, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The Cutie Pox”

In today’s episode, Apple Bloom learned the hard way that there are no “shortcuts” for certain moments in your life. No way to speed up certain things. Rather, you have to wait for them to take place at the proper time. In a similar vein, I think of how it is important to wait for things according to “God’s Schedule” rather than when we think the time is right.

Everyone has prayers they pray to God that they wish would be fulfilled sooner rather than later. We may pray for little things like “perks” for ourselves, such as help on an exam or to win a game or something. We may pray for things that are more serious such as being able to get to work on an icy day without hitting anything or for our kids to be safe at school. Going higher than that, if we’re in poverty or dire straits, we may be praying for the money to pay a rent or utility bill we don’t know how we’ll afford, or for the strength to tithe or volunteer or witness when we’re overworked at home and our jobs and our wallets are empty. Then, of course, there are the most serious problems…such as deliverance from a persecutor, a miracle in time of terminal illness, or for a family member who has gone astray and we honestly don’t know whether or not they’re safe at the moment or lying dead in a gutter.

Solomon said in the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

But in times of extreme difficulty, it can be more than a little hard to hang on to these words. Or at times when we’re at the point where we don’t know if we’re going to make it to next month, next week, or tomorrow without a specific answer from God. I’m not necessarily talking about all situations of difficulty, but rather I am talking specifically about ones where we know we should act in one way to remain in accordance with God’s Will and it doesn’t seem to be producing the desired result. Therefore we have the temptation to basically “do it our own way”.

I’ll give an example from my own experience. As I mentioned before, there were certain members of my family who were coping with addiction. As a result of their addiction, they blew a lot of opportunities, eventually losing their license, their opportunity for a college education, a good place to live, and gainful employment. There were times in which they expressed regret and tried to “come home”. Now, obviously, we had been praying for this family member to get clean and come to their senses, but we didn’t pay as much attention to the ideas of “repentance”, personal accountability, and “tough love”, which the Bible addresses. To quote some examples, Proverbs 19:19, “A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.” and Galatians 6:5, “For each will have to bear his own load.”

We saw this family member had a great deal of financial troubles that they had gotten themselves into as a natural consequence of their addiction and were causing them trouble, and we wanted to help…mostly because we were afraid if they remained in a poor economic state they would relapse. So we disregarded the ideas of “tough love” and instead figured that we were going to help get this individual clean now by bailing them out. Well…the end result was probably as you can expect. Rather than help anything, we became enablers. After burning through thousands the individual resumed their addiction and the cycle repeated itself. Not once but multiple times.

Finally, after enough of this, the individual in question obeyed 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” It wasn’t us who did it, but rather the addict. By the Grace of God, it was the “sinner” in this case who realized that they were being enabled and so literally cut all ties to the family and refused to tell them where they were or what they were doing for a few days, and then only arranged short meetings. My family was devastated. They constantly lived in fear and depression about what was happening to this individual and constantly feared they were relapsing. But where the family had constantly tried to “work on their own schedule rather than God’s”, the addict in question realized they would never get clean and, more importantly, learn personal responsibility and maturity if the family just kept bailing them out of every difficulty. It wasn’t until they moved into parasite-infested public housing in a dismal part of a dismal town working horrendous jobs and still barely able to make ends meet, especially since they had to rely on public transportation, and was able to slowly “crawl their way up” from that in which the individual realized if they wanted to “stand alone” they couldn’t waste time on addiction. The individual returned to Church and got counseling for themselves rather than let the family pay for it, and finally they got clean.

God did answer the prayers of my family, but the thing is He could have answered our prayers sooner if we had been content to let this individual bail themselves out of their own problems. Because we tried to answer it in our “own way”, we wasted years on codependency and enabling.

The Bible is full of examples of people who paid the price for “losing patience with God”. It was because of this Moses and the Egyptian-leaving Israelites never set foot on the Promised Land. It was because of this that King Saul and his family lost the monarchy of Israel. It was because of this that the ancient kings eventually followed pagan gods and relied on foreign alliances that not only ruined their relationship with God but destroyed Israel and Judah. All serve as a testament for “losing patience” and “doing it our own way”.

Lord Jesus told us in Luke 12:29-31, “And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” God already knows what we’re going through and what we need to keep going. What we need to do is learn to have patience and faith that God will give us what we need (again, not necessarily what we want) in his own time.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that you know about my situation even before I pray to you about it and that you know everything I need, and that you have promised so long as I seek you that I will receive what I need in your time. Please help me to trust this when I seek to start doubting your Word and promises. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”