Run To Wait

My wife is a fan of the TV show (and movie) Downton Abbey, which means I have come to appreciate it as well. I think Mr. Carson, the head butler, gives us some great insight into a Christian’s prayer relationship with God. 

Mr. Carson has a lot to oversee with the house, the staff, and the needs of the family members and their guests. Everything needs to be tidy and ready at all times for both important guests and the Grantham family. That means Mr. Carson has to have a schedule and routine for everything. 

He doesn’t get up in the morning and sit around waiting for someone to tell him what to do—he gets up and gets to work. He’s a busy man with a lot of responsibilities. But can you imagine if Lord or Lady Grantham came to him with a request and he responded, “Not now, I’m too busy with my To Do list”? No way! He’s their servant, so he quickly responds, “Yes, my lord.” 

Christians can so busy and hurried with our own “To Do list” that we miss out on what’s really important. As Rick Warren then noted, “Hurry is the death of prayer!” 

The dictionary defines hurry as acting in haste, usually in a state of urgency, or feeling rushed. Notice the word “urgency” in the definition. Far too often we confuse urgent things and important things. It’s not that what we’re busy with are bad things, but perhaps we are busy with things that are keeping us blind to the important things. 

Long before Mr. Carson, there was another notable servant named Abraham (Genesis 18:1-8). God showed up and Abraham wanted to be in His presence. So notice that Abraham had to run to wait to God’s presence—the narrative uses words like hurried, “quick” and ran.  

Abraham was quick to get into God’s presence SO THAT he could linger in God’s presencehe stood near Them under a tree: that’s the posture of a servant-in-waiting. 

In the NIV translation, the text says Abraham hurried, but almost every other translation says he ran to meet Them—this is an important distinction. Hurry speaks to things that are urgent, but run speaks to things that are important. 

Stephen Covey has a great diagram that helps us identify four important quadrants in our life:

As you place items from your life on this grid, our Prayer Coach—the Holy Spirit—can help us identify the time-wasters. The key is to find time to wait in prayer. The best place to make time for Quadrant II prayer comes from Quadrant IV. As you eliminate those time-wasters, you will be able to spend health-enhancing time in prayer, worship, planning, and self-care in Quadrant II. This will also better equip you to handle the Quadrant I crises as they appear.

Ultimately, like Mr. Carson, we need to be both proactive with our schedule and responsive to the requests of our Lord. A good daily posture for all of us is “If the Lord wills” (James 4:13-17). But we have to not be so distracted with unimportant things that we can hear what God is speaking to our hearts.

Please join me next week as we continue to uncover things that could derail our regular prayer times, and then strategize a plan for dealing with them.  

The Power Of Now

The advertising slogan by Nike said, “Just do it.” I would modify this to say, “Just do it now.” There is a power in now. So many times we have a God-idea, and then think/plan/pray ourselves out of acting on that idea. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is great value in planning and praying, but far too many ideas are left undone because they were over-thought and over-planned right out of existence.

When King Hezekiah came to the throne in Jerusalem, the country was a mess. The people were worshiping false gods and had completely abandoned the temple of God. The Bible says that Hezekiah went to work addressing the problem now

In the first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.

After the temple had been restored to service, it didn’t matter that the “official” date for the Passover had come and gone. As soon as the temple was ready, Hezekiah said, “Let’s celebrate the Passover now.”

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, here’s what Dr. King had to say about the power and urgency of now

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”

Got a God-idea? Get going! Just do it now!

Necessary Or Additional?

to bring to the tabernacle, and a repeated phrase kept jumping out at me –

…in addition to the regular burnt offering…

There was one daily offering that was necessary every day. Then there were other offerings that were additional.

Here’s the principle: The additional should never take the place of the necessary.

There are some things that are necessary for me every day. My devotional time … my personal prayer life … time with my wife … time with my kids … and a few other necessaries.

There are some things that are additional for me. A church project … a community event … a committee or club … you get the idea.

What is necessary for you? What are the additional things you have added?

Always remember: The additional should never take the place of the necessary. If your additional is crowding out your necessary, it’s time to make some changes.

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