A Dressing Room For Glory

Writer Author  Jerry Lee Kay Sr.
Christian Article : Christian Living  - Fiction  No

Christian Author Writer Grandfather was a tall lanky man, 6'5" and tough as saddle leather. He was quick with a smile and laughed a lot, but was dead serious about life and living it to the glory of God. He had no use for lazy people or excuses but was compassionate towards those down on their luck. He had a way of saying things that chafed some folks but I never heard him tell a lie nor use foul language. He used to tell me, "Son, When a man prays for a corn crop, God expects him to say Amen with a hoe. You can't just stay on your knees all the time and pray for a corn crop. That's pious nonsense. But to pray for the corn crop and then go to work is the thing our Lord is talking about in days when men's hearts are failing them. Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. But be doing what you can while you are waiting for His timing. Our time here is nothing more than a dressing room for what is to be in Glory."

I believe that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. I also believe that He was not any less God because He was man. On the other hand, I believe He was not any more man because He was God. He was a perfect man...a real man. Frankly, if you had been there in that day, you would have enjoyed His company. It would have been a real privilege to be in His company and to hear His laughter. I don't like any picture I have ever seen of Him; the artists never picture Him laughing, and I think He laughed many times. Our Lord was human. And in His presence you would have had the best time you ever had. I am sure you know some folks whom you love to be around. I know several preachers whose company I especially enjoy. They sharpen my wits and my mental powers; yet they tell the funniest jokes I've ever heard. I think our Lord was good at that. I want to tell you about a story (parable) Jesus told in Luke 18 that I am confident made many people smile.

I worked for an oil company as a traffic manager in my younger days, it enabled me to work in a ministry that was unable to support my family. My job description was getting raw oil and natural gas transported from the well site to the refinery, I made the decision of whether it was moved by pipeline, rail car, barge or tank truck so I also hired and fired field hands. I opened a new terminal in the middle of Nowhere,Texas, we had about 120 wells we were drilling in that area. Because of my reputation in the business, I was able to get a full crew and office staff very quickly and get on with the work at hand. After we got cranked up a young fellow applied for work but I had a full crew and didn't hire him. It just wasn't time yet, but as soon as it was, I intended to put him to work. Not only that, after reading his resume I realized he had no previous experience in that line of work. I never promised to put him to work. Every morning this guy showed up asking for work, he even brought his lunch and stayed all day long, after about three months he was about to drive me crazy. I noticed however, everyday he was watching, and even helping those that were already on the payroll as they were rigging up equipment. I also noticed, every morning while sitting in his pickup he had a few minutes of Bible reading and prayer time before the crew showed up for the day. Finally some of our wells started to produce, so one day I told one of the pushers to find something for the man to do. Whatever it took to get him out of my hair. Even though he had no experience, he turned out to be one of the best men I ever had the pleasure of working with. We worked together for many years and it became a humorous story in the oil patch of how he got started in the business. He was often times teased about it, they would say, "why were you helping those other men without being paid for it or getting credit for it"? I heard him say many times over the years, "I was waiting for Gods timing, Poppa never told me he was going to grant my request, and I knew it could go either way but, I turned it over to God, prayed about it every day and wasn't going to sit on my buttocks until He came through. I was gaining knowledge and experience, and it turned out in the long run when Poppa gave me the go ahead I was ready for it". Someone said, that was a dangerous thing to do, letting that man help those other men, if he would have gotten hurt, the company would have been liable. MommaK didn't raise no fool, I had my secretary list him as an employee for insurance purposes the very first day. You see, I knew right away I was going to use the man.. But I couldn't justify to the company putting him on the payroll yet....You say, that doesn't seem fair, the bottom line is, we paid 100% of health Ins. for him and his family and a large life policy to his beneficiary at no charge, a package worth 1,200 dollars a month. Sometimes dear friends, when we are waiting for Father to put us into our place, but helping others we are reaping great benefits we don't even know about. Amen!....O' Lord, Poppa don't start preaching now!

You see Beloved, the young man not only was praying without ceasing, he had a hoe in his hand. This parable of our Lord in Luke 18 is much the same. The widow could have just prayed, but she chose to be doing something in the meantime. That's the humorous part of this parable, she almost drove that unjust judge crazy. That widow had a prayer on her lips and a hoe in her hand.

(Lk 18:1) And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; (2) Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: (3) And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. (4) And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; (5) Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. (6) And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. (7) And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? (8) I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

I have heard many Bible teachers say that this parable teaches the value of relentless prayer. Although I don't like to disagree with men who are greater than I, that isn't so. This is not just a parable on the persistency or the pertinacity of prayer..as if God will hear if you hold on long enough....This is a parable of contrast, not comparison.

