I don't get out as often as I used to. That means when I do get out, I try to soak in the splendor, like I did today. Sunshine. 73 degrees. My idea of perfection weather-wise.
As I was out and about today, my phone rang. It was my new webmaster, Keith. He was calling me to profusely apologize for a few snafus with our new website. But what impressed me was that in the middle of his weekend, while so many demands are made on his time to spend with his family, he took the time to call me, just to let me know his plan to fix what was wrong.
I was a bit stressed earlier in the day, but when I left the house with my wife to get out of the house for a bit, a sense of calm came over me. And it's amazing how I can see my own impatience and pettiness so clearly when I am reminded that everything in my life is in God's hands. Stress is a sin, in my mind, because it implies distrust in God.
Oh, I do not think it is a mortal sin, likely it would never be mentioned on judgment day...and that is because stress is it's own punishment. God doesn't need to punish me, I do plenty of that myself. I am confident that no matter what the situation, God must have a good laugh when I let stress tick me off, or make me whine and moan and groan about things which, at the end of the day, do not even merit a second thought.
Patience, my son. Whenever my dad would say that to me, I wanted to scream in my younger years. No young man wants to be told to wait. He wants what he wants when he wants it. And what I know is that today's generation of youngsters are even more spoiled to what we refer to as instant gratification on the world-wide-web(thanks Al Gore, you stupid SOB).
When I see young people being impatient, I chuckle myself. How much more must God do the same when His children moan, groan, whine and snivel about whatever it is they want RIGHT NOW.
Here is a life lesson to all: God is on the Throne. Everything is in His hands, and nothing evil can defeat God's will. I mustn't ever let my human pride delude my human mind into thinking that I know better than God what "needs to happen" in my own life.
Then I hear my dad's voice: "Patience, my son".
Don't just be patient because you are told to. Be patient because it is only then that God can truly reach you.
Vigilance to me means being meticulous in defending the causes I find to be most important and crucial in life. When your mind is in the right place, God can use you to reach others. My issues for which I am most vigilant? Stopping abortion, and defending Marriage as a godly institution, which no earthly court has the authority of jurisdiction to re-define.
Vigilance means a willingness to tolerate mockery, anger, hatred and personal attacks to stand fast in your conservative values. And those views MUST be your won. ou cannot be a proxy, or ask someone else to carry your vigilance quote. YOU have to sumbmit your own will to something bigger than yourself. Willingness to submit to God's will means you will volunteer to sustain all manner of abuse, to stand on principle.
If you shy away from making a stand, consider the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:16:
"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
It's really that simple. You need not be a theologian with doctorates and decorated raiments. Walking in obedience to God, and doing so with total devotion and trust, will make you an effective disciple. Anything less is lukewarmness.
Diligence is defined as "constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken;persistent exertion of body or mind."
Constant and earnest effort. Do not mistake this as fanaticism. Fanaticism can be irrational and without purpose. Diligence always pursues a specific, well-reasoned goal. And there is nothing more well-reasoned than God's will.
How can you be diligent and and be sure that what you are doing is going to advance that cause? First, you need to spend time praying to God for His guidance. The Holy Spirit will give you direction. Often this comes in the form of affirmation. Affirmation for me most often comes in the form of encouragement and well-timed correspondence from people I know, trust, and respect.
An example: I worked with two young men when I got my first management position in radio. Both of these young men worked under me and I tried to cultivate friendships and stay in touch after we went our separate ways. And thoug it was 30 years ago, I still hear from them from time to time. I have on occasion heard from them since I started The JJ McCartney Show, and they will say things like "keep up the good work".
As cliche as some might take that, I take it as much more, because of the source, and because of the nature of our relationships proven over decades. Both share my Christian faith, and both have given me affirmation that the path I am on is bearing fruit.
That gives me confidence to continue to walk in obedience to God, and to stay the course regardless of any challenges or personal attacks which I may attract due to my message and the conviction with which I stand for God's mission for my life.
Diligence also means honest effort regardless of who is watching. Everything must be about advancing the cause. No secondary agendas, no wavering, no equivocating.
Friends, as you grow older, know this: DO NOT BE LUKEWARM. Do so with patience, vigilance and diligence. Follow that path, and you will never regret it.