Archive for the ‘Patience’ Category

The oddest things hit you at the oddest times. Like when you’re in the kitchen just going about normal everyday cooking, like boiling water.

In the last few years it seems like I’ve been in an extended period of waiting. Waiting is never easy. I have yet to meet one person who would actually say they like to wait for anything. Some are more patient about it than others, but, it seems like no one would ever put themselves in a waiting spot.

So to try and make the wait easier, I’ve tried to wait in expectation for the next phase of what my life holds, and what the Lord is going to do. That being the case, recently I’ve realized that that’s not what I’ve ended up doing. Instead of waiting with an active expectation, I’ve actually just been waiting with no expectation. Instead of actively waiting, I’ve been passively waiting.

So it hit me while I was in the kitchen waiting for a pot of water to boil so I could make pasta, that waiting in life is a lot like waiting for water to boil.

Now I know the old adage that a watched pot never boils, but the reality is that if you prepare it correctly, it will, just not as fast as you think it should. All you have to do is get the pot out, fill it with water, put it on the burner and turn on the heat.

Then wait. And wait. And wait.

You can go off and do other things while it boils, but if you stand there and watch it with expectation a funny thing happens. You get to see what goes on with the water as it goes through its stages of heating up, then boiling.

At first, the water is pretty still and it looks like nothing at all is happening. Then, so suddenly you don’t think you’re seeing things correctly, there are small movements as the water starts to flow in channels in the heat. Later, bubbles start to form on the bottom and sides of the pot, just before they rise to the surface and you can truly see that something is happening.

With the breaking of the bubbles on the surface, then you know it’s time for you to do whatever it is that you’re going to with the boiled water. Like, put in the pasta so it can cook, and, you can go on to the next phase of preparing something to eat.

In waiting for the water to boil, it occurred to me that it’s the same with waiting for the Lord. We can passively wait, go off and do something else and not bother to look to see the signs that the Lord is at work. Or, we can actively wait, by doing what we are doing as we live our lives, and at the same time keep our eyes open. If we do this, then we can see the flow of the current of the Lord beneath the surface before what He’s doing boils up to overflowing in our lives.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

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Collection of small Bungee Cords

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Typically I’m not someone who likes to get anywhere early. I like to get to places exactly on time, which in some instances means I’m a little earlier than those others who like to be fashionably late, but there are times when I’m the one who’s late – like arriving at church every Sunday just a few minutes late -, but more often than not, I tend to be a little too early in my quest to be on time.

 Because I’m generally a background person – which I prefer – when I get places a little early even though people know that I’m there, because I fade into the background, it doesn’t bother them. I’ve found that this often gives me a bird’s eye view of what happens before the crowd shows up.

 Every Friday, I attend the chapel service at my son’s school. I’m always a little early because there’s lag time between the time I drop him off and the time chapel starts. During this time, I plant myself at the back of the sanctuary and very often listen to the praise team run through the songs they’re planning on singing during chapel.

 Typically, they’re all on board when they get there. So, it’s just a matter of running through that they already know and warming up a bit, but one Friday it was totally different.

 We have a great music teacher who also leads the praise and worship group, which is made up of three girls with wonderful voices. Although their ranges are all different with one high soprano, a lower soprano and an alto, they typically sing within the same melody, and don’t have to truly harmonize with one another.

 But, like I said, this Friday was different. Their teacher decided that they had enough time to truly harmonize and blend their voices one to the other. So, it was like pulling three disparate threads together to form one whole cord.

 When they first began to sing, they didn’t harmonize at all. In fact, even though they were all singing the same words they all sounded like they were singing with their own accompanist. From the back, I could hear each of their individual voices instead of a seamless whole. I could almost see the three different threads of sound weaving their way to the back of the room. But, as they practiced that began to change.

 With their teacher giving them a hint here and an encouragement there, the three began to blend beautifully until you couldn’t distinguish one voice from the other because the three harmonized perfectly into a seamless whole.

 As I sat and watched them, it reminded me of the body of Christ and how all of us are so different from one another. We definitely march to the beat of our own drummer when we become a part of it. On top of that, we all have such different functions in it, one is a healer, one is a teacher, one is a seer, one is a motivator, and so on and so on. Yet, under the instruction of Christ, with a hint from Him here, an encouragement from Him there, He turns us into a fully functioning, seamless whole.

 His bringing us into the body, causing us to pull together with each of our individual gifts and talents, then making a body that actually functions seamlessly is a miracle of huge proportions. He is patiently working with us making the impossibility of us truly coming together in Him not only a possibility, but a reality.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”

Romans 12: 4 – 6b

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Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...

