Tuesday, March 29, 2011

keep moving.

Throughout the process of "In the Meantime," I've observed how much people despise waiting.  Everything about our culture screams instant gratification.  We are a people who want and want now.  I see this and know it's true, but in the past week, God has shown me how willing and even insistent we are to wait for things when we are uncertain of their outcome.  Track with me...

Right now on campus, we're in a Lenten series that is taking us on a journey to the cross via the story of Israel journeying to the Promised Land.  Last week's study was from Exodus 14.  Israel has walked out of Egypt and are approaching the Red Sea.  They see that the Egyptians are coming over the hills and are feeling trapped as they camp in the valley.  The Israelites are afraid and stop to cry out to God about their incredibly desperate situation.  I laughed when I heard God's response.  I was surprised at how relevant it was to me right now.

"Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!" Exodus 14:15 NLT

Lately, I've heard a lot about uncertainty in future plans.  Uncertainty is true for all of us on some level, but some more so than others.  For me, I'm coming up on a time where my social support is about to be rocked because dear people in my life being faithful to calls in many and various places that are not near me.  To that, I say, "Wait, Lord.  I'm not ready yet.  Put something else in place for me before they leave.  Write up a couple of proposals for Your plans of how you will provide for me, so I can be at ease.  Don't change anything until I have it figured out and know it's going to be okay."

I find myself insistent on waiting when I am out of control.  If I don't know how something will work out, I don't want to jump in until I do know.  I heard this same sentiment from a friend about a job issue, another about a relationship situation, and still another about financial plans.  We want to know the outcome before we take a step.  God is asking something different of us.

Israel was crying out to God.  Can you imagine?  There's no where for you to go and the enemy is on your heels.  I would be the first to say that we need to stop and figure out what God is doing before we do anything else.  It's then that God simply says, "I already told you what to do and that I am leading you to the Promised Land.  Keep walking.  Trust me and keep walking."  God asks something different of us because He knows the great provision He's laid before us.

It makes me think of one of our craziest nights in Ghana.  We got to our hotel late in the evening.  It was at the end of a dark and winding road.  Branches of the rain forest scraped along the bus windows as we drove.  All of a sudden we stopped moving and the only sound on the bus was that of tires spinning in thick mud.  We were a very large bus stuck in a very large mud pit with no dry ground to allow us to passage.  Soon after, they had everyone get off the bus and walk the rest of the way of the dark road to our hotel, but the bus still had to get through and somehow it did.  The next morning, we loaded our luggage on the bus and walked down the same muddy road in the daylight this time.  On our walk back, we could see the wooden planks that some men had laid down to create dry ground for the bus to get traction on.

I thought back to the night before.  Our driver didn't know what the next bit of ground would have in store, but just in front of him there was dry ground to move forward on.  Life beyond the plank of wood was unknown, but he drove on in trust that the bus would make it.  In the daylight, we could see the planks and how they led to dry ground.  We could see the path that had been prepared for the bus to follow, but on the way there it was uncertain.

We can always see it walking back down memory lane.  We can see how God prepared the way for us and what He was doing all along, but while we're walking on our journey, we can only see the next plank in front of us.  He's asking us to keep walking.  Don't wait until you're in control, but walk in faith.  Believe that God is our Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.  Take steps knowing that God made dry ground for Israel and He will for you, too.  Do what He says.  Keep moving.

Monday, March 21, 2011

good things come to people who go for it!

sitting at the Sea of Galilee
So I've been back at home for a full week now.  I think I'm starting to finally kick the jet lag and I've re-accustomed to flushing toilet paper and having my own bedroom.  All that is true, but my brain is still somewhere tooling around Israel.  It's not even that I long to be there.  I don't really.  I liked it to visit, but I didn't feel the need to stay there forever.  But my head is there.  It's still processing and sorting through all of the amazing things we did and saw there.  Man, it was amazing and I'm still figuring out all that I've learned and am learning from the trip.  Being able to walk where Jesus did and see the things His human eyes saw really fills your mind quickly.  I'm trying to connect pieces; places with names and stories.  It's a lot to take in even now that I'm back.  It was an incredible gift and I'm grateful for the depth of learning and experience I was blessed with there.

