31 Jan It Takes Time
Now, I was doing Daily Devotion with my children and this phrase came up in their book: “It takes time.” Now, this phrase is most commonly used when one is developing something, waiting on something or hoping for progression in certain areas. And there is a part, or most part of our lives, where we are in these kind of situations. Now, this is especially so when it comes to our spiritual living as well. If we have come to hear and believe the living Word of God, of course, we would develop a heart that wishes to lead the consecrated life that God desires us to. However, when we get honest with ourselves and start looking at our status quo, Point A seems to be very far away from Point B. And even as we are progressing towards a holy living, we might stumble, fall into temptations or repeated sins, and feel like we are going back to square one again. Battling our nature and the world’s influences is a continuous process. However, as we keep facing them upfront and challenge these moments with the Truth and with God’s perspective, we will get a faster recovery rate in seeking God over the problems, and confirm more and more how real and vibrant our God is. But here is the catch, it takes time.
Learn from Peter’s example: Don’t rush in.
Now I was reading the story of Peter with my kids, and most of you might be familiar with the story. So basically, Jesus’ disciples were in a boat and a storm came. Jesus saw them struggling and He appeared before them by walking on water. When Peter saw Him, he eagerly requested: “Lord, if it is really you, let me come to You on the water as well.” So Jesus said: “Come” and Peter was able to walk on water too. But then as he noticed how big the waves had become, he started to panic and sink. Now, this is not a big difference from some moments in our own lives. God knows that there are Peter-like moments as we go through our roles and things to do daily. We want to be better in every aspect of our lives like as a worker, as a child, as a parent, as a sibling, as a brethren, or any other ways. But Proverbs 19:2 reminds us, “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” When we just rush into things, without really testing and affirming God’s leading in these areas, it will result in 2 things.
Fatigue and disappointment. Fatigue because we become subconsciously self-driven to work things out rightly in our roles, and disappointment when we fall short in our “goals”. These are very much like the growing storm that overwhelmed Peter’s heart with fear, instead of faith. Now brothers and sisters, it is great to have Peter’s heart that desires to be Christ-like, but take note of our foundation and focus. We must understand that storms in life can take different types of form and magnitude. But while all these are variable, our only foundation must come from what is fixed and that is in what God says and how He leads. If we only desire the act but do not get the heart right with Christ, our faith will sink eventually. I had many moments in my faith living where I wished to be more spiritually driven. I wish to be like my cell group leader, I wish to be able to minister to people more effectively, I wish to speak with wisdom from the spirit’s conviction. But I often find myself feeling disheartened and exhausted from my serving, because my foundation and focus was all over the place. My foundation of what I do was on my own benchmark and understanding of what is good. And my focus was not on drawing near to God and experiencing Him personally first, but to have some kind of outward or seen successes to validate my spirituality. I mean, the way we “rush into” things in life can manifest in different ways, but should we not begin with the right foundation and focus in Christ, we will ultimately meet with a “sinking” situation one day because of the limitations of self and the fleeting ways of the world.
“He lifted Peter and helped Him back”
Now, in Matthew 14:30-31 it says, “But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Now the encouraging part of Peter’s story is that it did not merely end with Peter’s “small faith” in the face of storms, but the grand ending of God’s helping hand. Surely, we have all “rushed in” at some point in life and met with some moments of despair or feelings of inadequacy. But here, the Lord encourages us again that His helping hand is immediate and ever ready to extend out to us.
In our present, that helping hand comes from the Word and the Holy Spirit. He has prepared for us the Word to reflect and affirm through all different areas we may be faced with. It is able to give us answers if we truly seek with a humble and submissive heart to His convictions. The Lord has amassed stories, testimonies and characters that speak to us in every aspect of healing or advancement we need in our faith living.
Like, if we feel lousy about the level of faith we have, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness to Peter, if we have sinned, we are reminded of David’s story of turning back to God in his times of regret. If we find ourselves often ridiculed or put down, we are reminded of God’s plans for Joseph. And there are just so many other ways that God speaks to us in His Word.
Now, when I was a new believer, the Bible seemed like something very “heavy” and dull. But as I continue to hear about the stories within it and God’s workings in trivial things to great battles, it carved a deeper and deeper assurance in me as I am faced with ever changing seasons in life. So we really need to press on in internalising God’s word.
Then, the Lord has also sent us a Helper that is gifted to those who believe in Him and that is the Holy Spirit, our spiritual guide, an advocate and defender to our faith.
As John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” It is the way God reminds us the need to guard our hearts and respond in set-apart ways. It is different from our conscience as conscience is guided by personal experiences, upbringing, self principles and morals, that can change and can be subjective. However, the Holy Spirit guides us solely to God’s unchanging and consistent perspective. So when we seek God in our urges of “rushing in”, let us really lay out all our cards on the table, testing and approving it through and through. We may feel the desire to progress more quickly, but could there be some lessons that God has prepared importantly for you to be refined through this slow season? We could look at someone more spiritual and feel lack, but could they have also journeyed a long way with God through their own weaknesses before they become the person they are right now? We could desire to have the spiritual gifts like another, but could God be preparing you for another kind of gift or area to serve? Now, we have to really see that it is not about how quickly we get our faith right or do things well, but how deep we go in our reliance and assurance in Him. It took me a long while to understand this myself, because I am an impulsive person by nature. But thankfully, God has a journey that customised and enabled me to be humbled and enlightened to see where my intentions and attitudes lie in.
Now brothers and sisters, it is a wonderful thing to pursue a God-driven spiritual life, to progress in areas that God has prepared for us. But let us always firstly take time to test and approve with the Lord, to be guarded by His leading, so that we will not easily panic should there be “stormy waters”. Take time with the Lord first.