This time of year is often a really tough time for me. Whenever I’m home, it’s usually only for a month or so, and there are a lot of people I really want to see, spread out all over the place. I want to see my friends, and I want to connect with our ministry partners to thank them personally for their support, to see how they’re doing, and this time around, to share about our transition from Scotland to South Africa. Connecting with everyone is not humanly possible.Â As the days and hours start ticking away and our departure approaches, I get stressed out about our schedule, not wanting to miss out on getting to see everyone. If you’re anything like me, you might struggle a bit with not wanting to disappoint people. It’s a tough place to be!
When I enter into the space where ‘the urgent’ becomes the tyrant dictating my life, a couple of friends often come to join me on the journey. I sometimes start getting ulcers in my mouth, or strange aches and pains in different places. I sometimes get headaches, and I struggle to put one foot in front of the other to get everyday things done. It’s like my body is saying, “Hey Idiot! Stop stressing and running around! I’m not supposed to run on all six cylinders for this amount of time. You’re gonna burn me out!” Â My time with the Lord gets pushed aside because of all the other things that need to get done, and THAT is when things really start heading south.
As I was talking to the Lord about this this morning, I was reminded of a few things that I figure a lot of us could probably stand to be reminded of every once in a while. If you’re interested, dear friend, read on…
First, if you live your life trying to please people, you are inevitably going to fall short and be frustrated with yourself. Â If you focus on trying to please God every day, you’ll find that pacing yourself, making wise choices, and even getting GOOD rest pleases Him. No one else is going to guard your time and rest. People willÂ take as much as you’ll give them, and encourage you to keep giving out more. If you can rest in the knowledge that the only one you need to please is your heavenly Father, and focus on following His leading, you will do well.
Second, the Lord tells us to rest for a reason. Each day has sufficient trouble of its own. We aren’t supposed to worry about tomorrow. We can rest in the knowledge that God is in control. When we begin stressing that we have to get everything sorted out, voila, we have stomach ulcers, headaches…and even worse health conditions, many that would have been completely prevented had we been willing to change our pace and make rest a priority. There will always be something urgent on the agenda. If you keep running after the urgent, you’ll neglect the important, and suffer the consequences.Â
Third, the Lord reminded me of the story of Lazarus. (See John 11:1-44) Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, but He stayed where He was for two more days before heading over to Judea. Lazarus was the brother of Martha, and Mary (who washed Jesus’ feet with fragrant oil and dried them with her hair). This family was very dear to Him. When He (finally) arrived on the scene, Lazarus was already dead, and people were mourning him. The question obviously came from both women — “Ugh, Jesus, where ya been? Cuz if you showed up, om…seeing as how you have healing powers and all…well…it seems pretty apparent if you hadn’t taken your time about getting here, Lazarus wouldn’t be in a tomb right now.”Â
It isn’t readily apparent why Jesus decided to take His time about getting there, but He does say in response to the news of Lazarus’ illness, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” So for God’s glory, and in God’s timing (we can be sure of that since Jesus never stepped out of God’s will) Jesus traveled to Judea and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. You may or may not know the rest of the story: after conversations with Martha and Mary, and seeing the weeping, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In doing so, He demonstrated His power, not just over sickness, but also over death, and many Jews began to believe in Him because of this amazing miracle. (So much so that the Pharisees began plotting to kill Him.)
Jesus could have rushed over to Martha and Mary’s place, and healed Lazarus before He passed away. The urgency of the situation could have forced Him to drop everything and rush over. But He waited for God’s timing, and in doing so, God was glorified, and His will was done. Many believed and the stage was set for even greater works yet to come.
The Sermon in a Nutshell: If you let it, the urgent will always distract you from the important. If instead you purpose yourself to walk in God’s timing, the BEST will become possible. Trust God for tomorrow. Besides Australians, He’s the only one who’s already there. 😉