(Preached the essence of the following at Northside Baptist Church, Bacolod City last April 19, 2009, then again on April 26, 2009 in the evening at Massebah Christian Church, Bacolod City)
MY TIME HAS NOT YET COME
(Reflections on The Silent Years)
- based on Mark 1:1
No doubt God wants us to be fruitful (Heb. 6:7, 8; Isa. 5:1-3), but the way we go about being fruitful might not be in line with his will.
Being busy, even in ministry-related work, is not necessarily a sign of spirituality. Busyness does not automatically translate to spiritual fruitfulness. On the contrary, it can lead to burn-out. One can be so busy for the kingdom that he or she no longer has time for the king (see Luke 10:38-42).Our text, Mk. 1:1, is very interesting because Mark, unlike the other gospels, contains no narrative of Jesus’ birth or childhood. Instead, in the opening chapter, it jumps straight into Jesus’ public ministry when he was already around 30 years old. So this sermon, strangely enough, is based not on what our text says but on what it doesn’t say. I intend for us, through this sermon, to reflect on the so-called silent years.
When we hear the word fruitfulness or its modern synonym, productivity, what probably comes to mind is that it means to rush into activity, to immerse ourselves in a lot of activities, because we tend to equate busyness with productivity. But it’s noteworthy that our Lord did not rush into preaching and teaching. He allowed large chunks of years of his life, decades even, to quietly pass by. He did not begin his public ministry until he was 30 years old. Some of us would probably say, “What a waste of precious years! Had he started preaching at the age of 15 (like Spurgeon, for example) he could have touched more lives.” But this is what the Lord would certainly say in reply, as he in fact did in one instance, “Your time is always here; my time has not yet come.” (Jn. 7:6) In effect Jesus was saying, “I’m not going to run ahead of my Father’s will. I’m going to wait for his perfect time.” The lesson here is: the way to fruitfulness is not, in the first place, to immediately do things for God, but to wait on him, to be still and know that God is God. See Jn. 15:4,5.
It’s interesting that it wasn’t only Jesus who had to go through this waiting period. Moses (Acts 7:29-30) and Paul (Gal. 1:15-18) did so too.
The question is: Why? What’s the significance of this waiting period in relation to fruitfulness? One answer may be found in Ps. 1:3. The blessed man bears fruit in his season, i.e., at the right time. In other words, one doesn’t just bear fruit at anytime he chooses. There’s a proper season for fruit-bearing, and prior to that there has to be a significant stretch of time within which the tree may gather strength from the sun, from the air, from the soil, from the water, in preparation for fruit-bearing. You see, you can’t give out what you don’t have inside of you in the first place. This is the significance of the waiting period, the so-called silent years; it’s a time of preparation, of growing, of gathering strength and nutrients. (See Luke 2:52; contrast I Tim. 3:6). I think the point here is: God is more interested in your spiritual maturity than in immediate fruit. He’s more interested in you becoming the right person first before you get busy doing the right things for him. He’s more interested in the quality of your service rather than in the quantity of your services. In other words, “being” comes before “doing”.
By way of application: to my mind, long-term fruitfulness in ministry requires that one should refrain from immediate entry into it. Significant preparation is essential. That’s how it is as far as the legal and medical professions are concerned. Why shouldn’t it be the same way in regard to the ministry? There’s a verse in the Old Testament that says, “I will not offer to God that which costs me nothing.” It seems to me that this verse is saying that I shouldn’t offer to God a ministry which cost me nothing in terms of lengthy and serious preparation; i.e., a time of waiting devoted to studying and equipping myself for future fruitfulness.
To conclude: For the sake of long-term fruitfulness, as opposed to short-term busyness, let’s learn to wait, just like Jesus did.
This article was written in springnote.