Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I was just saying to Scott last night that one of our cats, Greta, has never mastered that getting-out-of-the-way thing that cats typically do. Usually, cats slink around and anticipate your moves, sliding out of the way at the last second. Not Greta. She gets stepped on regularly, and she places herself right in the middle of doorways and stairs. We are often contorting ourselves to step around her. Goofy cat.

She likes to be right in the thick of things. This is especially true if she thinks she might be able to see the bottom of her dish, if she feels it may be coming perilously close to empty. Regardless of the state of her dish, though, she follows me around and I am always in her line of sight. Not big on meowing--unless you pick her up or step on her--she just makes her presence known by getting in the way. It occurs to me this morning that she may be on to something.

Ever notice how sometimes everything you read and hear is sending the same message? I'm doing a Beth Moore Bible study of the book of Esther, our series at church has been on the last chapter of Philippians and all about joy, and I just finished Phil Vischer's book, Me, Myself and Bob, about the rise and fall of the company he started, Big Idea, makers of VeggieTales. God has a beautiful way of getting His message through, loud and clear--even if it takes three different messengers! (and if you count Greta, four)

So here's what I've been hearing: We have to get to the place where only God is enough. He have to wait on Him, not the stuff, event, job, etc. Waiting on Him means giving up ALL the self stuff, including our dreams, even dreams He may have given us, and being completely and totally about Him. Loving with all we've got and all we are: mind, heart, soul, strength. I believe this with my head, I have for years. But living it out in a practical way is tougher for me. I don't know exactly what it looks like to wait on the LORD every moment, you know, while doing laundry, making lunches and racing for the bus, being a chauffeur, vacuuming, shopping, taking a shower, reading or watching tv, whatever....

Yes, I can be prayerful while I do these things, and sometimes I do a good job there. But waiting on HIM, rather than the next thing is kind of what was an eye-opener for me. I don't like the waiting part, I like the results part. But in the waiting is where we hear and see Him. If we don't wait, we miss it, our focus not on Him, but on the results.

And then I see Greta. She waits on me. She is singularly focused, following me, looking at me, watching for where I'll go next, gets in my face and makes me love her. Even as she's doing other things, like watching the squirrels out the window, she has one ear cocked toward me. Even when the dish is full. Maybe that's how I need to wait on the LORD. Singularly focused on Him, always listening for His direction, always looking for Him. And even if I'm in His way, He won't step on me, He'll redirect me. "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives." Proverbs 37:23 NLT Wow, He is so good.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Magic School Bus

How can it be that the bus stop stirs up so much in me? Am I a kook? That's a rhetorical question. There is something about the kids walking away, going somewhere else, away from me, to grow and learn... I have a love/hate thing going with it. I love that they're becoming their own people, going off into the world for just a little while. I hate that it's a reminder that someday they'll do it for real. They'll grow all the way up, or at least go all the way away. Their care will be beyond my jurisdiction.

I was thinking this morning about how my kids walk to the bus stop differently in the mornings:
I have one who wants me to be at the bus stop, or be watching it until the bus comes. Love that I'm still wanted, "needed," and you know, a little fresh air won't kill me in the morning. Hate that I'm often in the driveway or walking down the street in my jammies, that the weather is getting yukky, and hate that I suspect a little bit of a power/control thing, getting mom to do our bidding.

I have another one who kisses me good bye, professes love for me, and walks out the door, never looking back. Love the confidence, and the readiness to start the day. I like to think some of it comes from knowing there's love at home. Hate that there isn't even one tiny bit of needing me once the threshold has been crossed. I feel out of sight and out of mind.

And finally, I have one who bounds out the door, adjusting jacket and backpack, all a little discombobulated, gets to the end of the driveway, turns and goes about 10 paces or so down the street, and ALWAYS, like a reflex, looks back to see if I'm watching, and gives me a wave. Ok, I just love everything about this departure. It makes me smile every morning. But I still get that squishy feeling as the steps take my baby farther and farther away.

The Bible reminds us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for love, and a time for hate. It doesn't mention this battle in my heart where I'm engaged in both at the same time. But that same passage in the third chapter is about seasons. I think my struggle is now and has often been to fully appreciate the season that I'm in right now. Not anxiously awaiting the next thing, and being completely IN the season I'm in. So maybe loving and hating simultaneously is how I do it. I don't know.

At the end of his whole "there's a time for this and a time for that" message, Solomon says, "What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God." (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13)NLT

Oh Lord, help me enjoy the gifts that these children are, and help me to remember the WHOLE SCOPE of Your work, here on our street, in our home, in our lives.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

And, Action!

I was reminded again today of how very, very important it is to keep a record of the things God is doing in your life. Some call this "journaling." Some people can do that, and some really enjoy writing out their prayers, or dumping feelings all over a page. If that's not you, don't sweat it. Does the very mention of the j-word make you twitchy? Let me offer some encouragement to you.

For starters, call it something else! It can be just a pad of paper, or a folder full of scraps of paper, written in the car in a hurry. And take the pressure off of yourself to meaningfully write beautiful prose.... You can jot down a few words that will be a reminder to you. Bullet points are a beautiful thing; you don't have to write a whole story. It's for you, so no need to impress anyone, ya know? Think of facebook status updates, or tweets on twitter. Did God open the door today for you to have a conversation with someone? Did you see an answered prayer? One sentence will do.

Jesus warned about getting stuck spiritually in His parable about the farmer scattering seeds. When he explained the meaning of the parable to His disciples, He said, "The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity." (Luke 8:14 NLT) This life is full of legitimate cares. Bills have to be paid, kids have to be taken care of, work has to be done. In all those cares, we can rejoice in the moment of seeing God's activity, and then bounce right on to the next care. Remembering His love and activity can help keep those cares from crowding out His Good News.

There is such value in having a tangible record of God's activity that you can hold in your hands, look back at and remember, and see what He did. When you're keeping track, you'll be amazed at how His work in you starts to stack up! And what a blessing, during times of doubt and questioning, to be able to look back and see proof, to read in your own handwriting what He did in your life. He was active in the past and He is active today.