Are You Moving Faster Or Backwards?


May, 2000

Dear Ministry Friend,

How fast do you want it? We live in a society that has gone wild over how fast things can be:

  •  faster cars in the fast lane,
  •  faster computers with faster Internet speed,
  •  fast jets to get you places faster,
  •  fast food from a faster drive-through lane,
  •  faster cooking in a microwave,
  •  faster pizza delivery (some drivers have killed people trying to get the pizza there faster),
  •  faster weight loss after eating the fast food,
  •  faster money from get-rich-quick schemes,
  •  fast credit so we can get things faster than the Joneses (but then they refinanced!),
  •  and a fast-paced life in general.

Everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere, do something, be somebody, and experience what they want. This is very dangerous — and not just from natural safety issues. Being in a hurry — wanting everything fast — greatly increases the temptation to sin in some way. There are always "short-cuts" and "compromises" that the devil offers people in any area of life. If a person is willing to sin, there will always be an opportunity to sin. If a person can be "bought" at any price, he or she usually will be.

The issue is "immediate gratification" versus "delayed gratification." People's natural tendency is to "want it now." This has led to immense levels of crime and immorality in our nation. I read recently that the percentage of children currently born outside of marriage is between 25% to 33% (depending on the demographic group). "Why wait?" is the prevailing thought among American teenagers. They simply want the benefits of marriage faster.

But what is the "fruit" of this fast-paced mentality? In addition to the obvious problems and visible damages, there are the less obvious issues like stress, frustration, anger, tension, and disappointment that comes from not moving toward goals or getting things as fast as people imagine they want to. This results in much higher rates of depression, mental illness, and health problems than people would otherwise experience. People have artificially-induced emptiness and dissatisfaction because others have achieved certain kinds of things faster, bigger, better, etc.

So what does the Bible say in these areas? Some pertinent scriptures to give us wisdom include the following. On competing with others: "We dare not... compare ourselves... But they... comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (2nd Cor. 10:12-14). "But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends." (2nd Cor. 10:17-18). "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being." (1st Cor. 10:23-24). On waiting for the Lord: "Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause." (Psa. 25:3). "Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield." (Psa. 33:20). "I wait for the LORD... and in His word I do hope." (Psa. 130:5). "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him." (Isa. 64:4). "Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!" (Psa. 27:14). "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass." (Psa. 37:7). "For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth." (Psa. 37:9). "Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it." (Psa. 37:34). "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him." (Psa. 62:5). "For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him." (Isa. 30:18). "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." (Isa 40:31). On having patience: "The ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience." (Luke 8:15). "By your patience possess your souls." (Luke 21:19). "But you, O man of God, ...pursue... patience." (1st Tim. 6:11). "Men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in... patience." (Titus 2:2). "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Heb. 6:12). "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:4).

God is seldom in a hurry. It is true that we should not be lazy or procrastinate, and there are windows of opportunity when we must act. But the Israelites were deceived into a bad covenant with the Gibeonites because they were in a hurry (Joshua 9:3-17). The Israelites even wanted to go back to Egypt before that, all because it was taking longer to get to their "promised land" than they had expected.

Television, movies, and other producers of fiction have generated a false and unreal image of what life is supposed to be like. (You can write a script to get everything imaginable in 10 minutes!) But that is psychosis — not being in touch with reality. The facts are that life is often full of difficult, unexciting responsibilities and challenges. But if a person perseveres in these, he or she becomes a hero and a highly influential human being. We really don't respect those who just get a lot in life — we respect those who have given a lot of themselves (those who have had to overcome).

I know three different sons of various famous, successful, wealthy people. Nobody talks much about those sons because they did relatively nothing to earn the level of success they enjoy. But for a contrast, consider Mother Teresa, Corrie ten Boom, Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, or anyone else who overcame difficult circumstances with nothing but patience and God. Society gives them great humanitarian awards and establishes monuments to their lives!

Whatever you are facing in life, don't give up. With God's help, you can overcome. You have within you God-given ability to draw strength and help from Heaven. You can get creative ideas and supernatural assistance from the Lord. And speaking of Abraham Lincoln, I read this true story from his life recently (via Hope Ministries of Grand Rapids, Michigan): "On the front porch of his little country store in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln and Berry, his partner, stood. Business was all gone, and Berry asked, "How much longer can we keep this going?" Lincoln answered, "It looks as if our business has just about winked out." Then he continued, "You know, I wouldn't mind so much if I could just do what I want to do. I want to study law. I wouldn't mind so much if we could sell everything we've got and pay all our bills and have just enough left over to buy one book — Blackstone's Commentary on English Law — but I guess I can't."

A strange-looking wagon was coming up the road. The driver angled it up close to the store porch, then looked at Lincoln and said, "I'm trying to move my family out west, and I'm out of money. I've got a good barrel here that I could sell for fifty cents." Lincoln's eyes went along the wagon and came to the wife looking at him pleadingly, face thin and emaciated. Lincoln ran his hand into his pocket and took out, according to him "the last fifty cents I had" and said, "I reckon I could use a good barrel."

All day long the barrel sat on the porch of that store. Berry kept chiding Lincoln about it. Late in the evening, Lincoln walked out and looked down into the barrel. He saw something in the bottom of it, papers that he hadn't noticed before. His long arms went down into the barrel and, as he fumbled around, he hit something solid. He pulled out a book and stood petrified: it was Blackstone's Commentary on English Law. Lincoln later wrote, "I stood there holding the book and looking up toward the heavens. There came a deep impression on me that God had something for me to do and He was showing me now that I had to get ready for it. Why this miracle otherwise?" (And like they say, the rest is history.)

Reaching Upward,

Dale Leander


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