How long are we wiling to wait to see results? We typically have short-term goals and long-term goals that we create and aim for, but there’s this nagging monkey on our back that’s called impatience and pressure to always meet our goals on time if not ahead of time. In business and in ministry, we’ll make annual evaluations to see what we’ll continue to do and what we’ll stop doing. This has always intrigued me because the expectation of the “speed of change” is so high.
When I consider the pressure to perform and create results in this fast-paced environment, I can’t help but think about the ramifications (good and bad) that emerge. It’s good to be highly flexible and adaptive, but I also think that we can end of short-cutting and killing some things that are good, but take time. I also think that the shorter time intervals reinforces a selfish nature. I consider philanthropy and how at times there is pressure from donors to “perform” based on their investment. They want a return on their charitable contribution because they want to know that their money is well invested (even charity). This, however, is a self-fulfilling, demand driven philanthropy that can choke the beauty and long term development of an organization/movement.
All this is to say… how long are we willing to wait? Do we believe in patience? Moses led a movement through the desert to the promised land but never made it. Are we willing to be a generation that moves without ‘seeing’ results? Are we willing to invest everything that we have and every fiber of our being for the sake of the next generation? Imagine the potential for true, sustaining change…
as i’m continuing to study the book of james, i realize more and more the connection between what we believe and our day to day actions. james goes so far as to say that the lack of an outward expression of our faith makes our religion worthless!!! (1:26) in fact, we deceive ourselves if we think that don’t live what we believe. i was reading an excerpt from ReJesus where it talks about Shane Claiborne (author of The Irresistable Revolution) taking a survey of a group identifying themselves as “strong followers of Jesus” and asking them, “Did Jesus spend time with the poor?” 80% of the group replied “yes,” while 20% responded “no.” The more baffling and humbling statistic is when the same group was asked if “they spent time with the poor,” only 2% responded that they did. I think that James would call their religion useless. sounds harsh doesn’t it? but it’s truth. even if they were some of the nicest people on the planet, their lack of action makes their religion worth nothing at all.
so… what happens when we read the Bible? do we read it as if it were an entertainment magazine? do we read it to stimulate our minds? or do we know it as the breath of God that gives us life and directs our life? it makes all the difference in the world! it may be the difference between true religion and one that’s worthless. it may be the difference between life and death!
next week, i’m going to be sharing a new initiative that i’m starting over the summer called the “manna” project. if you have been reading my blog and are interested in being a part of changing your community and living our your faith, then stay tuned next week and please invite everyone you know to connect with me here!!! 🙂
i spent last thursday and friday at our denominational conference (PSWC) annual celebration. it was a powerful time of listening, praying, and reflecting. one deep conviction that is brewing in me since then is the importance and need to pray more. i wrestle with this because most of the time nothing “happens” DURING my prayer time. i’m always hoping that something miraculous will happen on the spot. don’t get me wrong… i think that there are moments where revelation and miracle happens in the midst of prayer, but for the most part, i don’t “feel” or “see” anything change during my time of prayer.
as part of the celebration, they honored our previous superintendent (John Notehelfer). They particularly emphasized the fruit of his prayers in us ten years later. it was at that moment that i realized that i am so shortsided. i always want things to happen now. i always feel like it’s pointless if things don’t change right before my eyes. i think that it’s more productive to focus on what i can accomplish and finish quickly. but real, lasting, impactful transformation happens through the power of God and the Holy Spirit. and, it may not happen in a moment. and it definitely happens when God’s people fall on their knees and pray. i mean, God calls us to this posture for healing of our communities:
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will healtheirland.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
so, maybe we if we can get beyond the shortsidedness of our “quick results” oriented life, we’d get on our knees and truly know in our hearts that it makes a difference in our world when we pray…