“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
This past Sunday we heard the parable of the 10 bridesmaids. 10 women. 5 of them listened. 5 of them did not. 5 of them prepared. 5 of them procrastinated. 5 of them acted in faith. 5 of them tried to ride on the coat-tails of the previous women’s faith.
I often hear people say their faith is ‘personal’. In some respects, they are correct. But all too often, the ‘personalness’ of faith means that faith is private, and something kept to the self. This my friends, is not faith. Faith is meant to be shared. Faith is meant to make a difference in the lives of others. Faith is to be put into action.
Faith may be personal, meaning it affects the heart, the soul, the individual believer. But faith is certainly not meant to remain personal (as in ownership). Faith is about trust. Faith is about risk. Faith is the giving of the self so that the whole may live and grow.
We do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s return. The question is, does your faith reflect this fact? It’s up to you.
“We do not boast beyond limits, that is, in the labors of others; but our hope is that, as your faith increases, our sphere of action among you may be greatly enlarged.”
2 Corinthians 10:15
As our faith increases, we find opportunity to serve others in ways we never thought possible. In all honesty, we serve God by serving others. Listening to the radio the other day I heard a pastor speak to the ability of a congregation to understand the message the pastor preached. Overall, the congregation felt they well understood the message preached each week. The sad news was the words spoken were simply heard and understood, not put into action. If we truly are making room for the Living God in our life, then we must do more than ‘understand’ the Word of God. We must put it into action. Faith isn’t really faith unless there is action attached to it. As you read God’s Word, find ways to share what you have learned with others. Allow the actions of your life to convince those around you that you truly do have faith in the Living God.
How Busy are You???
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much, and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course and won’t be taken from her.”
The story of Mary and Martha speaks to priorities. We are all busy. In fact, I often think we like to be busy because it makes us look important. The reality is this, the busier we are the time we commit to tasks at hand becomes shuffled, scattered, and often pointless. When we make a commitment it is our responsibility to follow through. It all goes back to Mary and Martha and priorities. There is only so much time in the day and if we overcommit ourselves each task will receive less attention than it deserves.
The overarching message of the story of Mary and Martha is “what is your priority?” Is the priority to stay so busy you can’t complete tasks; you take on tasks out of obligation and/or allow your efforts to be half-hearted and incomplete causing great resentment? If so, that’s not what God desires.
Look again, Mary sets the stage for us. She sits at Jesus’ feet to learn, grow, and become who God wants her to be. Martha on the other hand is so BUSY, she gets angry that Mary isn’t helping her with all her tasks.
When I worked at Mayo Clinic we often talked about triage. Triage the most important tasks and do them first. But, remember everything can’t be first priority. This means for us as God’s people reading and immersing ones self in God’s Word should be first priority. Just like Mary, it sets the stage for what is to come. It provides direction, encouragement, and a place to connect with our Living God. In addition, Jesus tells us it cannot be taken from us. God’s Word holds fast for eternity.
If you are too busy to read God’s Word, then you are too busy and it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. Not an easy task, but necessary all the same. Perhaps there is someone who can help carry the load. It is okay to ask for help. After all, that’s why God gave us each other. Pick up your Bible. Read something in it and allow God’s Word to fill you and reform you into what God desires. Learn from Mary and it will not be taken away from you!
“The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.”
Over the course of the past several months, my heart has been drawn to the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years! Yes, 40 YEARS!!! They were looking for the promise land. Something better than what they had, something yet to be seen or understood. But wander they did!
As our country and world have faced great difficulty these past 8 months, I often have the sense that we too are wandering. We wander as we seek something bigger or better than we currently are experiencing. As we wander, we continue to focus on what we had or what we dream of for the future, and in the process, we miss the present.
As the people of God, we must turn to God’s Holy Word (the Bible) and live our days in the midst of difficulty with gratitude for the past, hope for the future, and a connection to the present. Do not allow the difficulties you encounter each day turn you away from God. When we turn away from God we wander, often aimlessly. When we wander, we forget to be thankful and become so focused on our own wants, needs, and desires that we neglect God’s desire for our life.
Last week our Bishop of the NWOS spoke with our Ohio Governor. We’ve been asked to; not grow weary, stay true to God’s command, and continue to live by the protocols put in place to keep as many people safe as possible. This is a hefty task, but if we truly believe that God is present in the here and now then we must respond by acting like God’s people of faith.
Now more than ever we must stand firm on God’s Holy Word marching directly to where God desires. Stand strong People of God and share the story of God’s goodness in word and deed.