Labor of Love

When babies come into your life, a lot of things get clarified. Purpose, priorities, and the point of it all are among the top AHA moments we experience with a childbirth in the family. I have strong memories of running along the San Diego Bay four years ago when my first grandchild was born. I felt my mother-in-law’s spirit infused in every moment. “Nana” loved Coronado, and she would have loved being there to greet her oldest grandchild’s first child. I also felt keenly aware of my own mother in those early days. “Grandmere” loved her daughters and her granddaughters. These two matriarchs watch from heaven now, and as the new matriarch in the family, they both send their love from heaven straight to my heart.

The clarity that came with their spirits was about my own priorities. I had too often put work before family in my life, and these two women and the way they loved their families made me realize that the time had come to re-adjust.

In short, I was able to make an arrangement with my bishop and my church to be appointed in an “appointment without pay” so that I could have more flexibility in my schedule and not be as confined to the church’s calendar as I had been for twenty-plus years. I still serve the church, but I have more time to be present with my family. Not everyone can do this. I am blessed beyond measure, and this decision brought me to a place of peace I have not experienced in decades. Finally, I have balance.

Babies are a true “labor of love.” It takes a village of family and friends surrounding the new parents to make life work in the first few months. Housework, feeding, grocery shopping, meal prep, etc. all require a team effort so that mother, father and baby can do the important thing: thrive! Or at least survive!

Did you ever think about the fact that YOU are a labor of love, too? You are God’s labor of love:

John 3:16 The Message (MSG)

16  “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

God’s labor of love was born in a manger and died on the cross so that you might live. His agony was your victory. His suffering assures you everything you need to thrive in this world, and in the world to come. Jesus labored so that you can have the blessed assurance of peace and hope.

And those who believe can be provide a labor of love to the world:

Hebrews 6:10-12 The Message (MSG)

9-12 I’m sure that won’t happen to you, friends. I have better things in mind for you—salvation things! God doesn’t miss anything. He knows perfectly well the labor of love you’ve shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it. And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish.

Where is God calling you to provide a labor of love to someone today?

After 33 hours of laboring in love, my fourth grandchild has arrived. He is a small and tiny blessing, and reminds me once again of my purpose in life: to labor in love (I am so much in love with this wee boy!) and to extend this intensity toward a full-bodied hope until the day my labors are over.

How about you? May we labor in love until his Kingdom comes.

Tiny House Simplicity

Stuff happens. Then more stuff happens. And before you know it, stuff has taken over, and you find yourself spending much more time than is reasonable just managing your stuff.

I have been trying to clean out my home office for two weeks. I have found a few treasures under the piles, but for the most part, I uncover something and wonder why the heck I still have it. I’ve come to the conclusion that stuff has a secret nocturnal reproductive life that we don’t know about. Surely every morning there is more stuff than there was the night before!

Stuff is the biggest challenge for folks who make the crazy decision to move into a tiny house. Made popular by HGTV, tiny houses are a fascinating (if wholly unrealistic!) trend for folks desiring a more simple and uncomplicated life.

Tiny houses range from 300-500 square feet. Think of that: you need to cram a kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, living room, storage space, and an eating table in less than 500 square feet. And then….where do you put your STUFF?

What do you really need? If you could pare your life down to the essentials, what would remain? Imagine you had to move into a 300 square foot tiny house: what would you keep, and what would you throw away?

The early church found out. They actually sold all their things so that they could support one another and live together in community, where everyone had what they needed and nobody had too much:

Acts 2:45-47 Common English Bible (CEB)

45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity.

47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.

They shared, with gladness and SIMPLICITY.

Do you ever wish for a more simple life? Is life too complicated? Have you lost sight of the simple delights God has provided? What does the Lord desire for you…more stuff, or more simplicity?

I believe we are all called to simplicity. Removing anything that distracts us from our calling as disciples enables us to experience a certain level of godliness that comes with simple contentment. Paring down to the essentials of what is necessary is a pathway to holiness.

