Letting Some Time Pass

While on my recent personal retreat at a monastery in Iowa, I read a lot and attempted to process it during my prayer walks. As I was reading a book I began to think, “this will preach,” but then caught myself. I have a habit of doing this, of gaining an insight and quickly thinking how I can do a sermon on the subject, or maybe even a sermon series.

I realized that I needed to let God speak to me, for the sake of my relationship with Him. By immediately thinking of how I could use the insight in my ministry I professionalized it before I had fully personalized it.

I got to thinking how many things need to be processed or aged before they can be used. Lumber can’t be used straight from the forest but must be dried. Grapes, too, need to be given time to dry if you want raisins. Concrete needs time to set before you start walking on it or building on it. Yeast in bread dough has to be given time to ferment and make the bread rise. Tea needs to steep.

I need to give an idea, a concept, an insight from God time to work in me, for me to process it and apply it for myself, before I share it with others. Sharing with others that which has not had adequate time to work in me both short changes what it can do for me and what it can do for those with whom I share it.

Speak to me, Lord, and give me the patience to let your Word brew, steep, ferment, and marinate in me. Help me keep a good distance between the hearing and the speaking.

The Stewardship of Grace

Ever notice how you can be reading along in the Bible and come across a statement in a part of the Bible familiar to you but find it to be completely unfamiliar and new? Such an experience happened this morning in my devotional reading. The line is in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, the end of verse 2 in chapter 3. Paul writes of “the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you…”

I read it again… “the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you…” I realized that part of my stewardship as a pastor is the stewardship of God’s grace given to me which is to be spent on the people I serve. This giving of the grace given to me has as much to do with stewardship as does the three “t”s of time, talent, and treasure upon which I so often preach!

I rehearse how I don’t deserve God’s help in being a pastor because I’m so far from who I should be in Christ, but, by His grace, He uses this imperfect vessel called Dave Claassen anyway. I’ve been freshly reminded that part of my ministry is to pass on this grace I’ve received to those I serve. Because I’m being gifted every day with undeserved favor from God, I’m to be re-gifting this toward my people in thinking, feeling, and acting favorably toward them even when I think they don’t deserve it. Grace to me – grace to them!

I want to be able to picture my congregation, the people I’ve been called to serve, and pen these words in my heart to them that Paul penned to the Ephesian church. In my heart and mind I want to affirm “the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you…”