Waiting

Nighttime PrayerJordan’s heart is still awake, even though his body surrendered to sleep an hour ago. He’s restless. Anticipating. Watching and listening for that heart connection he once knew. In the psalmist’s language, Jordan is thirsty like a deer panting for streams of water.  He knows what he’s thirsty for, and He knows that God is faithful.  And yet in this dry season, He feels so far away.

Caitlyn waits all the time, but the nighttime seems the rudest. She waits for a change in her mother’s prognosis, even though no change is coming. She waits for that dreaded decline in respiration, though it seems her Mama is too tough and too stubborn to die. The days keep her busy, but the nights at the bedside turn up the volume on Caitlyn’s grieving heart.  She knows that ultimately what she’s waiting for is the Lord.  And He feels so far away.

Brody is exhausted. It’s been the longest night of his professional life, but the rookie firefighter forges ahead through the rubble of what once was a safe place for kids; a cruel tornado had other ideas. Keeping his own two children, ages 4 and 2, close in his heart, Brody alternately prays he will find survivors and rages that a just, loving God lets innocent children die. His faith is as weary as his body and mind. He wants to believe God.  But He feels so far away.

Cindy sorts through photos and memories of what sometimes looks like someone else’s life. She called it her “days of awakening,” and so they were.  Though she had been a believer since she was 11 years old, amazing things began to happen in Cindy’s life when she was a student in college. Unusual, near-instant answers to prayer. Life-changing mission trips where once she even witnessed a miraculous healing. Extraordinary spiritual growth.  Now ten years later, Cindy is hungry to see those days of awakening again. But it’s been a long time, and He feels so far away. [click to continue…]

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Mountain BridgeNehemiah discovered a gap between what was and what should be.

What was – local thugs were keeping the holy city of his fathers in ruins as the people there had tried to rebuild it for 40 years.

What should be – a city with a wall around it.

In that discovery, he made a risky decision.  It wasn’t enough to pray or weep over it.  He needed to take action.  So Nehemiah aimed for The Gap.  And 52 days after his arrival in Jerusalem, the wall was completed.

Moses was hiding from his past on the back side of the desert when he discovered a gap between what was and what should be.

What was – the cries of the oppressed Israelites had reached the ears of their God.

What should be – a nation of slaves set free to inherit the land of God’s promise.

In that discovery, he made a risky decision.  It wasn’t enough to stand there and try to argue with a burning bush and the God who was calling him.  He needed to take action.  So Moses aimed for The Gap.  And weeks later, he and a few million of his family members stood at the edge of the Red Sea.

This is the essence of leadership.  [click to continue…]

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parenthesisA few months ago I was having a conversation with someone who was going through a recovery process.  He sounded really healthy on the phone – sober in the best sense of the word.  Then he said something really curious about his life.

“I’m so ready to get things back to normal.”

“Normal,” I told him, “was what got you in trouble in the first place.  You’re ‘normal’ is being redefined, and that takes time.  And as much as you want that, you are going to need to give it time to form.”

I was talking to a couple a few weeks after their first baby was born.  I asked how things were going and got a predictable answer.  “We love being parents, but we’re exhausted from lack of sleep,” Mom said.

Then Dad chimed in…  “Yeah, we’re so ready to get back to normal.”

I guess I was a little rude, but I just laughed.  In their face.

“You want what?  Good luck with that.” [click to continue…]

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Be the fly on the wall for this conversation…

It’s not that life here is so bad right now.

Okay.

It’s that life is so busy.  Urgent all the time.

I can relate to that.

And not even that it’s urgent, but that I don’t feel as though I am responding well to the urgency I do have.

What do you mean?

Nothing ever gets completely done.  Or so it feels. My weekly schedule is pretty busy as it is.  Then factor in anything else that has been added to the schedule lately, and I’m having a hard time breathing.

I think I know what the problem is.

You do?

Yep.  Your Urgency Response Index is low.

My what?

Your Urgency Response Index.

Sounds serious.

It can be. [click to continue…]

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The other day Laura Kate, age 4, decided (again) what she wants to be when she grows up.  She wants “the person who dumps those big piles of dirt.”

The other day I, age 53, decided (again) what I want to be when I grow up.  I want to be the author of a book on leadership.

She’ll think of other things she wants to be when she grows up, and I’ll think of other things I’ll want to be when I grow up.  I guess when either of us quits thinking of who or what we want to be at a point of maturity, it’ll be time to die.

+++++++

There is only one person who gets to measure love by obedience – that’s Jesus.  All the rest of us have a different standard.