And you might even fit it all in a tiny house, with room left over.

1 Timothy 6 (NIV)

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Tiny on!

Simple Sunset by Kenn Haas

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Young Mother and Young Father were having a terrible night. Baby was fussy, feeding at a rate of a middle school boys soccer team, and sleep was a thing of the past. A twentieth attempt at nursing in three hours was soothing to Baby, but Young Parents were SPENT. As in ran-the-marathon with a high fever spent. As in government deficit-spending spent. There was nothing left in their sleep vaults.

Young Father moved zombie-like to the changing table to change the 812th diaper of the night. Baby had somehow completely wet the crib, and now needed a total changing.

After blow-drying the crib mattress, Young Father, still in the aforementioned state of being TOTALLY SPENT, went to install a dry diaper. Unfortunately, he neglected to protect himself from the possibility of rain showers at 2AM, and lo and behold, it rained. He cleaned up from that up-pour and returned Baby to Young Mother.

Now immersed in cleaning up the rest of the aftereffects of the storm, which included the changing pad, the crib sheet, the baby onesie, and parts of Young Father himself, he looked heavenward to pray to Almighty God and noticed something odd on the ceiling.

Young Mother at this point was sitting up in the bed, using rote to guide her through the next feeding. Suddenly Young Father stopped his cleaning activity and spoke to her in low, measured tones.

“Young Mother, I want you to calmly collect Baby and move to the other side of the room.” In her confused and DID I MENTION TOTALLY SPENT STATE, Young Mother blinked uncomprehendingly at her spouse. “I want you to move NOW,” he continued.

She moved just seconds before the large, winged, fanged, and possibly virulent COCKROACH flew from the ceiling directly above her head, down to the place where Young Father stood holding a dripping bundle-cloth and a baby outfit still warm from its owner.

A battle, the likes of which Game of Thrones only HOPED to portray, ensued. Young Father could not locate a shoe or heavy object nearby, and literally punched the roach twice with his bare fist. But as he went to retrieve a paper towel, the unthinkable happened as Young Mother watched from her corner…the roach arose from the dead.

In Lazarus-like fashion, it went from prostrate on the floor to arching his shiny black back like he was in the finals of a B-Boy breakdance competition. Up from the grave he arose, and re-located underneath a 300 pound dresser. Young Father, quite full of dead-of-night-alarm-adrenaline actually managed to shift the dresser, but Laz was on the move now, having had a better night’s sleep than poor Young Father.

Now the real stress began…to try to resume night-time routines (sleep? What’s sleep?) with a resurrected cockroach on the loose.

Have you ever lost sleep over things that go bump in the night? Do you wake up sometimes feeling under attack by the thoughts, words, actions, and situations you experienced during the day that come at you in the dark, disrupting your sleep?

So did David:

Psalm 3 Common English Bible (CEB)

3 Lord, I have so many enemies!

    So many are standing against me.

2 So many are talking about me:

    “Even God won’t help him.” Selah

3 But you, Lord, are my shield!

    You are my glory!

    You are the one who restores me.

4 I cry out loud to the Lord,

    and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah

5 I lie down, sleep, and wake up

    because the Lord helps me.

At the end of a long night, the sun arose, and Young Mother and Father went about their day. God provided enough sleep, and they discovered that when they cry out to the Lord, he answers from the holy mountain. Sleep came because the Lord helped them.

When you feel your enemies flying fang-first from the ceiling of your bedchamber in the middle of the night, remember that the Lord is your shield. He is your glory! He comes to restore you, and he hears your cries for deliverance.

In the dawn of the rising sun, Old Nana picked up a suitcase from the floor and out ran Lazarus. She commanded him back into the grave with a decisively fatal WHACK with a shoe. She even spoke words of committal over him as she flushed him to his watery grave. Peace reigned once again in the house.

May it also be with you tonight.

Nighttime Falls in Ocracoke by Rendy King.

Now is the Time

“Now is the time; now is the best time. Now is the best time of your life!”

