If We Do Not Grow Weary
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. ~ Galatians 6:9
Call it coincidence, but in the first week of the new year, a time that is infamous for vigorously begun and eventually retired resolutions, I've started both voice and piano lessons. Between lessons and practice time, that'll add up to roughly 12 hours of time each week spent sharpening those skills. I'm not starting from scratch on either front, and it's rewarding to already see some measurable progress! I'm hopeful that in a couple of months, I'll have made great strides...if I "do not grow weary."
What does it mean to lose heart? Why is motivation so often elusive?
Well, there's this quality called "discipline." And "diligence." And "perseverance." At the basic level, it's the ability to keep on with the course of action even when the "feels" aren't feeling it. To "for the joy set before us," (see Hebrews chapter 12) endure and push through the pain, soreness, brain overload, discouraging setbacks and mental blocks.
Motivation feeds off satisfaction and enjoyment. These two are sisters and best friends, so where the one is, you will not find the other far away. And while we often set goals to work toward, it is worth investing in our relish of the journey as well as the finish line.
That's why working out to music, and with a friend, helps me not give in to my sore muscles. Why treating each warm up exercise as a little song helps me not tense up from focusing too hard. Why playing a song I already love disguises the tedium of practicing chord progressions.
If it's like that for short-term pursuits, how much more for the long hauls!
Here are some ideas for keeping the mundane energized:
1. Partner up
Companionship is a surefire way to keep a task unboring. Whether unboring means irritating or fun depends on both your attitude and the person/s you are with--but at the very least monotony is held at bay! At best, you will be able to encourage each other and cheer each other on in a healthy, affirming way.
2. Eat soup with a side of chocolate (not that I don't like soup)
Incorporate an old hobby into your project, or combine the activity with another you like. Just be careful to not talk about the combo in the negative way you used to think about the less favorite of the two...or you may find the both of them demoted in your mind.
3. Write with your other hand
Stuck in a rut? Change it up! Dress up to go to the store, or turn kitchen clean up into a musical number. Figure your taxes while listening to a new soundtrack, or bake a foreign dessert to get in the patriotic spirit. Wait--what?!
4. Quit flapping and soar
Stop trying so hard to do it in your own strength. The Holy Spirit is working in us both to will (desire) and to act to fulfill his good purpose for us. We don't have to come up with our own plan. He's already got the perfect role for each of us. Have you asked the Director for his notes on this scene? Catch the right current and flow with it! Don't confuse being busy with being fruitful.
5. Measure twice, cut once
Some things are meant to fall away into oblivion, weights cast off in favor of more worthy treasures. The yardstick is not what pleases us in the moment, but what is pleasing to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. His pleasure is the foundation of any lasting success, and we find joy by honoring him in the process as well as the product of our efforts.
Those are some things that help me. What helps you keep going when the road is rough? Please comment below! Meanwhile, I think I'll go practice "Edelweiss" on the piano....
Do you hear what I hear?
'Tis the season of frantic shopping and gifting and Christmas partying.
The deceiver schemes to avert our gaze from the Holy. And our God is Holy-Holy-Holy! Is it any wonder that the "holiday season" is often characterized by rush, stress, pressure, and overwhelming taxes imposed on our time? Even the noble causes and good intentions can get in the way if we let them, drowning out the quiet.
Hush! Do you hear it? Are you listening? It's past the rustling wrapping paper, beyond the crunch of two-day shipping for last minute online bargains. Have we forgotten in our giving our connection to the Love-Gift himself?
Imagine yourself a witness to the single most world-changing, dimension-shattering event:
The heavens shiver in delight at the melodies of stars, celebrating the triumph of mercy poured like cleansing myrrh over our ragged attempts to reach pure.
Angels marvel at the great reversal, the Divine spirit conceived into human earth-flesh to rescue broken souls.
Darkness gnashes jagged teeth as hell's worst fear reveals itself in the face of an innocent child. Lonely shepherds from beast-ridden hills become the unlikely heralds of the mind-blowing news. The Messiah, the promised deliverer is here!
