“If you are asking God to move a mountain don’t be surprised if he gives you a shovel”. Anon.
I like this quote because it seems to capture something of our attitudes towards God, often wanting things to fall into our laps but don’t always want to work for them.
God could have “teleported the Israelites from Egypt to the promise land” but just think how much they learned on the journey?
God could who pulled down the walls of Jericho could have rebuilt Jerusalem in an instant but yet in rebuilding the walls and the temple with Nehemiah and Ezra the nation was not only re-built but re-consecrated to the Lord.
We as people often think about the destination we want to get too, what we want to see happen, yet God not only knows and understands the destination, we often find that through the journey we encounter more of God than if we got what we wanted immediately.
We live in a world of high speed broadband and instant coffee, we expect results a the click of our fingers.
Sadly in my experience seems to happen very rarely, the Bible uses words like ‘labour’, ‘struggle’, ‘the narrow way’, ‘the fight’ or ‘the battle’ not comfortable images but images that make on think of pain, sweat tears and struggle.
Sadly we don’t really grasp an idea of ‘partnership’ with God, expecting him to do it all.
I wonder whether the popularity of ‘revival’ amongst complacent western Christians is because they want to see God move without them having to move themselves.
Apathy, I believe is killing the Church in the West, I rather fear that much of what we do is not edgy or dangerous, nor is it costly or sacrificial, but tame and toothless, comfortable and safe. I fear Christ Jesus may look at his bride in this nation and say that too often we are “neither cold nor hot, I wish you were one or the other, but because you are lukewarm I will vomit you from my mouth”.
-My prayer and heart is that I don’t want to be a community lukewarm towards Christ, but rather I long for this area to be something of a ‘hot spot’!
Yet, to move from cold to hot (ideally white hot) often takes a while, is a long slow process, and sometimes it feels like me and my little shovel aren’t getting very far anytime fast. Have you ever felt like that?
Someone once had a picture for me of trying to batter down a great big damn only using a toffee hammer, it echoed my feelings of chipping away and seeing very little happen, but yet one of my favourite films (something of a guilty pleasure as it is pretty cheesy!) is “Force 10 from Naverone” where so much is achieved from a tiny bit of damage to one damn…
I know that within myself I can be impatient for speedy results, ironically many of our instant luxuries are not actually instant someone else other than us has worked for days and weeks unnoticed behind the scenes to give us something that for us is instant and immediate.-Perhaps that feels like you?
Perhaps it feels like you have been given a spade when you asked for a miracle?
Perhaps it feels like all the important stuff that we do no one notices and everyone just takes for granted?
Perhaps too you hear these stories of divine appointments, of people feeling called to come here, join this, support all these other projects doing things you’re not called too in places your not called too, and think that the grass feels greener elsewhere?
Perhaps there is some uncomfortable comparisons when it feels like we have been given a spade and someone else is given a miracle. “Who are you to judge another’s servant?”
The problem is with this ‘comparison is the thief of joy’, comparisons are never favourable, or helpful but highly discouraging when we are running our race to compare ourselves with the other athletes, as we either become smug or discouraged (or potentially both!) but either way does not help us be faithful into what God is calling us to do.
So, a challenge to us all, if God is giving you a spade accept it gladly, God is giving good gifts to his children.
As we dig, think what is God teaching me/us on this journey? -want can I learn along the way.
Maybe there is some element of apathy, or battle-flight (how often do people leave the Church communities of greatest need on the frontline, to ‘tread water’ in a Church of little challenge, sacrifice, or cost)
If God is trusting you with a spade, let’s move that mountain a spade at a time faithfully, praising God for the joy and privilege of partnering with him.