Fans of Walt Disney World will recognize the theme music to the wonderful attraction, “The Carousel of Progress.” This iconic moving theater experience was originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair, and then disassembled and eventually reconstructed in Tomorrowland in 1975. The cheerful message of progress through this century is a reminder that the best time we are living in is right now.

Do you believe that you are in your best time of your life right now? I imagine for many of us the answer is no. If you are dealing with an addict, your own addiction, undergoing chemotherapy, incarcerated, going through a rough divorce, confronted with rebellious children, caring for elderly parents, etc., you may not consider this the “best time of your life.” And that’s OK.

The writer of Ecclesiastes has an important reminder for us about the nature of time in the third chapter:

Ecclesiastes 3 New International Version (NIV)

A Time for Everything

3 There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,

    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,

    a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,

    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,

    a time for war and a time for peace.

There is something comforting in realizing that there is a season for EVERYTHING under the sun. Everything has a place, everything follows an order, and everything has an appropriate and proper point on the space-time continuum. Even the things we dread have their own place. Death, war, mourning, and hate all have an allotted measure in the grand scope of our lives.

The best part is that it’s an allotted measure, i.e. something that happens for a specified period of time. This scripture on the consistency of life’s seasons and cycles teaches us that time is God-ordained and controlled, and we should just relax and let life flow accordingly.

Does that work for you? Yeah, me neither.

In my experience, I realize that this doesn’t work when MY timing is not jiving with God’s timing. Either I am being too slow to respond to his bidding, or (more likely the case) rushing into things with great enthusiasm, but no Godly direction.

I believe that Godly direction is the key to this whole thing. When we pray, discern, and yield ourselves COMPLETELY to God’s timing, it really is the best time of our lives. Setting aside our preconceived notion of when something should begin or end allows God to act as Timekeeper, and sets life into motion according to his plan.

Has the time come for you to do something? Is it time to change? Time to move? Is it time to end something? Maybe you are entering a season of growing, re-inventing yourself, and leaving all kinds of heavy things behind. Has the time come to speak up, or be quiet and let others sort things out?

This beautiful passage assures us that there is indeed a time for everything, and God is in each moment.

“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

I hope you dance.

Dancing Waves by Michelle Robertson.

Buying Green Bananas

A friend who is undergoing cancer treatment is finally having a good week. He feels good, he can walk without a cane, and he actually drove a car for the first time in three months. So he went out and bought green bananas.

I love that last part. It is a glorious sign of recovery. It is a act of hope. It’s what people do when they realize they will indeed live to see another day.

I wonder how many of us are leading our lives as though tomorrow won’t come. There are times when life can beat us down so hard we don’t have the energy, resolve, or desire to even lift our head off the pillow. Sometimes this feeling is situational, and eventually gets easier.

I’m sure we can recall a very hard break up with someone we thought we would be ours forever. Relationships ending can leave us feeling tremendously defeated. If you’ve ever been fired, you might recall a moment of sitting in the car with your hands on the wheel, unable to imagine a tomorrow. At the moment when the doctor came out of the operating room and told us that our daughter had cancer when she was a college junior, I could not see her tomorrows for a moment. Not seeing hers made me not see mine. Losing your parents, a spouse, or God forbid, a child, can leave you not even wanting tomorrows.

Hebrews 11 The Message (MSG)

Faith in What We Don’t See

11 1-2 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

3 By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.

When tomorrows seem hazy and possibly unattainable, it is good to remember what this verse is telling us. We have the firm foundation of a trustworthy God, which gives us a handle on what we can’t see. We can fix our feet firmly in a world called into existence by God. How amazing is it to know that God creates what we see, and what we don’t see. He is the creator of all of the tomorrows yet to come. We don’t need to see it…God does, and that is enough.

The ancestors of our faith were content to allow their tomorrows unfold according to God’s design and will for their lives. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah…they all bought green bananas.

32-36 There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . . Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead.

There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection.