Here? Bedded in drooled-on hay, birthed to an exhausted teenage mother in a town far from home? A respectable young carpenter has stepped in as surrogate dad, and comforts his bride in the aftermath of pushing God-flesh into sin-ravaged world. Did they--how could they?!--know the enormity of the salvation this newborn had come to accomplish?
While the people of Bethlehem went about their business. Their busyness. The haggling for food at market and the scolding of wayward children and the lodging of traveling kinsmen and standing in line for Roman registration. Who had time to notice a visit from God?
Step out of the chaos for a moment. Listen for the gentle whisper:
"Be still. Know that I AM God.
I've come to be with you...to be with you.
To be with you.
Be still. Spend time with me.
Get to know my heart for you, and for others.
My dreams for our family reach into all eternity!
Rest in my love--my love that outbid sin so that you could come close to me without shame.
Grow in your knowledge of my extravagant love toward you...in you, through you.
Rejoice! The glad news is still for all the people:
PEACE! Peace between God and man!"
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. ~ John 1:10-12
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
This is my first post on the fresh face of my blog! I do like the new look. It's also feels more streamlined to have it incorporated into my main website.
Some things, like this one, change by our own choosing. We end chapters in favor of a brighter prospect, and put in the effort necessary to make the transition. Other changes come by the will of another, some for good and some for ill, and we then "recalculate" our route to best get back on track toward our ultimate goal, though perhaps by a different road. Still more change is brought simply by passage of time--this steady ticking of chronological progression that brings us to forks and bridges in our life paths. By one impetus or another, and sometimes combinations of these, change does come.
Change is exhilarating. Change is frustrating. Change is beautifully inevitable. I myself often experience a convoluted reaction, leaving me dancing between a swirl of leaves, their cherished colors fading, and the bare branches of unseen promise.
I learn I must die to live.
Like a hermit crab searching for a new shell because the old no longer fits, or a snake shedding its skin to reveal the new, so I must embrace the vulnerability of leaving behind the past to live Today in the place God has me. I find myself grieving sometimes over a loss, forgetting that "it came to pass", and what is yet in store has its own wonderfulness. It is not wrong to remember, but when the remembering bleeds into a habit of discontent, it is evidence of my focus having turned horribly inward. If the past was hurtful, remember God's grace to move on. If the chapter closing was beautiful, smile because it happened, and trust for more beauty among life's ashes. Because it is there. Oh, it is there!
Do not scorn the unfolding of the fresh rose in favor of fragrant dried petals. Should I not choose to relish the daily discovery of the new gifts God has given? Rejoice in the sure promise of those to come? I want to live in thankfulness for simply being a part of His story.
He is the master of great story, and the end is already foretold. If a chapter ends in suspense or leaves characters (even me!) in a position of difficulty, surely it will be resolved!
We can rest in the knowledge that this next page will draw us ever nearer to the glorious finish line. Will the last chapter leave us hanging? I don't know; but I've heard it on good authority that there is a sequel....
So times change. Circumstances change. We change. And always the old gives way to new, and everything seems different now. Good different? That's partly up to us. Every day there are new choices, and the paths we take lead to the next choices. Don't let what is past keep you from the right choice for Today!
Yes, I am an actress. Yet this is real life. Are these not the roles we "live" for? Complex, heartbreakingly real characters. People who encounter both obstacles and opportunities, sorrow and joy, pain and healing. These show us that there is something, Someone, greater than ourselves or our own personal drama.
I am grateful to be a sketching of His grace.
We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us....We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed....Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4)
This God Who Is
Today is a good day. Because I'm with God, and he is with me. Tomorrow will be a good day. Because even if I change and/or circumstances go crazy around me, God is still the same--good. And he won't leave me.
I love this God that loves and buys what this world says is worthless.
He breathes his life into our mess, and creates beauty from ashes.
He sees our confusion, our fallenness from his glorious plan, and reaches out.
He does what we cannot, and the result is grace.
How can we please him? By trusting, believing to the core of our soul that what he did trumps our black hole of debt.
