An often asked question.
King David asked it many times, in many different situations. "How long, O Lord?" punctuated his Psalms. Each was an expression of the human tendency to wonder about time, to somehow make sense of the timepieces that make so much noise yet move ever so slowly. Interestingly, his prayers about time reflected three spiritual needs intersecting his life at several critical moments. Throughout the Psalms he asked, "How long, O Lord?" in frustration over his need for patience, endurance, and perseverance. More evidence, at least for me, of a special kinship between King David and the rest of us mortals.
Let me take some license here. The man in the mirror told me this morning they
were present needs in his life too. He and I debated them for a few minutes so
we could come to some basic understanding about what they really mean, these
three time related weights that most of us lug around much of the time. For simplicity
sake, and praying for resonance with the meanings in Scripture, we defined them
as follows, using one word for each---
In the Psalms King David often asked "How long, O Lord?" when he was waiting for God to intervene in his life; when he was seeking to withstand under trial, temptation, or opposition; or, when he was tempted to shift course in a significant way and discontinue his current path. Throughout the Psalms they seemed to be pleas for patience, endurance, and perseverance.
Consider Psalm 13, for example. Here all three traits are occasioned in one prayer.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
Psalm 13:1-4, ESV
What a relief! The human best remembered as the man after God's own heart (see 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22) was also deficient in these spiritual virtues too. That's when the man in the mirror lowered the boom on me. He reminded me that I live under the New Covenant and have been given everything I need for life and Godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3). He told me, in no uncertain terms, that God had made provision for my deficiencies in patience, endurance, and perseverance. Verily and alas, there's no excuse for my personal whining about waiting, withstanding, and continuing. God has graciously and generously given me, and all believers for that matter, a way to activate these cherished traits in my personal experience.
All the men in the mirror could debate the spiritual landscape of contemporary culture and the traits lacking in our mission to make disciples of all nations. We'd surely be at odds in compiling such a list, wrestling with the hundreds of excuses we deal with on a daily basis. Few of us, however, could overlook such important character issues as patience, endurance, and perseverance in our final summation. The time element complicates our lives at many levels. Even now, entering the final weeks of summer 2019 we're scrambling to make good use of our time before the regularity of fall steals our last moments of refreshment.
So, that will be the stuff of finishperiod.com this week. Let's explore them from the Psalms and other Scriptures so that we can perhaps find the stuff to make our case when the man in the mirror questions us about the times of our lives. Even more, perhaps our contemplation this week will help us fulfill the Apostle Paul's teaching to the Ephesians. He wrote, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5: 15-16, ESV).
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