OK – I admit it – this is a rant – but maybe you feel the same way.
The Microwave, one of the greatest inventions of the past 100 years, enabling you to pop your popcorn quicker, cook your frozen veggies faster, and for the mischevious one out there – “accidentally” blow things up in your own kitchen (not that I have any experience with that at all).
It struck me this week, however, just how much the mircrowave has destroyed us as a people. Because we can cook our meals faster, we expect everything else to come faster too. Do you get impatient while waiting in the line or drive through of a fast food chain? (Which is ironic – shouldn’t we prefer something that is cooked just for us, taking a little more time, rather than something prepared hours before hand, waiting in a warmer tray, ready in 30 seconds or less?)
We have Dish on Demand, where you can instantly watch a movie at your convenience. We have wireless internet that downloads at rates fatster than the eye can process. We have credit/debit cards, where (at least in the commercials) you never have to wait for the computer to process your payment; and those who write a check or pay in cash are bumbling, backwater, baffoons who just get in the way of progress. We have miracle pills that will help you shed pounds instantly without ever exercising or dieting (sounds tempting, right?).
Just this morning I had two emails from someplace like Zimbabwe, offering to make me instantly wealthy if I’d just let them have access to my checking account. Then I open another email telling me how I can see instant growth in my church by using their new curriculem or theme-based sermon series. Somehow, getting those emails at the same time seemed a little ironic.
Isn’t this really the heart of most of our problems today? We want prosperity, health, success, happiness; but we want it now – without the sacrifice, work, and patience that these things take. We expect things instantly, and if it doesn’t come easy, doesn’t come quick, is it really worth the effort. I find myself taking shortcuts and compromising the integrity of my work simply because I want things to come together faster.
I have found that all things worthwhile take a while to be worthy. Financial independance, as Dave Ramsey teaches, comes from the crock pot, not the microwave. Diets and pills don’t work – eat less and exercise more – that’s the only real way to lose weight and stay in shape. Likewise, spiritual growth and maturity takes time, it comes with many sufferings, setbacks, and dissapointments. Through these things God weans us from the material trappings of the world and builds within us a greater desire and yearning for His presence and sustaining grace. Healthy churches today are seen as those who are expereincing numerical growth right now, but I am reminded of the parable of the sower, when Jesus said, “some seed fell upon the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away because it had no moisture.” For the seed to grow, bear fruit, and multiply, it must have a strong root system, and it takes time for the roots to grow deep and strong.
There are no real shortcuts in life. You can have easy, cheap, and fast, but you sacrifice quality, value, and perseverance. When Christi and I were first married, all we could afford was the pressed-wood furniture – which was functional, but didn’t last more than a couple of years. Now, we have made the decision that any furniture we buy will be “real wood,” with lasting quality and beauty.
Maybe we should all make that decision for our spiritual journey. No more shortcuts. No more quick fixes. If we are to be a people of the Word – then we have to buckle down and really study God’s word together. If we are to call ourselves disciples of Christ, then we have to purposefully discipline ourselves and take up our crosses to follow after him. If we are going to reach our community for Christ, we can’t wait for someone to come and do it for us, we have to go out and start sharing our story.
I can’t remember where I first heard it – but if you notice in the gospels, Jesus was never in a hurry. He never ran. He was always walking. Our God is a patient, long-suffering God, who works things out in His time, not ours. Perhaps we should be as well.