Maybe one of the deepest frustrations there is in following the Lord is dying to our own conceptions of who ought to be. There comes a time when the Lord asks us to do something that we can’t make sense of. How does this fit into the bigger picture? Where am I going? How am I have any impact on people? Am I really being everything you made me to be? Yet, in pleading with the Lord, all you hear Him say is, “Keep going. You have no idea what I’m up to.”
Basically, this is about waiting. Who wants to wait? Waiting is hard – it lays bare just how real and deep our surrender is. Waiting is the testing grounds of our abandonment to God. It carves out the dead tissue in us that resists saying, “Thy Will be done!”
It seems that the hardest part is that it stokes our desire. Waiting is a bellows that takes the fire of our desire and blows and blows until the walls can’t handle the heat. It’s that heat that gets to us. Our desire for Him begins to burn white-hot (ah we can barely take it!) and our hunger for mission enflames and engulfs us. We just want to be part of what He is doing; we want to touch hearts; we want to speak words that will change lives; we want to love like He loves. Sometimes it feels like the torture of waiting is going to burn down the house.
But little do we realize how important riding it out is. Why? Because Jesus is in charge and He knows exactly what the waiting is doing.
As the fire burns, as the wood splits, as the coals glow, as the heat bakes, an immense fragrance is forming, wafting, fuming. As you surrender to the Lord and abandon yourself to where He leads, there are sparks of divine life leaping out of you that (and here is the kicker) have a tremendous effect in building the Kingdom.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
Is it ever not shocking how little we see? We can so easily ask ourselves, “How in the hell does me sitting here and doing this every day do anything to help build the Kingdom and lead to the conversion of souls?” It’s a great question. Who knows how it does, but it does. As spiritual beings, there is never a point where our spirit cannot touch another’s. Unlike physical space, the spiritual realm is an ecosystem so interconnected and ‘one’ that words fail (Pieper). So, in your waiting on the Lord that can feel so blah, the fragrance of your obedience to Jesus (which is devastatingly attractive and intoxicating) can literally waft into the “spirit-nostrils” of those in need, even those far off from your physical location.
What this amounts to is hope and relief for those afflicted with the good infection. For those who want to be part of what the Lord is doing, who desperately want to help bring souls to Jesus, rejoice! You are never out of the game! The fragrance of your ‘YES!’ to the Lord (no matter what it is) is billowing out and up to Him, to His Church and to all those who are far off. Thus, even if you are in solitary confinement, you are having a tremendous impact on the salvation of your brothers and sisters.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
This may not be everyone’s struggle. Yet, does there not come a time when we are inflicted with a holy pain of, “Am I doing enough to help those around me come to know Jesus?” There very well might be a way in which you are not. But, if you are simply saying, ‘Yes’ to what He is asking you to do (no matter where it leads), then take comfort my brother, breathe easily my sister – yes you are.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love… You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:10,14)
How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride! / how much better is your love than wine, / and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! /… Awake, O north wind, / and come, O south wind! / Blow upon my garden, / let it’s fragrance be wafted abroad. (Song of Songs 4:10, 16)