Monday, March 28, 2011

Ready, Set, WAIT!!!!!

I love my kids... No, really, I do. I love them now, loved them when they were little and will love them right up until I take my very last breath. I have to, God makes me. That is a good thing because there have been many bumps along my parenting road that would have derailed me had He not put that in place.

One of the things that I learned early on in my parenting journey was a fairly simple truth that had great impact on how I managed from day to day. I realized that children don't have a concept of time innately built into them, but that it's learned and has to be repeatedly practiced for years before they truly get it. I realized this by mistakenly informing them of outings or dates that were to contain very fun and exciting adventures prior to their actual happening. In short, my children drove me nutty asking if we were "there yet?" I began to understand the reasoning behind keeping the excitement a secret until I knew for sure we were headed to the car and on to our adventure. I did it to keep myself at least a little closer to sanity and to hopefully avoid disappointment should plans in our very unpredictable lives change.

As my children have matured into young adults, their concept of time has improved and I can let them know ahead of time when we are planning a trip or adventure. They appreciate the delight of waiting for the good stuff to come along and they have gotten much better at not making Mom a raving lunatic with an eye twitch who mutters to herself. They are also more capable of handling disappointment when life hands us a change in plans and we have to delay our gratification a bit longer.

I wonder often if God feels the same way about His children? Does he get a tick in His Heavenly facial muscles when we start in on the fact that He is taking sooooo long to complete our prayer requests? Does He hold His mighty head in His hands and make guttural growly sounds when we continuously ask, "Am I there yet?" or worse yet, "Are you there, God?" Does God resist the urge to yell into the back seat, "If you ask me one more time, we are turning around and not going anywhere!"? I chuckle at the thought, but I might actually get it if He did any of those things. I might realize how irritating I am being if I heard my Heavenly Father losing His patience with my impatience.

But, to His credit and due solely to His Holy demeanor, He does no such thing. He simply waits with us in the silence, no matter what whining noise we decide to make. God knows before our impatience sets in and we start the complaining that it's coming. He doesn't fool Himself into thinking that we are old enough to get it, we will understand He is there with us or that we will somehow miraculously settle into this amazing trust of Him because He has never left nor forsaken us. Nope. God completely gets us and our inability to be patient with His omniscient timeline.

And yet, He still tells us we have something great coming our way. Is He crazy? Does He delight in torturing our mortal souls? Nope. He simply loves us enough to keep trying to teach us that our concept of time needs some work. He wants us to understand that He loves us even when we don't understand Him and His seeming disappearance at critical times. In Isaiah 55:8 God tells us that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. We don't get to think with the same Heavenly brain and therefore our warped Worldly concept of time is also skewed. We think God is taking a very long time to complete something and yet God's sense of time is absolutely perfect. We may never know the things God has done for us and with us while He seemed to tarry, but we have to trust that He is in it all.

I am sure that Martha and Mary had some choice words for our Lord all set up to spill forth when He missed a critical visit to Lazarus in the eleventh chapter of John. Jesus had chosen to wait a full four days after Lazarus was in the tomb to venture into Bethany, which was only a mere two miles away. After reading the story we are told that He did it for a very specific reason, so that those who witnessed Lazarus' resurrection would know that it was not by accident or a trick but a true and miraculous rising. Try telling that to Martha and Mary as they had watched Lazarus slip into more and more dire straits, finally dying and even being entombed. I am sure you might have heard just what they thought of the idea! After the sting of their grief had subsided ever so slightly, however, they showed their faith in the Lord by meeting Him on the road and trusting Him when He asked for the stone to Lazarus' tomb to be rolled away. And what a sight for sore and weep-worn eyes when their brother answered the call of Jesus to rise and come forth! Imagine Martha's joy and excitement when her timetable for her brother's rise turned out to be so very, very wrong!

When you pray, have faith. God always answers, and He answers in three ways: Yes, No, or Wait. The yes and the no are easy, the instant gratification answers, if you will. The harder answer is the "wait." It is harder because it is designed to grow us, to teach us and to complete God's plan, not just our own. Often, when I have been required to wait, God has delivered so much more than I could have ever thought to ask for. I am not saying that some "wait" requests haven't ended in a final "no," but always it has been for the absolute benefit of giving glory to God. Growth is often painful and waiting is not for the faint of heart, but the ultimate result of being more wholly His is absolutely worth it. What are you waiting for? Trust God to keep driving the car right up to the curb of His Heavenly purpose and know that even when you keep asking every twenty seconds or so that yes, He is still there, still in control and still very much in love with you!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Don't shoot the messenger...

From Sophacles to Shakespeare, the Old West to current media, we have been admonished to keep our cool when receiving bad news. Easier said than done sometimes, but a good concept over all. It's advice that promotes fairness, backs up the biblical concept of control and helps cooler heads to prevail. I like it. Well, mostly....

What happens when the person who is delivering news to you is someone you absolutely do not like? You don't agree with their life choices, you feel they have been dishonest or even mean to you and yet you are receiving information from them. It becomes much more difficult to receive that information with grace when all you really want to do is pinch their heads off!

This is where the challenge really comes in. Can I listen to God AND do what He is asking of me even when the message is coming from what I view as an unlikely source? Am I willing to accept that the message God asks me to deliver to this blog may be looked upon in that light?

We all have value to God. He loves all of us and He is unswerving in that love. Each of His children are loved beyond measure and with an intensity that is shocking. We are ALL His favorites because He is not human and because He loves in a way that we will never understand with our human minds

If I truly believe that, and I do, then I have to believe that even those folks that have hurt me, lied to me, made me regret - even those people have value to me because they have value to God. Hits below the belt, doesn't it?

That was my thought when a friend of mine shared a verse that she had appropriated into her faith arsenal. She'd heard the verse not from a close friend over a relaxing cup of coffee, but from the mouth of a woman who was in the midst of tearing her family apart. It stopped her in her tracks, it made her take notice and it cemented the message in her head.

God can use anyone to make His point. Am I willing to listen? Am I so sure that I have the luxury of not listening because I don't like the person delivering the message? I don't have the privilege of being judge and jury and frankly, I don't want it. I have put myself in that position before and it was disastrous.... Am I willing to admit that I am wrong and that I need all the help I can get, even from "unlikely" sources?

The most unlikely source in the first century was Himself the son of a Heavenly carpenter. Jesus was not respected in His home town, yet His message was straight from the Father. How many people missed the message because of the messenger, because they refused to believe that an uneducated man could deliver such an important message? Set in that light it is a stark and frightening reminder of our own sinfulness.

How many important messages have I missed because I refused to credit the messenger as God instead of the courier who stood before me? God knows exactly what He is doing and who He is using to speak to my heart. I have to trust that and realize His message is infinitely more important than my comfort with who is the bearer.