Teacher puts students in small groups and each group is working on a different skill. They are with partners of all skill levels to allow for help, communication, and most of all growth. One student, working quickly to match definitions with words , gets very frustrated when the teacher passes by the group to check on their progress and points out some errors. The student pops up and says, "I want to go to another group....I want something easy!"
You can imagine my mind spinning......that will preach!!!!
I'm not the only one that recognized this to use as an example. Mark Batterson in his book The Circle Maker (Chpt. 8) writes of a study done between American and Japanese children in first grade. Each of the groups were given a difficult puzzle to solve. The researchers weren't interested in who could solve the puzzle but rather how long they would try before giving up. The American children lasted on average, 9.47 minutes and the Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes. This lead the researchers to conclude that the Japanese children weren't necessarily more intelligent but simply tried harder.
I can't help but think this is a common response of our human nature....to want something easy....to focus and have hope for 9.47 minutes. I'm certainly not one to throw stones because I naturally want to gravitate toward easy and comfy. That is until about two years ago....
We were at a ministers meeting and the Lord did what He does best.....SHAKE ME! In the most loving and gentle way of course. I was at war with myself. I knew what He had called me to do, I understood my gifts and talents, I recognized my role but the problem was.... I wanted easy.
I knew my calling to preach but I hesitated being side by side with Steve because I was overwhelmed in the preparation time it took, I made excuses with my lack of ability with technology, and lastly I didn't want to cripple Steve's teaching ministry. If I were to preach, it would need to compliment him and I wasn't confident I was up to the task. Then the Lord spoke very clear to me and asked for my obedience and promised He would take care of the "time"....since He created time in the first place. :) He also would be patient to teach me how to feel comfortable on the Mac computer but to keep my focus on the message and the anointing. He also gently reminded me that He called both Steve and I and that the ministry is not "performance based" but faith based.
That has revolutionized my preaching ministry. I honestly don't look for any praise or words of affirmation from anyone. I study, prepare, pray, deliver the message, and leave the rest in God's hands. I walk away from the pulpit and praise the Lord for the opportunity to be used by Him and ask Him to continue to grow me for His Kingdom. I'm not saying it's "easy" now but definitely more natural.
But if only ALL things would be as natural with obedience. I have an area that I long for the day to be "easy". It's the one thing that is at the top of a resume for all ministers wives..... being relational.
This is where I'm like the student in my class and ask the Lord, "Can you put me somewhere easy...you know where I don't have to make conversation with everyone?" "Lord, I'm just not good at it."
I can relate to Moses in Exodus 4 when he told the Lord "I'm not very good with words. I never have been, and I'm not now. I am slow of speech and tongue." AND the Lord has a reply as He always does, "Who made your mouth?"
Now don't get me wrong....if someone comes up to me and makes conversation....I can do it! And when I am having conversation with someone....I'm genuine. I really am invested in what they are saying. I care. But to go beyond that in a big group I literally tense up. Which is crazy because I can get up in front of a large crowd and preach my guts out but can't work a crowd. If people knew how difficult this was for me they would be shocked....but I push myself past "easy" and know that the Lord will patiently grow me and honor my obedience if my heart and attitude are in the right place. If I'm doing it grudgingly because I "have to"....it will be wasted efforts and painful to perform and even watch.
What are you demanding of the Lord to be "easy"?
Your prayer life?
Your weekly schedule?
Your spiritual growth?
Hard hearted people?
Your gifts and talents?
We need to stand on His promise in Hebrews 10:36
"Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised."
and Philippians 1:6
"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
You might not be able to relate to me and my difficulties but you have something. We all do. Are you running and hiding from something because it will require much of you? Are you putting something off? Are you focusing on the outcome rather than the present-tense of doing. Does it seem like too big of a sacrifice...not easy enough for you? Go ahead and challenge yourself to push past the 9.47 mark....to go beyond....way beyond. To not give in to "easy" but to strive for obedience and faithful endurance. Even though the scripture in Luke 21:19, when seen in context, is referring to persecution, I believe all scripture is applicable to our lives. " By your endurance you will gain your lives."
Our enemy, the devil, is using "easy" to stop us from being in God's will and being used in powerful ways.
Push against easy,