Devotion: An inefficient God

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

Scripture seems a bit repetitive at times.  Couldn’t it be more efficient?

Last month, satellites hovering miles above me pinpointed my location along the Blue Ridge Relay so I could calculate out my mileage, pace, and elevation. Last week, I cranked out twenty miles with a monitor strapped around my chest that counted my beating heart. Through Garmin and MapMyRun I can see how many calories I have burned and what my average stride length is. All of this data reveals how efficient and productive I am.

Then, as I have read through 1 and 2 Kings, I have noticed God’s timeline. It took:

  • 430 years for the people of Israel to be freed from the bondage of slavery with the gift of freedom.
  • 480 years for the people of Israel to be freed from the aimless wandering with the gift of rest.
  • 450 years for the people of Israel to have rebuilt Jerusalem while silently waiting for the gift of the Messiah.

While I looked over my running data, I noticed how efficient and productive I was, and struggled to understand why it would take God so long to get His redemptive work done.

Efficiency and Productivity are two values that drive not only my runs but often shape my days.  Did I maximize my efforts to minimize my work? Did I accomplish the goals I had set out in the morning? What were the action items from that meeting?

Unfortunately, Efficiency and Productivity are not Biblical values.  Truly they are values we have inherited from the Industrial Revolution.

God does not value efficiency and productivity. He prefers endurance, perseverance, steadfastness and faithfulness. What God’s long work in the world reveals is that He is “the preserving God who slowly yet steadily accomplishes His redemptive work.”* He not only does this in history, but also in our lives.

Rather than being efficient, one of the main descriptors of God is His hesed.  This Hebrew term is translated as “his steadfast and enduring love.”

Repeatedly throughout scripture the people of Israel would break into song, saying, “Give thanks to God for his steadfast love endures forever.”

I am not sure we realize it, but most of us are looking for ways to make even our relationships efficient and productive.  We want status updates to notify all 700 of our “friends” what highlight we just experienced.  We rate our friendships on how helpful they are to us.  We avoid people who aggravate and annoy us or waste our time.

While we may want efficient friendships, God wants enduring ones.  While we may want productive relationships, God wants steady ones.  And Jesus often “wasted His time” with people.

Truly enduring and steadfast relationships are forged over time through hardwork, suffering and challenges.  So am I trying to make my relationship with God efficient? What about with others?


*Dale Ralph Davis, 1 Kings Commentary. 

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