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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In Due Season

The author, on one of his better days.
I get tired.

I’m a little tired right now, as a matter of fact. There are days and weeks when I seem to be doing the same thing over and over again, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. And I think, “Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing?” I’ve asked the Lord about it, I’ve prayed for a resolution, and yet …

Yeah, you guessed it: every week, it’s just more of the same.

It’s a special sort of modern, western, slightly self-indulgent “tired”, when you think about it. Persecuted Christians get tired too, I’m sure, but in a very different way. Despair and exhaustion are a far cry from boredom and ennui.

But we in western Christian culture have the malaise of repetitive, often (apparently) ineffectual service to contend with nonetheless.

Put that way, all of a sudden it doesn’t really seem that serious, does it? And yet it seems to stop some of us cold. People get turned off and stop coming to meetings entirely. Diligent workers with years of service in a local church suddenly turn into mere pew-sitters, turning up for special events and not much else. When you ask why, you get stories about out-of-date hymnbooks or a failure to embrace modern ministry techniques, or an elder’s wife who wasn’t kind or sensitive one day out of hundreds of similar days.

But really, that’s the just the straw. The camel’s back was already overloaded and some silly, indefensible, unjustifiable micro-provocation ended taking the fall for a bone-weariness that may have been building for years.

I had an elder tell me once, years after a church split, “I’ve talked to them and talked to them, and I still have no idea why they left”. Having seen people on both sides of a church breakup, I think I can confidently say that it’s possible they really don’t know either.

The solution for growing weary? Let’s not.
“... let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
(Galatians 6:9-10)
Put bluntly, cut it out. Stop.

If that seems overly simplistic or perhaps even unsympathetic, it’s because Paul appears to recognize that weariness is a choice. Weariness is mostly about the perspective one adopts, and very little about one’s actual circumstances.

I know world-weary 17-year olds. Really. I mean, come on, you haven’t actually lived yet, and you’re already tired of it! And on the flipside, I know those who, by any reasonable standard, really should be exhausted by the trials of their Christian life, yet just keep on ticking like Swiss watches.

Weariness in persecution may be completely justifiable. Weariness in a North American setting, on the other hand, may well be the same sort of weariness a gelatinous, sedentary 50-something feels the first week he takes up jogging. What he needs is more exercise, not less of it.

Everybody feels weary sometimes, and you can do one of two things: indulge it and let it win, or continue to do good with every opportunity that presents itself.

When I am weary, I need to remind myself that “in due time” means “at the proper time” or  “at the right time”. It is the Lord who decides when the time is right, not you or me. He is the one who is able to take all the possible variables into account, not merely how his children may feel about the “crosses” we are called to bear.

Paul’s teaching on this subject does not come out of nowhere. It is echoed throughout all of scripture:
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”
(Psalm 126:5)
“Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return.”
(Ecclesiastes 11:1)
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58)
“Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.”
(2 Corinthians 4:1)
“And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:13)
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.”
(James 5:7)
and most especially this one:
“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
(Hebrews 12:3)
Have you or I ever endured opposition of sinners even a tiny fraction of that which was endured by the Lord Jesus? Have we suffered what he suffered or felt as he felt? I know I haven’t. Perhaps Paul’s counsel is not so harsh or insensitive after all. The Lord, in due time, reaped a harvest of joy, and we too have a harvest to look forward to.

In due season.

2 comments :

  1. This should wake you up, Tom. Here it comes. This is what the newly elected lesbian mayor of Houston demands.

    HEADLINE:

    "City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons."

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/14/city-houston-demands-pastors-turn-over-sermons/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Thanks, Qman. That one made my day -- not.

    Depressingly predictable, aren't they?

    ReplyDelete