It appears to me that immediate action is often delayed by future ambition. We dream of doing something important or great at any time other than today. We live our physical lives in the present, but our minds dwell on the future. We are chasing something that we never seem to catch. This can play out in so many areas of life, but can also easily sneak into the Christian experience.
We struggle with sins in our lives, but assure ourselves that one day in the future we will be set free from these things. Perhaps we have unresolved broken relationships that we want restored, but we put off making that important phone call hoping that one day soon things will be different. We wish to share more freely the gospel with people around, while feeling insecure and silently hoping that in the future we will posses confidence and boldness. In essence we are hoping for a better version of ourselves in the future. Somehow we think God loves the future version of us better than the present one and so we limit His presence in our lives till we have “sorted things out”.
Perhaps you are in a “sorting things out” phase of your life, silently hoping 2015 will be the year of change. You are not alone. There are many of us, and the question we all face is: What are you waiting for? More time, better resources, less annoying circumstances, the right people around you, a different place to live?… The list could go on and on. We often wait for our circumstances to change so we can change. Surely that can help, but ultimately the Scriptures invite us to believe in Christ who despite of circumstances can bring change into our lives. It happens so easily that we limit Him.
“Again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalm 78:41)
This was spoken of the Hebrews as they wandered through the wilderness. Do you remember the story? God had used Moses to deliver them from bondage and was ready to lead them into Canaan, the Promised Land. But as they came to the borders of Canaan they were not sure if God could do what He had promised. They sent twelve spies into the land to check things out. They came back and ten of the spies gave a bad report saying:
“We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” (Numbers 13:31)
They further reported that giants lived in Canaan and that there was no way they could conquer this land. Only two of the spies had a different opinion. Joshua and Caleb spoke confidently to the people:
“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)
Two conflicting messages are presented to the people. They decide to go for the majority vote, which by the way is not always the best thing to do. They limited the power of the Holy One in their midst. Perhaps they reasoned that one day they would posses the land, but not now – not while they were weak and few facing many giants. Perhaps they thought they needed some time to “sort things out”. Sadly they got this time, and it was longer then anyone had expected. The Hebrews spent another forty years in the wilderness till that entire generation passed away. Whatever future ambition they had died with them in the wilderness. They failed to capture the moment God wanted to impart a victory to them.
I believe that our generation is standing on the borders of another promised land, the heavenly Canaan. Signs around us tell us emphatically that Jesus is soon returning. But first some giants need to be fought. We all have giants in our lives – the sin that so easily creeps into our lives and seeks to ruin us. Jesus made it plain 2000 years ago that before He comes the second time the entire world will witness the power of the gospel. (Matthew 24:14) He wants this power to be seen in our lives as a witness that He lives. Though our future ambitions often fail, Jesus had a future ambition that will not fail. And this is the exciting part – it’s now and it’s us! Instead of pursuing a future version of ourselves we can allow Jesus to fulfill His promise in us today. He wants to give us victory today.
The apostle Paul reminds us that we are in a similar situation as the Hebrews were:
“Therefore as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness…Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God…Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:7,12,15)
I think unbelief is the sin of our generation. We limit the Holy One again and again as we relegate His power either to the distant past or far future. All the while Jesus is in our midst wanting to unleash His Spirit upon us.
John chapter 11 records Jesus performing one of His most amazing miracles. He has come to the tomb of Lazarus, His friend, who had died four days before. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, meets him and says that she believes that if Jesus had come earlier her brother would not have died. (v. 21) She also expresses that she believes that her brother will rise again in the resurrection on the last day. (v. 24) She cherished a beautiful future hope, yet in this instance Jesus was about to do something right there and then.
Jesus asks for the stone covering the tomb to be rolled away. Martha protests. Obviously she had a hard time believing Jesus could raise her brother that day. The shortest verse in the Scriptures appears in this story. We simply read: “Jesus wept.” (v. 35) Jesus did not weep because of Lazarus, as He knew He was about to raise him up. He wept because of the unbelief of the people.
I can only imagine that our generation of Christians often cause Him to weep. All the while Jesus is seeking for the person who believes. The stone was rolled away and Lazarus rose that day. How about today? Is there something that needs to be resurrected in your life? Perhaps a victory God promised you, a vision He gave you, a place He called you to, or a work He entrusted you. Somehow future ambition drowned the present action of claiming by faith the power of God in your life. You stopped asking, contending, and believing, because it never happened. The victory and vision died, and it seems like a big stone has been rolled in front of it. But Jesus says to you and me today: Take away the stone!
Don’t wait until another season of your life. Tomorrow is not yours, and you will never own it. You only have today, because when tomorrow comes it is no longer tomorrow but today. So why wait? Jesus can speak life into the most hopeless situation. His Word has creative power. What are you waiting for? Let Jesus speak into the darkest places of your life – today!