By Steven Lambert, ThD, DMin
I had only been Born Again about six months in 1976 when I surrendered my life to the Lord, and was “saved,” as we say, when I learned what turned out to be a profound lesson directly from the Lord. At that time, I was still in the process of learning the “lingo” or lexicon of the particular ecclesiastical stream I had become a part of, having only three years previously separated from the U.S. Army, which had been my “world” for four years during the Vietnam Era, during which time I advanced some twenty years in terms of “life experience” that included a lexicon that was…well…let’s say quite different from that of the ecclesiastical realm.
In those first few years of my new life in Christ, in my zeal to serve God (I’ve always been one to go at everything I do “tooth and nail” as they say), I was the driver of literally the very first car to arrive in the parking lot of the church I was attending every Sunday morning (though I had to drive about 40 minutes to get there). I would arrive at 6:00 AM – PROMPT! – then sit in my car for 30 minutes or more complaining to my wife about these lazy custodians who slept in so late instead of getting there to unlock the church doors. The first service started at 8:00 AM. Okay, I guess I was a little overly zealous, but if you had any inkling of what I had been redeemed from, and how out-of-my-mind thrilled I was to have had my slate wiped clean, and given a “second chance” in life, you would have some basis for understanding where I was coming from. Okay?
Once they opened the church doors I would hustle into the choir room to sign in, get the choir music sheets for the day, don my choir robe, and claim my seat on the front row of the choir rehearsal room. Then, I’d mentally read over the music, do some weird-sounding voice warm up drills, and wait…for the rest of the choir members to file in (always denouncing them in my mind for being so lazy and apathetic to be sashaying in so late—everyone was to be seated by 7:15 AM), and then wait some more…then wait some more…for the doggone choir director to take his good ole time in finally showing up! Then, I would sing in the choir for three morning services, go get some lunch with my wife, and return to the parking lot around 4:00 PM, take a nap in my car, and wait for the custodians to reopen the church doors for the evening service that started at 7:00 PM. At that time, the church had about 5,000 people attending the four services each Sunday.
This one Sunday morning, a guest preacher was speaking. At some point in his message, he said something that especially reverberated in my “hearer,” that, at that point, I had never heard before – one of those sayings I was talking about that I now know is a rather common “church saying” – something along the lines of “running out ahead of God.” I knew what he was talking about, we’ve all had similar thoughts at one time or another about if we’re thinking about doing something out ahead of the timing of God. Nevertheless, something about his words struck me in my spirit as being not quite right about that notion. But, I just chalked it up to that I was still very young in the Lord, and the preacher was trained and more experienced in “the things of God” than I was, and thus knew better than me.
But, something kept troubling me about that expression all afternoon. This particular Sunday, after lunch we drove home to rest before returning for the evening service. As I was laying down to take a nap, I was still thinking about the message, and I asked the Lord, “Lord, what about what that preacher said, is that right, and something I have to be concerned about?” His immediate response…before I could finish the question…was: “God is LIGHT!” Those three words were all He said.
I didn’t immediately know what that meant, so even though I was young in the Lord, I had already learned that the Holy Spirit was our spiritual guide and read what Jesus said concerning Him, “He will guide you into all Truth!” So, I simply asked the Holy Spirit what that meant that God had said, and His response was to ask ME a question: “How fast does light travel?”
Of course, the answer is 186,000 miles per second! Faster than the human eye can process and perceive. I got it! I’ve never worried about “getting out ahead of God” since.
A few days after that, I was praying, and seemingly out of the clear blue, the Lord said to me, “I’m the fastest ever checker player.” I thought a minute and could only come up with this brilliant response, “Huh?” He graciously and mercifully responded, “In the eons of eternity, which Man cannot comprehend, all My ‘moves’ are already made, and they were made at the speed of light in the natural realm in which you live, too fast for you to “see” or perceive them. So the fact is, as far as you can see and perceive, it’s always YOUR move. You don’t ever need to worry about moving ahead of Me!”
In the 43+ years since, I’ve observed that a lot of people are so paralyzed with the prospect of “moving ahead of God” that they end up never making any moves, or a lot fewer than the Lord is leading them to make.
Personally I’ve come to understand that with God, by the time we get to the “place,” or moment in time, that we are thinking about making a decision about something, or “making a move,” in some regard, God was already “there” eons ago, and has always known in the timelessness of eternity that we would arrive there when we do, and has already provided the answer or counsel He wants us to discover through prayer, intimacy, and faith in and dependency on Him when we finally get “there!”
While we certainly want to guard against the disastrous mistake of preempting patience to take matters into our own hands with respect to the major God-assigned purposes of our lives as did Abraham and thereby produce Ishmaels instead of Isaacs, in the post-resurrection era in which we live we have the fruit of the Holy Spirit of supernatural patience to help us with that, if only we will “walk by the Spirit” and thereby “not carry out the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16-25). Our common problem is not so much getting ahead of God, but rather usually lagging far behind His purposes and plans for our lives.
I hope this simple anecdote helps someone in their journey to avoid “the paralysis of analysis” and apply the proven and failsafe principle that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
Originally written by Dr. Steven Lambert, Thursday, May 2, 2013, and published in other online publications and columns.
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