the magic of Christmastime.

we are deep in it now.  deep in the throes of the magic of Christmas.

but here on this tiny island, it feels a lot different than i expected, or maybe just different than i wanted.

the *icy* 58 degree air in the morning is just enough to warrant sweatpants and a hoodie for school drop off, but by 1pm everyone is back in their tank tops and shorts.  the palm trees are swaying and the landscape looks the same, tropical and green and like it is summer.  still, it feels like Christmas.

a quick trip to the mall has me feeling like i could use a year long nap away from blinky lights and beeping registers and sale posters telling me what i MUST HAVE RIGHT NOW.  i went to claire’s to get a pair of earrings and walked out with 6 items because it was buy 3, get 3 free.  i got a good deal, right? i didn’t waste my money, right?  amidst the insane amount of Christmas decor that Walmart managed to stuff in their store, and as I maneuver past tourists decked out in $30 Red Dirt tshirts trying to decide if they’re being ripped off with our $8 loaves of bread and $10 gallon milk jugs, the thought occurs to me that no one really needs any of this stuff, but then i see a sweet old lady ever so carefully choosing a hello kitty toothbrush for her granddaughter and smiling to herself as she places it in her cart.  it feels like Christmas.

instead of huge light displays all over town, we drive to the few houses that we know of that “go all out”, meaning they love Christmas enough to pay a small fortune in electric bills to light up their community every year.  we get excited about hot cocoa and cappuccinos in our jammies as we drive but it’s still warm enough for one of us to get an iced coffee instead.  still, it feels like Christmas.

the presents are wrapped under the tree, and as our own family tradition stands, we open one a day until Christmas, when all of our gifts have been opened and the day is free to celebrate Jesus.  tonight, the kids are overtired and grumpy and selfish, and they bicker and tattle on each other incessantly.  each one gets sent to their room multiple times. ryan’s in the other room trying to soothe a teething, fussy baby, and in my frustration i yell at everyone to “stop yelling!” as i attempt to lecture them on their attitudes.  i am a hypocrite, and my children should have gone to bed hours ago.

still, it feels like Christmas.

in between Christmas party invitations and end of the year family updates, someone sends me a video about Aleppo and i cry, not just for these cold, weary, traumatized casualties of war, but for the hatred and the fighting that our whole EARTH has done for years.  honestly sometimes there are only two choices- bury your head in the sand and pretend the world is as perfect as you can make it on Instagram, or to fully let the weight of the horrors of the daily news sit heavy on your shoulders.  today i chose to let it sink in, and i was ashamed of myself and our world that has let it come to this.  i filed that info in my heart right next to the picture perfect glossy Christmas cards that came in my mailbox.

 

still…it feels like Christmas.

because Jesus came for the refugee, for the selfish brother who teases his sister without mercy, for the racist and the victim of his racism.  he came for our inability to solve problems without violence and our indifference when we turn our heads and hearts away from global catastrophes.  he came because we are addicted to money and addicted to THINGS. he came for the hypocrite, i.e. the people that yell at their kids to stop yelling. he came for our brokenness and our pain because THIS is the way of the world.

but then…a tiny baby came that changed everything.

it feels like Christmastime because without our need, He would never have had to come.  in every moment of brokenness we are reminded of the miracle of Christmas.  for us, this was not an easy year, and most days, a hope that things will not always be like this is all i have to go on.  that hope is enough for not only me, but for you, as well as the people of Syria, and every single human being in between.

 

 

o holy night, the stars are brightly shining

it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth

long lay the world in sin and error pining

til He appeared and the soul felt its worth

a thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices

for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

fall on your knees, o hear the angel voices

o night, divine, o night when Christ was born

merry christmas 2016

http://www.preemptivelove.org

Here is one way you can help the people of Aleppo with transformative aid.

the magic of Christmastime.

Bigger.

4R8A0134if you’ve ever been absolutely dwarfed by a situation, maybe for years at a time, you’d know this feeling well.  feeling helpless, overwhelmed, not quite depressed but just utterly powerless to do anything that would change anything at all.  sometimes the problem is just too massive, or too deeply rooted, or just too difficult.  i see it every day in other people’s stories too…a child with cancer; a long, draining legal struggle over a piece of real estate; a financial crisis with no end in sight; there are many out there with different circumstances but the same basic feeling.

at first, feeling powerless is debilitating.  you just stop trying, well, because what did trying get you?  sometimes even our best efforts fall short, again and again.  i lived here for a long time, just frustrated and confused and out of strength to even care.  i went about my life, even finding great joy at times but still living with that shrinking feeling that at some point these issues would just rise right over the top of me and drown me forever.  i even stopped praying about it for a while because it just seemed fruitless.

one day recently i was going through old photos of family trips and pulled out a bunch that really struck me.  when i went back through those photos there was a common theme that seemed to tie them together but i couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  so away they went, in a neat little pile on my desk along with 34 other little piles of stuff that i would go through later.  it wasn’t until last week when i did an 8 mile race on Kauai’s beautiful north shore, when i stood at the crack of dawn, in the pouring rain with 300 other people, that i realized what the common theme was in all those photos i had set aside.

there’s something about being in the midst of something so much bigger than you that has always captured our attention as humans.  the grand canyon.  mount everest.  the lights of new york.  seeing the pacific ocean for the first time.  fishing in a quiet ravine.  hiking on a ridge with ocean and mountain views on either side.  small, quiet revelations are often the most wonderful, giving you time to fully process the lessons you were surrounded with all the while.

from the northernmost point of Kauai’s north shore, heavy with mosquitos and damp tropical air, with banyan vines hanging all around and wild ginger growing by the roadside, we ran, jogged, walked, or in my case, waddled through 8 rainy miles of some of the most beautiful scenery.  we walked in the shadow of the mountains to the right and gazed at the misty ocean to the left, the sound of the crashing waves filling our ears constantly for those few hours.

many runners may say that when they run, they feel powerful, and i’ve definitely experienced the euphoria of feeling accomplished and strong during a run, but i tend to feel completely different when i run.  i look around me as the scenery passes by, predictably in slow motion since i jog more than i run, but after miles and miles you start to feel like a tiny ant crossing the driveway, like you could run forever and never reach the end of anything at all.  and it doesn’t make me feel small and powerless.  it reminds me that i AM small and powerless.

really, in the grand scheme of life, i do have power over some very small but important things, like the tone of voice i take with my kids when my patience has run out, or the choices i make in how we steward our money or live sustainably, or the way i treat the crazy people who drive like maniacs.  but really, there’s not a whole lot i can control, and i think deep down inside we all know this, and that is why we love to go places and do things that make us feel small and powerless.  because even as narcissistic and selfish of a society we have become, we have been created in the image of a Creator God who loves beautiful things and has wired that into us.

for every selfie that someone takes to make themselves feel more beautiful or to cement in their minds that they are worthy, a loving God is waiting for them to find themselves dwarfed by the vastness of His creation, to know that they ARE worthy.  for every person who is looking for identity in their position at work or in finding that dream career, there is a God who knew them before they were formed in their mother’s womb, and who designed them uniquely and with purpose to do good things in the world and who is just waiting for them to give up that unreachable goal of a perfect life.

when we find ourselves lost in all the beauty — the unimaginable wildness of southwestern red rock deserts and crimson shimmering sunsets, the peace found in the majestic thousand year old growth redwood forests of northern California, the glittering snow capped Himalayan mountains overlooking crystal clear glacier lakes in Northern India–somehow that need to be recognized, to be important, to MATTER…is absorbed by the sheer fact that we will never be enough on our own, but we are enough because we are loved.  it takes the aimless trying out of the equation, the constant grasping to hold up a facade of perfection in a world that will never be pleased with who we are because its ideal is constantly changing.

in an almost 10 year sort of quest to find answers and get resolution to a deep rooted issue i was facing, i suddenly realized what my little pile of photos was there for.  none were close-up portraits, but instead, they were all faraway landscape shots i had taken to show the gigantic scale of where we were.  my little kids like specks at the bottom of a giant redwood tree.  my husband and daughter in front of a huge snowy mountain.  my boys making crazy faces in front of a giant rock on the Oregon coast.

God allows us to feel utterly dwarfed by our circumstances because our views of Him are far too small.  as God spoke to me these past few weeks the one thing He kept saying was that He was bigger than all of it, and at the point where I stopped praying and asking for His help, there was the point where I needed my faith to grow and my understanding of the vastness of God to grow as well.

if we are never completely overwhelmed by problems far to big for us to solve, we will never understand the the limitless nature of a God who spoke everything into being from NOTHING.  a God who could EXIST alongside nothingness and bring life and beauty out of His sheer being.  without the experience of being drowned in pain and sorrow and frustration and rage and heartbreak– we would never be able to experience MORE of God, more of His love and grace and mercy.  without going for long stretches of time without answers, we will never understand that He is the answer and that we can fully trust Him to do what He does best- take care of us, gently teach us and mold us into people who can overcome the hurt in our lives to give more love and more grace.  somehow when we are broken beyond repair, just tiny specks of sand in a never ending ocean of lies and mistakes and heartbreak and sadness, we can find perfect healing in the One who made the ocean and has numbered every grain of sand.

