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Restless, Waiting, Willing (article)

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Article 47 of 47 from the Ponder This - 2004 series

November 2004 – RESTLESS, WAITING, WILLING by Ray Pritchard At our recent Pastors’ Retreat, Howard Duncan shared something the Lord had put on his heart overnight. He said that as pastors, we are called to ask, “What is God doing and how can we join him in his work?” That’s different from asking, “How can we get God to bless what we are doing?” He pointed out that lately we’ve been talking about this phrase” - “It’s all about God.” How should that apply as we think about the church””where are we today and where does God want to lead us in the future? Three things should characterize our attitude: Restless but not upset, Waiting but not hopeless, Willing but not proud. Restlessness can be a good sign that God is at work. Puritan author Jeremy Burroughs, writing 350 years ago, described the Christian as, “the most contented man in the world, and yet the most unsatisfied man in the world.” On this Thanksgiving weekend, we have reasons to be both deeply contented and profoundly unsatisfied. When we think of what God has done for us, we have grounds for great contentment. When we see how messed up the world is, and how far short we fall of being all that God wants us to be, we should feel unsatisfied with the present state of things. Those two things””contentment and dissatisfaction””are not opposites. In the life of faith, they always go together. A healthy dose of restlessness can be good for the soul. Things could be better than they are, and we all have plenty of room for more spiritual growth. Restlessness is definitely better than complacency, which is deadly because it leads us to think we are doing better than we are. But too much restlessness can make us upset, causing us to lose our bearings and then we become hasty and try to force things. Waiting is one of the hardest spiritual virtues because it forces us to acknowledge the First Rule of the Spiritual Life: He’s God and We’re Not. But waiting is not the same thing as giving up. Waiting means believing that God is present in every situation even when he seems to be absent. We wait because we believe God operates on his own timetable. He’s never early, he’s never late, he’s always right on time. We wait because our hope is in the Lord. Willing means being ready to do what God calls us to do. The great danger is thinking that our willingness equals God’s readiness. Pride is utterly destructive to God’s work. As a friend told me once, “Do you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.” It is good for us to meet and pray and make our plans, but in the end, it is the Lord who will direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9). Being restless and waiting and willing is a good place to be, not just for pastors, but for all of us.

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