Friday, May 25, 2012

TIME-the third ingredient for growth

 We have been talking about Changes That Heal, and in the last post we discovered that there were three essential ingredients for growth: grace, truth, and our topic for today's post time.

The chapter on time opens with the parable of the fig tree found in (Luke 13:6-9). A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up all the soil?'

"'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more, year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down'"

Dr. Cloud uses this parable to illustrate how grace and truth stimulate growth when he notes, " Grace and truth are symbolized by the actions of  "digging around" and "fertilizing." Using the trowel of God's truth, we must dig out the weeds and encumbrances of falsehood, sin, and hurt that keep the soil of our souls cluttered. In addition, we must add the fertilizer of love and relationship to "enrich the soil. Grace and truth gives us the ingredients to head in the right direction and to provide the fuel we need to keep on growing and changing.

But the Bible tells us that in order for grace and truth to produce fruit, we need a third key element: time."

We are then introduced to a most fascinating concept: REDEMPTIVE TIME. Dr. Cloud defines redemptive time as "'an incubator that exists for the purpose of redemption.'" " It is a place where God can lovingly fix what is wrong. It is a place where evil temporarily exists while God does his work."

Let me set the scene:  God creates a perfect place for his creatures to live in eternity. Now all of a sudden because of Adam and Eve's disobedience evil arrives in this perfect place the Bible calls "the garden of Eden." 

God said, "That man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and live forever. So the Lord God banished man from the Garden to work the ground from which he was taken. After God drives man out of the Garden, he placed on the east side of the Garden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen. 3:23-24).

Dr. Cloud remarks about this scene, "God moved immediately to protect humankind from being in a state of eternal isolation, experiencing pain for a very long time. To protect Adam and  Eve from eternal pain, he drove them out of eternity, guarded eternity with a cherubim, and sent them to  a new place called redemptive time, where we live now. Here God cold fix the problem; then bring humankind back into eternity after it was again holy and blameless."

Pay attention to the definition Dr. Cloud gives redemptive time: " Philosophers and physicists have for centuries debated the nature of time, but for our purpose, let's define redemptive time as an incubator that exists for the propose of redemption. It is a place where God can  lovingly fix what is wrong. It is a place where evil temporarily exists while God does his work."

We see the emphasis that the writer of Ecclesiastes puts on time when he writes that there is a time for everything:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. (3:2-8)

All of the events in the believer's life have a redemptive aspect---we will get stuck if we don't understand that there are different stages of growth that God brings us through, we must understand that God invented time and uses time to grow us and bring us into Christ-likeness. 

Danger, danger, danger: I don't know about you, but at times I look for shortcuts or the easy way out of a situation, and so many times these shortcuts have ended in failure. We must go through the process of growth and not seek to numb the pain of the pruning shears. So many times we seek immediate relief by turning to "things,"( fill in the   ___________) that serve to numb, but in the end these things will never build character that can endure.

Dr. Cloud present for us Good Time and Bad Time. Good time is described as the time in which we allow ourselves and our experiences to be influenced by grace and truth. Bad Time is time in which we hide our hurts, pains, sorrows and don't allow them to be influenced by grace and truth. We can't heal if we don't allow our inner pains and sorrows to come into the light of God's healing love.

Listen to this important concept of change from Cloud:
When an aspect of a person does not enter into time, this person's emotional maturity will stagnate at this level.

 This stagnation is often seen in those who abuse substances such as drugs and alcohol. We see their emotional development arrested at the point when they began abusing substances. One will never grow when they withdraw from "time" and bury their true self where grace and truth can't do its work. 

Lets put it all together. We can't grow with truth and no grace. We can't grow with grace and no truth. We can't grow with time without both grace and truth. 

We will experience true Spiritual growth when grace, truth, and time are all operating and functioning  in our lives that way that God intended them to work in our lives. We need all three ingredients to make the cake!

Our next post will deal with the the important issue of bonding---we will explore what bonding really is. We as believers are called to reflect the image of God in our lives. Remember the four personality traits of God that we are to reflect:
1. Bond with others.
2. Separate from others.
3. Sort out issues of good and bad.
4. Take charge as an adult.

 See you next post.

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