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

Silence and Solitude

sandsWhen you find yourself a bit frazzled and frayed by the various stressors you encounter each week, where do you go to find solace? Some people find a sanctuary in solitude and silence.

As a business professional, David Haber spends much of his day crunching numbers and wrestling with the stress of financial decisions.  Haber has said, “The biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is how to not get lost in the daily execution, but to take a step back and really think things through. Quiet moments give you the opportunity to reflect and make smarter strategic decisions . . . Finding balance between work and life, and using silence to help me decompress, is an important part of doing my job well.”

Like Haber, I also think quiet moments are beneficial.  These interludes from the hectic pace of the world rejuvenate me when I refocus my attention on God.

Silence and solitude of themselves are mere emptiness that cannot feed a hungry soul. To stave off starvation, your mind needs to be “stayed” on God. The words of Isaiah echo this truth: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You (26:3).”

Here are a few Scriptures to focus on as you try to keep your mind “stayed” or focused on God:

  • Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that am God.”
  • Isaiah 12:2: “Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for the Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” ~JB Phillips

I encourage to check your priorities and to reorder your life. At the top of your To-Do List, scribble in: Quiet moment of silence and solitude—be still and know God.

Happiness: A Key or a Principle

keyHe’s no locksmith, but Michael Porter thinks he has discovered an important key—the key to happiness. Porter, a Harvard economist, has been researching social process and how to measure it.

Through his research, Porter has found the key to a person’s happiness is the opportunity to change and better one’s life:  Porter’s research suggests this “is a crucial but elusive ingredient to a smoothly functioning society—or what, at the individual level, one might call happiness (Quartz).”

Another researcher, Dr. Stephen Post, has studied the different components of happiness for several years.  He believes the key to genuine happiness is found in living the Golden Rule.

When you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, there’s a good chance that you’re a person who volunteers to help those in need. The willingness to help others can enhance your sense of well-being.

A study found that 41% of people who volunteer an average of 100 hours a year report a greater sense of well-being, saying that volunteering

  • 68%: “has made me feel physically healthier
  • 92%: “enriches my sense of purpose in life
  • 73%: “lowers my stress levels,”
  • 96%: “makes people happier,”
  • 77%: “improves emotional health,”
  • 78% also reported that volunteering helps with recovery “from loss and disappointment”

Typically, people who give of themselves to others have less trouble sleeping,  and they experience less anxiety, less helplessness & hopelessness.  They also report better friendships and social networks, and sense of control over chronic conditions than people who are more self-centered.

In his, It’s Good To Be Good, research, Post says:  ….as one achieves a certain shift from selfishness to concern for others, benefits accrue.   His research suggests that a person may feel good when he gives a financial gift to an individual or a cause; however, the benefits of helping others are most pronounced in direct person-to-person “hands on” activities.

The key research by Porter and Post simply validates the principle posited by Jesus over a thousand years ago:  Treat others the same way you want them to treat, and you both will be blessed.

When we embrace the words of Jesus and begin to live the Golden Rule, a satisfying life is within our reach.  According to Post, one way to elevate happiness is to reach out in helping behaviors and contribute to the lives of others. That happiness in turn elevates giving, which in turn elevates happiness. The two fuel each other in a circular fashion – a classic feedback loop.

The words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer leave us with a thought worth thinking: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve