Have you ever felt as if God has forgotten to give you your assignment? You’ve made yourself available, but there’s no direction. You feel overlooked. You feel unused. Perhaps you conclude that you aren’t spiritual enough for God to use you.
Then you go to church and hear yet another sermon on the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). It leaves you feeling both frustrated and guilty. Yes, you want to invest what God has given you. But you don’t know how. What are you supposed to do?
Advent is a time of waiting. Children (and plenty of adults) are eagerly waiting to open their gifts, while others can’t wait to see their look of surprise and delight. We may be anticipating the arrival of family members who live far away, or we may be the ones traveling to see them. If we’re frazzled by all the holiday bustle, we may simply be waiting for January!
In the church, advent is a time of waiting for Jesus. Yes, He is already here. But each year we anticipate His birth anew, and the difference His presence makes in the world.
We are a culture of action. We’re eager to get started, to accomplish something. And to a great extent, we are valued according to what we achieve. How much money do we make? What awards have we won? What discoveries have we made?
When we meet someone new, we ask “What do you do?” If we have a need, the standard advice is to “don’t just sit there—do something!” We applaud a man of action and disparage a couch potato. We tell ourselves that life is too short to wait. Continue reading
We all love mountain top experiences. Perhaps you’ve been on your church’s retreat, or maybe you just took a break from the daily routine for some personal time with God. Either way, you’ve been listening and He’s been speaking. There’s nothing like hearing from God!
Sometimes, He’s full of new plans for us, or He comes and comforts us in our hour of need. Sometimes, we’re reading along in our Bible and the words leap off the page and into our hearts and minds.
And sometimes life consists of a series of days so alike, you can barely tell them apart. After all the excitement of plans and possibilities, new insights and clear direction, we’re left in the tedium of routine.
“God, what do you want me to do now?” It seems I’ve asked that same question over and over as I’ve lived my life. Years ago, I was a new grad, the ink on my degree barely dry. Suddenly I was faced with a major decision—what should I do with my education? It was tempting to apply to grad school, sticking with what I knew. On the other hand, I was so tired of school! Maybe I should look for a job. Unfortunately, my degree was one of those lacking a clear career path. I spent hours praying, lost in a sea of choices.
Lately, it seems I’ve been spending all my time waiting. My dad and I waited over an hour for a walk-in lab test. Pete and I waited an entire afternoon for some thunderstorms to pass through the area so we could play outside on our date day. And it seems as though our family has been waiting forever for our new granddaughter to be born! (She’s due soon, very, very soon!)
Even though I’ve been frantically busy, rushing from appointment to appointment and task to task, it’s the waiting that gets my attention. (Maybe because I’ve been so busy, and I don’t think I have time to wait?)
God doesn’t seem to mind waiting at all. In fact, He seems to make a point of forcing us to wait for things. Instead of getting on the ball and accomplishing something, he instructs us to develop patience.
Last week I asked for your opinions about engagements and betrothals. Is an engagement necessary? What does the Bible have to say on this topic? What benefits do we get from spending some time promised but not married? How long should the wait be, and why?
Several people commented that being engaged gives people time to seriously work through issues they had avoided until then. I agree—and thought of a few more things. Here is what I came up with on this subject.
It helps to realize that for the most part, God is silent on how long this waiting period needs to be. The Bible describes cultural norms that called for a period of time between a betrothal and actually living together. While Paul (who strongly urged believers to stay single for the sake of the Gospel) told the Corinthians that it’s better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Cor. 7:9), there are no instructions on the proper length of engagements (a modern construct) or betrothals.
So what are we to do? In our culture, most people are engaged for some period of time between making a decision to wed and actually making life-long vows. There are definite benefits we gain during this time.