By knowing that he is. And that he is ever and always enough.
I love this God that knows my pain and heals the wounds I am afraid to touch, binds my heart-fractures with his comfort. Bids me rest in his peace as he knits me back together in wholeness.
In quietness I wait. Listening. Hearing. His dear whisper speaks deeper than any voice I've ever known.
And his words are very life to me.
What does he desire of me? This I want to give.
A broken, repentant heart...to cherish his presence...pursue truth and kindness...to love as he loves.
I love this God who sees each life he created as infinitely precious.
Worth living. Worth loving. Worth dying for to save.
Who else gazes on this darkness of rebellion and deceit and decides to send his greatest treasure
to rescue a stray sheep? A stray flock? A stray human race?
And one of those sheep was I.
You drew near when I called on you; you said, "Do not fear!" O Lord, you have pleaded my soul’s cause; you have redeemed my life. ~ Lamentations 3:57-58
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:20
Words Of Truth
Hello again! I worked on another film production last month (Surrender), so haven't kept up the ol' blog as closely as I'd thought I might so far this year.
I just got back from a well-known Christian film festival held in San Antonio, TX, where over 2000 people gathered to appreciate each other's months and years invested in stories they were inspired to bring to life on the screen, and forge or strengthen partnerships and teams for the next project down the road.
This particular festival has a specific and clearly expressed goal of publicly recognizing and honoring films that are excellent, meaningful, and affirming of Biblical values.
Our society has been deluged with a constant stream of media, to the point where many don't even pretend to be discerning in what they feed their minds, their souls on. Art and entertainment have never been neutral. Newscasters and filmmakers (the storytellers of our day) are not so much reflections, but rather shapers of culture around them, not only by the way they present their stories (based on fictional or real events), but more importantly by the sort of stories they choose to spend their finite time on this earth telling.
As the audience, we are also choosing who we will become both by how we ingest stories and simply which stories we take in. Last week at the festival I was greatly encouraged by the stories I saw being told. Stories that I believe will change lives, that will give people hope, and the courage to then participate in giving hope to others.
Two films I had a part in working on were screened: Indescribable and Alone Yet Not Alone. It was my first time seeing either one, which made it even more exciting. The two other films I had a chance to see (between hours upon hours of speaking with various filmmakers and attendees) were Return to the Hiding Place, which won Best Feature, and The Drop Box, a documentary which won two big awards: Sanctity of Life category winner, and the Grand Jubilee Prize for Best of Festival ($101,000).
I saw it at the Thursday showing, and in my opinion The Drop Box was well worthy of the win. (trailer: http://www.dropbox-movie.com/trailer.html) I haven't found it available for purchase anywhere yet, but when it is, I'm going to acquire a copy! If Return to the Hiding Place comes to a theater near you (next month or so?), I recommend it as well. The awards ceremony was fabulous, and the last portion was especially moving. Below is a video that will help give you a taste of it.
“I’d rather tell the plainest truth with $100,000 than the most sophisticated technological lie with $10 million or $100 million.”
The 22-year-old young man who made The Drop Box has a deep vision for producing media that will present Truth. Truth is not popular or politically correct, but it is powerful in the best of ways. We must study, prepare, work and pray to handle the Word of Truth honorably, in humility and reverence toward God, not mens' opinions.
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15
Stories matter, and they are worth telling well. Speaking of which, I'm actually heading out this week to go help on the script development team for another film. I'd very much appreciate your prayers for clarity, creativity, and wisdom as we work on characters, themes, plot arcs, and all the other strands that weave together to make a coherent and compelling narrative.
For now, I'll leave you with a favorite song:
God's Great Gift
Below is a poem I wrote a couple of years back to highlight what the fuss should really all be about. Please feel free to share it! What's the good news for if not to "tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere"?
God With Us
(c)2010 Rebekah Cook
Today we celebrate an event by Jewish prophets foretold
Anticipated and long-awaited by both the young and old
Today is when we commemorate our divine Savior's birth
And the hour that marked his entrance as a Son of Man on earth
What made this so wondrous and so marvelous an affair
A time so worth remembering for year upon mortal year?
