Waiting Like Leo

swamp-rat-16Leo was as regular as clockwork.  A few minutes before 3 PM, he would walk into my office, and say:  It’s time to get a cup, are you ready?

While I enjoyed the break and our afternoon conversations, the ride to the coffee shop was a hang-0n-for-your-life experience.  This kind, jovial, old gent evidently had nitro in his DNA because the second the traffic light turned green he morphed into a mixture of three of the all time NHRA greats: Matt Hagan, Don Prudhomme, and Big Daddy Don Gartlis.

Quicker than you could say Folgers, Leo honked his horn, smoked his tires, floor-boarded the gas pedal and raced to the coffee shop—Leo was a better fumer and fretter than he was a patient waiter.

To be truthful, if you’re anything like me, both of us are too much like Leo. We hate to wait at red lights, in lines, or for the 30 seconds it takes for a microwave to do its magic—we’re better at getting up and going than we are at sitting and waiting.

Whatever you do, please don’t put me on hold—elevator music isn’t relaxing; it’s a fight song.

A.W. Tozer (1918-1963) lamented this spirit of busyness because it has diminished our ability to be still and know the Lord.  Tozer said: We are victims of the philosophy of activism tragically misunderstood, and he defined it as an urgent life of getting and spending, going and returning, organizing and promoting, buying and selling, working and playing. Tozer continued: If we are not making plans or working to carry out plans already made we feel that we are failures, that we are sterile, unfruitful eunuchs, parasites on the body of society.

In these stress-filled times, we need to ease up on the throttle and learn to wait on the Lord. David said that he waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry (Psalm 40:1).

When we wait, with an expectant hope, in God’s providential care, we find that God will:

  • Offer guidance: Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long (Psalm 25:5)
  • Provide deliverance: We wait for the Lord; he is our deliverer and shield. (Psalms 33:20).
  • Answer prayer: Listen to what I say, Lord! Carefully consider my complaint! Pay attention to my cry for help, my king and my God, for I am praying to you! Lord, in the morning you will hear me; in the morning I will present my case to you and then wait expectantly for an answer (Psalms 5:1-3).
  • Give strength: Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

John Ortberg has commented on the importance of waiting.  Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.

Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. ~Isaiah 26:8

Second Hand News

timeThe rhythmic and timely sound of a ticking second hand has been hushed by the advance of technology and the proliferation of digital watches. The value of a second isn’t found in its sound but in the action that transpires within this brief span of time that’s 1/86400th of a day and 1/60th of a minute.

Most people don’t give a second thought to the length of a second, but something unusual will happen on New Year’s Eve. When clocks strikes midnight in England, the final minute of 2016 will be 61 seconds long to adjust the world clock to the correct time.

Just how important is a second?

  • If you’re an astronaut it’s important since the speed of light travels at 18600 feet per second ( At the speed of light, the moon is about 1.5 seconds from the earth)
  • If you like hot rods, you know that a fraction of a second is the difference between winning and losing at the drag strip.
  • If you play baseball, one second is the time it takes for a baseball to leave the pitcher’s hand, get hit by the batter, and then be line-driven back to the pitcher.
  • Beekeepers think of one second as the time it takes for a honey bee to flap its wings 200 times.
  • One second is the amount of the time it takes for the earth to receive 48,600,000,000kw of energy form the sun (kilowatt = 1000 watts).

What is one second?  It’s the time it takes to say three words: “Goodbye and Hello.” When you bid farewell to 2016 and roll out the welcome mat to 2017, I hope you’ll take a second to turn a frown into a smile; change a bad impulse into a good one; and to say a simple “God bless you” to the person who is on your heart and in your mind.

Psalm 90:12: Teach us to number our days carefully, so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts 

NASCAR: Pit Stop Essentials

NASCAR-at-DaytonaA word that elicits a wide range of emotions is NASCAR . Some people shake their head in bewilderment thinking it is a waste of time to watch grown men drive a car in circles.  Then, there are those who froth at the mouth when they hear the rumble of a finely tuned engine that propels a driver down the straightaways in excess of 200 MPH.

Every second the driver spends on pit road is a second that will determine how he finishes the race. In a matter of about 12 seconds, a good pit crew can change tires, top off the fuel tank, and necessary adjustments to race car.

Pit stops are a vital component of every race—even the race of life.  Paul said, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 1:7).  To finish the race, it helps to keep a few principles in mind:

  • Realize your skill-set is limited and you will always need God:
    • I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God with me. ~I Corinthians 15:10
    • Serve with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. ~I Peter 4:11
  • Remember those who have helped you and show your appreciation: I thank God for you Christians at Philippi whenever I think of you. My constant prayers for you are a real joy, for they bring back to my mind how we have worked together for the Gospel from the earliest days until now. ~Philippians 1:3
  • Plan for the bumps in the road: Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. ~Hebrews 11:25
  • Set a steady pace, so you can win the race: Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.  Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified. ~I Corinthians 9:24-27

I’ll close with this thought: To run fast, you need to know when its time to slow down.

Pressing On

Pressing-OnLeeAdianez Rodriguez is a 12-year-old girl from New York, and her actions in a recent race are the epitome of “pressing on and going the extra mile.”  LeeAdianez was registered for a 5K race, but ended up running a half marathon.  About halfway through the course, she realized she was running with the wrong group. Instead of quitting, she decided to run the 10 extra miles and finish the race.

When I read this story, I wondered why this was the first time LeeAdianez had competed at this level:

  • Had her parents denied her permission?
  • Was it because her coach told her she was unprepared?
  • Did she doubt her ability?

A person can limit himself by doubting his ability and sometimes we limit God because of a lack of faith.  A little mind-shift in your cognitive approach to life is a step in the right direction, and it will help if you will:

 Recognize that doubting is normal:

  • There were times in the life of Abraham when this man of incredible faith doubted.  In each of these instances, he was focused more on his personal strength and ability than he was on the powerful promises of God.
  • When in doubt, zoom out.  Make God your point of focus:  “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6).”

Recognize the value of good friends and good principles:

  • Instead of doubting your faith, try doubting your doubts.
  • Assess your recent resources for news and information. Have you surrounded yourself with doubters and skeptics or people of faith?  “In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).”
  • Are you propping yourself up with false reasoning or trusting God?  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil ( Proverbs 3:5-7).”

Recognize that absolute certainty is an unreasonable expectation:

  • You will never have full and complete knowledge about everything. The quest to know more is the fuel that energizes honest research.
  • Just because you cannot know everything there is to know about God, doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself in seeking to know more about Him.

Recognize that not understanding is different than not believing.

  • While you may limit yourself because you don’t believe in your potential, don’t limit God by trying to constrain Him with a finite mind of rigid boundaries.
  • When the Israelites left Egypt, they thought the trip to the Promised Land was going to be an easy sprint; but, their doubt turned it into a 40 year marathon.

Doubt is to perseverance what krypton is to Superman.  Like LeeAdianez Rodriguez, you can press on when you recognize the correct message and listen to right voice—the voice of faith.

pressing-on (1)

 

Run Baby Run

cheetah-speed-2According to an African parable, when morning dawns in Africa the gazelle know that it must run faster than a cheetah or be killed.  The cheetah knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it is going to starve.  The moral of this story is that whether you are a gazelle or a cheetah, you had better be ready to run when the sun rises.

In Hebrews 12, Paul used the metaphor of a race, and he said that you should “lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.

How would your life be different if your life was characterized by the determination exhibited by the gazelle or a cheetah?  Keep your eyes on Jesus, and run the race He has set before you.