Our ultimate tomorrow is found in the resurrection. There is something better. There is hope. There is a reason to get up, get moving, and get on with it. In truth, tomorrow never comes, for each tomorrow turns into today, and each day brings new mercies.

Faith is the reality of what we hope for and the proof of what we don’t see. So let us walk by faith and not by sight, and go forth to buy the green bananas.

Today Arrives, by Barbara Gudoski.

Preparing the Table

Every morning it’s the same thing. Check work emails, then delete dozens of unwanted ones. Even with unsubscribing, they just keep coming. They’re like cockroaches: kill one, and 12 more come out of hiding.

Ever wish you could just delete people/memories/experiences/things you said? Yep, me, too. At times, I have secretly wished I could delete my enemies.

An epiphany was just shared with me that brought me an incredible insight. At a prayer retreat, a leader was working through the 23rd Psalm and she stopped at, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”

I think when we hear that for the first time we are tempted to indulge in a revenge fantasy. It goes something like this: you’re in heaven, seated at the heavenly banquet. Peter is on your left, Paul on your right, and Mary is serving biscuits. (See what I did there? If you did, you’re OLD. But I digress.) God is at the head of the table, admiring the place settings and silverware. Suddenly the door opens, and IN WALKS YOUR ENEMY.

“Aha!” you think. “Whaddya think of me now, ready to eat this filet and lobster dinner while you stand there and salivate? Wish you had been nicer to me? Loser!”

>Add the sound effect for screeching brakes here. (Sorry, I’ve been in Atlanta too long. But I digress.)

So let’s back up to what might go down instead.

Suddenly the door opens, and IN WALKS YOUR ENEMY AND TAKES THE SEAT DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM YOU. Filet and lobster are placed in front of them, and they enjoy the heavenly banquet with the rest of the redeemed.

Lost your appetite?

Surely the Enemy and all who do evil in the sight of the Lord will never feast together at his table. But what of those earthly enemies who acted from selfish ambition, greed, immaturity, arrogance, jealousy, narcissism…those who hurt us and move on? Is there room at the table for them?

The parable of the vineyard workers suggests a scenario where the table set before our enemies just might be a peacemaking meal. Workers were hired at the beginning of the day for a set wage. Others were hired mid-day, and some came to work 5 minutes before quitting time. All received the same wage. The early-bird workers complained bitterly, and the vineyard supervisor replied:

Matthew 20 (The Message)

13-15 “He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’

16 “Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

The Great Reversal. God will seat at the table whom he will seat. He owns the vineyard. As much as we would like to delete our enemies, God loves them. Remember, we look upon the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart. And when he finds repentance, he puts out another place setting.

What can you do today to set a peacemaking table before YOUR enemies? Would a phone call, an invitation to talk, a gentle word perhaps be the first step toward turning that enemy into a friend? Certainly we must pray for our enemies…that’s biblical!

Jesus said that the “kingdom of God is at hand.” It is in the here and now. We are invited to behave on earth as it is in heaven. If heaven includes feasting with our enemies, why not start now?

Sunrise by Michelle Robertson.

God’s Artistry

If you have ever stood outside and watched the sunset on a clear evening, you have likely seen God’s artistry at its finest. I have never seen the Northern Lights, but the sun setting over the Albemarle Sound is a masterpiece of color, technique, and artistry unlike anywhere else. We are so blessed in the Outer Banks to behold such beauty on a nightly schedule. I can imagine God with a palette and paintbrush, deciding which colors he will use each night to delight his children.

What would we give, if we were to return the favor? Ever wonder what would delight God? What does God want from us that would give him the immense pleasure we get from a full-color sunset?

Psalm 147 New International Version (NIV)

1 Praise the Lord.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,

    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;

    he gathers the exiles of Israel.

3 He heals the brokenhearted

    and binds up their wounds.

4 He determines the number of the stars

    and calls them each by name.

5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;

    his understanding has no limit.

6 The Lord sustains the humble

    but casts the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;

    make music to our God on the harp.

8 He covers the sky with clouds;

    he supplies the earth with rain

    and makes grass grow on the hills.