+++++++ [click to continue…]

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Life is filled with plenty of things worth waiting for…

The answer to a prayer…

The fulfillment of a promise…

The completion of a process….

The realization of a dream…

These and many more are examples of the rewards of waiting for what is precious.

That said, there is one thing that isn’t worth the wait – now or ever. [click to continue…]

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If you just read the title of this and are still reading, you don’t have time for cute stories or complicated formulas, so I’ll just get to the point, if that’s OK.

If you are in a situation where you are at a complete loss as to what to do, it’s because you need to reset your glance and your gaze.  You have allowed your gaze – your long-term focus – to become set on your circumstances, your prayer request, your frustration, your pain, your desperate desire for change, or something other than the Lord.  You’re glancing at God, asking Him to fix whatever you’re gazing at.

Nice try.  I understand why.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Reset your gaze on God, and your glance on the world around you.

That’s what it means to wait on the Lord.

That’s what it means to praise, or to worship

Yes, that’s in the Bible. [click to continue…]

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(Sort-of-random thoughts at 30,000 feet with a lot of free time on my hands…)

It takes minutes to make paper fly; to build something capable of carrying you long distances takes months, and a lot of helpful, smart people.  The same is true with your important dreams – and your character.

You were created with the language of Forever in your heart, and nothing else will satisfy.

“I will” spoken with resolve has power, but your resolve will be tested and the limits of your willpower will be exposed.

You were not born with the wisdom and capacity to wait, but wisdom and reward waits for those who learn to.

God created the world for you, not you for the world – but He does hold you accountable for leaving it better than you found it.

A thousand opportunities dance before those whose eyes are open to see them.  Ten thousand chances pass by those too lost in fear or consuming to notice them.

Summers are God’s way of showing that you don’t have to be in a classroom to learn.

I just saw a man express his gratitude by giving up his first class seat to a woman… who happened to be wearing a United States Army uniform.  I wonder how I can say thank-you to somebody today.

I will always respect the one who can wait (there’s that word again) with discipline, but then decisively act with courage.

I’m not so sure that God has a plan for you so much as God has a plan period and invites you to participate joyfully in it… Or bruise yourself on it. [click to continue…]

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Something happens at the end of the day when the to-do list loses its power, the however-many words we use have escaped us, and the sinks and tubs and TVs have done their duty.  Life gets still.  Sometimes for a fleeting moment before sleep.  Sometimes, like last night for me, for a surprising length of time.  Borrowing from ancient practices, I like to call these moments the Watches of the Night.  Even though the body is tired, another part of you is still very awake.

It’s there, in the quiet stillness, that you can hear Him if you listen in your spirit.

It’s the same Gentle Whisperer that Elijah heard in the mouth of the cave.

He’s the Mighty to Save, who quiets your soul in the most beautiful of ways… He rejoices over you with singing.

This is no task for angels or even people.  This is a visitation in love fitting only for One who can take such personal delight in you, despite your weakness or failure.  And in the Watches of the Night, He Himself becomes the descant of your soul.

Listen with your heart, and in the Watches of the Night, you can hear Him lifting your soul, singing to your hope that He will come back to you again.  He sings to your regrets with His stubborn love, casting them into the depths of the deepest sea.  And in his delight over you, He buoys your heart to face new challenges and new opportunities for patience and endurance. [click to continue…]

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Jason meant well.  But his efforts to help the butterfly-to-be only ended in disaster.  For days he had watched the cocoon and wondered what it would produce.  Finally he noticed a tiny opening in the cocoon’s wall.  On the other side, the new life form was struggling furiously – desperately – to be free of its self-designed prison.  Feeling compassion for the little creature, the boy found a sharp knife and carefully cut the cocoon’s wall in order to relieve it from its struggle.

The butterfly soon died.  Its wings were grossly deformed, and it was unable to fly.  What appeared to be a struggle was actually the process by which the animal’s wings are formed.  Jason had short-circuited the process, and the results, though unintentional, were tragic.

You and I are very much like the butterfly.  We are often wrapped up in our own kinds of cocoons – alone, stifled, limited, longing to be free.  Sometimes these are prisons of our own doing – addictions, bondage to sin, broken relationships, stupid decisions.   At other times our cocoons are thrust upon us in the form of disappointments, losses of loved ones, extended illnesses, or the abuse of others.  Either way, the results are the same.  Why do we feel so alone?  What in the world is God up to?  Where will we ever find relief?  When will we be “free to fly” again?  How will we make it through another day? [click to continue…]

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