Hurry Up and Wait

 Kev & Sheba on Wade PorchBut do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:8-9

It seldom fails that Sheba decides it’s time to go outside at the most inconvenient times, and she is notorious for taking a very long time, sniffing everywhere for a place that meets with her satisfaction.  Now, Sheba may be deaf, but she’s not blind—in fact, she can probably see farther than I can.  So, though all I want her to do is hurry up and take care of her business, she’ll stop and gaze off into the distance if she catches sight of someone walking toward us.  Without moving, she’ll watch every step until they reach us.  Then she turns on the charm and usually manages to get the inevitable attention that she wants—few can pass her by without stopping to give her a pat on the back or a scratch behind the ears.  When they finally move on and turn the corner out of sight, she’ll get back to the reason we’re standing out there in the first place—and meanwhile I’m praying that another neighbor won’t decide to go for a walk so we can finish up and go back inside.

How often do we have an urgent task that needs to be accomplished—a purpose to be met—a destiny to be fulfilled by becoming all that God has called us to be; but we get sidetracked and let our attention waver toward other activities that appear more gratifying at the moment?  Unlike me waiting impatiently for Sheba, God is patient, and he waits lovingly and faithfully until we regain our focus and turn back to him and his agenda for our lives.  Then, he brings us back into his house where we are welcomed as “fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (see Ephesians 2:19). I can’t think of any place I’d rather be!

A Stubborn Streak

Sheba circleStubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen.  For many years you were patient with them.  By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets.  Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples.  But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.  Nehemiah 9:30-31

Pugs are notorious for being stubborn.  So, how is that any different from most of us?  Not much.

If we’re out for a walk and Sheba decides she’s gone far enough, she sits down, digs in with her hind legs, and refuses to go even one more step; but turn around toward home and all of a sudden she’s ready to go.  Just don’t try to trick her and go on past the front gate because there will once again be a pug planted on the sidewalk!  She doesn’t realize her stubbornness often causes her to miss out on a lot of loving because we invariably run into neighbors who want to pamper her with attention as soon as they see her.

How often do I choose to go my own way instead of following God’s plan?  As long as He cooperates everything is fine, but if it’s uncomfortable, or if I just don’t want to do it, or if I think I have a better way; I may dig in and refuse to move.  And, like Sheba, I may miss the treat that’s just around the next corner.

So, I ask myself, how many blessings have I missed by being stubborn and wanting things to either happen my way or no way at all?  How often have I settled for less than the best?

Hurry Up and Wait…

Hurry up and wait often seems to be the theme of my life, and I have to remind myself of the multitude of scriptures that encourage us to wait upon the Lord.  I turn on my computer and want instant responses from people around the world; or I hop on a plane for a five-hour trip across the continent, moaning all the while about the lines at the airport, the uncomfortable seating, the trip that seems to take forever…  It’s easy to forget the snail mail of my youth and become impatient with the few businesses that require a check in the mail instead of an easy online payment; or my grandmother who could recall traveling across Nebraska in a covered wagon.

In slower times were people more patient? Did my ancestors who were farmers have a better handle on the truth of James 5:7?

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.

Maybe…or maybe not.   I think of Abraham and Sarah who were not willing to wait for God’s promise and tried to speed things up; and the world is still reeling from the error of that decision as tensions between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael continue to escalate.  Or then there’s King Saul, God’s anointed choice to lead Israel, who became impatient and decided not to wait for Samuel but offered his own sacrifice—effectively putting an end to the reign of himself and his heirs.

Hurry up and wait remains a theme in all of our lives.  It’s the rush to get in those college applications and then be forced to wait months for the responses.  It’s the expectant mom who has readied the nursery and feels like she’s about to explode, but her child is two weeks late—the longest two weeks of that mother’s life!  It’s the person who is unemployed, rushing to apply to job after job, enduring one disappointment after another as the bills pile up and the bank account shrinks.  Or it’s as simple as driving like crazy to make it on time to a doctor’s appointment, only to be kept waiting for an hour.

My life has been consumed for the last several months with a hurry up and wait situation.  While far from home, I was hospitalized for an acute condition and was advised to consider major surgery with my personal physicians.  It was a scramble to see several doctors and make a very difficult decision whether to do it or not.  Finally, with the decision made to go ahead, there were a staggering number of tasks to complete before I could even consider a surgery date, but I was finally on the schedule for last Wednesday.  But wouldn’t you know?  Three days before, I was hit with virulent cold virus that required the surgery to be postponed for another week—such timing since it’s been almost three years since I’ve even had the hint of a cold.  So here I sit, writing on Monday morning, once again anticipating surgery on Wednesday.  Will I finally be able to just get this over with?  I certainly hope so, but I’m not counting on it this time.  I finally just gave up last week and told the Lord that it’s His problem—not mine, and I wait to see what happens next.  It’s comforting to know that He is in control, and that even as I wait He is faithful.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.  Lamentations 3:24-26

I recall the advice we give to our kids as they learn to cross a street, “Stop, look and listen.”  We must stop rushing blindly ahead, look to Jesus, and listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

God’s Preserves

An abundance of blackberry vines grew wild and, as Mom was fixing dinner, we’d often run outside and pick enough so she could put together a quick cobbler for dessert.  And my Dad—oh, he was the king of the blackberry pickers.  Give him some buckets and some loaded vines and he’d fill them up in nothing flat while we “helped,” eating as many as we were picking.  Then the kitchen would smell delicious for days as my mother canned enough blackberry preserves to last until the following year.

One day as I was reading my Bible, a verse popped out as never before, Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!  For the LORD preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person (Psalm 31:23)Before I’d always visualized the Lord throwing out a life preserver to save me, but now I realized that He was turning me into fruit-of-the-Spirit preserves; and I prayed that my life would become as flavorful as those wonderful blackberries of years ago.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

He shall abide before God forever.  Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him! Psalm 61:7)