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 New Interest

Sheba KevDo you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Sheba is getting old; she walks slower and seldom runs, and she loves to lie around and sleep a lot.  If she were human she would probably complain that life has become boring and meaningless, with her only pleasure coming from pleasant daydreams of the past or from the love and attention of her family.  But the other day Sheba developed a new interest that revolutionized her attitude.  There are lots of rabbits around our home and Sheba has pretty much ignored them for the year we’ve lived here.  On this morning, she stopped and stared—for a long time—not moving, hardly breathing—at a rabbit.  And the rabbit was watching her pretty closely too, ready to bound away if Sheba so much as blinked!  Finally, curiosity got the   better of her and she made a quick move toward the rabbit, but surprise, surprise; it didn’t just sit there and wait for her; and the chase was on.  Suddenly her whole body was infused with a new purpose; she just had to chase that rabbit.  Where did it go?  She knew it was on the neighbor’s patio, but how could she get to it?  Straining on her leash, her eyes bright with excitement, her cute, curly little tail wriggling with anticipation; she was like a puppy again, with a whole new goal in life.

Do you ever catch yourself sinking into monotony—content to lie around and sleep, or to sit and watch TV, or to do whatever it is you do when you’re bored and have no sense of purpose?  Have you ever considered just sitting still and waiting on God for a while; then getting up with a renewed sense of energy and purpose as He takes off in a new direction and your desire is to chase after Him?

If Sheba could get to that rabbit next door, just think of the fun she might have continuing the chase.  And remember the hidden joys that God has waiting for us if we persevere and follow him to the next adventure.  Then when we come to the end of our lives we can agree with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Great Insurance

Kev Sheba BeachFor the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.  1 Corinthians 1: 18-19

Sheba could easily have a career as a garbage disposal.  She will ravenously gulp down almost any food, never exercising any restraint; not even slowing down to savor the taste.  Or, perhaps she could masquerade as a pig, albeit a likeable one, maybe a bit like Miss Piggy.   Left to her own appetite—her own wisdom—Sheba would eventually destroy herself by eating herself into oblivion.  But she has a health insurance policy—me.  I’m here to make sure she doesn’t self-destruct.

Not all of us have an eating problem like Sheba, but we all have a sin problem that can eventually destroy us if we follow our own foolish plans.  But God has a life and health insurance policy that can’t be beat, one unlike anything the world has to offer. First of all, it’s free; there’s no cost to us at all.  It was purchased by Jesus on a wooden cross about two thousand years ago, and it never goes out of date or gets canceled.  Second, it wipes out all of our past mistakes and provides everything we need not only to survive but to flourish during our life on earth.  And third, it guarantees an eternal home with God in heaven.

So how do we sign up?  It’s easy. “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame…for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:11,13)

Running in Circles

Kev Sheba CouchFind rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  Psalm 62:5-6

One of Sheba’s favorite pastimes when she was younger was to run around in circles and entice people to chase her; and there was no way to catch her either, unless you managed to get tricky and trap her.  Such fun! But it was a temporary pleasure.  She would eventually get tired and have to rest (and so would we!)—and then go back and do it again…and again…and again… Always pleasurable, but always tiring, and needing to be repeated in order to experience the joy.  Never really getting anywhere either; just going around in circles.

Do we ever do that?  Run around in circles, spinning our wheels, to achieve the satisfaction of being the best, with nobody able to keep up with us because we’re so fast, or talented, or efficient?  If we do, we eventually fall into a trap—it may be that  someone else outperforms us, or it may be that we simply get tired or old and can no longer manage the pace.

Now that Sheba’s an old lady there are very few circles anymore; just a deep contentment that comes as she rests at my feet.

Perhaps we also need to learn that there is a level of peace that cannot be achieved by our hectic lifestyle, a quiet contentment that comes from learning to rest at the feet of our master.  We no longer have to work so hard to feel good; all we need to do is follow Him around, do what he says, and we will be rewarded with constant peace and joy, not just a temporary “fix.”

Making a Statement

Kev ShebaWhoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  Matthew 10:32

Kevin had a t-shirt with a picture of a pug on the front.  On the back, lots of paw prints and the words, “My dog walks all over me.”  It was a statement of his love for her, that he was proud of her and wanted to show her off; and also a joking admission that she had a lot of influence over him.

May my life be as that t-shirt, portraying a proud witness of my love for God.  May the marks on the back be God’s fingerprints; and may the words be, “God holds me in the palms of his hands.”  May I never be ashamed or afraid to identify myself with Him.

Body Language

Sheba on grassAnd my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

Sheba has a cute, curly little pug tail. When she’s happy that funny little tail wriggles back and forth with joy—and anyone watching invariably laughs right along with her.  But when she’s sick, or tired, or frightened, or in a hurry to find just the right spot on the grass; that cute, curly little tail will just go straight—hanging down between her legs—no joyful anticipation, no contentment—just a sure sign of stress.

Sounds a lot like life.  When we’re happy or excited, we exude enthusiasm.  Instead of a curly tail we may have a smile on our face, a twinkle in our eyes, or a confident spring in our step.  But just let the trials of life come—sickness or fatigue, financial problems, misunderstandings, sorrow or loss, failures, fear—and all of a sudden the smile/twinkle/spring is gone.

When Sheba’s tail is straight, we’re alerted to either help her meet her immediate needs or to comfort her through her pain.  God does pretty much the same for us; for every problem, He has a solution; He’s always there. Jesus promised that He would not leave us alone—that He would ask the Father to send his Holy Spirit of Truth to be our Comforter. (see John 14:15-28)

Ready to Get Wet

page33bIn this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise and honor when Jesus is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:6-9

Sheba is afraid of the water.  Not long after she joined our family, we were at the beach.  We wanted to play with her in the waves, but she would have none of it!  We would walk into the shallow, receding tide, and she would pull away as far as she could—up to about thirty feet if we allowed her to pull the retractable leash all of the way out.  A few days later, walking alongside a lake she did the same thing.  We’ve also noticed that just walking around our neighborhood she strenuously avoids sprinklers or puddles of water.  And if you want to make her keep her distance in the yard, just pick up the hose—it doesn’t even have to be on!

But Sheba has come to love her baths because she knows that bath time means some serious pleasure in terms of rubbing and cuddling.  After all, how can you not rock and cuddle a cute, towel-wrapped bundle of pug with those huge brown eyes staring up at you with absolute love?.  Her inborn fear of the water is overcome by faith that she’s going to experience incredible joy.

Faith in my master’s love also gets me through frightening situations.  It replaces my fear with joy beyond measure, and I can agree with Paul, “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).