What made this little infant boy attract the rapt attention
Of local shepherds and eastern kings, and not some other men?
His birth announcement was proclaimed by mass angelic song
Accompanied by starlight bursts as heaven joined the throng
They spoke of this natal miracle in majestic harmony
Declaring his identity and royal pedigree:
"The essence of Love incarnate, immortal Truth revealed
The exact representation of the Father, approved and sealed
The Word of God made very man and draped in human flesh
Eternal Lord of all creation, Son of righteousness."
The Light of all the world had come to seek and save the lost
The Source of Life to ransom us—HIS life is what it cost
The blameless, stainless Lamb of God was stained with sin's full cup
As the Prince of Peace paid purchase price for what we'd given up
Emmanuel! God with us! Bask in that most glorious thought
Our Champion came to rescue us, and won the fight He fought
Who could've known? Who would've guessed the baby who came that night
Was the very One to take our mixed-up world and make it right?
This is the news that bears repeating, and begs to be spread well
The Shaper of the universe has come to us to dwell
He lived and died, yet lives today (He conquered death, you know)
To offer all who come to Him redemption's joyful glow
Our Counselor, Teacher, Comforter, Healer—Jesus is his name
The Holy One, the Risen One of everlasting fame
The reason for the season is not merely a story we tell
It's a Person that makes my heart swell with a gladness none can quell!
As we revel in the wonder of Jesus' first coming and eagerly anticipate his return, may we follow in his steps of undaunted faith, contagious joy, and sacrificial love.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Painful, Confusing, and Inconvenient
The first snow of the year has fallen, and, so far, has stayed. The brilliant whiteness adds to seasonal cheer and travel hazards. Love it or hate it, winter is here!
Cold, yet cozy. Beautiful, yet dangerous. Fun...and annoying. The beauty may even prickle to the touch.
Metaphor for life?
Most of us have picked a favorite season out of the year, if only to have an answer when asked. Each have their pros and cons, and our selfish psyche picks which ones to remember and wishes away the rest. But as there is a "reason for the season" of Christmas (which approaches with astonishing pace!), there is likewise a purpose for each season we encounter in our lives.
We know that seasons change, but we do not always have the time or the inclination to prepare for them. Sometimes the change seems to come without warning....and not all the seasons are welcome. While there may be the occasional Indian summer of unexpected happy adventures, more often it seems that the interruption is of a sinister nature: accidents, sickness, unemployment, heartbreak, or the death of a loved one. What do you do with that?
Perhaps the most troubling question is: WHY? Why did this happen? (or not happen...) Why did this happen to me? Why did this happen now? Why shouldn't I give up now? Why doesn't it just go away? While those questions may have answers, maybe that's the wrong sort of question for us to be asking at first. Maybe the essence of Why is a distraction, to keep us sitting at the base of the hurdle in our way, analyzing the structure and philosophizing about the placement on the track instead of jumping or climbing over to continue the race.
We mean well, of course. If we know Why, then we know what to do about it, right? We would know how to prevent it from happening again, and eventually have a problem-free life. Right?
Wrong: "...in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
I have several friends who were/are involved in debate clubs growing up. Something they have learned is that if you let your opponent frame the questions for you, or fall into a default mode, you lose the argument. All right, fine. So what questions could we be asking instead? Well, here are some that I use for target practice when I'm "trouble shooting." :-)
What is the trouble/s? It is said that identifying the problem is the first step to dealing with it. While not imperative for initial action, understanding the issue is certainly necessary to achieve a long-term resolution of it. And have you noticed that troubles like to travel in company? When I'm feeling overwhelmed, it really helps me to write down a list of all the variables trying to stress me out, so that the nebulous mass doesn't keep churning in the back (or front) or my mind. Then I talk the list over with God.
Whom does this affect? Something I have found is that it helps to shift the focus from myself to others. Obviously this is affecting me personally, but while I might feel alone, I'm usually not. Even seemingly isolated troubles often have ripples into other people's lives. What can I do to ease their pain and better understand their burden?
