"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." - Romans 12:11 (NIV)
This is the second time in a week that the Lord has given me this verse in my devotional, but for a different reason. Last time was to remind me to reorder my priorities, making sure God was first in my life. This time it's to make sure that I understand that there are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going to or to anything worth doing. That's what I love about the Bible. It truly is God's Living Word. The same verse can have so many meanings and can lead me in so many different directions. Just depends on what I'm needing at the time.
We live in a world that wants everything NOW! No one wants to wait. Our cars are made to go faster and faster, we microwave our food to make it cook quickly, we try to fast track our way to a better job, we get grumpy if we have to wait in line for anything, get rich quick schemes abound. NOW...NOW...NOW!! Yet, the best things in life...a happy marriage, strong faith, a healthy body, well-behaved children, a great job...all take time and work. There is no shortcut to any of these things. Hunter S. Thompson said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right." When there is something we really, truly want to do or attain, we'll work hard and long at getting it done. We don't lose our excitement and enthusiasm for it. We think about it all the time. We wonder what comes next, what's the next step we need to take. We do what this verse says without even realizing it!
There's a catchphrase that gets repeated in our family every now and then. "I want to eat, and I want to eat NOW!" I started that phrase but not intentionally. We were going out to eat dinner with our best friends on a Friday night. Living in a big city, there are always long wait times at restaurants on Friday and Saturday nights. At the time, I was working several different jobs - medical billing, bookkeeping, taxes - and I didn't take the time to eat properly. That day wasn't an exception. I had barely eaten anything all day. Didn't have or take the time. So, needless to say, I was starving. For some reason, I can't remember why, we were in separate vehicles. We had gone to three or four different restaurants only to be told there were waits of anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. We finally pulled into an empty parking lot and were talking about where we should go. By this time I was very, very hungry and crabby and my response was that I didn't care where we went as long as we didn't have to wait because....and then the catchphrase. I tell you this story to point out that, because of the choices I had made earlier in the day, I now wanted a shortcut. I had lost my excitement about spending time with friends. I hadn't put in the work needed earlier in the day (taking the time to eat) to enjoy the evening.
I catch myself doing that with God's plan for my life. I want to know my full purpose. I want God to reveal to me where this path I'm walking is going to lead me. I don't want to wait. I get tired and I want to quit. I want a shortcut. I want it NOW! But He wants me to put time and effort into Him! Into serving Him, loving Him, learning more about Him. And then sharing Him with others. We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7 NIV) and sowing takes hard work. No shortcuts!! When we reap, though, we get to see the richness and abundance of God's blessings. I can wait for that!
"You can't climb the ladder of life with your hands in your pockets." - Barbara Johnson
Awesome God, keep me excited for You and the work You have set before me. Help me to sow Your seeds everywhere I go. Let me be diligent in my work for You and patiently wait to reap the rewards You have for me. In Jesus' name, Amen.