Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
How Well Do We Wait?
October 19, 2016
BIBLICAL WINEMAKING 202
Most of us live in a world of instant gratification. We have fast food, instant messaging, quick oats, microwave dinners, On Demand TV, express check-out and same-day delivery. In fact, when I started this blog, I was in New York City with Reagan for a Senior mother-daughter trip and found that there was a Starbucks on every block. I mean EVERY block. And even though most of the time the wait was 5 minutes or less for coffee, if that was still too long, then you could order ahead on a smartphone app and have it ready the minute you got there. Now, as a morning-coffee-defendant person, I kinda understand that one.
But really, we have created a society that JUST CAN'T WAIT! When Reagan was little and we were going out to eat, her first question was always, "Is it a buffet?" because she wanted to be able to walk in the door and eat RIGHT NOW.
Spend a little time with a vineyard keeper and you'll quickly discover that speediness is definitely NOT the process for producing beautiful and delicate grapes for harvesting. The vineyards we visited in Michigan last month were actually very young vineyards. Most were only three or four years old and were getting ready for their very FIRST harvest after all of that time.
One of my favorite books, Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg, tells of Margaret visiting a vintner in Napa Valley which boasts vineyards over 100 years old. There she learned that many vintners expect eight years to pass from initial planting of a vine to an acceptable bottle of wine from the grapes produced. EIGHT YEARS. (Or at least this is what I remember the book saying--I've loaned it out to someone and can't remember who. So if you have it, please let me know!)
How many of us would wait eight years for much of anything? Our vision is skewed by the type of world we live in. But the beauty of the vineyard teaches us otherwise. Patience. Perseverance. Endurance. Development. Longevity. It’s a journey, not a moment.
But because of our instant gratification society and demeanor, we are actually hurting ourselves and missing out on incredible blessings. We want to see the results right now, and if the wait is too long, then we just move on or give up.
Take for example sharing Christ with someone who does not know Him. We share our own story of our relationship with Jesus. We give them a Bible of their own. We bring them to church. We answer questions. We pray for them. But if they don’t come to their own relationship with Jesus as quickly as we’d like, do we stick with them? Do we keep nurturing? For eight years? How about for even eight months?
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 HCSB) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for AT THE PROPER TIME we WILL reap a harvest IF we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV emphasis mine) Have you missed out on the harvest because you were not willing to wait?
How about impatience with ourselves in our Christian walk? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB) Absolutely, we ARE new. Our world is new. The old sins of the past are dead and gone. HOWEVER, don’t read more into Paul’s words than he intended. Being a new creation does not mean that we are suddenly perfect and no longer struggle with the sin of humanity. Paul himself stated, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:15, 19, 24 NASB)
Well golly gee. If a guy is struggling THAT badly, then he should just give up and go back to his old ways, right? What a sorry world this might be if Paul had done just that. Browse through your Bible and see just how many books (actually letters) of the New Testament are written by Paul. He wrote 13 of the 27 books. For my fellow numbers geeks, that means that 48% of what God teaches us through the New Testament, He used Paul to do it.
You see, Paul understood that it wasn’t about him and his own fleshly weaknesses and struggles. It was about him being rooted in Jesus Christ and being nourished and sustained by the Holy Spirit like we talked about in the previous blog. He gave himself a break. Give yourself an occasional one too.
And lastly, how about our impatience with the Lord? Of course, we all like to spout the words, “not in my time, but in God’s time.” But really, do we mean it? When those who blatantly choose against God tend to find success and prosperity in life while Christian brothers and sisters just eek by, do we get fed up and impatient with God? Do we want Him to rain down judgment in fire and brimstone? We’re sure glad that He didn’t do that with us. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NASB)
Or what about that situation in your life that you’ve been praying about for what feels like FOREVER and it just doesn’t seem to get any better? Have you given up without even realizing it? Maybe consider that there is something in the journey of this situation that is for your good and God’s glory. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)
We have to begin to move beyond this way of thinking of our world. We don’t need instant gratification Christianity. “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. THEN you will receive ALL that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36 NLT emphasis mine)
How would you rather live? In the patient endurance and eventual harvest of a vineyard or in the instant speediness of a bag of microwave popcorn? Your choice.