. Impatience has become an acceptable way of life.
I wonder what would have happened if the disciples had all the technology back in their day as we do now? I was thinking about this and began to imagine what the scene would have looked like in the Upper Room, if they were in our modern world. As you read this, keep in mind that I'm am exaggerating and doing this tongue-in-cheek; this isn't meant as being disrespectful.
Before ascending back into Heaven, Jesus left specific instructions for the disciples: "I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry (or wait) in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:49) Understand that the disciples had no idea exactly what this meant or how it would happen or how long they would have to wait. Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem, so that's what they did. Some women, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers were also with them, which was a total of 120 people. They were all gathered in an upper room and began to pray.
Now had this happened in modern day times, this is how I picture the scene. They would pray for a time, then their minds would begin to wander. Peter would text his buddies, "Hey guys, how's the fishing today?" One of his pals would text back, "Hauled in a big catch this morning. Should have been here." Peter would reply, "Hopefully, this won't take long and I can be back in the boat with you all." Perhaps his mind would have been thinking about the new GPS navigational system he'd just had installed in his boat, and he was anxious to try it out. Matthias, who was chosen to take Judas' place as a disciple would twitter, "Good news! Just got chosen to be one of the twelve. Updates to follow." One of the women would find a corner where she could pick up wifi so she could check her facebook and update her status, "In upper room. Crowded and hot. Hope the Promise we're waiting for happens soon." While another woman updates her facebook status: "Why does Peter keep walking by me? Wish he had showered before joining us. Doesn't the man know it's hot and how crowded this room would be?!" Luke (the doctor) gets on his cell phone to call his nurse to check on a patient. Philip googles "restaurants" on his phone to see if any close by does delivery. Mary sends an email to her neighbor, "In upper room waiting for Promise. I have laundry hanging outside to dry. If I'm not home by dark could you gather it off the clothes line and put it in the basket on my back porch? Just put it inside the door. Thanks!" Matthew, the tax collector, goes online to check and see who all is still on the list for non-payment. One of Jesus' brothers, calls the construction site to see how progress is going for the day on the new home his crew is working on.
You may read my made-up scenario and think, "That's just silly! It could never have happened like that; had it been in modern times." But is it so unbelievable?
The night before Jesus was crucified, He gathered His disciples together one last time to observe the Passover. It was during this last supper that He let them know that one of them would betray Him. How is it possible that a man who had walked with Jesus, in the flesh; ministered beside Him and saw all the numerous miracles that Jesus performed; and listened to all the many teachings of Jesus could betray him for thirty pieces of silver? Yet Judas did so. How is is possible that one of the other disciples could deny three times that he was with Jesus and was one of His disciples? Yet Peter did exactly that. After Jesus told the twelve about his death, burial and resurrection one of them still doubted. Thomas was not there when Jesus first appeared to the others after His resurrection. When they told him that they had seen Jesus his response was, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." Granted, he had watched Jesus being crucified and laid in the tomb, so it was pretty amazing. Yet in John 11 we read the story of Lazarus dying and Jesus calling him forth from the grave; and the disciples were there with Him. Thomas had seen the dead raised and been witness to countless incredible miracles. So why did he not believe it when ten of his fellow-ministers told him that they had seen Jesus? After traveling with them and ministering beside them, did he not trust them or believe what they said? Yet Thomas had doubt in his heart and wanted proof that Jesus had truly risen from the dead. He wanted to see Jesus for himself.
After the last Passover together, Jesus took the disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane and told them, "Sit there while I go and pray over there." He took Peter, James and John with Him, and asked them to stay with Him and watch over Him. Jesus went a little further into the garden and fell on His face, and prayed. Three times He went to where the three disciples were supposed to be keeping watch with Him, and all three times they were sleeping. They allowed their flesh to get in the way of obeying Jesus' request to watch and pray.
We see here that although these men were hand-picked by Jesus to be His disciples, they were not infallible nor were they perfect. They were humans just as we are, with flaws and short-comings. They were often impatient and had trouble waiting.
I have seen comments posted on facebook from someone sitting in a church service. I have seen people texting or checking email on their phone during church. Every day you drive down the road and see drivers talking on their cell phones, texting, twittering or instant messaging. Every time Jon and I go out to dinner we will hear and see people at surrounding tables on their cell phones. I've been on long-distance calls with family and been put on call waiting while they answer another call.
