I am finishing up a book that is speaking to Gen X’s and the Millennials’ indecisiveness and immaturity. The author builds on the premise that the variety and vastness of options that are laid out before us only hinder our productivity and usefulness. He suggests that Christian Millennials are so concerned about fulfillment in life, making a difference and being confident about God’s will that they are paralyzed from ever doing anything. They are so afraid of making a wrong decision, so uninterested in growing up and so independent that they ironically never do anything, in spite of the boundary-less world in which we live.
Yes, it is true that the average age for marriage is being pushed back, that people are taking longer to earn advanced degrees and this consequently builds more independence in the younger generations. And while I despise the normalcy our culture has adapted for the extended adolescent stage, I think there are still two types of people in our culture: those who work hard and those who do not. The author concludes that we do not need to have God reveal the future to us before we take action. “Just do something” he says, once you have examined the scriptures to be sure that your decision and endeavor is morally and ethically upstanding, and ultimately God honoring.
However some of us, like me, are doers. We like to be busy. Give me a project or the freedom to build my own project, and I will dream, work, suffer sleep and complete the project to the best of my ability. “Perfectionist” is the term my friends like to use. My parents always encouraged my sisters and I to be hard workers. Get it done, and do it well. And thus, the advice to “just do something” is lost on people like me. That comes naturally. What does not come naturally is waiting on the Lord:
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
– Is 40.31
In light of this tension of admonition to the culture in general to serve God, and my personal disposition (including my desire to be serving more actively than I am) I have been reflecting on this unique command of Jesus:
“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'”
– Acts 1.4-5
The occurrence of Pentecost was a game changer. The disciples had spent three years with Jesus, following Him daily, listening to His teaching and watching Him preform miracles. Jesus had sent them out into the villages to proclaim His coming, giving them power to cast out demons and to perform miracles themselves. But they were not yet transformed in having the presence of the Spirit within them. Peter, the night that Jesus was crucified, denied to a servant girl the fact that he had ever been with Jesus – swearing to it even. And that only hours after saying to Jesus:
“Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away. Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.’”
– Matt 26.33-35
Have you ever done something so foolish?
Less than two months later, with the power of the Holy Spirit now within Him, Peter preached to the entire city of Jerusalem, taught in the temple, was consequently arrested and stood up before the entire Sanhedrin (religious court) and proclaimed Jesus – even when forbidden to do so. He was undoubtedly transformed and given the Spirit of boldness.
Jesus gave the great commission just before he ascended to Heaven:
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
– Matt 28.18-20
But then, after He gave this command, He told them to wait. Stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Helper, wait for the appropriate time to go out and fulfill the Great Commission.
My freshman year of High School, I was able to spend most of the summer in Croatia, volunteering and helping Bosnian refugees who were fleeing the war. At that point, a vague interest that I had to live overseas was firmly rooted and established in my heart. I then spent three more years of High School, four years of college and three years of graduate school preparing for that dream. For ten years I thought, “I just want to go!” But, it was not God’s timing. There was necessary training, essential maturation and basic life experiences that needed to happen first. “Stay in Jerusalem (Indiana)” was my command, until the appropriate time.
Now, that does not mean that I squandered my time while waiting. There is always opportunity to serve God. And we must live each day purposefully asking God, “How can I honor you today?” and “What do you have for me to do today?”
There are times that we need to wait on the Lord. It is by waiting on Him that we gain new strength. It is by waiting on Him that we are blessed and given the strength to run without growing weary, and to walk without fainting. There are times that life will be unfathomably difficult, and waiting on the Lord will give us the strength to put on foot in front of the other, without fainting. If we try to work or serve in our own strength, we will get burned out. We will not honor God, and we will fail. We must wait on the Lord, for His leadership, guidance and for the Spirit to be the one working through us.
There are also times when we need a swift kick in the pants to action. Are you involved in your local church? Are you serving Christ’s body? Are you tithing? Are you seeking for how to honor God today? Or are you paralyzed by fear of making the wrong decision or failure? God’s will is our sanctification (1 Thess 4.3). God’s will is that we exemplify the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22-23). God’s will is that we make disciples of every nation (Matt 28.18-20). God’s will is that we store up treasures in Heaven and not on Earth (Matt 6.19-20). God’s will is that we love Him with all of our hearts, souls and minds and that we love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22.38-39). The ways to do all of those things are countless. So let’s do it: in our big plans and in the mundane.
“Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe…”