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So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Game-Changer

Reading in Leviticus now, all about law and diet and skin diseases. It's been hard to find the connection between my life and Scripture these past few days. Today I'm getting a glimmer of a truth which I think is very deep, a truth that I don't fully understand, and a truth that many wise theologians have no doubt explained much better. Today I was reading in Leviticus 13, about the permutations of skin diseases and baldness and leprosy. The priests of the time would have to inspect the sores and eruptions to decide whether the afflicted person was clean or unclean. The priest would also need to know how to sacrifice to restore the person to fellowship (if they could).

During my initial reading of this chapter, all I could think was, "Ick. Don't think I'd want the job of priest back then." However, I am also reading in the Gospel of Mark, and yesterday came across the story of Jesus healing the leper. My Bible pointed out that Jesus could touch the leper and make the leper clean, whereas anyone else who touched a leper would have become unclean. Jesus is more radical than I realize. . . Hebrews talks a lot about how Jesus is our new high priest, and how He is the best and perfect high priest. I am starting to understand just how different Jesus was from the religious leaders of the day.

The priests had laws and rules and systems of sacrifices to make to intercede for the people. They had to make sacrifices for themselves. They could not touch lepers or other unclean people. If they did, a sacrifice would have to be made. Then comes Jesus--touching lepers and healing them. Touching Gentiles and making them whole. Touching corpses and raising them from the dead. Yet He remains pure and unstained. He really is a miracle--His coming changed everything.

Jesus does the same thing with my sin. He came and touched my heart and, instead of being defiled by my sin and unholiness, He, through the ultimate sacrifice of Himself, makes me pure and holy. I don't have to list all of my sins and then do the appropriate sacrifice, over and over and over. Once for all, the atonement has been made. My mind cannot truly grasp Who Jesus is, but my heart is overflowing with thankfulness this morning that He loves me, saves me, and lives in me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We Won't Go Without Him

Still in Exodus, still surrounded by references to waiting. After the Israelites create the golden calf and try to worship it, the Lord tells Moses that He is not going to lead them to the Promised Land because they are so stiff-necked, and because He would consume them with His anger. Moses intercedes for the people, saying to the Lord, in Exodus 33: 15-16:
. . . "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?"
Moses tells the Lord, in essence, that he and the people will not go until the Lord goes with them. He is willing to wait for the Lord's presence rather than leave without it.

Am I willing to do that in my life? The Israelites knew that the Lord was calling them to go to Canaan, but Moses did not want to go without the Lord's presence among them. Sometimes I face decisions that are not always clear. Sometimes, especially if they are not specifically addressed in Scripture, I must just make the best decision that I can and listen/watch carefully for clues along the way as to if it is God's will. Other times, I think that God wants me to wait until He makes it clear--to delay my decision until I know that He goes before me.

The whole of the Israelites' journey was waiting, even before they were judged for their lack of faith. The end of Exodus (Exodus 40: 34-38) states:
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
The people could not leave until the Lord moved. It might be one day, it might be two weeks. They simply had to wait for the cloud to depart. They couldn't hurry it up or delay it. Their focus was on waiting for the Lord and watching what He was doing. Thankfully, believers have the Holy Spirit within them to guide and direct. However, I know that many times I want to run ahead of the Holy Spirit's leading, or stay in a situation longer than I should because it's comfortable. Through all of these stories of waiting, I think I am starting to see that God is always wanting me to look toward Him, following Him when He leads, and staying put when He doesn't. I want my heart to say, like Moses, "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring [me] up from here." In that waiting will God get glory and will the world see that I and my fellow believers are "distinct . . . from every other people on the earth".

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What is Our Problem?

The journey continues through Exodus. The Israelites are now free from Egypt and Moses is trying to lead them. The Lord speaks to Moses (Exodus 19:3-6):
The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."

Moses tells the people these things, and then the Lord gives more direction to Moses (Exodus 19: 9):
And then the Lord speaks to the people:
And the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever."

Many times when I read about the Israelites, I wonder how they could see and hear and touch and feel the Lord's majesty and provision and yet turn to idols. Pride makes me imagine that I would surely not turn away if I saw such wonders from the Lord. . . Truth says otherwise, since I have seen wonders of salvation and grace and mercy and still disbelieve.

