It’s Going to Take Some Time

I remember when the internet first came to the Higgins home.  We were all so excited to think the world would be available at our fingertips.  We would be able to get information and learn about anything that interested us.  We could not wait for this new opportunity to explore and grow.  This happened for us in the mid 90’s.

I still remember sitting down at the computer – after Donna or Kris showed me how to turn it on – and hearing that awful sound as connection was being made.  And, oh, that spinning circle – that thing drove me crazy!  It seemed to take forever before anything could be done, and I have to tell you, I lost interest pretty quickly!  It did not take me long until I realized everything I needed to know was in a book somewhere – I would leave this innovative technology to others.

I must admit I have come around to a greater appreciation of the internet these days but I still get frustrated when I hit a glitch or the speed is not up to par.  I do not like to wait.  If I want it, I would like to have it now.  Patience may be a virtue but there is still quite a bit of room for growth in this area of my life!  I get the feeling almost every day I am not alone in this!

Unfortunately, this desire for quick and convenient has reached into most areas of our personal world.    The most important things to most of us are the clock and the next thing on our schedule.  It is getting harder and harder to enjoy the journey because our focus is too often only on the destination.  Our rush and insistence on the instant are causing us to miss so much.

I would like to think this problem has not invaded the church and affected us spiritually, but it has.  Old fashioned ideas of tarrying and waiting on the Lord are rarely discussed.  Process is a bad word.  Discipleship is a word used but not understood.   We know the things of God are important but they have a lot of competition in our lives.  Prayer, worship, and the Word – all important – but they must fit into our schedule.  This is the sad commentary of our day.

Something must change!  We all know this is true, however, we spend more time pontificating about the problem than we do trying to change it.  It is as though we have accepted the current situation as the new norm and simply say, “it is what it is.”  But, if I understand properly, one role of the church is to confront culture not comply with it.  We are to be different, set the bar high and demonstrate to the world a better way.  Blending is not our goal but reflecting Jesus and leading people to Him is.

While I am not trying to create a Pollyanna world, I think revisiting some things in our past may be helpful.  Not everything from yesterday needs to be discarded.  By searching through the archives of the past we may discover some direction that will lead us to a healthier and happier place.  Pulling up some memories and drawing from some experiences may be just what is needed for these times.

When I think about my formative years as a believer, one thing stands out that I am convinced made a huge difference in my development – the altar.  The altar was more than a piece of furniture in our church; it was the place where people connected with God.  If you could find those altars that were in the Norman OK, Classen Boulevard Church of God in the late 70’s, I’m sure you could find some tear stains left there by a searching college student who just wanted to find God’s will for his life.  It was here I poured out my heart to God and had encounters with Him that continue to impact my life today.  Those experiences changed me, shaped me, and set me on a path to my destiny.

In our church, we always had times of personal ministry where people would come forward to be anointed with oil and prayed for.  But we seemed to understand the difference between personal ministry where people came seeking a blessing and altar time where we humbled ourselves before God and experienced genuine intimacy with Him.  The blessings were needed but our time with the Father around the altar was life changing.

It was at the altar where I learned the importance of tarrying before the Lord.  The word tarry means to linger in expectation or to wait.  You cannot rush tarrying.  You cannot predict how long you will need to tarry.  Tarrying requires a willingness to wait until…until you pray through – until the burden is lifted – until you are certain the answer is on the way.  Tarrying is going to take some time.

It was while we tarried before the Lord that revelation came; development and growth took place and genuine spiritual depth was gained.  It was while we tarried our flesh was crucified and a true life in the Spirit became possible.  It was while we tarried conviction came to the house and people were drawn to the Lord.  It required great discipline, but the results were absolutely worth it.

I realize changing times effect the way ministry is done today.  Whereas we have learned to do some things better and great progress has been made on many fronts, there is still the realization a revival in our church and an awakening in our world is needed.  We do thank God for our blessings and celebrate our many victories…but deep in our hearts we know more is needed.  We cannot deny the fact many churches are in decline and many pastors are frustrated.  We certainly cannot deny the fact our world is in trouble and shows no sign of improving. 

The great challenge will be to cast off expectations that have been placed upon us and look steadfastly to the Lord for direction.  Our decisions cannot be driven by numbers.  A weekend revival will not be enough.  A new sermon series may produce some fruit, but it will probably not bring in the harvest. Do not be shocked when business as usual generates only the usual business.  There has to be more!

More…that is what we need.  More…that is God’s plan.   More…it can happen where you live and serve.  It can, but…it calls for a God encounter.  This will always happen at the altar when you wait…when you tarry.  You want it suddenly but suddenly is usually preceded by waiting.  This may not be what you want to hear but the old adage, “good things come to those who wait” is true!  God has a good plan for your life and ministry but – get ready – it is going to take some time. 

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

2 thoughts on “It’s Going to Take Some Time

  1. Bishop, great Word! Learning to tarry is one of the most difficult of disciplines to learn to do… not because of intelligence, although understanding its importance will help in this endeavor, but rather, because of the flesh… thank you for sharing

    Like

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