What Are You Waiting For?

A twenty-something star-crossed beauty, decked out with a scarf around her neck and sweater UGGS over her jeans, craning her neck for a sighting of her fiance.  A busy 2 year old boy, blowing frosty impressions on the glass as he watches the planes, holding a sign “Welcome Grandma and Grandpa!”   Parents anxiously checking their watches, then the arrival board, wondering aloud if their college student remembered to pack enough clothes for the 5 week break between semesters. Soldiers in uniform, burying their heads in the shoulders of wives and babies and parents as spontaneous applause erupts around them.

Airports.  I love airports, especially around Christmas.  There is an excitement, a buzz of emotions that can’t help but catch me and wrap me up as I join the throng of humanity in advent of homecoming.  I usually end up shedding a tear or two as I happily wait to hug family that I haven’t been able to touch in months, except through the virtual world of Facetime.

We enter the season of waiting.  Waiting for packages to arrive from UPS or the Postal Service.  Waiting for Christmas music 24/7.  Waiting for A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph and Frosty and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town to be available on Netflix or aired on TV.  We prepare grocery lists and menus.  We decorate the house and wrap presents, all in preparation for The Big Day.  Christmas.

Advent.  The dictionary defines advent as “the coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important.”  But for something important to come, we must wait first.  Waiting isn’t always easy, and sometimes we don’t know what we are waiting for. You may be waiting for a toddler to reach a developmental milestone or a teenager to pick up their room or a prodigal to come home. You may be waiting on a friend to forgive you or a husband to notice you.  Maybe you wait for the overwhelming torrent of grief to be replaced by just a heartstring pull and sweet memories.

Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus wait, in Luke 11:1-43.  I used to think of the story of Lazarus as mostly an account of resurrection.Which it is. But it is also a story about waiting. I love this account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It teaches us so much about our own humanity. I love the disciples. We see their human side.

When Jesus tells the disciples that he is going back to Bethany, they immediately start trying to talk him out of it. “But Rabbi, a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?”

When Jesus tells them that Lazarus has fallen asleep, but He’s going back to wake him up, the disciples then think they’ll give Jesus advice.

“Lord, if he sleeps, he’ll get better.”

Clearly, the disciples don’t want to make this journey back to Bethany.  Dear Thomas, who probably wasn’t the most naturally brave of them all says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Can’t you just see Thomas? Squaring his shoulders, sitting up straight and, realist that he was, determining already in his mind that Jesus was going to die if he went to see Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

And Jesus doesn’t just wait a day or two after Lazarus died. No, he waits 4 days after Lazarus died.  What was He doing?  God, what are you doing?  Do you hear me?  Don’t you understand the situation?  Why do I have to do this?  How long do I have to WAIT?

We have Jesus who seems to have taken his time and arrived too late. We have disciples who are trying to give the Son of God advice and talk him out of his plans. We have sisters, dear friends of Jesus, who are grieving.

What does God teach us about waiting?

1) Waiting teaches us that God understands us and grieves with us even though He already knows the outcome. Jesus already knew that Lazarus was dead. Yet, when he came to Bethany and saw the sorrow of Mary and the others, he wept with them. God knows our frailty.

2) Waiting teaches us who is in control. It might seem sometimes like our circumstances are in control, or governments are in control, or any number of things (even our emotions!) but ultimately, the God of the Universe is the one in control. This is one of the foundations of my faith.I  can trust a God who has an ultimate purpose for my life and that purpose is to conform me to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

What did Thomas do?  He assumed the worst, didn’t he?  He thought about the “What if?” and assumed that they would all die. How often do we get way ahead of God’s purposes and assume the worst?  We need to wait expectantly for all of the amazing things God will do so that we can say, “God’s hand has surely done this!”

3) Waiting teaches us to go on with life.  This is one of the hardest of life’s lessons. Mary and Martha had to go on with life while they waited for Jesus to come. They had to go through the ritual of preparing their brother’s body and burying him. There was more to the grief than just that Jesus didn’t come “in time.” Jesus was a dear friend. They wanted to see him in person.

4) Waiting teaches us that God is purposeful in every thing He does, even when He seems to delay.

From the very beginning, Jesus stated His purpose: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Luke 11:4

When Martha and Mary both say, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” I used to think they were reproaching Jesus for not coming. However, read what Martha says next : “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Luke 11:21, 22 What an acknowledgement of who Jesus was and is!

Where are you today? Are you waiting on circumstances to change? Be encouraged! God knows, he empathizes with you, and he has a plan. Just as His plan for our salvation through the advent of Emmanuel carried through time, even before it was time.  He spoke hope into the darkness, the void, the nothingness.

He is WITH YOU.  Emmanuel.  God WITH US.

It is for God’s glory that God’s Son may be glorified through it!  Luke 11:4

 

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Redefining The Big Mouth

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.”  Psalm 81:10

Change.  The very word causes heart palpitations and anxiety within the human heart and mind.  The world seems to teter on collapse every day…financially, politically, nationally.  People move more frequently…statistics show us that the American family moves an average of every 3-4 years.  Technology updates so quickly that our young children learn it more quickly than we do.

All you have to do to throw a work place into a heightened state of panic is to say, “We’re updating our computer systems.”   Has that ever happened to you or someone you know?

I find it interesting that the God who never changes requires us to continually change.

He asks us, no, really He commands us, to take our human nature and transform and conform it to the nature of Jesus.  Too often, our stubbornness trenches in or we offer excuses.  Even worse, we try to reform ourselves instead of yielding to the refining power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside us as believers in Jesus.

