When my son was a toddler, he loved to spend evenings with me out in my garden. We would check all the plants, water everything and pick a few weeds. His favorite thing to do was to pick the ripe cherry tomatoes and pop them right into his mouth. So one summer I bought a package of Giant Grey Stripe Sunflower seeds for us to plant together.
We prepared a sunny corner of the garden and poked our seeds into the dirt. But that was not as much fun as my child thought it would be. He wanted to dig in the dirt some more. I told him, “We can’t disturb the seeds. They need to rest in the quiet darkness under the dirt. Then someday they will sprout.”
Every day we checked the corner garden for signs of baby leaves pushing through the soil. Still the boy desperately wanted to dig up the seeds and check them. Have patience Child. Let the seed grow! By the end of the summer, the sunflowers towered over me, their heads bending heavy with seeds. The patience paid off when we harvested our sunflower seeds.
Just like seeds have a cycle from being sown to growing to harvesting, so the Kingdom of God works in cycles like this. Some of us plant, some of us water, and some of us harvest. When the farmer plants the seeds, he must wait patiently for God to make them grow. God sends the rain. God sends the sun. God causes growth. We wait.
I have encouraged our student leaders with this analogy. When they get anxious and worried that their campus small group isn’t growing, I encourage them to wait. Growth will come. Be patient. When they feel discouraged and want to quit, I remind them that the seeds grow in secret, in the dark, where no one can see. Something is happening under the surface, and it’s too early to abandon the seed. Have patience. No one can start a new group and expect a harvest that same week. Our groups are in the planting phase of the cycle. We can’t expect a harvest just yet.
Patience Child, the seed will grow and the harvest will come someday. Patience.
Ashley and Sean, look at that ROCK on her hand! I think those smiles say that yes, it was worth the wait.
I’m on a theme this week. What do you feel is “worth it”?
A friend of mine got engaged this last August while she was home. Now that she’s back in San Jose we finally went out to lunch so I could hear the story in all it’s girly detail.
My friend is 30 years old… and a virgin. Way back in her late teens, she made a promise to the Lord. She said, “Lord, I give you my 20’s. Do whatever you want with my life. This decade is dedicated to you.” And the Lord took her 20’s.
For 10 years she served God faithfully. She poured her life into mentoring young girls. She went on missions trips. She served in her church. She lived 100% for God. This was by faith.
God made her no promises that someday she would meet “the one”, Mr. Right, the man of her dreams. She had no assurance that she would not be single for life. She had no “deal” with God. She just walked through that decade by faith. The only thing she held on to was the belief that “God is worth it”.
She believed that God had a plan. She had faith that someday, it would be worth it all. She sometimes cried at night. She sometimes doubted that God knew the depth of her loneliness. She sometimes doubted that there was a husband out there for her. She sometimes “took back” her promise to God in her heart, but she still walked it out every day. She believed that it would be worth it all.
Then, less than a year ago. God brought a man into her life. This man had made a promise to God too. This man had given God his 20’s as well. This man was 30 years old… and still a virgin.
When he proposed to my friend he said, “you are not the girl of my dreams… you are better than I could have ever dreamed!” I am sure he will feel that waiting for her was so worth it. It was not easy, but it was worth it.
I hate waiting.
I think a lot of us can relate to that. We don’t like being in the Waiting Room of life. Yet waiting is a reality, a life skill, and a spiritual discipline. But I hate waiting just the same.
Right now in my real world I am waiting for certain things to happen. I am waiting for a few people to get back to me via email. I am waiting for certain events to come to completion. I am waiting for a few problems to be resolved. I am waiting for God to give me direction in a few decisions that must be made. But I hate waiting.
I had coffee with a long time friend this week. She too is in a Waiting Room in her life. She has obeyed God, taken a step of faith, and risked it all without knowing how it’s going to end. She and her husband have quit their jobs, because God told them to. And now they wait. They are waiting for the next direction from God. Soon the paychecks will stop coming, and there is no “plan” for when that happens. God has told them to wait. And so they wait.
