Time is an indefinite progression. It’s relative yet independent. It’s irreversible, uncontainable, and intangible. It extends far beyond us and originated long before us. And yet the only thought we give to such a central concept in our lives is minimal, at best. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I am very aware of the fact that time controls our lives. We’re constantly glancing at the clock to see how much longer we have at work. We rush around the house every morning, trying to get out of the house on time. We have short-term goals, long-term goals, and in-between goals. Our lives revolve around the concept of time, but very rarely do we make an analysis of the time it takes us to act.
How long does it take us to DO something when the Lord places His desires and expectations upon our hearts? How long does it take for us to ACT in accordance to what He wills for us? How often do we hesitate before stepping out in obedience to Him, only to find that precious opportunity snatched away from us in the moment it took for us to decide what to do?
I had a moment like that not too long ago. And to this day, I can’t shake it. Recently, I cared for a young, newly diagnosed Leukemia patient who came in for treatment with his lovely wife. I was with this couple for a few days, trying to serve them as best I could on both a physical and emotional level. In conversation, they asked what my normal routine was. I explained that I woke up every morning at 4:30, drove an hour to the hospital, worked my 12-13 hours, and drove back home in time to do it all over again. At hearing this, their eyes widened and their mouths dropped open in disbelief. “Reba (my “work” name), how do you do it? How can you be as caring and patient as you are when you wake up so early and work so late? How on earth are you so happy all the time?”
I know what you’re thinking…because I was thinking it too: WOW. What a PERFECT opportunity to share The Gospel! It’s like they were intentionally giving me this precious moment for this specific task. And in the few seconds it took me to decide “how” and “if” and “what” I should respond with, the moment was gone. Snatched away. Just like that. It would be far too easy for me to simply blame this on Satan and move on with my life. I’m sure he had some hand in this…but really, it was my hesitation to step out in obedience to the command of my Father; it was my hesitation to step out in faith that my God would give me His words, His tone of voice, His power in that moment.
Just a few seconds and it was gone. And after that, it didn’t matter what I had said to encourage them or had done to serve them. None of it mattered. Why? Because they had no idea what the source of the good they had experienced was. They thought it was me and my “good-natured heart,” they thought they “got lucky” with a “good nurse.” But wow, what a total lie that is. There is absolutely nothing good in me. The only good I have, the only good I am, the only good I do, is in and through and because of my Heavenly Father who gives me countless second chances and allows me to be used for His glory. I am nothing. I, at my core, am evil, dark, and sinful. For these two people to recognize good in me, for them to see the only Light in my life, is purely a byproduct of the grace and mercy the Lord has shown me. And for me to confiscate that glory for myself, for me to not point them to THE SOURCE of all goodness was criminal. Unacceptable. Inappropriate. Most of all, shameful. And no, I am not being overdramatic when I say all of that. I may not have intentionally tried to rob the Lord of the glory due HIS name, but because I didn’t point to Him for the good that had come out of me, I not only gloried in myself, but I also negatively affected these peoples’ eternities. I denied the Father of His desire to use me as His vessel. The very thought that He would use ME is unfathomable. Even more so, the thought that I had denied Him the opportunity to do so…that I had DENIED the King to use what was rightfully His.
What if I had immediately embraced that moment the Lord had so perfectly cued? Perhaps they would have come to know the Lord and He would have been greatly glorified. All of heaven would have rejoiced at the restoration of these two souls! Or perhaps their hearts would have been hardened and they would not have accepted Christ – the Lord would still have been greatly glorified in my obedience to Him, despite the legal and professional consequences that could have ensued. Or maybe I would have learned that they already knew the Lord, and we could have prayed together for my patient’s healing, for strength for his family, for comfort and relief from the symptoms plaguing him – the Lord would have been greatly glorified in this as well. So basically, obeying the Lord, regardless of how it ended up, would have been fruitful because the Lord would have been glorified.
My disobedience, my hesitancy, my fear – did nothing but dishonor the Lord and grieve His Spirit. To this day, I can’t stop thinking about this. Seconds are important. Minutes, even more so. Hours and weeks and months and years – time is of great importance. Because once it flies by, you can’t just hit the rewind button and expect a “second go” at things. Life doesn’t work like that.
A few things I have noticed that stand in the way of us taking advantage of these precious opportunities:
- Lack of boldness
- Lack of experience
- Lack of understanding
Y’all, it is TIME.
Time to knock down the walls fear has built, time to overcome the insecurities that plague us, time to be bold in the faith, time to seek out opportunities so that we may become more experienced, time to humbly request the Lord for understanding in what/when/how to speak.
I’m speaking to myself more than to any of you. I recognize that I lack the boldness and zeal with which to share The Gospel. I recognize that I am so beyond blessed to know the Lord. I recognize that keeping Him to myself robs Him of great glory, it robs myself and the Church of adding brothers and sisters to the faith. I recognize my weakness in this and I pray that I too, am able to truly value the time I have been given, the opportunities that have been orchestrated by the Lord for His glory.
We have the power to CHANGE LIVES. Scratch that. We know the One who has the power to CHANGE LIVES. And we know He’s legit, because we have experienced His saving grace in our own lives. He has transformed (and is still transforming) our blackened hearts and allows His light to permeate through us. We are evidence of His life-changing Love. So when people recognize that we’re different, when they see our love for them, our hearts to serve them, may we deny ourselves of all the glory and introduce them to THE SOURCE of every good thing.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
(also, Matthew 1:24-25, 2:13-14, 20-21, 4:18-22, Mark 1:17-18)
If you click on the link above and check out the other verses, you’ll notice a theme in the lives of these godly men. When God spoke to them, they ACTED. Not after a few days, not after thinking things over and strategizing a game plan. No, they acted IMMEDIATELY. And what’s more, they brought great glory and honor to the Father because of their decisions to obey Him. It may not have happened immediately, but it certainly was the end result. Joseph’s obedience led to the protection of Mary and Jesus, ultimately leading to Jesus’s obedience in willingly sacrificing Himself for us. The disciples immediately left the lives they knew and embraced a lifestyle that demanded them to act in faith 24/7. They were blessed with the opportunity to know the Lord Jesus in an intimate way. Their obedience to leave their former lives and follow Jesus allowed for them to truly experience LIVING. Their obedience led to the saving of many souls for the glory of the King.
In the same way, may we be quick to not simply hear, but also respond to the whispers of the Spirit. May the Lord grant us the boldness and zeal with which to share the Good News of His work on the cross. May souls be added to the kingdom, may lives be radically transformed, may His Name be proclaimed throughout all creation. May His glory resound forevermore!