God asked the people of Israel to leave Egypt.  That’s a lot of change!  Although they had cried out for hundreds of years to be released from slavery, there was something of the familiar in remaining in the brick pits with their baskets of straw.  Perhaps it was easier to remain where they were than to trust the unknown ahead. In Psalm 81, the poet reminds us of all the LORD acted upon:

He removed the burden from their shoulders. (Psalm 81, verse 6)

He set their hands free from the basket.  (Psalm 81, verse 6)

He rescued them. (Psalm 81, verse 7)

He answered them.  (Psalm 81, verse 7)

He tested them. (Psalm 81, verse 7)

He brought them out of bondage, where they had forgotten who they were. (Psalm 81, verse 10)

He promised to fill their mouths…to give them manna, their omer, an actual measured amount that perfectly met their daily need and in turn filled them with a voice that praised God from a heart full from obedience. (Psalm 81, verse 10)

If only they would listen.

Three times in Psalm 81, God says, “Listen to me.”

What other gods are before us that roar in our ears and deafen the stillness of God speaking?  The gods that sap our strength and suck our life dry?

The god of dissatisfaction?

The god of acceptance?

The god of self?

The god of hurry?

Do you sense God asking you to let go of something to move ahead in trusting Him?  To change?  

Don’t let the familiar pain of yesterday keep you from experiencing the unfolding beauty of today.

Listen.  God will meet you there.  And then expect Him to satisfy you with the abundance of His finest provisions and fill your mouth to give Him praise.

 

 

 

 


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Just Another Running Toilet

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” Genesis 16:13 (NLT)

“Have a great time on your date!  Michael and I will have fun this morning,”  I reassured my middle daughter and her husband as they snuck out the back door.  My 2 year-old grandson Michael played with his car garage in the front room, talking happily to himself and his zoom-zooms.  As soon as Emily and Clark left, college sophomore daughter, Molly, set herself to doing dishes in the kitchen.

Then I noticed it. AGAIN.  The sound of running water coming from the bathroom.  I walked into the bathroom, determined to find the source.  Ah, coming from the toilet.  So, like any normal person, I hoisted the lid from the back of the commode to jiggle the little chain thing.  (Excuse my lack of toilet terminology knowledge.)  Except there was no little chain thing.  Only a small white tube to run water  into the return pipe.

That white tube was decidedly out of place.  It whipped up, rising above the toilet like an uncoiling snake, knowing no shame.  This was not a trickle of water.  This was a torrent.  Out of control, the little monster spun around and soaked my face, my hair, my clothes.  In a mili-second, I was standing in at least an inch of water on the floor of the bathroom.  I tried to shut off the water at the base of the toilet.  The valve. Would. Not. Budge.  I confess, I prayed not.  I screamed.
     ”MOLLY!!  CALL EMILY AND CLARK NOW!!!”
Unbeknownst to me, my nineteen-year-old was happily plugged in to her iPhone.  She didn’t hear a thing.
     ”MOLLY!! HELP!!”  No response.
Okay, I said to myself, put the tube in the return pipe and replace the lid on the back of the toilet.  Right. Water squirted out from under the lid, continuing to pour onto the floor.  That’s when I saw the clip.  The tube had a microscopic white clip on its side.  Clip attached.  Annoying sound stopped.   Situation under control.  A woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do.  It took all the towels they owned to mop up the bathroom.

Just another running toilet.

“You need to go in the prayer room!”  My bright-eyed roommate’s passion spilled into her voice.  Even though she carried her sweetly round belly, pregnant for the fourth time, mother of 3 boys, her energy caught me.

“Prayer room?  Where is it?”

Two days before visiting my daughter, I had arrived at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, ready for a surprise encounter from God, wanting direction for where I was to journey next in my semi empty-nest life.  I felt too unsure and too under-equipped, in mourning from life changes over the past 2 years. But I prayed.  Others were praying with me.  ”God, speak.”

Fending off the sleepiness from getting up at 3 am that morning to catch a plane from Iowa to North Carolina, I took the elevator down to the first floor of the hotel where the prayer room was located.  The door stood ajar, and the room was empty.  God’s presence beckoned as I walked in.  The Presence.

“Our names have all been prayed over.  Your name is next to a Name of God that the staff felt we needed to know.  You should look for it,” my roommate had encouraged me.

Arranged on tables around the room were sheets of paper with the names of God and over 750 women’s names placed next to them.  My name.  There.  Written on God’s heart next to El Roi, the God Who Sees.  El Roi, a God so watchful that He cares even when the smallest sparrow falls to the ground. A Fatherly God who is always near in the desolate places, helping us find a path through troubles, working out His plans for our future.  

El Roi, the Name of God that had been placed before me over and over the past 2 years.  I cried.  Tears of relief, tears of joy, tears because this God touches each one of us personally.  No, He doesn’t just touch.  He lifts, He provides, He restores, He heals.  He knows.

He knows every sleepless night you cradle your baby, every tear shed for an aging parent who can’t remember your name, every fear from the doctor’s diagnosis, every scar from feeling ignored in this life.  He sees the seemingly mundane, too.

Not just another running toilet.  Not just another tired toddler or challenging teenager.  Nor just another misunderstanding with your man or oatmeal that overcooked and stuck so hard to the pan that it took two days to clean.  He sees.  Like Haggai questioned, have you truly seen the One who sees you?  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Ask Him to speak.   He promises that He will find you.





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