In the age we live in, the general expectation is that we can have what we want, when we want it and predominantly people want things NOW.
It is an age of instant gratification and there is no need to wait for anything.
- You want food – go ahead and eat it, it is not rationed.
- You want a car - buy it, even if you don’t have the money, there are loans readily available.
- You want an intimate relationship with someone – then just have a one night stand, everyone is doing it after all, what's the issue?
But life is different for us, as Christians we are proud to rely on God’s word and His instructions for our lives and he very clearly tells us to ‘be in this world but not to be of it’. But what does that mean?
Romans 12: 2 (NLT) says "Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are simply in the world—that is physically present—but not of it, meaning we are not part of its values. As believers, we should be set apart from the world, striving to live a virtuous and righteous life. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world promotes, nor are we to retain the numb and corrupt mind that the world creates. Rather, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ.
Realistically this change that happens in us when we become Christians or as we mature as Christians and accept more of Christ into our lives, is not always an easy one and it is often not a quick one. Commitment to this change is a daily activity and constant prayer is a necessity.
The promise of learning God’s will, which will be good, pleasing and perfect is a wonderful one but it is also quite scary at times to tread that path and make those changes to our lives, it is not always comfortable to cast off the sin we have been so happy living in.
You only have to look at the story of Mary and Martha to see what Jesus requires of us. In Luke we are told of a conversation –
Luke 10:40-42 (NASB) - "But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
And in John we learn what the good part is –
John 12:3 - "Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
It is important we learn this lesson but it only comes in His time."
Generally people today live their lives in a very hurried fashion and that is not God’s plan for us: to run from one task to another and to check it all off a list. He is desperate for us to stop, to savour and to be with him but I’ve found that we are not very good at that, most of us have one thing we are striving for or seeking – for me it is weight loss. Others it might be a good career, marriage, to feel loved or to feel secure and we try to make these things happen in our time but God has a perfect plan and we must submit to him and allow it to happen the way it is supposed to. Of course that does not mean we can be passive and dormant and do nothing but wait around, we must do the footwork but the fruit will only come at the right time when we are ready and can cope with it and then it comes for God’s glory.
I’ll tell you a little of my Christian walk to demonstrate God’s perfect timing. Roll back 14 years and I'm 27 years old, I had a good job, was a big earner, owned my own home, had a great fiance, numerous abroad holidays every year, a brand new car every two years etc etc. On paper life was good and materially I was very happy and looking back I wouldn’t have said I was a bad person, I was just very much of the world. Sucked in by the ideals of man and not God. Life was about wealth, status and pride.
I’m not proud of the traits I regularly demonstrated whilst working in a pressured sale environment - I thought nothing of banging my phone and shouting so that everyone in the office was on edge, I can remember thinking how much I hated weak people and I enjoyed cutting them down to size. Truthfully I didn’t give much thought to others, what I wanted was what counted and believe me it brings me no joy to share these short comings with you but sometimes it is necessary to reflect on the changes that have happened and the change in me has been radical.
At 29 years old I became a Christian and had my first child at 30. Literally day by day I was softening and learning God's ways and the result was that I quit my high powered sales manager job, stopped spending money like water, started to do voluntary work, started to give money to charity & church and thankfully my anger and aggression stopped, this was all within a few years.
The next big flaws that God started to work on were my patience, humility and constant busyness. Many times I received a clear message to 'stop doing and start being' (always those specific words) but I wasn't very good at listening and responding to that message. I am a typical Martha and if Jesus was coming to my house for dinner, I know my natural response would be to cook for him and to fuss and make sure things were perfect but really I know he wants me to just sit with Him and be.
I personally find that when you do not heed the message God wants you to hear he ups His game and in July 2006 I got Bells Palsy and half my face was paralysed. This led to terrible neuralgia and six weeks off work and serious one on one time with God. I really did have to stop doing and start being and the reward for listening and obeying God's word I believe was getting pregnant with my twins. My husband and I had been trying for another baby since 2004 and nothing had happened but by November 2006 I was pregnant with the twins, a double blessing and very much in His time.
Of course more recently we have sold our house, I give up my job and we all left the area we had lived in for 15 years, leaving all our friends, the kids school and the security we knew. Without doubt I know it was God's will and timing for us to come to East Sussex and to live in this Christian community. He has a plan for me and as yet I have no real idea what it is, For some time he had told me this should be my season of mothering and I certainly have enough time to do that now. What comes next - who knows, I have no idea as yet but I do have a wonderful sense of peace and hope, and of course absolute faith in His timing being just right.
The changes in me are nothing I could ever have done in my own strength, it is all glory to our heavenly Father. Pleasure is no longer my calling in life, to worship God and glorify His name has thankfully taken over.
When we trust God and leave it in his hands we have no need to worry or stress, but many of us still do and worrying or fixating on that thing we want can be so limiting. On the one level I so want to lose weight, it is a constant battle but on the other I exercise little and eat too much, so my actions do not match my words. I pray on this constantly and during Advent I've made a conscious effort to devote more time to being with God and taking fruitful footsteps like going to the gym or walking. It is still baffling to me at times as to why I am still this fat, I feel sure it is not God's will for me to be this size. I believe He needs me fit for purpose and that means being a healthy weight and size.
Then the other day after I read my bible and was writing my journal God told me he was changing me 'from the inside out' and I must be patient and heed his earlier lesson of ‘more being and less doing’ and that thing I seek so much does match his desire too but it will come in His time. I need to look back on all those changes over the last twelve years and to know he is with me, moulding me and realistically how much more could I of handled?
Basically I need to accept God's perfect timing and so do we all.