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He will do all His will. Think about that. It doesn’t say some of His will, or the parts of His will that relate directly to you. it says all of His will.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own little world’s that we just push aside the parts of His will that aren’t directly related to us. Well, actually sometimes may be a little weakly stated, when in reality it’s pretty much 99.9% of the time that we push aside what all His will may actually mean in the grand scheme of things.

Just recently I received a prayer request email about two young Israeli men who have been called back into active military duty since the recent attacks on Israel. So? You may ask, doesn’t that happen all the time?

And, the answer would be yes, unfortunatley, attacks on Israel happen more often than not. But, it wasn’t the fact that the young men were being called back into active duty because of these attacks that caught my eye, it was what one of them said about it.

He talked about the honor of serving in the standing army in Israel, and more than that what an honor it was to serve in the only standing army to exist since the time’s of King David.

Since the Time’s of King David? That was more than 2,000 years ago. In looking at what little I know about that part of history. I do know that after the period of the kings in Israel’s history, that even if they lived in the land the LORD had promised them, they had no standing army until they once again were brought back to their land then recognized as a country in 1948.

Over two thousand years is a long time to go without a standing army, yet they remained a people and were brought back to their land where they now have the ability to defend themselves.

Think about that in the context of the LORD doing all His will. I mean, really, just sit and think about the enormity of that. Ask yourself, what other people could be essentially displaced from their homeland and remain a nation, a people, for over 2,000 years then return and regain their land to the point that they now have a standing army? Give up? The answer is no others, only Israel.

Why? Simply put, because when the LORD says He will do something, whether it’s on a national scale that seemingly has little do with our little worlds, or an intensely personal promise that He’s whispered in your ear, He does it. Period.

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

Isaiah 46:10

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God’s ways are not our ways. His timing is not our timing. His is always perfect while ours, well, it’s a little dicey to say the least. We want everything yesterday, but, the raw fact is that usually we’re not ready for it until tomorrow.

In general, I like to think of myself as someone with an average patience quotient. Sometimes I’m very patient, sometimes not so much so, but there is one consistency about my patience, or lack thereof. Most of the time I’m patient with other people, but not so patient with the LORD and what He may be doing.

It seems like it takes so long for whatever He’s doing to just get done. I try to be patient. I pray for patience. I sit still for about 5 minutes before I’m complaining that it’s  taking longer than a day for Him to do what He’s doing.

I just want Him to hurry up and finish, so we can move on to the next thing. But, He’s not about hurry up, He’s about getting it right and many times that takes a long, long time because it is contingent on us getting with the program. His program.

I was talking with my son about timing and how sometimes things with the LORD take a long time, because He’s getting everything lined up just so which includes the fact that there’s more than just you that needs to be lined up (but that blog is for another time) when an example popped into my mind that I hadn’t thought of for a long time.

I am extremely blessed by the LORD with good friends who know Him well. Friends with whom, in a regular conversation,  invariably and inevitably bring up the LORD more than just a few times, and definitely not in a passing manner.

But, it wasn’t always this way for me. Although I have had good friends for years, when my son was in kindergarten I prayed fervently for friends, or one friend who knew Him well. Friends who believed Him, not just believed in Him, but believed Him. In short, I prayed for friends who were rooted and grounded in Him, and knew Him in a personal way.

At the time, I didn’t know that was what I was praying, I just asked for friends who knew Him. But, He knew what I was praying for and set about answering it. And when did the LORD answer my prayer? He blessed me with the first of those friends when my son was in the sixth grade, seven years after I prayed that prayer.

As I finished up the story, my son piped up with my friend’s name ‘I know who it is,’ he said. Among all the wonderful believing people I know, he knew exactly who it was I was talking about.

I consider this one friend a true sister of my heart in the LORD. Sometimes she says to me how she had pretty much given up that someone like me existed to have a friendship in the LORD with.

The times she has said this, it has made me think, that even a couple of years earlier that wouldn’t have been the case. I was definitely at arm’s length from the LORD and it took a great deal for Him to get me where I am today, which takes us right back to His perfect timing.

In looking back, at the time I prayed for that friend, or friend’s, who knew Him well, I wasn’t close enough to Him for Him to give that gift to me. I needed to progress in Him, which is sometimes why the wait seems so long for Him to answer those fervent prayers of our hearts for things that He wants to give us and only He can fulfill. He has to get us to the place where we can receive them, which can take a very, very long time.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.”

Psalm 139:1

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St. Simons Island Lighthouse in Georgia.

