Editor’s note: On Sunday, June 16, 2013, families and churches all over the United States and in some other countries, too, will observe Father’s Day. This devotion is slightly adapted from one of the free resources CTA is making available to ministry leaders to help underscore one of our new themes for men’s ministry this spring, Man of God. You may want to check out our many other resources for Father’s Day and men’s ministry, too. All come with a multitude of free downloadables!
Propane or charcoal? This is a high stakes cooking question! Grilling with propane is all about instant gratification; you can heat up a propane grill in the time it takes to decide what kind of cheese you want on your burger.
Cooking with charcoal is an entirely different story. It takes a long time for the coals to heat up. It takes a long time for the food to cook thoroughly. There is no way around it: Cooking with charcoal is tedious and time consuming. Yet, most barbeque connoisseurs will agree that the deep smoky taste of a charcoal barbeque is always worth the wait.
Getting to the Heart
We live in a society that hates to wait. Our drive-thru food arrives thirty seconds after we order it through a moving car window. Our money is dispensed instantly through the ATM. Our message appears in the boss’s in-box just seconds after we click the send button. Instant coffee, instant oatmeal, and instant propane grills are just a few of the instant aspects of our everyday lives. We are simply a people who crave immediacy.
God, however, is not the immediate type. Though he could, God seldom works in milliseconds, microseconds, or nanoseconds. Instead, God prefers to work in months, years, and even millennia. God often does his work over long increments of time:
- The stubborn prophet Jonah waited inside the belly of the fish for three days before he repented for his disobedience and submitted to God’s call to preach in Nineveh.
- The doubt-filled people of Israel waited forty years in the wilderness before they could enter the Promised Land.
- The perfectly obedient, completely faithful Jesus waited in the wilderness for forty days before he began his public ministry.
Scriptures is chocked full of stories detailing the lives of the many people—faithful and unfaithful, patient and impatient—who waited for the Lord. Some waited days, while others waited years. Yet, each and every one of these stories comes to the same conclusion: those who wait for the Lord always find it is well-worth the wait.
Waiting for the Lord requires us to set aside our schemes for instant gratification. It requires enduring contentment. It requires us to resist our sinful impulses. It asks us to dismiss any trust in our own abilities. It asks that, instead, we rely entirely on God’s abilities—and on his willingness to do for us and in us what we could never do for ourselves.
Waiting for the Lord is no easy task! It calls for patience, perseverance, and a whole lot of intestinal fortitude. Waiting for the Lord means living at odds with our instant-everything culture. In fact, you could even say that waiting for the Lord is the faith equivalent of cooking with charcoal. Are you up for this? None of us are!
Yet, quite unlike waiting for charcoal to heat up, those who wait for the Lord do not do so in desperation, though at times it might feel like that. We might be tempted to despair when we remember that God knows all about our impatience and the ways we scheme to get ahead on our own. In fact, God knew about our sinful self-reliance from all eternity. Despite our faithlessness, he planned to send his own Son to die for us—and then faithfully fulfilled that plan. Listen! (Read Ephesians 1:3-5.)
Adopted as the Lord’s very own sons and heirs, forgiven in Christ’s cross, we can live in total confidence that our heavenly Father loves us. We can rely on the fact that he intends to use everything that happens to us for our eternal good. We can wait for him, trusting his promise to renew our strength as we wait for him.
As we patiently wait for his purposes to unfold in our lives, God patiently renews our strength. As we run the long race of godly living, we can trust our God to keep us from growing weary. We can walk confidently, drawing strength from him and knowing that, as we do, we will not faint. He makes it possible for us to soar, eagle-like, even in life’s storms!
The wait can be tedious, but the reward is tremendous. We find our waiting rewarded when we see God’s purposes far exceeding our own feeble plans. We find our waiting rewarded when a previously unanswered prayer is finally met with God’s resounding ‘Yes!’
At the end of days, all our waiting will finally and eternally erupt into an endless celebration. Those who have waited for the Lord will agree—for all eternity—that everything that has happened, everything we have endured, all the waiting we have done has resulted in our overwhelming, unimaginable good!
Taking it Home
Cooking with charcoal and waiting for the Lord have one thing in common: They both take time. Yet, no matter how perfectly you arrange the bacon, onion, lettuce, and tomatoes on your burger, God’s plans for those who wait for him are always much more perfectly arranged. God blesses and equips those who wait for him to act on their behalf.
Most men admit to knowing nothing about cooking; yet, most men claim to know everything about barbequing. Somehow when cooking is done outside it becomes a manly task.
Next time you are manning the grill, try this: As you finally take the burgers off the grill, pause for a moment. Pause to remember the godly men who have been an example to you, whose lives show you how to wait for the Lord. Pause to remember your Savior’s cross and your Father’s forgiveness for your own impatience. Pause to remember God’s promise that those who wait for him will not grow weary, weak, or faint. Pause just long enough to think about all the ways in which God rewards those who wait for him . . .. Then dig in!
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