Patience

Our Turn

Luke 12:35-36

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,
like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet,
so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.”

Well, Tijge’s first tee-ball season is in the books. I don’t know that it is a sport he will pursue any further, but the season certainly taught me something. All of these kids were playing for the first time. They knew little to nothing about the game, but some definitely had some pre-conceived notions. One little girl in particular comes to mind. She was all decked out at the first game, with her pink bat, pink helmet, and matching black and pink glove. And she was ready to play. I think in the end, she was disappointed with the slower tempo of the game. I remember one of the first games, while the team was in the field, when she asked the coach, “When will it be our turn?” You see, in her mind, their “turn” only came when they were up to bat. It didn’t even dawn on her that she might get more action in the field. After all, when a team is at bat, each player spends most of their time on the bench. And often, it’s players’ fielding performances that can win or lose the game. But on the surface, the field seems quiet, subdued—like a waiting game.

I wanted to somehow convey to her the idea that this time spent playing defense, and seemingly waiting, was equally as important as time spent on offense. It didn’t take but a hot second for me to see the parallels between being a 5-year old on a tee-ball team and being a Christian in today’s day and age. How so? I’m glad you asked.

For starters, don’t we always want to be where the “action” is? We want to be in the spotlight, at the plate, hitting home runs, getting noticed. We don’t realize that the real, hard work of the Christian life often happens in the quiet, slow, behind-the-scenes moments—when we don’t feel at all important. We beg for God to put us in the game—Come on, Coach, I can do it!

But in truth, God may (and probably is) doing something extremely powerful and valuable during the waiting. He may be doing something in you—culling sin, developing gifts, igniting passion. He might be doing something through you. He might have someone who needs to see you handle those times of waiting with grace, humility, and purpose. He may be preparing you for the world beyond the waiting or He may be preparing the world for YOU. Can you imagine?

As we wait though, in seeming limbo, we sometimes lose focus. Like 5-year old tee-ball players, we need constant reminders to get into ready position, to watch for the ball, to support our teammates, to stay vigilant—READY. When we aren’t ready, we can miss opportunities to make huge contributions to the team, to the Kingdom. We must stay present, focused, and engaged, even when it seems like our role is small.

Finally, when we do make the big plays, I think that there is a very real temptation to bask in the limelight, to take the credit, and accept the glory. Just as in tee-ball, where success is a team effort, we can’t accomplish much in this Christian walk without the help and support of God and our fellow sojourners.

So now, when I’m tempted to ask God, “When is it my turn?”, I try to hear Him reminding me that it is my turn, now and always. The question is, my turn to do what? And if I can find the answer, I can make the very most of this life. And so can you. So let’s get in ready position, because it’s our turn!

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In Waiting

Romans 5:6

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Waiting is hard. And it’s especially hard when God has called you to a place or a task or a position. Have you ever longed to do something that you felt you were born to do, meant to do, or created to do? Has God ever given you that sense of passion and urgency, only to instruct you to wait? Wait?! Are you kidding me? Well, I’ve been there…in fact, I’m there now. But it turns out we’re in good company. The Bible is full of people who were given their calling well before it came to fruition. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just share three.

First, there was Joseph (Genesis 37-42). You remember Joseph…that little brat who couldn’t keep his mouth shut about all of the grand things God was going to do through him. Yeah, that one. Well, after being given these dreams of grandeur, he had to wait and suffer for quite some time. After his brothers plotted to murder him, they changed their minds and sold him to a band of Ishmaelites, who in turn sold him as a slave to Potiphar. He probably thought his luck was turning around when Potiphar made him leader of his household, until Potiphar’s wife accused him of attempted rape (falsely, mind you). So then he ended up in jail. There, he met two servants of Pharaoh, whose dreams he correctly interpreted. But it was still another two years before Joseph was called on to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. It was only then that he was elevated to his divine calling, and it was still awhile before his brothers came to him for help during the famine. Ultimately, Joseph and his family prospered in spite of all they’d been through; Joseph’s dream had come true.

And how about David? (1 Samuel 16) He was somewhere between 10 and 13 years old when Samuel anointed him the next king of Israel. But it was still some 20 years before he took over the throne, and he faced some serious trials and obstacles in the meantime. He fought in battles, led armies, fled for his life more than once, and wrestled with despair over his circumstances. But in His time, God followed through on David’s earlier anointing. And God remained faithful the whole time—just as He always does.