My friend lives by the ocean. One day as she was walking along the shore watching the waves, and a question just popped into her head. She wondered, “who times the waves? Does God tell each wave when to hit the shore? Surely God has better things to do than to command each wave when to hit.”
And in that moment, God spoke directly into her heart.
God said, “I have already given each wave it’s orders. I set the waves in motion and each wave knows when it will hit the shore. I have already set the wave of your life in motion, it just hasn’t hit the shore yet. Wait for it.”
And peace followed.
Wait for the wave to hit the shore. It is coming. Events are already in motion that you know nothing of. The wave is coming. Wait for it.
This is for all you worry warts out there. This is what the Urban Dictionary says about the phrase “waiting for the other shoe to drop” which is the title of tomorrow’s’ blog:
To await an event that is expected to happen, due to being causally linked to another event that has already been observed. Gets its origin from the following joke.
A guest who checked into an inn one night was warned to be quiet because the guest in the room next to his was a light sleeper. As he undressed for bed, he dropped one shoe, which, sure enough, awakened the other guest. He managed to get the other shoe off in silence, and got into bed. An hour later, he heard a pounding on the wall and a shout: “When are you going to drop the other shoe?” Thus the term “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Do you ever have seasons in your life where you feel like you just can’t catch your breath? Why don’t you just kick me when I’m down!! Gesh! What does a girl/guy need to do to catch a break around here? Are you kidding me? THIS on top of everything else I’m dealing with right now? To use another cliché, when it rains, it pours. Having experienced times like that, it’s only natural to feel like one bad thing can start a land slide of disaster in your life.
But here’s my Oh-So-Profound advice from the movie “When Harry Met Sally”. Remember when they are driving from Chicago to New York after college and he asks her, “Do you ever think about death?” He then brags about how much he thinks about death in order to make himself sound like a deep person. He says, “I’m just sayin’ when it comes down, I’m going to be ready for it.”
And Sally quips back, “Well in the meantime you’ll ruin your life waiting for it!”
You can stop waiting for the other shoe to drop, and tomorrow I’ll tell you why. For now, just breathe… exhale… and stop worrying. You’re not being buried alive, it just feels that way now. You’re not being singled out as a victim. You’re not being punished. Hope is just around the corner… in tomorrow’s blog.
“A missionary plods through the first year or two, thinking that things will be different when he speaks the language. He is baffled to find, frequently, that they are not. He is stripped of all that may be called “romance.” Life has fallen more or less into a pattern. Day follows day in unbroken succession. There are no crisis, no mass conversions, sometimes not even one or two to whom he can point and say: ‘There is a transformed life. If I had not come, he would never have known Christ.”
These are the words of Roger Youderian as he struggled with his role as a missionary just a few short weeks before he committed to Operation Auca and lost his life at the end of a spear with Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and the other men.
We are tools. Missionaries are just tools in the hands of the Master. A lot of what we give our daily lives to is nothing more than positioning. We are just waiting in a position to be used. It’s our job just to be available for the Master whenever and wherever he needs us. He should be able to set his hand right down and find us ready and waiting to be used. And that readiness is unromantic, un-dramatic, daily and boring.
But when the Master reaches for his tool and finds it exactly where he placed it, ready to be used… BAM!!… Look at the dramatic impact the tool can make in one moment. One hit of the hammer, one strike of the match. One moment of usefulness leads to generations of brilliance! This man and his companion missionaries went to their deaths in a blaze of usefulness! They were matches lying in the box, waiting for the one strike that would set them aflame. Who had ever heard of them before they died? No one, but hundreds, maybe thousands of young people heard of their deaths and felt called by God to go into full time service. Workers sent out, tools now positioned and available to be used whenever the Master has need.
If you have children you very likely know the quote from the movie Toy Story were Woody tells the other toys, “Com’on Guys, it doesn’t matter how much we’re played with. All the matters is that we’re there for Andy when he needs us. That’s what we’re here for.” That’s what our true mission is: to be available for God when he needs us. Which might mean a lot of waiting in the bottom of the toy box or the matchbox or the toolbox. Waiting for when the Master has need of us.