Monday, April 23, 2007

God's Timing

God’s timing is not mine. Never has been. Oh sure, I have brief periods where I can honestly remove myself and be content with, “Whatever, whenever, God”. But not usually. I am a fairly patient person by nature, so I’ve got that going for me, but still anxiety and even bitterness (and-gasp! Impatience!) can creep in from time-to-time. Not a great thing…

Right now is one of those times. On any given day recently, I can wonder/worry about:

***God, can’t you just give The Wife the job she wants so we can quit wondering if we will survive past the summer?
***If she doesn’t get a job, what on earth are we going to do? Are we going to have to pack up and leave? Where will we go?
***When will our son get done with the “terrible two’s”? Oh God, please don’t have him to be one of those wild, hyper kids that drive me (and others) bonkers…
***God, do you realize how inconvenient it is to have to deal with some of the family health issues in The Wife’s world right now (both hers and her terminally ill grandmother)? I have too much going on, and I will have to likely drop some of them in order to provide support, etc. And while I will run to her side and be there when needed, I will feel guilty that I am “dropping the ball” in other areas (confirmation, Sunday School, mission trip prep, etc.). And then I feel guilty that I feel guilty about missing work…like my perspective is all messed up…
***What about The Wife’s grandmother’s soul? What if she does not know you? What if she is too sick now to “hear” the message? What if we blew it and are too late?
***God, when will “the future” for our family be clearer? What do you want us to do? Where do you want us to go? When?

Even typing that list right now made me cringe. “How selfish,” I thought during the whole thing. And in some cases, it is selfish. In others, it shows how I often struggle with Jesus’ encouragement to, “Not worry” about things like this. And I even see some areas where it is ok to ponder, but to not let the pondering/listening become worry, which it easily becomes at times.

But as I look back at the list, I am able to answer many of the questions, and I fully acknowledge that God’s Spirit is the one giving me these answers (as I simply type freely)…

“Yes, I can give her a job, and I will. Just wait…”
“Don’t worry. I will provide. Have faith. If you have to leave, so be it…but it will be what I want, so be glad!”
“Haha, you make me smile! He won’t be two forever. And don’t worry about what his personality will be; I have equipped you (and will keep equipping) with all the tools to be the best parent you can be to your son, no matter what.”
“Yes, it is a hard time right now. I AM WITH YOU. Keep listening, keep looking…you will hear and see me in this storm. Don’t worry about the guilt you feel. Give it to me. Just do the best you can in the ministry at church until it is time to minister to your family, and the rest will be taken care of. I am already preparing others to come alongside and help you…”
“Remember that it is I who does the “saving”, not you. Pray, and if able, share my love with her. I have shown myself to her in various ways over time, and that is between she and I. Just love her, and if you do share with her, don’t worry: I will be proud of you for being faithful.”
“Just stay close to me, and let me take care of it. I will show you the way. It might be soon, it might be years off…but don’t focus on that. Just keep learning, growing, loving, serving, listening, and I will be with you. The light bulb WILL go off one day…”

Thanks God! Father, thank you for speaking to me this morning…more accurately, thank you for unplugging my ears and heart so I could be allowed to experience your words and encouragement, and thus feel the peace you give so freely. I pray that I will be a man who is not afraid to hear (and heed) your voice…

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Now That’s What I’m Talking About…

Sorry if I am fired up, I’m just giving God a WooHoo for doing what He always does: answers. I wrote several days back about how I’ve been on the “downhill” side of the life/faith rollercoaster lately. We had a very good Sunday School lesson/discussion about that topic last week, and we all went around the room trying to verbalize where we “are” on that rollercoaster right now. I said, “I’ve been at the bottom lately, but I have a feeling I’ll be heading back up soon.” Well, as I mentioned in that blog that God always brings me back up, I think it’s happening. I woke up today for some reason with a sense of peace, awe, etc. that I haven’t had in awhile. I have missed it. And it’s not even that life circumstances are really getting better (we have a family member who is close to death from cancer, finances aren’t great (still), our son is still in the throes of the “terrible two’s” and thus we can get easily flustered when trying to deal with him, etc.). But I think that’s a good thing. We have to get beyond letting our life circumstances dictating whether we feel joy, peace, love, etc.-or not. Too often that is where folks “park”: They are only happy, joyful, loving, in awe of God, when things are “going right”, and when things are hard…then the passion to follow (and “be”) the things of God are pushed aside.

