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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Give me some space and time, here!

Do you ever overlook the obvious - believing instead there must be something more to what you are seeing or hearing?  I guess this is human nature - we see or hear one thing, then immediately jump to the conclusion there must be some other meaning - either because we don't think things can be THAT simple, or we believe others just could not MEAN what they are doing / saying.  I think this is some defense mechanism on our part - protecting us from some things we just don't want to deal with right now, or attempting to believe the best about another just because we don't want to think it possible they could behave that way.  In some respects, this is what we do with God at times - we overlook the obvious.  He spends time revealing himself to us in  a particular manner, then we try to analyze what he is doing so much we overlook the extremely "obvious" in his actions!  The problem is - we NEED the obvious to make the "obscure" clearer!

Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.  (2 Peter 3:8-9 MSG)

The "obvious" actually lends clarity and context to the "obscure".  Without the obvious, we don't have the foundation for the obscure.  I think this is why Jesus worked so hard for his disciples to see the obvious in his actions and those of others, but then took them one step further to see the obscure in these same actions.  A man was healed of his blindness (the obvious) - he was healed to reveal the Son of Man's power (the obscure).  A grain is a seed (the obvious) - it only accomplishes it purposes when it dies (the obscure).  A cross may be the means of death (the obvious) - but the same cross which brought death to one brought life to many (the obscure).  What the obvious lends in us seeing and understanding the obscure is important.

So, Peter says we need to be careful not to overlook the obvious as it applies to God's timing.  In context, he is dealing with those who were rising up saying Jesus was "late" in his returning to this earth.  Jesus had promised his return - where was he?  There intent was to discourage the believers - poking holes in their hopes and faith.  But...Peter points the believers to the obvious.  The delay is for a reason!  The obvious - the "lateness" in his return - is for a more obscure reason - he's giving everyone space and time to change!  Space and time to change - the obscure purpose in the waiting.

That said, let me just say how glad I am God gives us both space and time to change.  I know for myself, I have needed a lot of space.  When we ask someone to "give us space", we are really asking for both the flexibility and the freedom we need.  God is not a constraining force - he knows we all have a unique personality - he created us that way!  We each "work through" things in our own ways - so God gives us the "space" to get to the root of the matter in a way which fits with our unique personality.  Some of us need quiet time away from others - like a retreat to the woods.  Others of us need to get some good worship music cranking, centering us on him, and then we can get down to business with him.  Regardless of the "space" we need - he gives it to us with enough flexibility and freedom to discover what it is we need to do and how we need to respond.

To this he adds the time to change.  Not only does he give us the "space" (freedom and flexibility to recognize the change process is underway within us), but he gives us the time to change.  Not only does he give us the element of time, but he exercises the perfect timing in doing so.  We overlook the obvious - we need space and time!  He doesn't overlook this when he is after the obscure in us - the realness of our heart dedication.  

I don't know about you, but I have needed some time to work through things in my life.  After my divorce, I needed time to work through my bitterness.  I wanted to hold onto the hurt - he wanted to give me space to let go of what would only serve to hurt me further.  In the space "between", God was at work, revealing the bitterness which was there and then showing me how to release it to him.  This is only one example of how God uses both space and time in our lives.  In change, both are necessary.  None of us have a magic wand - immediately and completely transforming one character trait into another with a wave.  In fact, we all require this "space" and "time" thing.  So, if you are in the "space" between the old and the revelation of the new, don't lose heart.  God's allowing both the space and the time because he has that change clearly in his view - and he knows exactly how much space and time you will need.  Just sayin!