Before you get too excited about the dirt I’m sharing, I hope that you first decide to forgive me. Here it is. Try to be understanding. I’ve carried this burden for the better part of my life. At times it has been overwhelming. I also realize that many of you have already screamed at the screen, “I wish he would just get it out!” Please realize how tough it is to admit a struggle. I think I’m ready.
I am not a patient man.
Wow. Did that feel good.
I have determined that my impatience is increased as the speed with which I live my life increases. I think I first realized it as I was stranded on a country back road behind an Amish buggy progression in front of me, and an oncoming combine approaching in the opposite lane. I had such an immediate onset of road rage that I thought I would bust my overused stress ball.
What made my mood worse was the internal dialogue, that I am fairly sure was actually between the devil and the Holy Spirit. I feel that there may have been a literal little devil on my one shoulder and a literal mini-angel on the other. The conversation between the two went like this.
“No. That’ll just pressure the combine and the family in the buggy.”
“Go now or you’ll be waiting here until harvest.”
“You are not really in a rush. Besides, the cute little kid in the back is waving.”
“She’s mocking you. She’s waving you ahead. Go now or else these 23 seconds will be lost forever!”
I have these conversations with myself all to often. I have them in the grocery store or at sports events. I have them when my foot gets caught in the foothole of my sweats. I have them when I am deciding if I need to put on socks or not. I have them when I am trying to decide whether I want another cup of coffee or not. I have them when I am waiting for any sort of response.
I started to think about the reasons for the extreme moods brought on by waiting. My problem is actually selfishness. I am not committed to considering your life as important as mine. No one needs to get anywhere as fast as me. Whatever I have in front of me is more important than whatever you are placing in front of me. That creates a Christianity that is self-serving at best, and at its worst anti-Christ. I fear we are, because of the demands of our hectic lifestyles, becoming less able to respond to the alerts of the Spirit. I know that people feel pressured to do the few things that are already in front of them. That is a cultural shift for American believers.
Church goers in the United States used to regard it as their role in the world to impact the world for Christ. Missions organizations popped up and the American church staffed, funded and prayed for them. We had a different ability to hear a new message about a new place. Now churches have to fund, staff and pray for their own thing, and although it may seem that I am criticizing the church, I am not. Churches in the United States have had to reach a busy and savvy people group. In some respects, the call to rescue a culture from prosperity is far more difficult that trying to rescue a culture from poverty. My point is instead to call for solutions to the increased need of missions organizations and the diminishing interest in ministry that I cannot see out of my front window.
I just took a call from a pastor friend in Ohio. He is in a small community like so many of the areas that Crossroads Farm works with. As I talked with him I was aware of a fairly profound truth. The hope in the struggle most often is provided by those outside the struggle. Rural ministry is difficult. It is also fighting an uphill battle. Rural communities are being asked to reach a religiously declining culture with less resource and frankly, low interest from those who can help. Rural communities are in desperate need of champions who will solve very solvable problems by funding very fundable solutions.
I know my own propensity to focus on the things that are immediately in front of me. I understand that my call is to change rural communities, one at a time, through the vehicle that is Crossroads Farm. I also know that the command to change the world rests on me. My challenge, and I believe the challenge for the American believer is a different type of discipline. I believe that the call to us is one to slow down, bend an attentive ear to the heart of God in each personal encounter we have. When he speaks, and only when he speaks should I do.
1 Kings 19:12 says this about our fire-branded lifestyles.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Sometimes, Amish buggies are a pause to a hurried life going every direction at the same time. It is possible to move straight and to move more slowly. I missed my chance to pass anyway.