Tuesday, February 19, 2008

God Before Time - Clemons

One thing I’ve given a bit of thought to lately, is the working of God within time. As any physics teacher will tell you, time is a function of mass, motion and gravity. Time is not a constant. It changes the faster you go, or with the less gravity you have. But mass, motion and gravity are creations of God. He’s not subject to their machinations. God sits outside time, looking in.

Which brings mwe to my subject. I frequently talk to fledging writers who want to know why it takes so long to get published. Many, like myself, truly believe they are called to write. Like me, they expect to earn money at it—it is, after all, a vocation not an avocation. They pray and believe God is going to use their words to change the world, but they write, and write, and send out one proposal after another, and then complain that while they believe they’re doing God’s will, God isn’t answering their prayers, and they start to think about giving up.

It’s a matter of faith, I tell them. You have to believe in spite of what you see.

I try not to leave them with the usual glib answers. I’m sure you’ve heard them all: “Your faith is too weak. If you believed with the faith of a mustard seed you could ask anything and it would be done for you,” or, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for to ask anything of God you must first believe He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” It’s true, if you pray but you don’t really believe God hears and answers, forgetaboutit.

Or how about this one. “You ask and receive not because you seek to heap it after your own lust.” True again. If you’re praying that you sell enough books to buy a $750,000 house with a Ferrari in the drive and have money left over to pay your bills and take a European vacation, your asking God to provide you with earthly goods when He says we should be storing our treasures in heaven, so again, you’re prayers probably aren’t going to be heard. But I haven’t met anyone doing this.

Then there’s the verse in James that says the prayer of a righteous man avails much. True, you do need to be righteous, at least in the sense that you’re right with God, that you’ve confessed every sin and are truly seeking to do His will.

But what if you’ve practiced all of the above but still feel your prayers haven’t been heard?

Well maybe the missing ingredient is time. We don’t work on God’s clock. My pastor, Rod Hembree, recently put it this way: “Sometimes we pray, and God starts to answer, but we interrupt Him mid-sentence.” In other words, God may be right in the middle of working out the answer to our prayers, when we give up.

If you don’t think it’s true consider this: just about every old testament saint, all those we learned about in Sunday School, waited years for the promise of God to be fulfilled in their lives.

Abraham was told he would have a son, but he was ninety before it finally happened. As a boy Joseph was told his bothers would bow down to him, but before he saw it come to pass he had to endure slavery and imprisonment for at least twenty years. God preserved Moses’ life from his birth but he was eighty years old when he was finally called to lead the children of Israel. David was a young man when he was selected by God to be King over Israel, but even after slaying Goliath he had to endure many years of being chased by Saul before God actually fulfilled the promise.

The problem is we become impatient with God. We want our prayers answered now, not sometime in the future. God, on the other hand, sits outside time. He sees the end from the beginning. He already knows how and when He’ll answer our prayers. For Him, it’s a matter of patiently putting up with our impatience until He knows we’re ready.

Is a limited view of time the missing ingredient in our faith formula? I don’t know, but I can say that we do well when we remember it’s not about us, it’s about Him: for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Philippians 2:13

Keith Clemons


Bonnie Grove said...

In theology, there is a study of prophesy - called mountain top prophesy, that understands God's work with humanity as an ongoing process. Even the OT prophesies we read (and see fulfilled in NT) can be understood as having multiple fulfillments throughout time. I love this view, and I agree with it. We so often see God move in one area of our life and think "That was an answer to prayer!" (which it was, to be sure) but then we think the prayer is answered and we are done with it. I don't think that's true at all. God answers, and answers, and draws us closer to him, and moves us forward, and helps us, and grows us, and moves us and moves us. It's a process. And it applies to everything in our lives. Even writing.
I'm one of those who knows she is called to write. So, for me, that means that God has called me to work within a system (it existed before I got here) and to rely on Him to work WITH me in that system. Not to fly by high above the system - but to help me learn, be wise, improve, grow, come closer to Him. To learn in the process. And to not grow weary in well doing.
Peace to you Keith. You're a blessing.

Linda Wegner said...

Thanks for this reminder, Keith. How often I have chafed at God's timing, only to give thanks later for the Hand that restrained.

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