And finally, let’s not forget Jesus. He had known for time eternal that His calling was to save humanity from our sins. And then, even when the time came to be born on earth, He had to wait another 33 years to fulfill His ultimate calling. He watched countless people suffer for years before He was even in a position to begin His public ministry of healing. His power, intentionally bridled for a time, must have been absolutely yearning to save and heal every single person He encountered during those waiting years. But He waited, He submitted to the will of the Father, and died for us at just the right time.

When we are confident in God’s calling for us, it can be torture to wait. We may be chomping at the bit to get after it. But I read something recently that I really liked:

“What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.”
–John Ortberg

Fleshing that out is a post for another time. But for now, let’s all be watching for what it is that God may be doing in us while we wait.

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Before

Jeremiah 1:5a
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you…”

 Adoption Awareness Month is too quickly drawing to a close—at least for me. There’s so much more that I want to write and share with you. But many of those sentiments will have to wait until November of next year. But on this Thanksgiving Day of 2014, I want to take a few moments to pen my sentiments to Trey (as I affectionately refer to any future child we may be blessed with). But I hope you’ll keep reading, because I think that the words will apply to all of us…

Dear Trey,

As I write these words, you aren’t even a twinkle in your birth mother’s eye. But you’ve been a twinkle in mine for quite some time, and for that long you’ve held a place in my heart. Even better, though, is the place that you’ve held in God’s heart and in His plan since the beginning of time. Jeremiah 1:5 begins, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” God also promises, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I don’t know you yet, but there are some things I do know:

You were planned.
You are loved.
You are precious.
You are priceless.
You are celebrated.
You have a purpose.

And in case you should ever wonder just how much you matter to your Heavenly Father, Psalm 139:13-18 sums it up:

 13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

What stands out to me in all of this is the word before. And since God is already in the process of forming you, I am already in the process of praying for you. And, as is fitting for this Thanksgiving Day, I thank God in advance for who you will be and for all that He has planned for you. Never forget that you are dearly loved!

What God Has Purposed

I heard awhile back that our calling is where our talents and our burdens collide. But I think callings can still be shrouded in mystery and uncertainty. Certainly, God provides guidance through His Word, His Spirit, and His people. But, as I’ve said over and over, we—as mere mortals and finite beings—do not and cannot know the precise will of God. We move in what we hope is the right direction. We remind ourselves that “it’s easier to steer a moving ship.” We trust and pray that God will “order our steps” (Psalm 37:23; Proverbs 16:9)–that He will open and shut doors of opportunity, and schedule divine appointments—all in pursuit of an ever-elusive calling.

So, I have hopes and dreams that may or may not come to pass. One big one is the desire God has given me to adopt a child. I sense the great need among children to be deeply loved, and I feel that God has given me a “talent” for motherly love. I think our family would be a great place for an adopted child to find the love they need from us and from the Heavenly Father. I pray we would have the opportunity to provide that for one special, God-ordained child. But there are many logistics that need to fall into place in order for this dream to be fulfilled. The truth is, I don’t know if adoption is even in God’s will for us. He hasn’t given me that promise. But I find peace and comfort in what HAS been promised: that what GOD has purposed will come to pass (Isaiah 14), and that all things will work together for good (Romans 8:28) and for His glory (John 9:1-3). And that is more than enough!

The Button Book

Image- Button Book

 

“It’s all tangled up,” Laredo says, as she tries to untangle the colored strings holding their brightly-colored buttons onto The Button Book. This children’s book features 10 scenes resembling felt-board illustrations. In each one, there are a number of “holes” where the kids are supposed to put the different buttons. I found my copy at a second-hand book sale. My mom also found a copy at a second-hand sale. Maybe that should have been a CLUE about how maddening this book would turn out to be. In fact, every time I read it I think about donating it.

But it has some lessons to teach, beyond just color recognition and hand-eye coordination. Most importantly, it teaches patience. The parent learns patience by having to untangle the button strings EVERY time the kid wants to read the book, and the child learns patience by waiting for the parent to untangle the buttons EVERY time they want to read the book. So I put it back on the shelf, and I take it back down off the shelf, and it hasn’t been donated—at least not yet.

I love how even life’s little frustrations can teach us something, or remind us of something we thought we had already learned.