“We’re almost there,” my son’s voice floated down to me as I was climbing what must have been my 115th step on the curving staircase, but that step felt more like my 1 millionth.

At the bottom of the lighthouse steps, at St. Simons Island Lighthouse, a sign said there were 129-steps that we needed to climb before we got to the top and were able to see the ocean where the light still shines at night to warn ships that they are getting too close to the shore.

But, as I climbed the steps the fact that the light helped ships was the last thing on my mind. When we first started I counted the steps, but at about 10 I decided that was a bad idea considering that we were climbing in the close, heavily humid Southern air and knowing the step I was on might not help me in the long run.

So, I took one well maintained black metal step at a time, listening to the wheeziness of my asthmatic lungs along with the flip flap of my son’s flip flop shod feet as he walked the steps somewhere above me.

At every landing, he would stop and wait for me, and, we’d look out a small window at the ever smaller trees, houses and cars below and the lengthening ocean in front of us.

When you’re in a small space like that and all you can see is the step you’re on along with the couple of steps you will be on, it’s hard to imagine that there is an end to them. So, when my son’s unprompted words dropped down to me, I thought he might just be encouraging me to just keep going and the top was somewhere way far above us.

Staircase inside the lighthouse at St. Simons Lighthouse in Georgia.

But, I was wrong, he wasn’t just trying to encourage me to keep going (as if I had a choice with the type of person I am, I’ve climbed to the top of more seemingly unclimbable staircases in my travels than I’d like to admit) as I rounded the corner, I saw the door at the top that led to the outside.

It was just a rectangle with a little slice of blue sky peeking through, but it was a wonderful sight to see. My son was already out on the little walkway that ran around the lighthouse. As I stepped out next to him and we felt the breeze and saw the beautiful view, I thought the walk up was definitely worth it even if I couldn’t see anything but black steps on the way.

I was reminded of something a woman I greatly admire told me. She said that sometimes the LORD just points a little flashlight at our feet and where the light is, is where we should step.

As I stood there at the top of the lighthouse, I thought of her words and the fact that on the way up all I really saw was the step or two in front of me, but continuing on those steps one at a time I was taken to a beautiful place, but to get there I had to keep on taking those steps. And, his is how the LORD is with us when we start walking with Him, He provides the steps for us to walk on. And, in due time, one step at a time, sometimes after many steps and much exhaustion, He delivers us into the beauty of His full presence.

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

1 Corinthians 9:25

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Just this last week, my son got back from his week-long foray into Washington DC, Pennsylvania and New York City, a trip he took with his 7th and 8th grade class. It was a fast trip made even faster by the territory they covered while they were there. Some nights when I looked at the news on Reuters, I fully expected to see an unidentified flaming trail along the East Coast left by the group.

Although I did hear about the war memorials – the Korean War Memorial being his favorite – the Smithsonian and how much he enjoyed “The Lion King” on Broadway, my son is not someone who naturally shares information, so I knew that the golden nuggets from the trip would come out in the weeks to come.

But, one nugget that didn’t come out until I talked to his chaperone about the trip was that he had gotten lost the first day they were in D.C. at the National Archives, of all places. She said her heart was racing when she realized he wasn’t with the group, and was so happy when he was found. From that moment on she said he stayed right near her, and every once in a while she would see his big brown eyes through the crowd looking for her to make sure he knew where she was.

When I asked my son about it, I got a little different version of the events. He and three other classmates had wandered to the back to the National Archives building, while everyone else was around the front.  Apparently, they knew exactly where they were, the problem is no one else did.

His teacher said it was less of a situation where they got lost, but more of a situation where they were separated. Even so, the three boys involved had a stern talking to and that did have an effect on my son, who stayed glued to his chaperone for the rest of the trip. And, although he did lose his identifying lanyard – he had to pay to replace it at least once – he didn’t get separated from the rest of the group again.

It did get me thinking though, about times when I knew exactly where I was, but no one else did. And, I imagine everyone has had that type of experience. In fact, for a lot of us, we don’t even know we’re lost, or separated from everyone else, until someone comes and finds us. It’s only then do we realize the situation we’re in, and realize we’ve been looking at the situation from our own skewed perspective.

My son didn’t think he was lost, just on side trip, yet, in reality he was separated from the main group and could  easily have gone from just separated to lost. The same thing seems to happen to all of us at some point in our lives, and it’s not until the LORD comes for us that we realize the situation is very different from what we thought it was, which begs the question are you lost? And, would you even know it if you were?

“Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Luke 19:9-10

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