I see two major enemies to trusting God in our culture, and their names are Entitlement and Instant Gratification. We believe we deserve certain things, and we believe we deserve them now. And this wouldn't be so bad if it didn't directly oppose how God chooses to work in our lives the majority of the time, which is through the patience of time and seasons. And it wouldn't be that bad if it didn't mean a skewed self image that inflates us to such a degree that we can't see ourselves for what we really are, which is dust. And dust has earned nothing to award entitlement.
If God works in ways that doesn't award entitlement, and doesn't abide by instant gratification, I can only assume that's why it's so hard for a lot of us to trust God. He takes too long to answer prayers and He doesn't award us for good behavior and He doesn't give me what I want and He doesn't meet my timing. And if that's how we're thinking, of course we won't trust God. We're using the wrong yard stick to measure his faithfulness. We can't measure His work according to our expectations and our definitions of success, especially if we're measuring His work in our lives with any influences of entitlement and instant gratification. That's like trying to measure the distance from earth to the moon with spoons: inaccurate and misleading. We need to convert our measuring system to Kingdom units, which can be found in scripture. When we start measuring God's work in our lives according to what the bible says, then our trust in Him will grow, because we'll learn that perhaps He wasn't unfaithful, we were just trying to measure Him with spoons. Or forks or toothpicks or coffee cups. Is this metaphor working? I feel like I may have just destroyed it with all that embellishment. MY BAD.
So. If you're looking for a new measuring system to employ, Proverbs is a great place to start. Proverbs is a book of wisdom. It's like drinking from a fire hydrant of good information on how to live life well. Self help books are very trendy right now, so if you're in the market for one, try Proverbs. Here are the two verses from Proverbs that influenced me to write this post. Both speak against entitlement and instant gratification, and both give great action points for all you do-ers out there.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.
When I first re-read those verses a few weeks back, both of them made it onto bright pink sticky notes that live on my window right above my desk. I've got so many now they almost inhibit my view. These verses tell me two things:
So, what kind of yard stick are you using to measure God's work in your life? What kind of yard stick are you using to measure your own efforts in your life? If after reading this you find yourself thinking you need more patience, this post may help! I think patience might be the most all inclusive solution to what entitlement and instant gratification does to our hearts. Well, that and gratitude. Entitlement and instant gratification have no grounds for permanence in the face of gratitude. If our minds are a white board that entitlement and instant gratification have marked all over, gratitude will be the eraser and patience will be the expo marker writing new, good things.
If after reading this you're not sure you struggle with entitlement or you're having trouble defining it, Brian Buffini has a great test for that. He says that if you ever find yourself complaining, that's where you believe yourself to be entitled..... YIKES. I mean the line at Starbucks, traffic, the ticketing booth at the airport, the wait for food at a restaurant, the rate of growth in your finances.... there's a trend here. It's easy to complain anytime we have to wait. Which means we tend to believe, whether consciously or subconsciously, that we're entitled to instant gratification of anything we think we need or want. Double yikes. Entitlement breeds instant gratification, instant gratification breeds entitlement which breeds.
And do you know Who never entitled himself to what He truly deserved?
And Who never rushed the process, even when He could have?
At the end of the day, I want to be about the journey and not the destination. These verses in Proverbs and the life of Christ teach me how to do that. God values process. It's all over scripture. Bible stories carry impact to us because they show a journey. It's so rarely about the destination. Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Ruth, David, Peter, Paul... all of these people were on a path (a path leading to Christ!). Had they jumped the gun and abandoned trust in the Lord's process, they may not have a place in scripture. But they do, because all of them, in their own way, joined the Lord in His process in their lives instead of creating and following their own.
So the next time you hear yourself start to grumble, remember that tip about entitlement. It's stopped me in my tracks tons of times and it's really healed a lot of day to day grumpiness and self-absorption in my heart. And just pray for God to reveal where you struggle with all of this. He's faithful, and He'll meet you in it! He might not meet you at your timing (haha), but that's kind of the point!