 

Psalm 46: 1-3

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

a great new worship album came out this week- perfect timing for me and many others i’m sure.  For All Seasons vol.2 (live)

one of my favorites on the album is titled “Bigger Than”…check it out here!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bigger-than-live/id1118445907?i=1118446009

Bigger.

hope.

hope.

-to cherish a desire with anticipation 
-to desire with expectation of obtainment 
-to expect with confidence 
(from the mw dictionary)

sometimes you just need a little hope.   this season of life has been both difficult and refreshing at the same time.  monday was a tough one.  sorry mondays, you just generally stink.  like a raincloud filling up with precipitation, ready at any moment to burst, i felt the weight of my worries brimming up beneath the surface.  i’m not a big crier but i was on the verge of tears all day.  as a mom, it’s hard to feel like you can be genuine around people when you have little eyes watching you all day.

you don’t want to fake it and put on a smile but you also cannot be led by every emotion you feel.  you want to teach your kids to be strong.  to be gracious, be respectful, to be forgiving.  but you struggle with these just like they do. they need to see us struggle so they can understand the reality of being human, so they don’t spend their lives striving for outward perfection and living with hidden conflict, and yet it is such a delicate balance to try to live authentically without giving mixed messages.  

i want to teach them that they can feel angry without speaking in anger or bringing hostility into their relationships.  i want to show them that they can be sad and cry without letting it ruin their day or bringing down others.  i want to teach them that they can be just be, and yet i also must teach them that God gives us power over our thoughts and attitudes.   but i find myself wrestling with this balance, tugging and pulling at the edges of what i feel versus what i know.  it reminds me of my two boys, camping out in the living room and trying to share one comforter between the two of them. “i’m cold,” says one, yanking it towards his side.  “i’m colder!” says the other.  back and forth they go, pulling on the quilt as if pulling could make it bigger.  at some point whoever has the better grip ends up victorious, wrapped up in cozy warmth while a brother is cold and crying.  by the way, we live in hawaii, so i can sit and laugh at them legitimately because no one’s ever going to really freeze here.  finally they realize if they move closer together the blanket is actually big enough after all…they just needed to stop pulling.

i try to remember their silly tug of war when i feel conflicted, when i feel like i can’t be  genuinely joyful, but when i also KNOW that God calls us to live with joyful hearts.  we can feel deeply whatever it is we are experiencing at the moment, while taking action in the direction of God’s expected promises, because these promises give us HOPE.  hope is what gives us the capacity to be a little more transparent when we would rather put on a smile to get by.  hope is what gives us the grace to lean into our sorrow, to be okay with a season of unrelenting hardships and yet not succumb to the lie that this will go on forever.

hope allows us to hold on to the promises of God when we are utterly beside ourselves, because we can go ahead and make decisions according to the Word of God instead of our circumstances.  to me- that is absolute freedom.  that on a day like today, it’s okay if i feel pulled between joy and sorrow.  i can choose to act in joyfulness.  it’s okay if i get so angry about something i cannot see straight because i know that i am not bound by the anger that i feel, and i can choose forgiveness, mercy, and restraint.

and now Lord, for what do I wait? my hope is in You.  psalm 39:7

hope.

fog.

i sit here typing, looking out on the southern oregon coastline. yesterday the huge rock in front of the house served as a visual anchor to miles of beach, its cliffs and crevices covered by green and gold moss.  the sun was shining through the chilly ocean breeze and the seagulls were swooping in jagged lines across my line of sight.  today my view is much different.  even though it is the middle of summer, a little storm has  started to roll in.  at first it was patchy and thin, and now my entire view is obscured by the misty clouds that have covered the entire beach.

i know the rock is there, but i can’t see it through the fog, but somehow my brain can’t quite just let it be. my eyes strain to make out the outline of the gigantic rock we’ve gotten acquainted with over the past week here.  i just can’t feel peace looking out at the water because of what i know i can’t see.  i can’t just know it is there, i need to see it, all of it.

one thing i’ve been praying lately is that the Lord would lead me towards peace when i am refusing to just let things be, when i demand clarity in the middle of the fog.  i know there’s beauty in every season of life, but my insistence on doing things my way often prevents me from having the right perspective.

