Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Knowing Where the Grace Is and Where It Isn't

I'm becoming aware of a (good) pattern going on in my spiritual life.  I'm finding that there are times I need to act and times I don't.  I don't have to meet every need I encounter, I'm not really built to.  I'm not meant to evangelize to everyone, pray for everyone or serve everyone.  There is a time and a place for me to be, with a person to serve there, so that's where I need to pour in my effort.

It's kind of freeing really.

I've been made aware of this pattern because I am positioning myself to be more responsive to the Holy Spirit.  I'm not saying that to say, "Look at me!  I'm awesome!  I'm positioned to be used by God and you aren't!"  I'm just being real with you that God is doing some extraordinary things right now and it is only because I'm bending down low enough to move out of His way.

One of our Christian culturalisms is that we have to serve EVERYONE who crosses our path.  We feel compelled to pray for EVERYONE, or at least those we encounter on a regular basis.  We have to do something for everyone in our life, because that is what God expects.  I'm here to argue the point, that is definitely NOT what He expects. 

Much of what we do in God's name is because we are trying to show God how much we love Him, or we are trying to show everyone else we are good Christians.  Jesus doesn't ask us to prove our love to Him or anyone else.  He tells us to REST in His love because otherwise we do a lot of things in our own strength; exhausted and ineffective, to say the least.

Through some very wise counsel and watching someone else do this the right way, I see my efforts to "share the Gospel" in every single situation wasn't bearing much (if any) fruit.  Some people stubbornly just did not respond to it.  I mean, how dare they!  I'm trying to lead them to the Good Life and they are repulsed by me!  I ended up making things worse by trying so hard.  Maddening really - because aren't I supposed to be "great commissioning" everyone?

No, no I'm not.

Some people's crosses are not mine to bear.  They are meant for others and I'm just standing in the way.  We have to be available, yes, but that other person has to be willing to receive what we are offering.  It's taken TEN YEARS for this light bulb to go off in my head, but I'm not letting that get me down.

When I confessed what I was doing or trying to do was not God's assignment for me, He put a grace on that situation.  It's incredible, I confessed and He still blessed what He didn't have for me.  I don't think I should do that all the time, but when I stopped trying so hard to love, love stopped being so hard.

Sophia is encountering a similar situation, God bless her.  She has such a heart for the kids in her class.  It hurts her that some just can't stay out of trouble.  She wants to share Jesus with them and has asked me repeatedly what she should do to help them.  Before this epiphany of going where God's grace is, I would have told her what to do.

We talked and prayed about it last night and again this morning.  She has such a need to do, it is so hard for her to wait on God's timing.  (Amen to that.)  There are some situations I just want to smack people upside the back of the head and say, "Don't you get it!  God loves you!!"

Yah, that's not agape, Ames.

I told her about what I'd been learning: when there is no grace, when there is no "God Assignment" for you, don't go.  For you, friend, I'll sum it up this way.  If the person is not all of the following things, let it alone:

1. Receptive to what you have to say;
2. Faithful to pay attention and;
3. Available to you.

Jesus sums it up in Matthew 7:6 when He says,

Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. (NLT)

I told her if she tries to "help" them learn about God's way when they aren't ready or interested, she is just going to be wasting her breath.  If you think about it, it's true.  Unless God has prepared the soil, and we are ready to throw out the seed of His word (by being right with Him) the seeds are going to fall on rocky ground or get snatched away.  In both cases, no harvest is going to come.  (Come to think of it, Jesus said that too, in Matthew 13).

Maybe you've gotten frustrated with a particular "ministry" situation in your life.  It could be time to step back and evaluate whether God's grace is on it.  Maybe it isn't your "job" to minister to this person.  Maybe you are trying to force it or do what you think you should.  Or maybe you need to ask Him if He wants you to go in a particular direction before you rush headlong into something He hasn't prepared for you.

The Lord makes His path clear to those who seek it.  When you ask Him where He wants you to go, He will show you if you are listening/watching/paying attention.  When you see someone ready, go for it!!  But wait until they are.  Most importantly, keep focused on your relationship with Him and you will never fail to eventually do the work He has planned for you.

If you are interested in a little more Bible Study on this concept, check out the following verses:
  • Proverbs 9:8
  • Proverbs 23:9
  • Proverbs 26:4
  • Matthew 7:5 (be right with God first before pursuing anyone else)
  • Matthew 10:13-14
  • Matthew 18:5
  • Mark 6:11
  • Luke 9:5, 48
  • Luke 10:10-11
  • Acts 13:51
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:8

No comments: