Two things about me that you might have figured out:
Firstly, I’m naturally a bit of a “do-er”. If I see something that needs done my instinct is to try and get it done there and then. No need to wait about, just get it done! My years as an investment analyst also taught me to consider productivity a lot and success being measured on what has been tangibly achieved over the past 12 months. Although this can be a strength often it can sometimes be an obstacle that needs to be overcome or laid aside. Secondly, I’m sometimes not the most patient person in the world (just ask Rachel!). My patience is tested to the limit when I’m driving the car and find it ironic, if not painfully convicting, that one second I can be singing (you know that kinda singing when you’re on your own in the car and you try and hit all the high notes) along to a worship song and the next second grumbling about the slowness of the driver in front of me.
The morning I began to write this blog I read from Psalm 31 and the last verse read, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait upon the Lord.” To wait upon the Lord is a place I long to be able to get to far more often but find my “inner do-er” and lack of patience sometimes get in the way reaching that place. But this is something that I really need to dig into and a place I NEED to find.
Towards the end of 2017 I found myself struggling a bit. I was tired, lacking energy and enthusiasm at times, lacking some spiritual disciplines in my life and found that I was drawing on my own strength for things I should only be doing through the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling some of these things.
I long to be a follower of Jesus that is constantly becoming more and more Christ like, always drawing upon the Holy Spirit for strength and wisdom, always feeling that abundant life that is ours through Jesus Christ and to be a disciple that produces fruit for His glory and for the building of His Kingdom. But I continually need to be reminded that it is done not through me “doing” but in my “being”.
As I’ve considered what “waiting upon the Lord” is for me and the extreme importance of it, three things came to mind that I’ve been thinking about over the past few weeks and months.
Last June Alan Donaldson, the General Director of the Baptist Union of Scotland, spoke on John 15 and it has been a message that has stuck with me ever since. Jesus is so clear that if we desire to be a people that produce fruit then abiding in Him is of utmost importance. Verse 4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” How often I’ve sadly seen myself choose what I think is the most productive thing to do (my desire to “do” and lack of patience shining through here!) when what I should be doing is leaning into Jesus, spending time with Him, waiting on Him, dwelling with Him, looking to him for guidance, strength and wisdom. I think I need re-wire my brain to know what is most productive and knowing that the Holy Spirit, if I’m open to allowing Him, can use me in a more powerful way in His strength than I ever could in my own.
As I’ve considered what abiding means I think God has given us some good examples of what this looks like and if we continually wrestle with what they look like for us, then “waiting for God” can become a reality to us.
Martin spoke on Sabbath rest a couple of years ago and I’d certainly encourage you to have a listen again to it. Sabbath is important for a number of reasons:
- It reminds us that we’re not God! Isaiah 40 says that He is the everlasting God who does not grow weary or tired. We do! We need rest! Get it!
- There is blessing in the rest. When we stop, remove the distractions of life and spend time with Jesus, when we rest in His presence then abundant life can flow from this.
- It reminds us of our need for Jesus and our vulnerability. Sabbath rest gives us space to realise how flawed and weak we are and how strong and mighty God is and to glory in miraculous work of Jesus on the cross. In these times we can speak of our desperate need for Him and surrender afresh to God.
Do your weekly, monthly and annual routines allow time for this? I know life is busy, Sundays are busy, we all have many things to juggle but this is important! Where are you building this into your schedule? How can we support one another to allow someone a time of resting in God?
Well, it’s fair to say this this is something that is not very evident in my life, although I have “dabbled”! I plan to speak on Fasting on February 11th so will share much more then. As I’ve dug into this I’ve seen how fasting is a great way of making space in our lives to focus on and wait on God. It’s a declaration of “God, I want you more than anything there is in this life and I need you more than anything or anyone!” Fasting is not primarily the giving up of something but it is, if we do it well, the opportunity to feast on God, to draw deeply on His presence, enjoy His goodness, to gaze upon His beauty and declare our trust in Him. Dallas Willard says, “Fasting is, indeed, feasting. When we have learned well to fast, we will not suffer from it. It will bring strength and joy.”
You’ll hear more on this soon but waiting on the Lord and feasting on the Lord sound similar to me and it sounds like God has created fasting so that we will create space for Him to continue the work of transformation in us, to guide us and ultimately give us another opportunity to give Him the glory.
So what now?
I love the support that I receive from the other elders, the whole church and my family and am thankful that they have enabled me able to spend a few days in February with Soul Survivor at their Naturally Supernatural conference. I am very excited about this time out. To be there with no distractions, no agendas, nothing to organise, no one else to look after (this is beginning to sound quite selfish!) but only to focus on God and to be with Him. I hope that much of what I’ve described above will happen in those few days.
I’m looking at my regular weekly schedules to examine whether they are being spent the right way. I’m looking at the overall calendar to assess where there are spaces where I can have more intentional, longer time spent waiting on God. I need to sit down and do this with Rachel as well and see where I can release her to spend time with God.
What will you do?
Scott MacDonald, February 2018