there’s something cathartic about coming back to the same place year after year, something that mends and heals and wakes us up, especially when we don’t know we were sleeping. i’m especially grateful for this coastline today, its lines and rock formations etched into my heart for over 30 years.  when i was a kid i wandered these rugged beaches for hours, freezing purple toes and wind tangled hair, with my yellow sony walkman in my sweatshirt pocket, wishing we were at disneyland or lake tahoe like the cool kids at school.  i remember feeling alone and insignificant, sometimes never seeing another person on the beach all day.  i remember gleefully jumping waves with my family on the days we dared go into the water like maniacs and thinking there was nothing better than laughing with my brother and my dad as my mom smiled at us from the shade of a rock.

sometimes it feels like nothing has changed, although those days seem like ages ago. but then again, i am not the same person i was when i was 8 and was happy on an empty beach, or when i was 10 and wishing i had an older sister or someone to talk to or when i was 14 and bossy and awkward and listening to a PM Dawn single on that worn out Walkman, but i felt Him then like i feel Him now.  i’m standing on the same sand, looking at the same rock formations, the same sun shining by day and the same shiny moon gleaming down at night, the same ocean waves crashing and the same tides bringing in the new and taking out the old, and i feel Him doing the same. He washes away the fears and the brokenness and the doubt and gives me mercy and courage and lots of second chances.

this place has become sacred to me, only for the constant reminder that He who put these rocks into place, who anchored these majestic formations in shifting sand and who formed me in my mother’s womb, is still calling my name today.

i come back to this place to let go of things that i should not hold on to anymore and to take hold of things i should have done years ago.

i come back to this place now, not a baby anymore myself but married now with babies of my own, and we explore miles of coastline and eat clam chowder on splintery piers and we have time outs at the minute cafe where all the old timers give approving nods to our parental rookie-ness and sometimes we even have a grown up argument or two of our own.  but we fall into bed with sandy feet and chocolate stained faces and wake up to do it all again.

i come back to this place to remember everything better, and the real miracle of it all?? is that all of it is glorious and wonderful even when it is hard, even when the fog constricts my view and thunderstorms threaten in the distance, and vacationing with children makes us feel like crazy people.  when i can’t see with my eyes what i know to be true, the goodness of God always breaks through and shows us the way.

Psalm 104: 1-6

Bless the Lord, O my soul.  O Lord my God You are very great;  

You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.  

He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters;

He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind;

He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers.  

He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter forever and ever.

You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains.  

fog.

first.

i heard this song while i was listening to iTunes radio a few weeks ago, and bought it instantly.  you know how sometimes in life there is a song just waiting to be the one running through your veins for a season?  i found mine for this season.   it’s called “if i have you”, by the vertical church band…here are the lyrics.

i don’t need the riches of this world

i can’t even take them where i’m going.

i don’t need a thousand empty words.

i just need the ones that you have spoken.

if i have you, and nothing else, i have everything

if i have you and nothing else

if i have you and nothing else, i have everything

if i have you and nothing else

i don’t need to see tomorrow’s plans

i just need to trust that you are working

i don’t even need to understand

i just need to keep you as the first thing.

i just need to keep you as the first thing… those words are equally convicting and promising.  they fall heavy on my heart because the word FIRST is so black and white, so certain, so all or nothing, that i can’t help but let it hover in my thoughts for a while.  for sure i’ve made Jesus a priority. i grew up a good baptist girl, learned all the hymns, went to church, tried to study the Bible and understand what i could.  i graduated from an evangelical christian college, taught in south los angeles, served meals on thanksgiving down on skid row, worked with a youth group, discipled a group of high school girls, later married a great guy who loves God and we both serve in our church and love global missions work.  certainly i’ve made Jesus a priority…right?

sitting alone and quiet with Him.  it’s the only thing that truly puts Him first in my life.  because in sitting alone with Jesus, there are no other things that can pose as the substitute.  in doing ministry, in serving, even in studying the Word of God i can easily miss the point.  there are all sorts of reasons we do these other things that might be about God, or done on behalf of Him, or maybe even are done for other people or for ourselves.  serving because it makes us feel helpful and gives us purpose is not wrong, but without Jesus as the first thing it is still misguided and dangerous because it can easily snowball us to a place that is full of us and devoid of Him.  even with good intentions, we can easily forget that He is alive, moving, working all things together for the good of those who love Him.  it’s HIS plan, not ours.  it’s HIS ministry, not ours.  sitting with Jesus as the true and living God, in the quiet of the morning or the midnight hours when everyone else is asleep, is how i can keep Him first, because then not even reading about Him or doing things for Him can get in the way of the person of Jesus. and in these quiet times with Him, my assumptions, ideas, and motives are challenged and He has room to speak into the emptiness that fills me when i eliminate the things that fill my head each day:  my iPhone, my to do lists, the chores on my mind and even the worries and stresses of my loved ones.