Who am I fighting against? Regardless of who or what I think caused the problem, I need to recognize who the enemy really is: Satan. The devil will use whatever he can to distract me and trick me into putting my energy into warring against anything else. But although the symptoms vary with each case, it's hard to go wrong with targeting him as the ultimate perpetrator.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 6:11-12
How has God shown himself strong in the past? I remind myself that God is greater than my trouble/enemy. I read the Bible and find story upon true story of how God has shown his power and grace in strong, effective ways. I search out modern-day testimonies from friends or even strangers that relate to my situation. I review the specific faithfulness and goodness of God in my personal history. When I can't remember certain events well, I try to find someone else who was there that can help me recall it better. It also helps to write down answered prayers in a journal to look back at.
How do I fight? Instead of reacting in fear, doubt, hate, worry, griping, or other such destructive manner, I strive to respond with the opposite. These are some tactics in my arsenal:
How can I glorify God through this? There comes a point when how we respond to hardship contributes to answering the Why. When we submit our lives to the Lord Jesus, God works in our lives to bring good out of even the things that Satan meant to destroy us (Romans 8:28). We can partner in this process by keeping our eyes open for opportunities to give glory to God along the way.
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." ~ John 9:3
As you may have guessed, this is majorly a distillation of what I am learning from my recent life struggles: nursing my sister when she was suffering from a recurring high fever, dealing with a nasty rash on my own skin, resisting depression after the high of a long film shoot, ongoing car trouble, paying unexpected bills, and being there for friends in a hard place. It's been a hard fall.
But God has brought us through as victors, not victims! God has healed us and we experienced a recovery much faster than normal. I've been receiving unexpected gifts and funds that have covered all the expenses, and now have a wonderfully functional vehicle. And despite my many imperfections and inexperience, he has somehow used me to help others through some rough spots at the same time. I am in awe of what he has done—and is still doing!
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
....All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 15-18
Yes, life can be very painful, and often confusing. No, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of inconvenient circumstances cropping up from the infamous land of Nowhere with the unnerving speed of Suddenly.
But who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35-39
I'm (Still) Waiting . . . .
People sometimes tell me how strong I am. But I don't feel strong. Whatever strength is there, it surely isn't mine. I guess that would be scriptural:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25-27
I have been called. Called to live my life in love and joy and peace and patience and faith and kindness and obedience. Called to devote my energies and thoughts and words and actions as a living sacrifice of adoration to the one true God. Called to a steadfast surrender to the astounding Grace that makes it at all possible.
Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. ~ Psalm 119:35
All well and good to be willing to obey, but what if we are unsure of the path to take? What constitutes obedience in a particular instance? It is said that the devil is in the details. Perhaps, but my God is Lord over both the details and the bigger picture, so I'm in the best of hands.
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out. ~ Isaiah 48:17, 21
He will teach me, direct me, lead me in the way I should go. But so often I'm like a little kid: "Are we there yet?" and five minutes later "How much LONGer?!!"
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
~ Psalm 5:3
As I was growing up my family would sometimes take an entire summer and visit friends and family all across the States. I grew used to lengthy drives and learned to use the time spent in the van productively. Those who were able might decide to nap some in order to arrive with more energy. Reading, studying, talking with parents and siblings, singing songs, playing travel games, folding origami, tatting, crocheting, solving puzzles—there were countless activities available to occupy us (besides the ever-tempting snack-box). Have I so quickly forgotten how to be content as a passenger?
Humph. But at least on THOSE trips I knew what to expect! Oh, really? What about traffic delays, adverse weather conditions, construction detours—and my still developing sense of time passage itself? Is this really so different? Many of us are still children with respect to interacting with heaven's timetable.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. ~ Psalm 130:5-6
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
~ Lamentations 3:22-26
A dear friend reminded me yesterday that I am not the only one having to employ patience here. God is being patient, too. Not just patient with me (which he is, and I am SO thankful!), but everything else going on that makes things take longer than they might otherwise. God is excited for me to glimpse the next adventure, thrilled to take me there and share my delight in what he has so graciously prepared.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10
He is infinitely more eager than I, and infinitely more patient. Anticipation is helpful. Impatience and anger over unmet expectations are not. Do we joyfully trust our Father that the good things he has prepared for us will also come in his beautiful time?
