How (Not) to Reset a Rooster

How (Not) to Reset a Rooster

“But if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Peter 1:8

A week ago, most of us bid a reluctant farewell to Daylight Saving Time and mumbled a recalcitrant welcome to its often undesirable (and less excitingly named) counterpart…standard time.  This phenomenon, though technically occurring at 2:00 a.m., tends to be ushered in much earlier as people go about their home resetting clocks, appliances, and watches before they go to bed.  That’s what I did last Saturday night.  I reset clocks and timers all around the house so that, upon waking, I’d know the correct time.  I, like most people, enjoy my annual 25-hour day, and as I set clocks back, I set plans forward.  After much deliberation, I decided I’d use my “extra” hour that night to get some work done that would, hopefully, allow me to have some free time the following day.  It seemed like the perfect plan, but I forgot one thing:  you can’t reset a rooster.

Here’s what happened.  After setting every time-reflecting device in the house to its new time, I went to bed.  It was later than usual, due to the cashing in of my extra hour (turns out you can buy time on credit too, though it also has a hefty interest rate).  I was pleased with my usage of time and laid down for a much needed rest.  Within moments, or so it seemed, I was awakened by the crowing of our rooster.  That’s when it hit me:  you can’t reset a rooster!  While I had adjusted clocks, timers, and watches, I hadn’t adjusted the rooster (though in my mind I was thinking of how that might yet be done!), and it was a foul reminder that some things can’t be reset; some things are governed by inner laws and not outer labels.

Isn’t that true of us, too?  Or…shouldn’t that be true of us, too?  Shouldn’t there be attributes that are so deeply ingrained in us that the changing of time has no impact upon them, no possibility of resetting them or renaming them?  This lesson wasn’t the alarm I was expecting to wake up to last Sunday, but within the rooster’s innate wiring that caused him to crow, I found that in life, as in roosters, some things should not be reset because they are not meant to be reset.

As if to ingrain this message into my head even further, our Sunday school lesson that day came from 2 Peter 1:5-11.  One of my favorite verses lies within this passage:  verse eight, or, as it was first ‘magnified’ to me – 2P18 (two P one eight).  In these verses, Peter is introducing the early believers to Daylight Saving Time.  They’d previously been on standard time, but having encountered Jesus, the Timeless One, they were all due for a resetting!  And Peter was just the man for the job.  After all, his Son-dial had already been altered and his bout with a rooster had left him with an undeniable understanding of things that could not be reset.  So, with such knowledge fresh on his mind, Peter set out to reset what he could – the mindset of other believers.  That’s where 2P18 comes into play.  That’s where Peter “cleans the clocks” of those who are ready to leave standard time, and standard living, behind.

In verse eight of this passage, Peter writes, “But if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The emphasis is on these thingsthese things that are to be present in every believer; these things that are not to be reset or readjusted, these things that are to keep time with the steady heartbeat of a palpable faith. So what are these things?  Peter tells us beginning in verse five:  “Therefore, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound…”.  And there you have it:  Daylight Saving Time for every follower of Christ!  But just how do we move from a standard lifestyle to a time honoring one?  We allow Jesus to reset our spiritual clocks as we recognize that He alone holds our time in His hands.  We step out of living on standard time and step into living on reset time…on redeemed time…on Son-Light Saving Time!  And when we do, these things become our inner setting that, in time and with time, need never change.  Regardless of the season, regardless of the circumstance, regardless of the timing…faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love are to be as ingrained in us as the rising and the setting of the sun.  With each new day, these things hold true.  With each new season, these things ring true.  With each new resetting, these things remain true.  In season and out of season, these things are to be the default setting…the default crowing…of every believer.

And there you have it:  how not to reset a rooster.  He’ll crow when he’s supposed to; he’ll crow because he’s supposed to.  He’ll crow when it’s appreciated; he’ll crow when it’s depreciated.  He’ll crow when it’s standard time; he’ll crow when it’s Daylight Saving Time; but regardless of what others think or expect, he’ll crow at the right time…because you can’t reset a rooster.  May we live and learn and crow like him.  May we, like those men and women Peter addressed long ago, allow these things to be said of us, to be seen in us, and to be heard from us.


