I don’t know about you, but November always has me itching for Christmas. As a bonafide Christmas-lover who can drop it like it’s hot (it being my credit card) in Target’s dollar aisle, I think November is an early chance for gift-shopping and apartment-decorating. I have a hard time waiting for the excitement and nostalgia of Christmas, but sometimes the impatience lessens the reward. I start listening to holiday music in October, which means I’m pretty sick of All I Want For Christmas Is You by the time December 25 rolls around. I start making my wish list so early that I end up buying everything myself before any gifts go under the tree. My instant gratification is a poor rendering of the greater reward in delayed gratification. If you’re ever impatient, hasty, anxious, or reckless, please keep reading. If not, then read it for the person you’re thinking of who could really use it.
‘Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. ‘
Last night, my husband shared a brilliant sermon on Esau and Jacob. For those that don’t know the story, Esau and Jacob were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was born first, and was going to receive twice the inheritance that Jacob would receive, also known as his birthright. One day, Esau returned from a hunt and found Jacob cooking stew. He begged him for a bowl because he was “starving”, and Jacob tricked him into trading his birthright for the stew. Tim related this message to delayed gratification, which means not rushing to fulfill your desires. The result of instant gratification is almost always sin, and has a high likelihood of pulling you off the path God has for you.
‘When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” ‘
I never understood why the Israelites started worshipping an idol when Moses was up on Mount Sinai, until last night’s sermon. The Israelites’ were wandering in the desert and Moses, their leader, went away to meet with God. The Israelites got impatient, desperate, and afraid, and let their anxiety get the best of them. Instead of trusting that Moses would eventually return and deliver a message from the Lord, they took matters into their own hands. They placed their faith in what they could see and touch instead of the divine. This story seems archaic. Most Christians don’t start melting their gold and making statues during desert seasons; however, I have turned to a relationship or media to answer a question I’ve halfheartedly sought God’s counsel for. I’ve made major decisions without seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven. When my identity is shaken, I turn to vanity and artifice instead of the truth of the Gospel. My golden calf is anything that replaces God.
One day in the midst of wedding planning, I felt like everyone was against me. I felt like I couldn’t balance everything, couldn’t please anyone, and was doing everything wrong. I picked up my phone and let my finger hover over one of my best friend’s names before realizing that I hadn’t prayed in weeks. I had neglected the Prince of Peace, the Spirit of Wisdom, and the Creator of all the people I thought I was letting down. I put my phone away and started praying, and my heart calmed again. God is a good Father, and He wants us to reach out to Him. He doesn’t want us to struggle or flounder, but so often we turn to temporary comforts instead of eternal comfort. A nap, a drink, a chocolate bar, a phone call, an afternoon run, and a shopping trip aren’t inherently sinful, but they can easily take God’s place as Comforter. Anything that takes God’s place is an idol. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose display of statue worship to be a sin.
God may not answer your prayers audibly and you might think He moves slowly, but He sees you in your struggle. He knows every detail involved and every possible consequence. His plan for you has no mistakes, and the basis of faith is trusting Him. Even when He’s quiet, He is still there. Have faith in what lasts forever, not in a temporary high.