HOW LONG, O LORD?

The title of this blog entry comes from the opening words of Psalm 13, a powerful, often overlooked Psalm that has a great deal to teach us about honest faith. Today, rather than open the whole Psalm, I just want to use these words as an introduction to another troubling aspect of knowing God’s will. While there have been some times in my life when I have very quickly and clearly seen God’s will, there have been many more times when I have struggled for what seems like an eternity before discovering God’s will.

I don’t like waiting. Even though I have spent a lot of time in the Kenyan culture where waiting is simply a part of the culture, I don’t like it. When I want answers, I want them now–or before that if possible. But there have been times when I have spend not just days and weeks but months and years seeking leading and guidance and not getting it.

This definitely causes problems in my spiritual life. Since I am prone to depression, that tends to be the end stage in many of my waiting periods. Before I reach the depression point, I go through frustration, anger, demanding, bargaining, despair and on and on. Sometimes, the cycle repeats itself many times.

So, you can imagine my increased frustration when someone tells me that God clearly gave them their answers to equally big questions before their prayer was finished. What you might not be able to imagine is my glee when their answer turns out to have been more from one of the other two influences rather than the Holy Spirit as is sometimes the case.

Part of the answer to the waiting period is that God works on “kairos” time rather than “chronos” time. These Greek words are important to helping understand the waiting process. “Chronos” is clock time, the scale we are comfortable with and which we want our answers to use. “Kairos” time is based on conditions and context and everything being right, which is the way God tends to work, including our prayers, petitions and demands. God’s answers come in God’s time, not ours.

Another part of the answer, as much as I dislike it, probably has to do with our need to learn patience before God. That may be just something that affects me alone but I doubt it. Most of us would be better off learning some patience–just remember how it feels to be well back in a long, slow line to see the truth of that.

There are likely other factors as play as well, such as the answer may well have come early in the process but because it wasn’t what we expected or wanted, we can’t or won’t see it. But in the end, I think we need to deal with the fact that knowing God’s leading isn’t always an easy or quick process. It is likely going to take time as God works within us, overcoming the other two influences in our lives and dealing with our tendency to run ahead of God.

For me, this has translated into a suspicion of quick answers to my desire to know God’s leading. I have decided that I need to allow time for the process–and at times, it seems that God has decided that I need even more time than I would allow.

I began thinking about writing a blog early this year but wasn’t sure I was interested or if it was God’s will so put it aside. The idea came back a few weeks later and I was a bit more interested but put it aside again. Finally, I felt it was part of God’s leading and began writing. Now, it seems clear that I probably could have begun the first time I thought of it.

But there have been lots of times when the first thought has proven wrong. I have been contacted by many churches over the years and sometimes, my initial response was “Yes–this is it”. Fortunately, my commitment to allowing sufficient time made me wait and eventually discover that this wasn’t my calling.

Discovering God’s leading takes the amount of time it takes because it is on God’s time, not ours. We seek and pray and learn to wait, as well as learn to deal with ourselves in the process, which is probably another of the reasons it sometimes takes so long.

May the peace of God be with you.

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