9 He provides food for the cattle

    and for the young ravens when they call.

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,

    nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;

11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,

    who put their hope in his unfailing love.

God delights in those who fear him. I learned in seminary that the word ‘fear’ in such cases is not the same as being afraid or terrified. No, indeed, this use of fear refers to “reverential trust.” God delights in those who have a reverential trust in him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. When you come straight to him for everything, it brings him delight. You are God’s delight! Imagine that.

We paint our own sunsets of beauty for God whenever we sing to the Lord with grateful praise. In this sense, though, it is not literal singing, but leading a LIFE of grateful praise. Serving one another as Jesus did, being generous to a fault, taking second place, praying without ceasing, encouraging the downtrodden…each of these things paints a beautiful scene for God to behold. And in those things, he is delighted.

A man approached me yesterday in a store parking lot. He was gentle and apologetic. He only spoke enough English to say, “Sorry.” He indicated the grocery store from which I had just come and said, “Sorry (followed by a lot of Spanish) taco.” Taco may be the only word he knows for food, and his humility in saying sorry repeatedly touched my heart. When he opened his hand and pointed to a few coins and said, “one dollar,” I realized he was asking for money. One dollar.

One dollar won’t buy you a taco in this part of Atlanta, so I gave him a ten.

His eyes welled up and his head dropped in gratitude as he quietly and profusely thanked me. I don’t know if he went off to buy baby formula or beer, but as I put my cart away, I saw him walking into Publix with his head held high, and I saw God’s artistry in that moment.

Where are you being called to delight God today? Can you be generous? Encourage someone who is down? Pray for a hurting neighbor? Take a casserole to a lonely person?

Go ahead. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Live out your life of grateful praise by painting something beautiful with your actions. God will be absolutely delighted.

Photo by Carol Riggin.

Traffic

JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL. Being back in Atlanta traffic after an absence is a culture shock for me. In 48 hours I have received a hellfire-and-brimstone, full-immersion baptism of cars slamming on brakes, tires screeching, angry commuters, speedy lead-foots, impatient workers running late…it is a ‘fully-woke’ nightmare. Then add road construction to the mix, and you will change your mind about going anywhere and decide to just sit in your back yard and stare at the trees.

Culture responds to traffic, which controls the daily flow of life. In just two days, I have experienced people altering their lives to accommodate it. One hurries through a task because she needs to “beat the traffic”. Another can’t come until rush hour is over. Plans are made around which roads will be congested, stop-and-go, or overcrowded at certain hours. And by all means, avoid the parking lot known as 400 North unless you happen to be traveling at 3AM. Then it’s only a slow crawl.

The reason that traffic is so egregious is because people become egregious once they get behind the wheel. Everyone feels entitled to be first in line. People push to be first in the lane as you merge onto the highway. Cars zip and zoom around others so they can pass and get in front. Every day you can watch drivers switching lanes without warning like it’s the Indy 500.

Think of it! If everyone would just be content to stay in their lane, wait their turn, and God forbid, even let someone else go first, traffic would be tolerable and accidents would be greatly reduced. But instead, we cut one another off and risk causing an accident just to get one car-length ahead.

James 4 The Message (MSG)

Get Serious

4 1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.

4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find.

It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

Humility is the act of letting others go first. Humility is the practice of putting someone else’s need ahead of your own. The willing humble wave people in, slow down, look out for others, and give way. Humility is not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought.

Where are you pushing when you should be stepping back? Who needs to be waved into your lane while you slow down and allow it? Where are you acting like a spoiled child, wanting first place at the expense of the other travelers in your life? Are you driving your life like the willful proud, determined to get your own way at any cost, or the willing humble, reflecting the image of Christ in what you say and do?

God gives grace to the willing humble. So slow down. Be gracious. Let somebody in. Show generosity. And please don’t cut someone off today…especially if you have an ichthus on your car.

Colington Harbor traffic jam at Sailing School.