So anyway, I got up this morning, forced myself to get out for my morning run, fixed my wife her orange juice and lunch, made the coffee, turned on my “hangage mix”, and sat on the couch. At first, I stared a the book I have been trying to read lately (“A New Kind of Youth Ministry”, by Chris Folmsbee…not a bad book, but lately I haven’t felt like reading it much). Then I just got up, grabbed my old Bible from when I became a believer in 1990, and opened it. Out fell my notes from the Catalyst 06 leadership conference, so I read them again (so great…). But I wanted more. So I said, “God, guide me to a place that we don’t seem to notice much.” And there was Paul’s letter to one of his “dudes”, Titus. I’ve read it before (it is underlined, marked up, etc.), but it is a book that I really don’t remember much from. So I read it. Every word. And I was fired up. Such good stuff there. In fact, I think after our current Sunday morning focus is done (start of summer?), the youth and I may just have to spend some time in Titus’ world!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rollercoaster (of Life)

Life will always be filled with ups-and-downs. I know that, and I also fully acknowledge that many great things happen at both ends of the "life rollercoaster". That doesn't change the fact that sometimes I get annoyed at how my attitude, my closeness to God, how I treat others, etc., seems to never be able to stay "up high" for too long a time period. Oh sure, I will have a few weeks where, even if there are some cruddy "life circumstances", I just have a burning desire to know God more, to be more like Jesus, to dive into scripture, pray, etc. But then, without warning, I will dive down the "hill" and basically not give a rip about my closeness with God. Now, thankfully I have usually enough built-up "God stuff" going on so I can just hang on to my faith enough to get by, to still love people enough to serve them, etc., but eventually ugly things start coming to the surface, and it is just not that great a thing. Lately (last week or two) I have been in the "downward trend", begging God to get me out of it (He always does!), but it seems like my patience is thinner, I let things bug me more, and I have a general "meh" attitude towards the sacred in life...not completely gone, but just a lack of passion I guess.

So, what things keep me hanging on?

I know that God has a plan. (I greet you with the great words, grace and peace! We know the meaning of those words because Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we're in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God's plan is that we all experience that rescue. Glory to God forever!---Galatians 1:1)
I know that I am being molded, shaped, and taught things that God wants me to remember, even when I don't seem to care. (With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you. When they see me waiting, expecting your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad. I can see now, God, that your decisions are right; your testing has taught me what's true and right. Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight! just the way you promised. Now comfort me so I can live, really live; your revelation is the tune I dance to. Let the fast-talking tricksters be exposed as frauds; they tried to sell me a bill of goods, but I kept my mind fixed on your counsel. Let those who fear you turn to me for evidence of your wise guidance. And let me live whole and holy, soul and body, so I can always walk with my head held high.---Psalm 119:73)
I know that God is faithful. ("God, God-of-Heaven, the great and awesome God, loyal to his covenant and faithful to those who love him and obey his commands…---Nehemiah 1:5)
I know that He is truly written on my heart, as even in the "down" times I catch glimpses of His goodness. (I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay with God.---Psalm 27:13)

It is those things that make me grateful for the "hilltops", when I do devour scripture, read books, seek spiritual conversation, and intentionally strive to "be Jesus" to folks. One thing I try and encourage those around me to do is spend time with God (in their own way, there is no formula, but we do have great "tools" like prayer, scripture, devotional books, art, etc.), but often I get blank stares looking back at me, or attitudes of, "That's just too hard", or, "I get bored". Well, it is times like this where my intentional seeking after God comes through, providing the small voice that keeps me at least comewhat close to "home" when I really don't feel much like being there...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cold At Six Flags, but a Great Show

So for Good Friday, I took the youth to SixFlags (a tradition in these parts) for "Christian Youth Weekend". Overall, a good day, if looooooong (I AM GETTING OLD...I get bored of amusement parks after just a couple hours...and I used to practically want to live in them...) and COLD (50s dropping into the low 40s with wind at the concert). Relient K was the headliner and wow were they good.