Author J.K. Gressett writes about a man named Samuel Scull who settled on a farm in the Arizona desert with his wife and children. One evening, a fierce storm with rain, hail, and high winds swept across the desert leaving nothing but devastation and destruction in its path. Early the next morning, Samuel went out to survey the loss. The hail had utterly destroyed his garden, shingles had been blown from the roof, the henhouse had been blown away, and dead chickens were scattered around the yard. However, as he stood there dazed while assessing the damage, he heard a stirring in the lumber pile that was the remains of the henhouse. A rooster was climbing up through the debris, and he didn’t stop climbing until he had mounted the highest board in the pile. The old rooster was dripping wet, and most of his feathers were blown away. But, as the sun came over the eastern horizon, he flapped his bony wings and proudly crowed. Not even a huge storm could prevent him from fulfilling his responsibility.
In Paul’s final letter before he would die, he wrote to his young preacher friend in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season…” It was a reminder that life is often a mixture of battles, burdens, and blessings, but whether the times are favorable or frustrating, we must never lose the sense of urgency in our task. Certainly, there were days in His humanity that Jesus was physically exhausted and emotionally drained, but yet He never failed to “…be about My Father’s business.” When William Carey began thinking about going to India as a pioneer missionary, his father asked what qualified him to serve on the mission field with little academic training. Carey replied, “I can plod.” After arriving in India, Carey faced incredible obstacles and saw few conversions. However, he never took a furlough, and never returned home to England. He stayed for forty-one years, dying there at age seventy-three. In a generation that is proud and pampered, where are such “plodders” who remain “instant in season, out of season?” It is becoming much easier to change our tune than to change our thinking! A task is never worth living for until it is something we are willing to die with. Just what does it mean to “…be instant in season, out of season?”
It is a life ready for duty. The phrase “be instant” literally means “to stand by, be at hand, to be present.” It has been well-stated, “The greatest ability we possess is our availability.” Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose to use a nameless lad with five loaves and two fishes to perform a miracle? Because he was there! In any other location it was just a boy with a basket. Do you ever wonder why Simon was given the responsibility of carrying the cross of Jesus? Because he was there! In any other place in Jerusalem he was just a face in the crowd. Successful sailing is dependent upon the sailor remaining alert at his post ready to turn the sails to capture passing winds. Advancement in the Christian life is not luck nor an accident. It comes to those who are positioned to capture the wind of God. Watchman Nee once wrote, “No divinely sent opportunity must elude us.” Moses would never have guessed that loving on sheep would qualify him for leading people. Gideon never knew that threshing wheat would qualify him for thrashing the enemy. Even the smallest of tasks deserves the greatest of effort because a life not ready for gentle breezes will unravel when the whirlwind blows!
It is a life removed from distractions. The phrase “in season, out of season” means “with opportunity and without opportunity.” Paul was challenging Timothy not just to serve when it was convenient and comfortable. Some people can become so distracted looking for excuses that they miss the chance to seize opportunities. In Luke 14, Jesus gave His Parable of the Great Supper in which invitations were given to attend. Verse 18 records, “And they all with one consent began to make excuse…” As a consequence each of them missed the supper. If Rahab had used the excuse of her failed past, and Jephthah had used the excuse of his being a social outcast, would we still recognize Israel the same today? If Mephibosheth had kept leaning on his crutches in hiding, would he have ever discovered the grace awaiting him? There are opportunities in life that come so suddenly and swiftly that to hesitate or waver is to miss them altogether. We will spend our lives dreaming about all we could have done in the future if we do not secure the opportunities that lie close at hand today.
It is a life relentless in determination. The phrase “in season, out of season” is literally describing someone who is looking for opportunity, and when opportunity cannot be found, he strives to make an opportunity. However, the risk of possessing such resolve is being labeled a fanatic. British statesman Winston Churchill once said, “A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” We desperately need figures who are willing to take their stand and cannot be altered by the world’s agenda. Nehemiah was taken as fanatical by his adversaries, but he took his stance and “…the wall was finished…” John the Baptist was taken as fanatical by the priests, but he made the way clear for the Lord. The disciples thought Mary of Bethany was a fanatic, but her life had an aroma that could not be missed. Years ago, conductor Eugene Ormandy dislocated his shoulder while leading the Philadelphia Orchestra. Have you ever given so much of yourself that you dislocated anything for the Lord? Those who make the greatest impact on the world are not those who carefully guard their reputation, but rather those who can be everything or nothing in the world’s appraisal.
When archaeologists were excavating the ruins of Pompeii, they discovered the remains of a sentry still standing at his post as if he was warning the city when the volcanic explosion overtook them. He was being faithful when he was needed the most. Being “instant in season, out of season” is not always easy, but it is always right. Regardless of how difficult the way or how dark the day, may we ever be reminded that as ambassadors of Christ, there is always something to crow about!
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2009 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.