Sleepless in ATL

It is amazing what the human body can endure. The record for consecutive nights without sleep is 11 days. Research tells us that it only takes about 3 to 4 days without sleep before you start to hallucinate. I am on 2 days of no sleep and I can tell you that the mental abilities (which were weak to begin with!) are beginning to wane. That is my disclaimer for any grammatical errors or typos in what is to fallow. I mean follow.

After 9/11, I had insomnia for four months. I suppose many people did, and as a pilot’s wife, the images that kept me awake were not the falling buildings, but the planes that flew into them. Since my honeymoon, I have had awful nightmares of falling planes. I suppose that goes with my territory. Insomnia made me think I was going to lose my mind. I could barely function by day. I would sit in a chair in the living room in the middle of the night and try to pray or read, and no relief came. Finally, God delivered me.

The Psalms were written as songs to be sung along the journey. They communicated faith. They told the story of hope in the community. They became an oral history of a people, and that includes us. Best of all, they unite us in a chorus of voices that are unified in one singular purpose: to sing praises and encourage each other that God does indeed deliver us.

Today I sing this Psalm in praise of what God has created. I sing in praise of his wonderful works. I sing with praise to our Maker, and I invite you to sing this with me:

Psalm 119

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 does it mean to you that YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made? What is God saying to you? In the midst of your despair, do you know that all of his works, which includes YOU, are wonderful? Even in our lowest points of zero self-esteem, no self confidence, feeling beaten down and unworthy, God lifts us up as precious.

“When I awake, I am still with you.” Praise be to God, for those of us who remain awake through long nights. God is with us.

Praise be to God!

Photo by Cheryl Lynne Smith.

Hurry Up and Wait

The saying goes that “good things come to those who wait”. I remember a time in the Navy when that saying was replaced with “hurry up and wait.” Going to the Exchange? Hurry up. Then wait. Seeing a doc at the base clinic? Hurry up. Be on time for your appointment. Then wait. The deployment is almost over; hurry up! Then wait.

There are many times in everyone’s life when hurry up and wait comes in to play: college applications are due by a certain date. HURRY UP and fill them out! Then wait to see if you got in. Cancer tests are scheduled for this day; hurry up! Then wait for weeks for the results. Babies come when they want to. Pre-labor beings! Hurry up! Then wait.

Waiting is hard. Waiting is wearisome. Waiting slap tires you OUT.

The people of Israel were promised a Messiah. The messiah would come to rule his kingdom on earth. He would take away their sins and would save them. Under his reign, justice would flow like the waters, and there would be peace on earth. But they were beginning to get tired of waiting:

Isaiah 40 (NIV)

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable.

29 He gives power to the faint,

    and strengthens the powerless.

30 Even youths will faint and be weary,

    and the young will fall exhausted;

31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

    they shall walk and not faint.

And so Israel hurried up. And waited. Centuries passed from the time of Isaiah to the advent of Jesus Christ. And then they had waited so long, many didn’t recognize him as the messiah. But some did. Perhaps they were the ones who waited with open anticipation. As you wait, are you open to receiving God’s answer in a completely different way than you are expecting? Jesus was not what was expected, but good things came to those who waited for him.

Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. Why? Because God does not faint or grow weary. God gives power to the faint. He strengthens the powerless. But you….you will mount up with wings like eagles if you choose to wait for the Lord.

The challenge is to spend your time in the “waiting room” wisely. What else can you be doing while you wait? Can you be immersed in the word? Shoring up failing relationships? Actively spreading hope to others who are also waiting? Witnessing to God’s presence in the waiting room? Waiting rooms can be places that bear just as much fruit as delivery rooms if we keep our eyes open while we wait.

I am in hurry-up-and-wait-mode as I write this. A grandchild is coming, and he is coming at his own pace. While we wait upon the Lord to deliver, we gain strength in knowing that God never grows weary. And so we take this time in our waiting room to grow in our love of God, of family, of faith, and in confidence that in every hurry-up and every slow-down moment, God is with us.

And I just can’t wait to see what he does.

Photo by Michelle Robertson.