I am currently writing this in the early hours of the morning while studying for final exams. While this past few weeks has tested my ability to stretch the hours of the day to fit in my training as an elite athlete, university studies, and professional commitments, I am reminded about the issue of inconvenience. 2018 has been a year rife with inconvenience and unexpected barriers to the attainment of my goals. Injury, sickness, and disappointment are but a few of these which immediately spring to mind.
The Phenomenon of Inconvenience
Inconvenience is a strange phenomenon – it’s something we, time and again, tend to view negatively in our daily lives. From menial household tasks, to work deadlines, to an interaction we wanted to avoid, our lives are full of inconvenience. This rings especially true in our spiritual lives; where our desire to serve and love is often dependent on our mood, and contingent upon special planning and preparation.
While most of us would usually prefer for our lives to flow seamlessly all the time, I believe that God is an ‘inconvenient’ God; in that he views inconveniences as opportunities, rather than annoyances. This defies our human nature which is predisposed to fold at the smallest degree of pain. However, I can say with certainty that over this last year – a year full of inconveniences, that I have matured more than I ever could have imagined in my ability to know God and to make Him known. I think that this is because it is often only during times of despair and desperation where we are prepared to fully surrender ourselves to God and His will, whether that means our prayers are ultimately answered in the way we want or not.
What does the Bible say?
The Bible speaks into this issue and provides an antidote to our twisted mindset of inconvenience. Firstly, we must realise the extent of the Grace which has been afforded to us. It is when we are fully aware of this reality, that we become enthusiastic about embracing this quasi-inconvenience. Awareness that everything we are, and all that we have belongs to God, fosters a shift in mindset, where self-centeredness plays little role.
This is well exemplified in Luke 10:25-37 by the story of the good Samaritan, who stopped at the road while on his journey. Doing no more than taking the opportunity that was before him, he forfeited his convenience. In fact, he went beyond just helping the man, by carrying him on his donkey and paying for his accommodation. This type of act comes from a heart of grace, which we can transfer to others, because of that which has been given to us.
Does this mean we should forfeit our convenience all together? No! Convenience is a great blessing, but the love of convenience is a curse. We should not necessarily actively pursue inconvenience and extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones. Rather, we should take hold of the opportunities before us no matter how small they may be.
A particularly profound example for me, has meant completing household chores – a task I always considered to be beneath me. Identifying a need, getting up, and fulfilling that need, is one of the most effective way in which live out a Christ-like example and grow in average daily life.
A Shift in Mindset?
In the end, it is unwise for Christians to say, ‘I am committed to following Christ which means I must also be committed to inconvenience.’ Commitment to Christ rather means commitment to his grace, which is the greatest convenience of all: we do nothing and receive everything. Thus, the only way to turn sinners into grateful sharers, and joyful servants in the name of Jesus is to help them see that everything we have is a sheer gift. It is all grace, from first to last. And that is wonderfully convenient.
David Lean is law & accounting student, elite athlete & business owner, from Brisbane, Australia.