I wonder at times if we've become so advanced in our technology that somehow we've lost our "people" skills. We'll take unimportant calls, while visiting with someone else, that in all actuality we could have allowed it to go to voice mail and returned it later at a more convenient time. We'll be on our cell phones sending messages or looking up info or on facebook or googling while someone is trying to have a conversation with us. While eating dinner out with our spouse, we'll answer cell phone calls and end up spending more time chatting with that person instead of the one we're with. We go to group or family gatherings and are on the computer or on our phones. I have to wonder if perhaps we, at times, make the person/people we're with feel as if they're not important enough to garner our full attention. I wonder if we make them feel as if we don't have time to spend a couple of uninterrupted hours with them. If they are in need of a listening ear, do we make them feel as if what they have to say is not important enough for us to forget everything else for a while, and give them our full attention? I know that many people now use a Bible program on their phones or iPads. But I wonder when a pastor has spent hours preparing a sermons, then sees people continually using their phone or iPad while he's ministering, if he feels as if his time has been wasted and no one is really taking the time to listen. And it is awfully convenient to "look" as if you're looking up scripture, then spend the sermon time doing other things on your device.
We have grown to the point in our society where we don't want to miss cell phone calls, don't want to miss posting pictures or posting comments on Facebook as soon as something happens, want to Twitter every single time we do something or something happens during our day, and have everything at our fingertips. We want everything instant and fast. Waiting for things is becoming more and more uncommon, and we have grown spoiled and think we "deserve" to have everything as soon as we want it.
But I have to wonder if that spoiled attitude hasn't carried over into our churches and spiritual relationship with God. We don't think we should have to wait on anyone or anything, so if God has the audacity to not answer our prayers as soon as we pray them and make us wait, then we give up and try to figure it out on our own. We have the attitude, "How dare God make us wait!!"
I remember as a child that in many of our church services we would almost always have a time of prayer around the altars; generally at the end of the service. A phrase often used was "tarrying (lingering) around the altar" or "waiting on God". People worked hard and were busy and didn't have the conveniences we have today, but they were willing to stop everything and spend time at the altar in prayer and wait on God to come by. Those times were precious and many times when we were willing to tarry and wait on the Lord, He would show up in a marvelous way. Nowadays, most churches don't even have altars in them and we sure don't spend time in prayer, waiting on God. About the only prayers we pray are the "scheduled" ones that we know exactly when in the service they're going to be said. And we're too busy at home to have a personal altar to tarry and wait on God on our own time. Perhaps that's part of the problem in our nation, in our churches and in our homes; we are too busy to wait on the Lord and pray.
I pray that God will change my heart and change my attitude. I pray that I will be more conscious of the need to slow down, wait on the Lord and on others, and exercise patience. I believe that would be pleasing to God, beneficial to myself and to others. It's a learning process, and we have to be willing to put forth an effort. Waiting and patience! Hard? Yes! Worth working on? Absolutely!
I usually try to be careful when I get on my soapbox. I don't usually rant so much in front of strangers. But I guess I might as well, today.
I can't count how many times I've heard someone complaining that they 'deserve' this or that, and aren't being given it. The example that comes to mind is when someone says they deserve a good living. Sure, if you work hard, you deserve a good wage.
I've seen people in high positions who seemed to make obscene amounts of money. Mostly, they worked their way into those positions, and got there by making a lot of good decisions. But seriously? They sure seem to make more than they ever deserved. But I've heard some say they deserve to make a lot of money sitting and watching a machine work because they think their boss makes a lot of money. Yeah, their boss might not deserve to make a lot of money, but if they get more than they deserve, it doesn't mean someone else also deserves extra. It's like being angry at not receiving a pony for Christmas because someone, somewhere, did get a pony.
How does this relate to a Christian newsletter? There is something we all do deserve. Romans 6:23 says that we all deserve to die! "For the wages of sin is death." I've heard a few people say they've never sinned. A few even sounded like they believed it. But seriously? Everyone has sinned, whether by lying, saying something to hurt someone else, taking something, unholy pride, or whatever.
So, yes, we do deserve one thing: death. But fortunately, Romans 6:23 doesn't stop there. It goes on to say, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We don't deserve the mercy that's offered to us. But if we're willing to accept it, it's ours.
1 (16 oz.) can cherry pie filling
1 (12 oz.) can chunk pineapple, drained
3 bananas, sliced
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup pecans
1 (8 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained
Mix all ingredients together and store in refrigerator.
Church ladies with typewriters.... before spell checkers were available. These sentences (with all the bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
*Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I Will Not Pass This Way Again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
*For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
*Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
*Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
*A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow....
*At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
*Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
*Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
*Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Winston Churchhill
We love you!
Loretta & Jon