Receive. Remain. Respond.
By Meg Bucher
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” – 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
“Did you even stop to notice what I was doing before you barged into my space, here?” I abruptly asked my daughter mid-sentence.
We often share descriptive discussions, but when she bursts into my train of thought unannounced, I struggle to keep up with the conversation. I prefer to be an active participant in these épilogues, but she often launches right in without any warning. When I ask her to start over, confessing I wasn’t listening, hurt and frustration fill her sweet face. She simply does not understand why I can’t instantly drop everything to give her my full attention.
1 Peter 3:15 encourages believers to do the diligent work of developing our faith in Christ. We do this by allowing the Lord to capture our attention, and by leaving room in our lives to listen to Him as He speaks. Our relationship deepens as we pursue Him daily in His Word and through prayer. He will also place other people perfectly in our lives to speak Truth to, love, and challenge us to step up and respond to them with love. The firm foundation of our faith prepares us to react in the way this verse commands. When we follow Christ, it’s important to be approachable, and interruptible! Only He knows what each day will hold, and He faithfully prepares us to respond when we make time to receive, and remain in, His Truth.
Acts 16:14 tells the story of a woman named Lydia: “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” (ESV)
Lydia responded immediately, and was baptized alongside everyone in her house! Why does it sometimes take longer for some to respond than others? Moses doubted he could fulfill what God called him to do. Peter denied Jesus. Thomas doubted. Sometimes, we fall under the mistaken impression that God’s calling to serve, especially in ministry, only looks a certain way or is attached to a specific set of talents. We’re not responsible for the way others respond to God, but for following His unique call on our lives.
The prophet Ezekiel sat for several days after the LORD called him to prophecy. He had experienced the glory of God, and it has physically drained and spiritually challenged him! He needed time to sit and digest what God had revealed to and instructed him to do. Our response to God will reflect the One abiding in us when we open our ears to hear and receive His Word. When we remain with Him, allowing His presence, wisdom, and truth to envelope and adjust our perspective to align with His, we are better able to submit our gut response for one obedient and aligned to His will for our lives.
Jesus didn’t wait until we were sinless to die for us, because it never would have happened. He has never required our perfection in exchange for His perfect sacrifice.
We are all missionaries, purposed workers for the Kingdom of God. It’s important to let our minds marinate with their Creator. He may have a quick response prepared for us today, or a slow mulling over. However He chooses to work in our lives, His timing always trumps our gut response.