it’s not easy, because i am an impatient person, and it’s hard to sit in silence most of the time.  but i have to trust that when i give up everything for a few minutes, even a moment full of the presence of Jesus, unadulterated by the stuff i fill my life with daily, is more freeing and more filling than anything else.  in the silence i can’t deny that i either believe i’m sitting in the presence of God, or i don’t.  He’s either a real living God who hears me, or an idea, a construct i’ve used to make my life worth something.

 if i have you, and nothing else, i have everything… 

but yet when i have everything i need, how can i truly understand this?

i can’t possibly understand, because i’ve never only had Jesus.  i’ve only had Jesus along with everything else.  so to sit with Him, without my laptop and study guides and buzzing text messages on my phone, without amazing inspirational books and great teachers and trusted prayer partners, without the constant flow of just about everything I surround myself with, is a way for me to have a time with just Jesus.  the only way i can put Him first is by removing everything else so that my time with Him doesn’t succumb to my multitasking.

and then when He speaks, it feels like the spring rain after a drought.  His words flow across my soul like the tradewinds do as they invite the palm trees to dance like giant ballerinas, the movement of the invisible that is felt before it is seen, and then only seen by what it moves.  when hardened things of my heart need to be gently coaxed away, His words come alive when i sit with Him and allow them to loosen my grip on my own ideas and convictions.     and then i am free, unchained from the things i thought i had to do, and all the world telling me to do this and do that and eat this and drink that and buy this and want that.

with open hands, we wait on the true and living God, to give us what we need in the silence of our offices before coworkers arrive, in the car parked early to pick up kids with sleeping babies in the backseat, in the dim lamplight of our reading nooks where we can steal away a few precious moments before children ask us for pancakes and help finding legos.  we read the divinely perfect Word of God and we let Him give us insight.  we can take a minute to marvel in the fresh ocean breeze or the thundering rain that falls from heaven without a hint of warning.  we wait for answers, for patience, for the strength to make it one more day when our wills are tested by impossible circumstances, and then we rejoice when answers come, when we find ourselves answering the same question for the 500th time without irritation and when we can offer grace to a colleague that has broken our trust time and time again.  we rejoice in these little victories because they show us that though we can’t do it alone, God can enlarge our capacity for love.  He can give us wisdom beyond our years.  He can bring us to a point where we can forgive and where healing begins.

this was the verse of the day today from my bible app.  i think God planned this a long time ago 🙂

now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.  acts 4:13

go be with Jesus.  be filled and reminded of His great love for you!

first.

flight.

IMG_4756birdstakingoff
birds taking flight near face rock, oregon

this one is for all those moments we spend with halfway outstretched wings.

these are the times when we can tell by the looks around us that people can’t tell if we are coming or going and to be honest, we aren’t quite sure either.  when taking off and crashing down looks a little bit like the same thing, we hover awkwardly, making hasty decisions when we should consider more angles or maybe being way too hesitant and “missing the moment”.  these are the times we wrestle with ourselves, with the way we’ve always done things and the new ways in front of us, and maybe even shake a fist in the air because we get tired of waiting for answers.

when God moves on your heart, you don’t always make the right choices.  just because you hear Him speak doesn’t mean heavenly wisdom drops down from heaven and saves you from speaking too much, too soon, and too harshly.  just because you see miracles being done and it is every bit as mind-blowing as you imagined it would be doesn’t mean that you’re immune from your lifelong vice of being a control freak over trivial things.  God-given vision for a new future doesn’t protect you from selfishness, pride, fear or apathy, and sometimes we give in and let these things rule for a day, or a season.

but that’s ok.  because whether we are taking off, or landing, or changing directions suddenly, we are moving.  moving with our Father and our flock towards freedom and adventure and a newness of life that might require some awkward stumbling is WORTH IT.  we are moving in a complete drenching of radical grace, with second and third chances, seventy seven times seven chances, grace that carries us through each day that we crash and burn.

once in a while, we do catch that fresh wind just at the right moment and up we go, answers in hand, full of vision and determination, skyline crystal clear with endless possibility, thanking God every moment of that season for letting us experience flight as we were intended.