Things That Are Stretched

Things That Are Stretched

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or imagine…”        
  –Ephesians 3:20a

I’m not a big game show fan, but there are a few that have piqued my interest over the years.  One of them was the $25,000 Pyramid.  Actually, it began as the $10,000 Pyramid but later increased its prize money…and its hosting talent (sorry Bill Cullen)…when Dick Clark took the helm.  If you are unfamiliar with this oldie but goodie, then here is a brief description.  Contestants had to take turns giving and receiving clues from their “star” partner in order to name seven items that were somehow related in a given category.  The team with the most correct guesses would go on to the “big” pyramid.  At this level, the rules reversed and now the contestant had to identify the category from a list of descriptive clues.

I haven’t thought of this game show in a long time…until the other day.  I was thinking about the irony (or so it seemed to me) of God stretching our faith.  I thought about how stretching things usually made them weaker, not stronger.  I started to think of things that not only get stretched, but get stretched out.  First, I remembered my grade school knee socks; one always seemed drawn to my ankle more than to my knee, which resulted in my using a rubber band to hold it up.  (If you fold the sock down over the rubber band it goes unnoticed…unless the rubber band is too tight in which case the purple thigh gives it away.)  This memory led me to add both rubber bands and socks to my list of stretched out things; then I thought of elastic.  Next, I started to think a little more broadly and came up with imaginations, the truth, and a pregnant woman’s stomach!  By now, I felt like a contestant on the $25,000 Pyramid, giving clues for the category “Things that are Stretched”.  And there you have it.  Stretched faith led to stretched knee socks which eventually led to an old game show.  What’s not to understand?

When the reverie was over, I returned to my original thought:  God stretches our faith.  In doing this, our faith is made stronger; it never needs a rubber band to hold it up as with each tug and pull its elasticity actually increases.  Every time God allows us to be in a situation in which we not only need faith to stand but we literally have nothing left to stand on without it, our faith grows.  Every time we are made to go outside of our comfort area, God stretches our faith to cover this expanded territory, and our faith grows.  And, every time we find ourselves at the end of ourselves, God holds out a rope of faith…just beyond where we can grasp without leaning way, way out to lay hold of it…and our faith grows.

I thought about the other dispositions God stretches for the purpose of strengthening:  there’s knowledge, self-control, perseverance, patience, obedience, and love.  Every one of these is bound to be placed upon God’s stretching rack at some point, and repeatedly, with the express purpose of increasing its durability and usability.  When I think about what is required in order for these attributes to mature, I realize I shouldn’t have such an adverse reaction to those things that are used for my own good…and growth.  When circumstances arise that tug on my patience, yank on my perseverance, or wrench on my obedience, I want to wriggle out of them and avoid the discomfort.  But, if I would just remember that it is during these spiritual bouts of tug-of-war that God is strengthening me, then I think (I hope) I would have a whole new attitude…and even an appreciation…for what is taking place.

If I could remember this, I would realize I am in good company.  I could even become a member of the ‘Stretchy Club’.  In this select group, we find Moses, Joshua, Esther, Elijah, Rahab, John, and Peter.  Every one of these individuals found themselves in situations in which their faith was stretched beyond their comfort zone, beyond their former belief zone, and way, way past their own ability zone.  Moses informed Pharaoh each plague would come; Joshua told his army the walls would fall down, Ester told the king she needed to speak with him, Elijah told the prophets of Baal his offering would burn, Rahab told her family they would be spared, John and Peter told the lame man he could walk.  Each of these acts required more faith than each person initially had, but when they reached out for more…when they put not only their neck but God’s name on the line…they found their faith was stretched, strengthened, and stationed.  There was no recoiling or rebounding once their faith was extended; it didn’t snap back like a rubber band but kept its new shape while also keeping its elasticity.  It would be stretched again, and it would expand again, and stretched again, and expand again, and…well, you get the picture.  How God-like to do something so contrary to what we expect.  Only He could pull on something again and again and receive a positive result; only He could stretch something out and make it better than it was to start with.  When God does the stretching, it isn’t to make something less effective but more expansive.  In His hands, things that are stretched don’t lose their vitality, they attain it.

So, with this new understanding of stretchy things, with this categorical mind-set of “things that need stretching”, and with this uncanny desire to watch the $25,000 Pyramid (while wearing knee socks and snapping rubber bands), I submit myself to God’s stretching table.  I empty my pockets of wrapped up obedience and unwrapped patience.  I retrieve my locked box and dump out the contents of knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and love.  I take all the things I wanted to keep in their original containers and I allow them to be handled, and tugged, and stretched; I place them in God’s hands so He can continually reshape them and reshape me.  I wait for the pull…and know with every tug and tweak, my faith isn’t being worn out, it’s being stretched out.  And that’s a good thing; that’s a God thing.

things that crumble