When was the last time you were in the store, maybe a department, grocery or convenience store, and thought you’d pick the shortest line so you would have the shortest wait? If you’re like me, you often find yourself wishing you had picked a different line. It seems that whenever we have someplace to go or something to do, and even if we don’t, we tend stand and wait while the person ahead of us counts exact change, has to write out a check, or goes through a couple of different credit cards, all to pay for the three items that you guessed would get him or her through the checkout line in a hurry.
Today I found myself in one of those situations. Just before I started stewing, God reminded me of a truth that I often speak about in ministry and Christian living.
We were at the dollar store and I was in the only checkout line that was open. I was already a bit annoyed because my wife suddenly decided she needed to “step away” and I ended up having to pay for everything. Normally, no big deal. But she waited until another lady walked up to what was the empty checkout line. The cashier came over and rang up the items. As I waited, I could tell that this lady was going to take a while.
She bent into her cart and slowly pulled out what looked like a bowling ball case. In this part of Canada they have a totally different kind of bowling than I know. I’m a fan of what they call “big ball”
bowling. If you don’t know what other sort of bowling there might be, than you’re picturing the right thing. I knew she wouldn’t be paying for her items with a giant ball, so I figured out it was her purse. Right around that time I realized that she didn’t lift the purse out at that pace because it was heavy, that was just her speed.
Over what seemed the next five minutes, she dug out her wallet and paid exact change for her purchase. (Of course she did!) After taking her receipt, she neatly packed it in her wallet, returned that to her purse, zipped it up, grabbed her bag, and walked away. Even the cashier had to look busy while the customer gathered everything, trying not to look at me or appear impatient.
By that point I had already processed the reminder God deposited in my spirit. I just continued on like it was the normal sort of experience to have in a checkout line (even though for me it kind of is).
You might be wondering, “So, what was that reminder from God?” About five seconds into realizing that I was going to be in for a delay, I tried to figure out why I was so busy. Sure, I had somewhere to get to, but I had a few minutes of leeway. I didn’t need to blow right through in a huge hurry. Why did I feel such urgency? It was only a bunch of stuff from the dollar store. Then I thought of the picture that was unfolding before me.
There are many in the Church today that are content to continue at a pace that is convenient for them. They aren’t really headed anywhere important, in their church life, personal ministry or general walk with Christ. At church services they pick up their cart and fill it with the usual items. Music, readings from Scripture, preaching, hellos and goodbyes. Afterwards they check out and continue on to their next destination.
What about what Watchman Nee calls “The Normal Christian Life”? Did they notice that they had a chance to interact with the only living God in that time? Do they know they can relate with Him every moment of every day? What about the people around them; did they take notice of them? Don’t they realize that those people are the family that God is trying to knit them into? And what about those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
It is my firm conviction that time is so short in this world, and yet we have no sense of urgency about the things that matter. We rush to work in the morning, usually to a job we don’t like and wish we could get away from. We race home in the evening, looking forward to supper and what is coming on prime time television. We hurry, we rush, we scurry and zig-zag through the appointments and cares of life. When was the last time you approached the things of God with the same energy?
We need a sense of urgency in the Church. To seek after Christ with longing, desire, hunger and thirst, searching for His increase and to flesh out God’s Kingdom here on this earth. To grab hold of the passions and gifts God has deposited in our hearts and lives to meet needs within and within the church. To understand that there are relationships that sit in front of us, crying out to be cultivated, so that we might become the true Body of Christ. To hear broken and empty hearts around us, lost in despair and hopelessness, trying to find life and meaning in a fallen world, and offer them life abundant and everlasting.
When Jesus walked down the road and heard the cries of the sick and broken, did He pass them by? No. Scripture often tells us that He stopped and turned toward those who needed Him. We need a revelation of the heartbeat of Heaven. Maybe then we will be committed to reaching after the greatness God has before us. Not title or position or wealth, but serving as the link between a man or woman and almighty God.
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Want to reflect on these thoughts? Ask, consider, and discuss these questions:
- What things, occasions or relationships do I rush toward?
- Why are they important to me?
- What is my initial reaction to hearing about church, spiritual disciplines or ministry?
- What role do they play in my life?
- What do I think God is anxious about? What would He rush towards?
- What place do those things have in my life?