March 8, 2006 ē By Ed Wrather
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. - 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
Elke den Ouden has written a thesis at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. In a study, she found that one-half of all products that were returned because of not working actually do work. The problem is that the customer did not know how to operate the product. There is a constant flow of new electronic devices and gadgets being brought into the marketplace from MP3 players to thin screen televisions. It was found that the average person who purchases one of these in the United States would only try for 20 minutes to make it work before they give up. However, even some of the managers of one electronics company when asked to operate their own products were frustrated in trying to make them work properly.
I, for one, understand the frustration since I am an owner of a MP3 player that I have never been able to operate. I, however, have tried not just for 20 minutes but for several hours to make it work. There is another simpler to operate device called a sledgehammer that I am thinking I may try on my MP3 player. Maybe it will relieve some of my frustration.
We live in an age of instant gratification. We have microwaves for quickly zapping our food. We have televisions with remotes to provide immediate access to entertainment, news and weather. If the television channels do not provide the information we want quickly enough we can use our computers through the Internet to find whatever we want. If it is too cold, we adjust the thermostat. If it is too hot, we adjust the thermostat. Immediate gratification is what we get and what we expect, and the list goes on and on.
This age of instant gratification has invaded our faith. There have even been drive through church services and communion offered by some. We pray and we want the answer right then, not tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. However, we cannot speed up the will of God. We attend church a few times and we instantly want all of our problems to disappear but it does not work that way.
God does not work like an electronic device even when you can operate the device. God has His own timing and His own plans for our lives and often that timing and those plans do not mesh with ours. From the time, that I first heard clearly Godís call for me to preach His Word to the time that I actually began to do so took some eleven years. During those eleven years, I knew what God wanted but there were barriers preventing it from being brought about. I realize now it was a matter of Godís timing and His preparing, training me, for what was to come.
The apostle Paul says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Paul is not talking about an instant faith. The Christian life is a continuing process, which requires our faithfulness, and steadfastness. The Christian life does not happen and will not happen just by attending a 60-minute church service once a week. The Christian life is not an electronic device. It is a labor of love that never ends.