Waiting on God

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He cut off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly soon emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man expected that the wings would enlarge and expand to support the body, which would contract in time, but neither happened. Instead the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never flew. In his kindness and haste the man didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon was God’s way of forcing fluid from the butterfly’s body into its wings, so that it could fly once free from the cocoon.

Sometimes our struggles are exactly what we need. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong and we could never fly! With our flesh we fight life’s struggles. We are impatient during the learning curves. We fail to understand that our obstacles are the very thing that allows us to soar. Jesus said, “If you reign with me you will suffer with me”. The context of this verse has to do with becoming a true disciple. That means suffering, by way of life’s struggles, is necessary to be called a legitimate disciple of Jesus Christ.

I like to refer to our daily struggles as God’s way of bringing a little brokenness. Sometimes that means a sense of “momentarily being out of control.” Being out of control gives us a feeling of having no place to turn but God. That’s exactly where God wants us to be – acting on our faith and trust in Him. Besides, even if the struggle and discomfort is a direct attack from the enemy, God always means it for good.

Joseph had the proper perspective when he explained to his brothers, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.” So next time you get in a jam – don’t try to exit from the cocoon too soon, more struggle may be necessary. Wait on God’s natural timing so you can fly.

“Consider it all joy, my brother, when you encounter various trials, know that the testing’s of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Running The Race

Hebrews 12:1-2

In Hebrews 12 the writer gives a sports analogy to convey the importance of keeping our eyes on Jesus. Reading through this passage reminded me of how contemporary the Scriptures are on today’s issues and problems. Believers everywhere are filled with anxiety, fear, doubt, unforgiveness and a multitude of other spiritual and emotional maladies that keep us from “fixing our eyes on Jesus”. There are several key elements of this passage that we need to heed in order to keep our eyes fixed on the goal.

1. “A great cloud of witnesses” – We are not alone in the race. The Greek word “great” is nephele which indicates an earth encompassing cloud. The context suggests that these witnesses are the heroes of the faith mentioned in chapter 11. We are in this race not only with other believers here on earth, but also the saints of heaven are cheering us on. Even though we may feel alone, we are never alone in the race.

2. “Let us lay aside every weight” – A runner never allows things to weigh them down. Every piece of clothing down to the weight of the shoe plays a vital role in running the race. Sometimes the things that weigh us down are not sinful things but the things that are not best for us. Often good things must be laid down in order for the best to be used in the race.

3. “Let us run with patience the race…” – The word race is the Greek word agon in which we get our English word agony. The emphasis is a long distance race. I remember running my first timed mile in junior high school. Agony would perfectly describe the experience. In the spiritual race the pace is set by God and the goal is not heaven. Heaven is settled by faith in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. The goal is pleasing God by obedience. Along the way agony appears in the form of trials, disappointments and temptations. This race is not a 100 yard dash but a marathon.

4. “Looking unto Jesus” – This is an intent gaze upon Jesus. It’s keeping our eyes fixed on Him during the race, irrespective of the position of the rest of the runners. The race is not about how fast we finish because the pace is set by our Heavenly Father. Rather the race is based on how faithful we are at keeping our focus on Jesus along the way. Each one of us has a race to run and our focus is not to be on how our brother or sister runs the race. That’s the reason the scripture admonishes us to not compare ourselves with others.

1. If you want to be disappointed look to others
2. If you want to be discouraged focus on yourself.
3. If you want to be delighted focus on Jesus.

Since God knows from the foundation of the world who will become his child, the events that determine our race and our pace may even begin before we become a believer. We see an example of this principle at work in Nee Wheng-hsiu:

Famous missionary Watchmen Nee’s mother, Nee Wheng-hsiu, had plans to go to medical school in the USA. But at the last minute her mother arranged a marriage contract for her. The marriage was everything she feared about an arranged marriage- abuse and marriage to someone she didn’t love. Her sorrow drove her to Christ. After her conversion she approached her 17 year old son Watchman and confessed her sin of being too harsh in her discipline of him. Watchman was taken by surprise. This behavior was not only unusual but it was also uncommon in the Chinese culture. Because of his mother’s transformation Watchman Nee also gave his life to Christ. His impact on China is felt even today throughout China.

Like Nee Wheng-hsiu, our race may contain tragedy, disappointment and even regret, but it is our race, and it is orchestrated by God. Only as we keep our eyes fixed on Christ will we realize the reward of the peace of God in the midst of the race, and the eventual fulfillment of His will and purpose for our life.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Hebrews 12:1-2a (NASB)