Living and walking in the Spirit in the period of time before Christ's return and the inauguration of the ultimate kingdom, is no easy task. This is because Christians live in the world, and are striving to live also in the government of the kingdom. Christ has come, and with him has come the kingdom, as he himself declared: "The Kingdom of God is among you". In his person came the kingdom, and those who believe in him and therefore are "in him" are members of the kingdom˜the people of God, in the place of God, under the rule of God. This creates relentless tension. To enjoy the present kingdom while living in the coming kingdom makes us different from the rest of the world. We are seated with God "in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Ephes. 2:6). God has "blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Ephes. 1:3). Both the seating and blessing are present realities. Therefore we are commended to set our minds on the eternal, the what is to be: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

We are called to live the ethics of the kingdom, Matthew 5-7 while we wait for the King: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope˜the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)

So the tension for us in the temporal is at times stressful to say the least. Jesus referred to this in chapter 17: "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it" (Luke 17:22). This longing will stand in stark contrast to the casual neglect of busy culture: "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man" (Luke 17:26..Luke 18:30) Most people simply could not care less, and some even mock, as Peter warned: "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this "coming" he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation'". (2 Peter 3:3,). The temporal has been filled with persecution, and it has been especially so in our own bloody lifetimes. For the last 2,000 years the question has been, how are we to live in the now as we await the return of Christ? Jesus addressed this question with a parable found only in Luke: "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1). The parable's purpose was explicit. We do not have to guess at its main message. Jesus' disciples are to continue praying until Jesus comes back. His people are not to give up on prayer.

With just a few words, which as you know Poppa is not good at. Jesus created indelible pictures of two very distinct people, a judge and a widow: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary"... The judge admitted he did not fear God or care about men. If he was a Jew, he was openly defying the primary qualification for judges˜the fear of God. This qualification had been made famous when, after the death of Ahab, a chastened King Jehoshaphat took steps to restore order by appointing judges with these orders: "Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery" (2 Chron. 19:6,). A fear of God is essential for a good judge. Conversely, a judge with no fear of God recognizes no universal ethic outside his own self-interest, and his mistaken belief that he will never stand before God's bar relieves him of any burden to render just decisions. The judge in the parable was such a man. History's worst villains, disingenuous as they were, even Hitler and Stalin, professed love for humanity. But not this man. He was capable of anything except justice.

Life had dealt the woman in the parable a bitter blow. Similarly, in the opening chapter of the book of Ruth when newly widowed Naomi returned from Moab to Bethlehem, she responded to her old friends' greetings by saying, "Don't call me Naomi. ...Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me" (Ruth 1:20). Widows were among the most defenseless in Hebrew society. The Old Testament refers to their being oppressed (Malachi 3:5) and taken advantage of (Exodus 22:22-24). They were often legal victims (Isaiah 1:17), and this was the case for this poor woman. Likely she was one of those later described in Luke as victims of men who "devour widows' houses" (Luke 20:47). The poor woman did not want vengeance˜just restorative justice.

The options for obtaining redress or justice from a rogue judge like this were few˜a bribe, a threat, or a pathetic plea, the latter being her only recourse. And plead she did! Every day she begged him to help her. The language leaves open the possibility of confrontation everywhere, not just in court. She pleaded with him in front of his colleagues, she confronted him on the street, she pestered him in the market, and she called out to him at his home. Her chances of redress were very slim with this godless, hardened, cynical man, but it was the only thing she could do. The poor woman, we think. This evil judge is not going to budge. Sometimes there is no justice! For a time the judge remained unmoved, but eventually, despite his cynical resolution, "finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'" (Luke 18:4). The literal translation of "wear me out" is ("blacken my eye") conveys even better his frustration. Her persistence had been "punching him out," probably in the sense of public embarrassment, giving his reputation or prominence a black eye. So suddenly there was justice! The old rogue judge had met his match...Give a sister a hoe and she can accomplish all kinds of stuff.!

And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly." (Luke 18:6-8) This parable's lesson has often been greatly misunderstood, because most people think it teaches that feverish importunity (troublesome persistence) in prayer is a virtue. Untold numbers of sermons have wrongly used this text to teach that we must frantically beg God to answer our prayers. This is not the idea at all.The parable of the unjust judge and the pestering widow is a parable of contrast. The clear lesson of the parable is that God is not like the judge, for God is good and gracious. And we are not like the nameless widow, for we are his chosen ones. So a distressed bugging of God is in fact inadequate prayer.