I think about this trip and smile.  I've wanted to go to the Holy Land since I was just a little Shelly singing Father Abraham at a little country church.  I've wanted to see all the Bible places since I could read about them.  I'd been waiting a lifetime for this trip.  When the President of our university invited me to go to Israel a couple of months ago, I wanted to go, but wasn't so sure.  I talked to my parents and immediately my head was filled with doubt about it.  I didn't have the money to go.  I should be saving for a car, putting money into life insurance, and thinking like a responsible young professional.  And let's be real, I probably chose the less responsible option.  Sometimes you just have to do that though.  God figured out a way to make it work.  The money showed up and was figured out and I went to Israel.  I went for it.

I could've waited.  I'm sure there would've been another opportunity.  But sometimes good things come to those who go for it.  Living in the meantime doesn't mean a boring life of waiting.  The waiting talked about in Scripture is active.  In Scripture, especially with the early church, the Lord sent both signals.  He told them to wait.  Wait to be filled with power and the Holy Spirit.  He told them to go.  Go out into every town and village to share the Good News of Christ.  Sometimes it's time to wait.  Sometimes it's time to go for it.  Abraham shows us this, too.  [He also showed what happens when we get the two mixed up, but ya know...we've all been there.]  He and his wife, Sarah, waited for years and years to have the children God had promised them.  Simultaneously, God told them to seize the day and leave the land where they were to follow where He led.  They went for it and followed and made a covenant with God.  It was awesome.  Abraham didn't do so well with the waiting and kind of jumped the gun with having kids, but God was still faithful in bringing Isaac after another bit of waiting.  I guess my point is this: don't spend your life doing one thing without the other.  Wait for what's to come and go for what is before you.

I think about times when I was so busy waiting for something and looking forward that I missed what was right in front of me.  Sometimes we have to take a chance on the opportunities in front of us, knowing that each choice we make is a risk and could result in a good/bad/yes to both experience for us.  In this instance, it was good.  I made sacrifices, but experienced awesome things and God used this trip to provide me with depth of wisdom and friendship that I'd been waiting for.  Either way, we live in grace.  God is works all things for our good and desires us to live free and abundant lives both now and forever.

This trip was something I'm glad I went for.  My eyes were opened to Scripture, history, and people in a way that has changed me forever.  What a gift.  And so I say, yes..good things come to those who wait...and who go for it.  Choose wisely and live in freedom.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

still waiting...

When I think about my life as of 2011, I start to go a little cross-eyed.  So much has happened.  I've made so many tracks and been stretched in more ways than I knew possible.  I've seen 3ish countries.  I've walked where Jesus did and seen His hometown.  I ran down a volcano in Nicaragua and was changed by the hearts of the people there.  I've seen people struggle in the midst of circumstance--poverty, mental and emotional challenges and political struggles--and have witnessed what it means to overcome through adversity.  I've been blessed to lead people of my local congregation in worship as well as sisters retreating to meet with God.  I've been invited to walk alongside dear young women in their faith journey and been in need of sisters to walk alongside of me.  I can't really wrap my head around all that has taken place in the past 2 1/2 months.  I am tired.  And grateful.  God is so good to me.

All that being said, tonight I'm left waiting.  I know, you're probably thinking this is beyond possible.  Well, folks, I've been known to throw a curve ball or two in my life.  It's true.  I'm still waiting.  I think it's humorous to think about.  God truly has given me such a huge passion for travel, culture, people, worship, and listening to all of things aforementioned.  It's humorous to me because I feel as though the more of these things I experience, the more my desire to be home with Christ grows in my heart.  God has given us an amazing world to explore, but the more I see and do, the more I realize I don't belong here.  I don't belong anywhere but with Him.  The more people I meet and love and give a piece of my heart to, the more I realize my deep thirst for a perfect connection with my Savior.  People are great--one of my favorite gifts of life.  The more people I love, the more people I am away from at a given moment.  And it's funny, even though I miss many people around the world, there aren't really any people in my life that I'm always mindful of or sorely missing all the time.  It's as if the more people I meet and love and leave, the more alone I feel.  I can't wait to be reunited with the Family, the Church.  I can't wait to be in the perfect relationship with Christ that I was designed for.  It seems sad to have experienced so much, so much that was absolutely fantastic, and still be left wanting.  But the more I've thought about it, our Father wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm excited for Jesus to bring out the good wine at the heavenly feast.  You know what's to come is way better.  I can't wait.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm off to Israel!  See ya when I'm back...  I'll keep you waiting... :)