A Time Investment

One of the major improvements in modern life is in the area of meal preparation.  It was not that many years ago that a woman would have to rise before light to begin making breakfast for the family.  Then, after all were fed and off to work or school, she immediately began cooking the noon meal.  This same cycle was repeated for the evening meal as well.  This lifestyle was immortalized in the 60s song, “Ode to Billie Joe,” in which the mother said, “I’ve been cooking all morning and you haven’t touched a single bite.”

In the modern world in which we live, many food items, including entire meals, come in pre-cooked, individual portions that may be warmed in an oven or a microwave in mere minutes.  No one claims that all our frozen, freeze-dried, microwave-it-back-to-life food products are as tasty or as healthy as the things our grandmothers used to cook, but we all enjoy the convenience of having a meal in the relative blink of an eye.

Microwave technology has spoiled us.  Now we are not content to wait for anything in life.  We want instant gratification, whatever it is we’re seeking.  We are no longer willing to commit any more than mere moments in a given period of time to the pursuit of anything we desire.  For many aspects of life, this kind of mentality is simply frustrating to the one who is waiting, and annoying to the one trying to fulfill a request.  In spiritual matters, this kind of mentality can be crippling to one’s development.

A story is told about N.B. Hardeman, who was one of the most gifted preachers of the early 20th century.  As he visited a man’s farm, the farmer rattled off statistic after statistic about his enterprise.  Brother Hardemen remarked that if he (Hardeman) had that kind of memory, he would memorize the entire New Testament.  The farmer responded that he couldn’t remember the Bible because his memory failed him.  Brother Hardeman later lamented that such a statement was not the result of a failed memory, but of failing desire.  If that farmer had been as interested in the Bible as he was in farming, he would have known much more about God’s book.

This is the challenge for each of us today.  Preachers often receive compliments on the way in which they expound the scriptures or on their knowledge of biblical things, as though these attributes were a gift laid upon them through no effort of their own.  While it is true that some are more gifted at teaching and public speaking then others, the fact remains that one who becomes proficient in the scriptures acquired that proficiency only through long hours of study and practice.

Jesus took nearly three years to prepare the apostles to preach and teach the gospel.  Paul, after his conversion, went away for about three years (Gal. 1:15-18) before coming back to begin his ministry.  We presume he was learning from the Lord during this time, for he says that he received the gospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11, 12).  He also spent two years teaching the brethren in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9, 10).

The point of this discussion is that proficiency in the scriptures requires a time investment by each one of us.  This is why Paul exhorted us to be diligent with God’s word so we know how to properly handle it (2 Tim. 2:15).  It is why he told us to teach faithful men who will be able to teach others (2 Tim. 2:2).  It is why each of us must make the time to give attention to God’s word on a regular basis and in a systematic fashion.  Our faith will only grow to maturity in a crock-pot environment.  There is no such things as microwave faith.

Where Was God?

Whenever a natural disaster strikes, some people cannot help but question God because of it.  They speak of the even as “an act of God,” which makes it appear that He was responsible for it happening.  Even if they do not overtly blame God for the disaster, they impugn His name by making such a reference to it.  To call a tornado or an earthquake an act of God places Him in the company of the Gods of mythology, who often toyed with mankind by means of such events.  Our Father in heaven does not do such things.

Some, of course, are more open about their feelings.  Skeptics use such events to question why a loving God would allow such things to happen.  They do this to purposely discredit God because they do not believe in Him.  Sometimes, even believers question God by asking where He was when their loved ones were being hurt or killed, or their possessions were being destroyed.  All such questions besmirch the good name of our Father in heaven and reveal an ignorance of God’s character and the nature of the world in which we live.

According to the scriptures, God made the world and everything in it to be the perfect place for mankind to live in preparation for eternity.  In Gen. 1:31 the scripture says, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”   There were no natural disasters in that world; no pain, suffering or death.  All of this changed, however, when Adam and Eve sinned.  As a result of their sin, God cursed the world and caused the ground to bring forth weeds of all kinds (Gen. 3:18, 19).  Work became toil, and death became every person’s destiny.  In the days of Noah, God further cursed the world by altering the climatic conditions that had prevailed since the beginning.  The description of the flood shows the upheaval that overtook the earth to cleanse it of the wickedness that then pervaded it.  After the flood, the world became subject to the extremes of weather to which we are now accustomed.  Wind, rain, snow, hail, heat, and drought became the norm (Gen. 8:22).

When natural disasters strike, they do so because this is the nature of the world in which we live.  When bad things happen to good people, these, too, are simply the nature of the world in which we live.  In Lk. 13:1-5 the Lord spoke of such events when He commented on some Galileans who were killed by Pilate and the eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them.  He did not blame His Father, nor did He question His Father’s character because of these events.  Instead, the Lord called on people to repent because life is fragile and may be taken from them at a moment’s notice.  The Lord wanted us to understand that our eternal destiny is far more important than what happens to us in life.

The great patriarch Job suffered more losses of the type that people use to question God than any other person in scripture.  He lost his possessions at the hands of wicked people who ruthlessly attacked his holdings, and he lost his loved ones in a natural disaster that could have been a tornado (Job 1:18, 19).  His response to this calamity was to mourn his losses and to worship God (Job 1:20).  He gave glory to God and the scripture says of him, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”  We should be like Job in this respect.

We sing a song that says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.  My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.”  While we mourn for those who suffer loss, and offer them help and comfort, let us also glorify God who sent His Son to afford us entrance to His unshakable kingdom where God will wipe every tear from our eyes.