but if today is not that day, it’s okay.  we can enjoy the evening air and the magic of the setting sun and relish in the endless love of the One who not only gave us wings to fly, but feet to land on when we need to be on solid ground.

flight.

wait.

sometimes, actually all the time, my daughter tells me to wait.  she holds her hand out, palm facing me, as she pauses while trying to put on her pants.  “wait, mama.  just wait.”  sometimes we are in a rush and i have to put them on for her, while she screams in protest, her independence ripped from her little hands.  it seems everything is a little more dramatic when you are two 🙂

you may have guessed that i’m not what you would consider a patient person.  maybe you aren’t either. not only do i dislike waiting, but i like everything to be done fast. i like listening to fast talking speakers and when people speak slowly, i have a hard time paying attention.  i rush my kids when they don’t need to be rushed and i rush in doing tasks that would benefit from a little more attention.  usually spilling my coffee on my checkbook or stubbing my toe for the 1000th time is a clear sign to me that i need to slow down, but sometimes i just keep on rushing.

so the word “wait” is not something that feels good to me.  sometimes it feels like i am being put off, being made to put on hold something that i deserve now.  sometimes it feels like i am doing nothing at all and that idle time feels like a waste.  funny how my dislike of waiting shows my entitlement and the way i hoard my time.

brennan manning spoke of waiting in a way i had never heard before– and forgive me, but i lent the book out and can’t find the direct quote anywhere online, so this is purely by memory.  he said that waiting was not doing nothing, but it was letting your soul grow up.  that resounded with me deeply– to me, waiting always equaled doing nothing. it’s why i’m always 15 minutes late to everything– i’d rather get a few more things done at home than get there early and wait.  yes, i know, faulty to the core, but that’s truly how i viewed waiting.

so if waiting is letting your soul grow up, then apparently i am still a child, because i’ve gone through life doing whatever i could to avoid waiting of any sort unless absolutely necessary.  there are two types of waiting in life…the first a simple waiting, like when you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment or waiting for your child to gather up their things after school which may or may not feel like the longest 10 minutes ever…this type of waiting has an immediate end in sight, so it’s even more shocking to me when i realize my impatience in times like these.  like a toddler who impatiently stomps his feet when they are waiting for their turn on the slide, instead of stomping my feet i have filled my waiting time to the brim with distractions, feeding the lie that i must be doing something at all times.  i text and email and browse online while in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  we call it multitasking, but sometimes it is just a way to prevent impatience.  instead of growing in patience i am just avoiding the feeling of impatience.  i’m actually thankful for all the little things that make me wait several times a day.  it is always an opportunity to practice patience and graciousness in frustrating situations and without these, the second type of waiting would be near impossible.

the second type of waiting is open ended– waiting for a call back for a desperately needed job, waiting for a tax return check to come so you can fix your barely hanging on car, waiting for lab results when your biggest fear is cancer.  it’s the kind that may or may not come, and you might wait a day or a month or a year or maybe even years and years just to hear an answer that you weren’t expecting.  waiting in these situations can make you feel hopeless, like God has left the room and isn’t coming back anytime soon.  the silence when you cry out to God and there’s seemingly no answer, the closed doors in business matters, the college rejection letters one after another, the estranged spouse’s refusal to work things out– they etch deep lines of pain in our hearts and it is all too tempting to throw in the towel and say forget it, i’m done waiting, i’ll take another path.  in these times i find myself not only distracting myself from the waiting, but actually trying to take action to make things happen on my own.  this is way more damaging because once i start to take action on my own, i run the risk of taking credit for the answer (if it’s a good answer) as well as possibly doing things that not only affect my own situation but others as well.  it takes all the weight off of what God will do and puts it back on me so i can at least retain control…and it never goes well.  in the quiet of the day, if i will stop and let God speak without trying to persuade Him that i know best, i MUST trust that His answer will come and that i will know it is what i’ve been waiting for.

what awesome hope we have, that the promises of God are tried and true for His people.   as God enlarges our capacity for waiting in the small things, we can sit and be still, even for 30 seconds, without or phones or tv or books even.  we can just BE in the moment, knowing that while we are seemingly doing nothing, we can see it as our souls growing up, and that there is nothing we can do to speed up or slow down time.  in every second that passes when there is a crucial answer waiting on the wings, i can know that God is at work making a masterpiece that i cannot fully understand, and my piece may or may not end up looking how i want.  but i trust the Creator of time and space to answer when He chooses.

“they who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” -isaiah 40:31

wait.