Response Time Matters

miami_package_feelthehealdetoxGod’s family is certainly not exempt from hurt, including the hurts that come from within. People in churches are just as vulnerable to unjustly criticize, gossip, neglect, and offend one another as anyone else. It’s true that God sets us apart to reflect his image to the world, but to believe Christ-followers are perfect representations of Jesus will, to say the least, lead to disappointment. What (should) set Christ-followers apart from the world is how they deal with one another to heal the hurt. Will they do the hard work it takes to unite or will they further divide into quarreling, backbiting, judgmental factions? Which will you choose? This is the first post in Healing the Hurt, a 10-post series to help hurting communities cope in biblical ways.

Response time matters in emergencies. It also matters in non-emergencies, because the time it takes you to get through a grocery line, wait in traffic, or fix a meal impacts other plans and responsibilities you have. Sometimes a fast response is essential. Sometimes, to give or expect an immediate response is premature, invasive, and inconvenient.

It’s important to invite God to determine the best response time when you’re dealing with issues among your church family. Let God tell you when and how to respond instead of your default comfort settings becoming the driving force. You might prefer to let things simmer for a while and see what the impact will be before addressing the issue, but carefully listen to God’s promptings. He might agree with you, but it’s also possible that he knows if you approach a particular person right away, the behind-the-scenes whispers will be quieted and the eventual roar will be eliminated with the early action. On the other hand, you might prefer to jump in and solve issues right away, and while that might be the best option at times, God will also encourage you to wait at times, because he knows approaching the hot fire will cause the flames to burn higher and hotter, making it more visible and dangerous for those otherwise unaffected.

Responding isn’t about your preference or comfort. God knows what’s best. Responding in his time is what matters, because he knows everyone involved, including yourself, much better than you do. Response time matters because people matter. Response time matters because your relationship with God matters.

Listen to Jesus’ instructions to his disciples—and us—about responding to others. Be sensitive to his leading and trust him. God knows best.

If the people in a certain place refuse to welcome you or listen to you, leave that place. Shake its dust off your feet as a warning to them. (Mark 6:11)

But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.  Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy. (Luke 6:27, 36)

Prayer Flares

“Hey, God, I need some help here!”

“Please, God, if you do this, I promise…”

“I can’t do this on my own. Help me get all this done!”

God wants to hear from us no matter what is going on in our lives, but we need to pay attention to the patterns of communication we set. We lead such busy lives that we don’t always think we have the time we need to foster the prayer lives we truly want. But we reach out to God when we’re overwhelmed and desperate. We need His help to accomplish and manage all that we’ve scheduled and determined, especially when anything extra tries to squeeze its way in as an interruption.

Often, we send up prayer flares–calls for help–but we want help in accomplishing what we want, not paying attention much to what God wants for and from us. We send up prayer flares not to change our pace but to maintain it. It’s more about our pace and priorities than God’s.

Prayer flares aren’t bad. But God doesn’t just want us calling out to Him in emergency situations, especially when we’re not really asking Him to rescue and provide for us in His way. We want Him to meet us where we are but we’re not as willing to go where He then wants to take us. We want His assistance in living our lives instead of wanting to live the lives He purposes for us.