Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wait on the Lord


To arrive at his high school, my son must drive a route that passes over train tracks. We often wait impatiently while trains inch forward and backward to change tracks at this frequently crossed intersection. One morning last week, Gabe's impatience got the best of him. He began turning around in an effort to get to school by a different route. However, the shoulder gave way under his tires, and the car careened into a ditch. Luckily, Gabe is safe, but the car is in sad condition.

We wait for trains, for healing and for direction; we frustratedly hold the phone waiting to speak with customer service representatives or change grocery story lines to get more quickly out of the store. We tap our fingers and chew our nails in our impatience. Sometimes waiting results in angry outbursts.

Scripture often reminds us to "wait on the Lord." Yet, like Gabe who was not willing to wait for the train, we opt not to wait, but rather take matters into our own hands.

Why is waiting so difficult? It requires that we stop the momentum and trust that something will take place. Similarly, waiting on the Lord entails the ability to pause, submit to a higher authority and trust with confidence in God's action.

As Gabe found out, an inability to wait may actually hinder our progress.  We can mess things up when we take matters into our hands rather than trust in God's understanding.

What are you waiting for? Perhaps you are waiting for your child to learn obedience or for your spouse to see things your way. Maybe you're waiting for just the right job to come along or to save enough money so that you can take a vacation. You could be waiting for your body to heal so that you can exercise again, or you might be waiting to see if a new medication will help you feel better. Life is full of how do we deal with it?

We can use times of waiting to grow in our walk with God. In Psalm 130: 5-8, the psalmist wrote,
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope. 
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

When we wait with hopeful expectation that the Lord will answer, we are confident that He will make something happen when it is the right time. We anticipate His answer and rely on His guidance and His unfailing love.

Dear Lord,
Help me in my impatience to place my hope in Your Word and Your unfailing love.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Job was a fortunate man who possessed good health, wealth and a beautiful family -- until it was all taken away from him. When Job contemplated the reasons for his bad luck, his friends indicated he was somehow to blame for his misfortune. They opined that God rewards those who do good and takes away from those who don't live a righteous life. Job's wife wondered why Job did not give up, "curse God and die." Yet, despite all Job had lost, he still rejoiced in his relationship with his Savior. In the face of his many hardships, Job remained strong in his faith. He said,
"I know that my Redeemer lives, 
and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 
And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!" (Job 19: 25-27)

Contrary to the view of his friends, Job knew that his goodness did not make him successful or prosperous just his his wickedness did not lead to futility. Job was not defeated by his circumstances. He had lost so much, yet he still clung to what was most important, faith in his Lord and Savior in whose presence Job longed to reside.

God did eventually restore Job's integrity, success and fortune. But regardless of his situation and standing in life, Job had won the battle with evil, not because of his worldly significance, but because of his trust in His Redeemer. He stood strong in the Lord, and the Lord restored his faith. Jesus tells us in John 16:33,
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

We can rejoice even when we have worries and fears. We can grow closer to our Savior by spending time in His Word and in relationship with Him. When we come to God in repentance, He will restore us and lead us to strength and joy in Him. Christ has overcome the world! Alleluia!

Dear Lord, I know that You, my Redeemer live! I want to see You and spend time on this earth in Your presence. Restore my strength and faith in You so that I too can triumph over the worries that plague me. Thank You that You have overcome the world. For this I rejoice!
In Christ's Name. Amen

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8).

Last weekend, my eldest son married a lovely young lady. The meticulously planned for event was over in what seemed the blink of an eye. As I watched Joel express his love and commitment to his bride, scenes from the past filled my mind. I saw Joel as a chubby, babbling baby boy, then as a toddler with wild blond hair, and expressive, dark brown eyes as he ran in circles with unrestrained energy. The silly humor of his elementary years turned into a serious shyness in high school. College and graduate school brought new images to mind as Joel worked hard to acquire skills preparing him to work as an engineer. I was both sad and happy as I recollected these fleeting memories.

In a similar vein, I evaluated the quandary of time after the death of both of my parents. My siblings and I made poster boards displaying photos of our parents at various stages in their lives. I recall my bewilderment as I scrutinized the summation of a life displayed on one large piece of cardboard. I wonder at the uncontrollable passing of time.  I wanted, this past weekend, to slow events down and savor each moment of the happy occasion. During painful experiences on the other hand, I yearn to speed up events and move on to better times.

Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, reasoned that everything in life happens in its appropriate season - death, birth, planting, plucking, laughter, mourning, etc. Every event is a component of our earthly existence, and we learn how to grapple with both joy and sadness through our experiences. Paul encourages us to aim in the present to ascertain and understand the purpose God has placed in our paths and strive to follow His guidance in making the best use of our time:

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained (Philippians 3: 12b-16).

I want to take hold of the purpose Christ places in my life right now. I will often fail in this endeavor, but I aim to make every effort to pick myself up, brush off the dust and try again. We have much to look forward to in the future if we live for Christ and press on toward the goal of living life in service to Him.

Dear Lord: I ask you to help me use my time wisely. Like Paul, I will not always obtain my goals, and I will frequently make poor use of my time. Yet, you forgive me and love me despite my failures. Be with me as I press on to follow your example and grow in faith in You.

In Christ's Name. Amen

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Angry with God

Have you ever been angry with God? Did you feel that He had let you down? Maybe you even questioned whether He cared for you at all. You may have theorized God was too busy handling more significant matters that pressed Him and didn't have time to answer your prayer.

When trying to trudge through the adoption entanglement, I didn't understand why God wouldn't just take over and amend the confusing situation. My mind contemplated all that God could do in His omniscience. He could bring my daughter out of Vietnam. He could give her a home rather than leave her in an orphanage under the auspices of Immigration police who were after bribes, not the welfare of my child. If, as we are taught, God is all powerful, why would He not bring a child into a loving home rather than allow corruption to keep her from knowing our love?  I knew of other parents who were experiencing similar dilemmas. They wanted desperately to love a child, yet for some reason, the child was trapped by bureaucratic regulations that confined rather than served the interests of loving parents and hurting children. 

I now experience a comparable frustration as I watch one of my children suffer. Gabriel, 17, was an elite soccer player who was injured last fall during a game. The orthopedist convinced my son that an ACL repair would enable him to play soccer again this fall. Yet, the repair did not go well, and my son doesn't understand why God didn't heal him when it is in His power to do so. I, as Gabe's mother, am angry with God. You, O God, are capable of performing a miracle and healing my son. Why don't you do so?

I wonder what Christ felt as He hung on the cross and endured excruciating pain while His Father allowed Him to experience this horrible suffering. Christ, in fact, was honest with His Father: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?," Jesus said (Mt 27:46). Christ was uttering a psalm of David in which David also cried to God, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?" (Psalm 22:1).

Jeremiah was also frank with God when he expressed his anger, "O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughing stock all the day; everyone mocks me" (Jeremiah 20:7).

In another psalm, David expresses the insight he had gained through a painful experience: "Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me." God may not heal us in the way we had expected. He may not heal Gabriel so that he can play soccer again. He also may not handle your circumstances in the way you wish, but He can heal you, nevertheless. He can use your situation for His glory and to bring you closer in relationship to Him.

Dear God, Help me in my anger to come to You and open my heart to You. I pray that You will heal my hurt and take away my anger. In Jesus' Name, Amen.