To be fair, she wasn’t saying ‘not now’, she was saying ‘I give up, maybe I’ll try in the future but probably not.’
I understood, honestly (even though she said none of us do). See the thing is that I’ve lived long enough to know that life is pretty pants. Think about it, the past was better in so many ways and the future will be absolutely perfect… won’t it?
When I was small, I couldn’t wait to be bigger so that I could do some of the things that my brother was allowed to do. When I got to school, I was told to wait until I was older to do many of the things that I wanted to do so I thought to myself it will be different when I get to highschool.
In highschool, I was told the same: later, when you are older maybe. And I began to believe it.
When I’m sixteen I’ll be treated like an adult and I’ll be able to do more and serve God better.
When I finish my Standard Grades, and can finally pick the subjects I’m interested in…
When I finally finish my Highers and can leave school…
When I’m eighteen I’ll be a legal adult and can do more…
When I finish my degree I’ll be able to/be able to get around to…
You know the routine. We’ve all been through it a thousand times before. Always the next thing will be better, there will be more or better opportunities than the cold, hard, pants reality of now.
I began to wake up from this way of thinking at sixteen. It was a combination of events beginning with a moment frozen in time to be treasured as my dear little friend smiled and raised a hand in farewell, an image I clung to my chest as the earth echoed on her coffin lid two days later. There were no more laters left after only nine years of hopeful tomorrows.
We all do it. We all say ‘later, later, later’ but we are steadily running out of laters. It is only an excuse not to do anything now while there is still time. God never once called anyone to serve later. He called them in that moment.
Here’s what J.O. Fraser had to say about it:
The plain truth is that Scriptures never teach us to wait for opportunities of service, but to serve in just the things that lie next to our hands… The Lord bids us work, watch and pray; Satan suggest, wait until a good opportunity for working watching and praying presents itself – and needless to say, this opportunity is always in the future…
Since the things that lie in out immediate path have been ordered of God, who shall say that one kind of work is more important and sacred than another? I believe it is no more necessary to be faithful (one says it reverently) in preaching the Gospel than in washing up dishes in the scullery…
It is not for us, in any case, to choose our work. And if God has chosen it for us, hadn’t we better go straight ahead and do it, without waiting for anything greater, better or ‘nobler’?
The truth is, we’re all hopeless wanderers, always wanting the next thing, always hoping that sometime, somewhere along the way things will get better. But when we get there they never are. So we tell ourselves later. Again.
Well, I’m calling you (and myself) out on this one. This is not a godly attitude and we both know it.
So today, as this young woman bewailed the fact that the door keeps closing on her and she’ll just have to wait even longer, I asked her a very important question. See, the thing is that she’s desperate to go and work in this incredible far off land with these amazing people and it’s going to be the best thing ever and she wants it so bad… and it just reminds me of a girl some years ago, who also had this lesson to learn. I asked her the question a wise man once asked me:
If you can’t serve where you are now, you’ll never be equipped to serve elsewhere. So what are you doing to serve God here, in your local church?
Sadly, this drew a blank with her, as I suspected it might, but I hope and pray that she, like my sixteen year old self, is struck by it and takes it to heart. This question has proved invaluable to my own growth. It’s like my mother once said to me;
Sometimes we do have to wait, Spuggy, but the question is then, what is God teaching you in the waiting?
Wise woman that she is. Goals are good. Have goals. But periods of waiting should never be a time for idleness. If God wanted you to be at the point you think you want to be at, then you would already be there, but for now you’re not. And that’s how it is. Don’t use waiting as an excuse not to do anything.
He has called you to the now and laid the task and the tools close by your hands. Stop daydreaming about a future that will never be as perfect as you picture it and find delight in the work at hand and the God who has trusted it to you.
Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way that until I learn to love the skies I’m under, I am not ready to be anywhere else. Take time to appreciate the importance of now. Nothing ever gets done tomorrow because tomorrow never comes.
Deep down, we all know this to be true. Even if we’re in a ‘season of waiting’ to use a sickly Christianese cliché, waiting doesn’t mean that there is nothing else to do in the meantime. There is never a shortage of work in God’s kingdom. It’s not done till Christ gets back. That’s when we get our rest, not here moping about waiting for our bright tomorrows (which turn out not so bright the moment they turn into todays).
Whether you are waiting, procrastinating, scared, or just plain lazy; get up, get out, go serve. God hasn’t called you to tomorrow and he’s certainly not calling you to a thousand wasted yesterdays. He’s calling you now. And he’s calling you to serve.
Turn your hand to the plough. Delight in the work God gives you. Learn to love the skies he has put you under. You’ll be amazed and humbled to see how he glorifies himself in the faithful obedience of his people.
Don’t wait and see; work, watch, and pray and as God is glorified in this, may you come to understand the extraordinary power of Now.