I confess that after publishing my last post all about waiting, part of me indulged in the thought that the package I was waiting for (speaking figuratively) would now "magically" appear. Another part of me suspected that there was still much to learn about this fascinating facet of life called "waiting." The former part hoped that the latter part was being unnecessarily pessimistic. I chuckle inside now at my psychological game. Who was I kidding? It is when our own strength runs out that we discover the true strength that comes from depending on God alone.
God enjoys spending time with me—me spending time with him. Yes, he will be with me, holding my hand as I walk through the door when that time comes. I even think I know which door that is, though not fully what lies behind it. It hasn't opened yet, though I have knocked several times. Well, that doesn't mean I can't praise God in the hallway!
Let's break out the car songs . . . . ;-)
Which of these answers would be the hardest for you to hear? If you're like me, you would say the third. The why of a yes or no isn't as tough to deal with as the "how long?!" of a wait. But so often that's exactly where I find myself: waiting. And it's easy to get discouraged if I keep staring into the dense fog obscuring what's ahead.
I like how Corrie Ten Boom expressed the futility of it. She said: "Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear....Never fear to trust an unknown future to a known God."
We are exhorted in scripture to live by faith (2 Cor. 5:7) in light of a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). This is not an empty suggestion, but a vital expression of a life surrendered to Christ. In a culture drowning in the "easier and faster is better" philosophy it can be a constant struggle to maintain joy and peace in the waiting seasons. Yet I am convinced that being patient is not sitting around moping, wishing, sighing for something I'm not sure of.
Patience is faith that endures.
It endures the difficulty of known obstacles, the uncertainty of fluctuating variables, the frustration of invisible progress, and the temptation to get depressed with the slow, lingering passage of Time.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
~ Hebrews 6:11-12
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. ~ Psalm 27:14
Yet those 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
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. ~ Romans 8:25
When I find myself growing restless or impatient, here is how I take stock:
Let's take a brief example. If I am expecting a call that would mean a trip somewhere, I can already start packing my bag. But what if the call doesn't come, or it turns out the trip is unnecessary? Well, then I unpack the bag! That wasn't so hard, now, was it? And yes, I have "been there, done that." :)
Keeping busy by being productive while I'm waiting helps me to maintain a proper perspective even as I prepare for when the season of waiting comes to an end. And it does! When the answer is "Wait" it is not for an indefinite period of dangling in limbo. Remember, God is always faithful to his promises:
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay. ~ Habakkuk 2:3
So for all you fellow "waiters" out there, my prayer for you is that:
...you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. ~ Colossians 1:9b-12
Hail The Lamb!
Hail The Lamb
a song by Rebekah Cook
Son of God upon a cross
Bled for guilt of all mankind
Bore the blame and felt the shame
Cleansed us for a newborn life
Innocence gave recompense
Canceled debt that drowned my soul
Healing rain dissolved my chains
Broke the curse and made me whole
Hail the Lamb that was slain
Who for our redemption paid
Hail the Lamb! Praise his name
Through his blood we are saved
From each nail a painful trail
Mercy flowed to make us free
His last breath sealed with his death
Grace that reaches even me
Sacrifice of greatest price
Love made plain upon a tree
Of our sin he made an end
“It is finished!” was his plea
Hail the Lamb that was slain
Who for our redemption paid
Hail the Lamb! Praise his name
Through his blood we are saved
Raised to life, now glorified
Empty grave proclaims his pow'r
He still lives, forgiveness gives
All who call this very hour
Lost now found, for heaven bound
Living hope of which I sing
There to be eternally
Loving on my Savior King
Hail the Lamb that was slain
Who for our redemption paid
Hail the Lamb! Praise his name
Through his blood we are saved