The judge was unloving, evil, ungracious, merciless, and unjust. But God is loving, good, gracious, merciful, and just. Moreover, whatever God is, he is infinitely. He is infinitely loving, infinitely gracious, infinitely merciful, and infinitely just. In the parable the woman was an insignificant nobody. But in life, as Christians we are God's elect, his chosen ones, created in his image and redeemed by the Son of God. Because of who God is and who we are, there is no reason to frantically assault his door or nag him for a response.

It was because the prophets of Baal were idolaters, deluded and worshiping a false concept of God, that "They called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. 'O Baal, answer us!'" (1 Kings 18:26). And that is why "At noon Elijah began to taunt them. 'Shout louder!' he said. 'Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.' So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed" (1 Kings 18:27).

Does this mean we must never engage in importunate prayer, fervently beseeching God?..Not at all...The teaching of the parable is that we must continue in our prayers, even when there seems to be no answer, because God, unlike the unjust judge, is loving, good, and gracious. We persist in prayer not because we have not yet gotten God's attention, but because we know he cares and will hear us.

The Apostle Paul engaged in such prayer when three times he pleaded with the Lord for the removal of his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-9). These were three sustained, passionate times of intercession. Paul did not think that his repetitions were due to a defect in his faith˜"Sorry, Lord, but I'm back. Please forgive my lack of faith! My prayers will be better this time." There was none of that. And in the end, the thorn was still there, but God gave him something better to go along with it˜more grace!

There are times for importunate prayer˜times when tragedy strikes or when critical decisions are at hand. But we know that God knows what we need before we ask, and we know that he hears us, and we know that he will answer.

Through the centuries many believers have struggled with the seeming silence of God to their prayers. But here Jesus says that God answers all pleas for justice, and does so quickly: "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly" (Luke 18:7). How can this be? The next sentence Jesus spoke refers to his coming, which makes it clear that "quickly" does not mean "immediately." The idea here is swiftly˜that is, when God acts it will be quick or swift. When we consider God's timing, we must keep in mind Peter's wisdom regarding God's promise: "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness" (2 Peter 3:8). To the elect it may seem to be a long time until he answers, but afterwards they will realize that it was very short. Jesus' parable teaches the certainty of speedy action when it comes.

But many are still discouraged by God's seeming silence. We need to learn that in the silence our loving God is answering, whether we see his working or not, for he delights to answer his children's prayers. Sometimes the silence means that God's answer is a loving no. Perhaps we asked amiss, or though the request was good, a better way is coming. Far better for Paul than the removal of his thorn was God's sufficient grace, which was perfected in his weakness. This is why he could write, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them˜yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10).

Also, sometimes the silence means that God has a bigger answer in store than we could ever have dreamed of or asked for. As Oswald Chambers explained, "Some prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong, others because they are bigger than we can understand. It will be a wonderful moment for some of us when we stand before God and find that the prayers we clamoured for in early days and imagined were never answered, have been answered in the most amazing way, and that God's silence has been the sign of the answer."

Further, sometimes the silence of God is meant to instill dependence upon him. In the case of Paul he was left with his thorn so that he would lean entirely upon God. We are so prone to independence that the granting of certain of our requests would lead us to self-sufficiency, pride, and independence. There can be no better way to cultivate a sense of dependence upon God than the need for persistent or determined prayer.
Sometimes the silence is a delay to allow our prayers to mature, and to season us for what He has in store for us. If God had answered our prayers according to our schedule, our prayers would not have been honed by the Spirit for our greater good and his glory.

As we live in the now, longing for the return of the Son of Man, Jesus' closing question has the same force as it did in a.d. 33: "However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). Jesus' question implies that such faith will not be found on earth unless his disciples learn to "always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1). Jesus was saying that continual prayer until he comes is not only the evidence of faith, but the means of building faith until his return. Grandfather used to say,"If your knees knock together, kneel on them, I have my doubts of any man having victory or peace that doesn't live in a state of prayer". That is what Jesus was saying in His statement of, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." It is the same thought that Paul put a little differently, "Pray without ceasing". Prayer is an attitude, It is more an attitude of life than an action of the lips......It is our entire life that is behind the words which are spoken that makes prayer effective. He opens two choices to anyone who is living in difficult days. We will do one of the two. Pray or faint, there will be days of fear or days of faith.

The God to whom we pray is not like the unjust judge who could only be badgered into responding, for our God is loving and gracious. And we are not like the nameless widow, for we are his chosen ones. Because of this, he delights to hear and quickly answer our prayers until he comes. "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"....Yes, he will, if we have learned to live a life of prayer while in this dressing room for Glory...Amen!

God Bless You

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State: Texas
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Email: jerryleekay@suddenlink.net
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