I'm still curious, though. WHY do we doubt the Lord so easily when we have seen His power? The people SAW the Lord part the Red Sea. Every day, food fell from heaven. Moses struck a rock and God gave them water. The Lord appeared to them in a cloud. Yet, within weeks, the people are demanding that Aaron make them another god to take care of them. WHY??

Exodus 32:1 records what the people said after Moses had been gone on the mountain to get the law from the Lord:
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, "Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."

The people didn't know what was taking Moses so long. They could not wait.

If you have read this blog at all, even just the title, you know that waiting has been a theme of mine for a while. . . A theme of the Lord's, actually. Why did the Israelites turn to idols? Because they could not wait for Moses to come back. Why did they grumble against the Lord? Because they could not wait to take the land. Why do I lose heart and get discouraged? Because I can't wait for what the Lord is doing. Why do I try and get what I want by my own means? Because I feel I have waited long enough. A huge reason for our frustration and the resultant sin is the difficulty we have in waiting.

Yet, the Lord is showing me more and more that His very purpose in the waiting is to grow our faith. Since faith is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1), the absolute only way we will obtain faith is by believing the Lord for what we do not see. I will only believe God is working things together for good by waiting and trusting Him in the bad and then seeing the good. I will believe the Lord takes care of me by waiting for His provision and receiving it when I can't do it myself. I will believe in the grace of God by experiencing it when I walk through the pain. Much to my chagrin, I am finally understanding that there are no shortcuts to a relationship with the Lord or to genuine faith. There is no "easy button."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Matter of Timing

The book of Exodus is where I am reading now, and it is probably one of my favorites. Even more so than last year, 2011 seems to be shaping up as a year of waiting (or else I'm finally realizing that ALL of life is waiting), and that thread is evident throughout Exodus. In chapter three, when Moses hears the Lord speak out of the burning bush, deliverance appears imminent for Israel (Exodus 3:7-8):
Then the LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Okay, got it, Moses will go to the Pharaoh and the people will be set free and they'll be in the Promised Land by nightfall. Moses does return to Egypt and share with the people the words that the Lord has spoken, and they respond positively(Exodus 4:31):
And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

So far, so good, but then. . . Pharaoh's heart is hard. The conditions of the Israelites goes from bad to worse. Plague after plague after plague rain down on Egypt. Even after the final plague, when Pharaoh finally releases Israel, he changes his mind and sends the army after them. The people's response now (Exodus 14:11-12)?
They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."

I can so identify with the Israelites. Hundreds of years of captivity, and finally, a deliverer. God has heard their cries, He has sent Moses, He SAYS He's going to rescue them. They are worshiping and rejoicing, ready to go. And then. . . it doesn't happen when they think it should. It doesn't happen how they think it should. It doesn't happen as easily as they think it should. They have been promised deliverance, and they want it NOW.

Looking back from the vantage point of thousands of years and having seen the end of the story, I can see some of what the Lord was doing. Moses couldn't see, at first (Exodus 5:22):
Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all."
The Lord's response (Exodus 6: 6-8):

Say therefore to the people of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.'

Over and over again in Exodus the Lord proclaims that He will deliver the people in order to show both the people and Pharaoh and, indeed, the world, Who He is. He had a purpose in the waiting. He had a purpose in the process. The people had been enslaved for hundreds of years. Deliverance would not be instant. Even after they escaped Egypt, the Lord planned to lead them the long way around.

Why do things seem to take so long, even things that are promised? Noah built the boat for a long time with no rain in sight. Abraham and Sarah waited years for Isaac. The time between David was anointed king and proclaimed king was not short. I think that the Lord is showing me that the purpose now is the same as it was back then. He wants me to know Who He is. The only way that I will know God is by wrestling with Him (as did Moses) and by demonstrating my faith when I choose to believe the promises that haven't happened yet. I can look back at seasons in my life where I now see some of what the Lord was doing in the waiting. It always comes down to trusting God's character and walking in faith. The verse that I have been standing on during times of waiting is Psalm 25:3:

Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame...

I must trust His timing and trust His heart.