Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

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"Instantitis"

Mark 4: 26-29

2 Peter 3: 8-9, 14-15a

      There is a widespread malady which is afflicting a large percentage of people in today’s society.

The range of symptoms are broad and varied, but pretty predictable.  It’s an affliction, the signs of

which are first observed at a very young age, and only worsen over time.  This disease would be

classified as congenital, chronic and progressive.  It’s most dangerous, not only in its own right, but

also because of its many complications; associated with everything from migraine headaches, to

elevated blood pressure, to heart attacks, to digestive disorders.  This malady, in indirect ways,

probably sends many to an early grave.  There is no argument that this disease robs life of much of its

joy.  And it is likely that seven out of ten of us sitting here this morning are in its grip.

      I once had to come to grips with the fact that I am one of those seven out of ten.  It was a day like

many others.  I was busy making hospital calls in the Canton area when I decided to do a quick lunch

at KFC on West Tusc.  I pulled into the drive-thru, my stomach growling in anticipation.  “Welcome to

KFC.  I’ll be right with you……..” The digital clock on the dash turned over to 12:25.  “This is Kristy.  May

I help you?”  “Yes please.  I’ll have a three-piece chicken tenders meal with mashed potatoes, green

beans, and an extra biscuit.”  “I’m sorry.  Can you repeat that?”  “A three piece chicken tenders meal

with mashed potatoes, green beans, and……” “I’m sorry sir.  Was that mashed potatoes?”  “Yes.  And

green beans, and extra biscuit.”  “Would you like barbeque, honey mustard, ranch, sweet and sour, or

buffalo sauce for those tenders?”  “Just barbeque please.” “Honey or butter for your biscuit?”  “No.” 

“Please hold for your total……..” 

      I glanced at the clock again.  12:26.  My stomach continued to growl, and I thought to myself,

“Come on Kristi.  Ring it up and give me my total.”  My foot began to let off the brake and move toward

the gas pedal.  I nervously fingered the ten dollar bill I was so anxious to give up in exchange form my

chicken tenders and mashed potatoes.  Finally after an eternity, Kristy’s voice came back over the speaker.

 “Sir, was that mashed potatoes, green beans and biscuit with your chicken tenders meal?”“Yes! Yes! And an extra biscuit!” 

“Please hold on………….Your total will be $6.74.  Please pull around…I didn’t wait to hear “to the window.”  I was already there. 

I looked inside expecting to see a beehive of activity getting my meal ready.  But everybody seemed to be moving in slow motion. 

The girl who I assumed was Kristy was laughing and chatting with a co-worker, probably about her date last night.

Meanwhile, I’m shriveling away; my mouth watering; my gut churning.  I started to wonder if they’d forgotten about me. 

All the while, happy people with their chicken tenders were streaming out the door as I continued licking my furry chops. 

      Finally, after endless minutes, the window slid open.  “Sir, please pull up to space one.  We’ll have

your meal right out to you.”  I pulled up to space one, followed by more endless minutes.  Finally, a

tap at my window.  As I rolled it down, snatching the box with quivering hands, I glanced again at the

clock on my dashboard.  12:29. “Praise God,” I thought to myself, “Longest four minutes of my life.” 

It was then I realized I had it.  I was suffering from the dreaded affliction of………. instantitis.

      Are any of you symptomatic?  If you find yourself tailing a slow-moving vehicle on Wales Road,

muttering ungodly things under your breath, you may have instantitis.  If you spend an inordinate

amount of time gazing into the window of your microwave as your Stouffer’s meal slowly turns, you

may have instantitis.  If you sit at your computer monitor nervously twitching as the percent down-

loaded moves from one to one hundred percent, you may have instantitis.  If you’re wishing this sermon

is just about over, you may have instantitis.

    A recent Blondie comic strip illustrates this “everything now” mentality.  In the first frame, Dagwood

is talking to a young man at a dinner party.  He says, “I see you’re with the McWilliams Company.”  The

 young man answers, “Yes, I’m the president and CEO.”  In the second frame, Dagwood asks, “How

long did it take you to reach that position?”  Glibly, the young man replies, “I put in a good year and a

half….”  In the final frame, he continues with a disgusted look on his face:  “but look at today’s kids. 

They want everything right now!”

      Everything now!  Gotta get there!  Gotta get back!  Meet that schedule!  Beat that deadline! 

Hurry or you’ll miss the boat!  As a society, we are being conditioned to live, not by years, months,

and weeks, but by hours, minutes and seconds.  And instantitis spreads like a contagion. 

      In stark contrast to our mad-dash conditioning is Jesus’ little parable about the seed growing secretly,

and ever so deliberately.  It’s a parable which, in its simplicity, deals with slow, patient waiting which harvest requires. 

A little boy and his grandma once planted several sunflower seeds in his own little flowerbed.  The next day,

the grandmother looked out the window to see her grandson digging up the seeds.  She yelled out the window,

“Why are you digging the seeds up?”  The boy replied, “I just wanted to make sure they’re growing.”

      Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God – that life in the Kingdom – is like sown seed.  Days and

nights will pass.  And eventually, after a passage of time, the seed will sprout and grow.  How it

happens is a mystery; even moreso in Jesus’ time before the advent of botany.  Then the growth;

slow; steady; unperceivable by the human eye; from blade, to ear, and finally to full grain.  Then upon

complete ripening, the harvest will come.  In other words, as we’ve discussed before, in God’s scheme

of things, everything won’t be right now.

     A hard lesson to learn in the Kingdom life is that God’s viewpoint of time, and our human viewpoint

point of time, are vastly different.  We want instant action.  God seems slow and deliberate; sometimes

downright plodding and sluggish.  We’re often like the small boy who plants a seed today and digs it up

tomorrow to see if it’s growing.  Look at Biblical history.  God takes four hundred years to rescue God’s people

from Egypt; forty years to get them to the promised land; well over a thousand

years to send the promised Messiah.  And now, almost two millennia later, we’re still awaiting the

second coming of Christ.  So it’s no wonder we often feel frustrated and anxious when the divine

timetable is so radically different from our own.  And instantitis only makes the situation worse.

      If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit that at one time or another - maybe this very day -

we all grow impatient for God to act.  We want God to solve our problems, heal our bodies, bring

peace to nations, bring growth to our church.  More than once, I’ve caught myself praying, “Lord,

grant me patience.  And won’t you hurry up about it.”  Yet the reality we must learn to face is that

God operates on a different schedule.

      Perhaps it isn’t too hard to see why this is the case.  Note that in the parable, Jesus speaks of the

seed growing to harvest.  The farmer is concerned with the end result.  He knows what the goal is,

and he takes no action until everything is ripe for action.  So it is that God is always aware of the goal;

the end; the pentultimate.  God knew when to rescue the ancient Hebrews from Egyptian bondage;

knew when to get them into the promised land; knew when to send our Savior Jesus; knows when

Jesus will be sent to wrap things up; because God knew, and God knows, what, how and when He

wanted and wants to accomplish it.  God, you see, is concerned about final results; about God’s goal

in our lives as Kingdom people.  But getting there is a process.  And process is, in large part, passage

of time; just like sown seed growing - in time - to full harvest.

      We can never quite grasp what the final result will be.  We tend to think only in terms of this

world.  Our long-range vision is severely limited.  But God has the end game, indeed, eternity in focus. 

 We impatiently cry out in frustration without any real grasp of what the delay and its accompanying

frustration may be intended to accomplish.  Maybe there’s a reason we have to pull up to space one

and wait a bit longer for our chicken tenders. 

      All this isn’t to say that it’s a most heinous sin to complain and grouse about God’s delay.  God

shouldered the complaints of God’s chosen people when they wanted to immediately possess the

promised land.  God endured the complaints of the prophets who were eager for deliverance by the

long-awaited messiah.  Consider a character named Job who was vindicated in spite of his cries

against his long, unjust suffering.  God knows our weaknesses, our shortsightedness, our frustrations

as well.  God knows we are afflicted with instantitis.  Only step by sometimes painful step, we have

no choice but to learn to rely on God’s schedule, and to put our trust in God’s greater wisdom.  For

God’s time to act always comes, and God’s action is always successful.  In the parable, we see that

there is no question raised about the harvest.  The seed grows and ripens into grain.  It does not fail.

And God’s plans do not fail either.  The Lord may take more time than we think He ought to.  But God

always makes good on divine promises; that even as “we would sleep and rise night and day…… the

seed (will in time) sprout and grow.” 

      It is this that gives us Christians confidence, and gives Kingdom living a sense of hope, even while

in the grip of instantitis.  We don’t face an iffy situation when we put our trust in God’s process.  God

has shown time and again that God brings the divine plan to harvest.  God sent the Son into the world

when God was ready, and so redeemed the divine promise for which kings, priests and prophets

longed.  God will send the Son again, in full glory and victory – when the time is ripe – to accomplish

final and complete redemption.  Of this we can be sure:  God will bring the seed to harvest when the

time is just right.  Isaac Watts said it well when he wrote in the year 1719 a hymn entitled “Our God,

Our Help in Ages Past.  One verse claims: “A thousand ages in Thy sight, Are like an evening gone;

Short as the watch that ends the night, Before the rising sun.” 

 

O God, You who have helped us in ages past, and help us this very day, instantitis seems to be in

our DNA.  Strengthen and encourage us as we wait on You, and the full harvest of Your Kingdom.

Along the way, may we stop to smell the roses, and even tarry there a spell.  This we ask in the

name of Jesus, both Your promise, and Your fulfillment.  Amen.

 

 

 

Central Presbyterian Church

47 Second Street NE
Massillon, Ohio 44646

Telephone: 330-832-7455
Fax: 330-832-7102