Saturday, January 30, 2016

a god who waits

Yet the Lord waits to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)


There are a lot of places in Scripture, I am learning, that encourage us to wait for the Lord.  Thank you Andrew Murray.  And I am trying to discover exactly what that means and what it looks like in the life of a very ordinary man.  One thing I am coming to see more and more is that I have always thought of waiting for God as something to do, when, in fact, waiting for God is a way to be.  "This blessed waiting," writes Andrew Murray, "must and can be the very breath of our life--a continuous resting in God's presence and his love, an unceasing yielding of ourselves for him to perfect his work in us." 

But here, in Isaiah 30, the idea of waiting takes a delightful turn.  Here, instead of us waiting for God, we have a beautiful picture of God waiting for us.  A picture of God waiting, even longing (as the NIV translates it), to be gracious to us.  A picture of a God that is so ready to pour out his grace and his love and his compassion on us, that he can hardly contain himself--if only we would turn to him and receive it.  A God who is waiting for us to wait for him. 

O my children, if only you would turn your gaze and your heart to me.  If only you would lay the head of your soul on the heart of Love and wait for all that Love yearns to bestow.  Then you would know me the way I long to be known.  And then you would know yourselves as I know you.  O my Beloved, wait for me.




Just as a weaned child on its mother's breast seeks no physical nourishment but enjoys the riches of unspoken Love given and received, so the soul in quiet adoration lays its head against the heart of Love and absorbs all that Love yearns to bestow.  This Love draws out what is truest and best in all it touches, shapes all things toward the wholeness proper to them, is quietly victorious amid the strident self-importance of the world. (John S. Mogabgab, Weavings, March/April 2008)

Friday, January 8, 2016

wait

I wait for your salvation, O Lord. ~Genesis 49:18


I've been reading a book called Waiting on God by Andrew Murray and it has really challenged me and opened me up to consider (to a much deeper degree) what it means to wait on God, and what that looks like in life and in ministry.  It is not something that comes naturally at all.  In fact, it is pretty counter-intuitive for most of us.  And, if we are really honest, it is something that we are not very good at.  I guess the reason for this struggle is that waiting on God puts us in a very vulnerable and powerless place.  It causes us to admit that, in the end, we can neither produce nor manufacture anything of eternal value.  That work is solely up to God.  We are at his mercy, both for ourselves and our friends.  I mean, obviously there are things we are given to do.  There is space that must be made for God that might make something coming alive in us more of a possibility, so I'm not talking about just sitting on our hands.  But then again, neither are the Scriptures when they call us to wait on God.  What they are calling us to is a particular posture, a way of being and of seeing, if you will.  When the Scriptures call us to wait on God they are calling on us to totally surrender to him, to completely trust in him, to wholly rely on him, and not ourselves.  It is a posture, and a way of being, that takes a significant amount of courage and resolve because fear would have us spring into action and trust in our own gifts and efforts.  Waiting on God calls us to refrain from that reliance on self and to begin to truly rely only on him, and his grace and his power.  Waiting on God means that our first movement always must be towards him in prayer and dependence, rather than towards others in pride and arrogance, or in desperation and need.  I have a suspicion that if we ever learn what it really means to do this  --to truly wait on God--it will change everything. 

O God, give me the strength and the courage and the trust necessary to truly wait on you. Help me discover what it means to wait for your salvation in my life and in my ministry.  Show me what that looks like.  Keep me, O God, from the temptation of trying to manufacture or produce something that only you can bring about.  I cannot do it on my own, no matter how hard I try; and no matter how much I might believe in my heart of hearts that I really can (or should be able to).  There can be no good, O God, other that what you bring into being.  So give me a heart filled with faith in your working, not my own.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

epiphany

i am here
follow the star
and you will find me
search the obscure
and hidden places
and you will come upon me
look into the eyes
of the broken and lowly
and you will discover my presence
i am here
in every conversation
you have today
in every joy and every sorrow
you will experience
in every circumstance
you will face
in every challenge
you will confront
don't ever forget
i am here

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

seeking god


Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
 
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
 
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.  And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-8)


 
No matter how you slice it, you can’t genuinely seek God second-hand.  No one else can do the work for you.  In the spiritual life, sending someone else to find out the truth about Jesus, and then asking them to come back to tell you what they’ve found, will not suffice.  Only genuine, personal encounter with Jesus will truly transform us. 
     Herod was curious about—and maybe even a little threatened by—the stories he had heard about this newborn King.  But he wasn’t curious enough, or threatened enough—or even interested enough, for that matter—to seek the truth for himself.  For some reason he wasn’t willing to make the six mile journey to Bethlehem.  Who knows, maybe he was too busy.  Maybe he had too much going on.  Maybe he had too many obligations, expectations, and demands weighing on him.  Maybe he had more urgent, and seemingly more important, matters to attend to.  After all, he had to make a living, right?  He had a kingdom to run, for crying out loud.  He couldn’t be expected to just drop everything and run off to see this One, who wise men from the east had traveled hundreds of miles to see.  I mean, he had far too many responsibilities to just take off at the drop of a hat and run around the countryside trying to find the One who caused a star to rise to announce his birth.  And so he sent others to go and see this extraordinary, life-changing event; while he stayed back and took care of the really important things.  What a tragedy.