Monday, November 12, 2012


Today I want to explore the very unpopular topic of WAITING. This is something that I am not too good at yet something I am still forced to do, given the fact that there are many desires that have yet to be fulfilled in my life. Our one-click-away, microwave-and-its-ready culture (here in America) has made it easier for me to resist the practice of waiting. But I am starting to wonder if NOT waiting requires one to wait even longer. Let's take a look.

In my last post, I talked about resource and looking to Jesus to satisfy the deeper needs behind our needs on the surface. But this kind of dependence implies the need to reliquish control of getting needs met ourselves and waiting on someone else to do it for us. That doesn't sound too inviting when experience all too often tells us that others take too long, that they can't be trusted to do things right, or that they may not come through at all. Better to trust yourself, do it yourself, and get it done right. Right?

There's this prophet named Isaiah who, by the Biblical account, was sent by God to the ancient Israelites to reset their destructive course. Many times, the Israelites looked to others or to themselves to get things done, and this almost always in a way that was contrary to God's way of doing things. Often the ways in which they would do things ended up in selfish behavior to the detriment of others, and ultimately themselves. They were caught in a cycle of self worship and idol worship, looking to themselves and other things to get their needs met. But the results were always deceiving or temporary at best. In this context, God provides glimpses of another way through the cries and declarations of Isaiah, such as this description of how God worked for his people before:

"For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him." -Isaiah 64:3-4

In this description of God, I am struck by the idea that he does things that his people do not expect, awesome things in fact. So often, I want to know what's coming and therefore try to act on my own so that I know what is happening. Control. But God here goes beyond and does things that we do NOT expect, awesome things at that. Many times, his surprises are much better than our pre-conceived plans of what will make us feel better.

I'm also struck by the last part that says that God is one who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Is the converse then true, that he does not act for those who do not wait for him or trust him to come through?

Here's a description elsewhere of what it looks like when trusting in God as the ultimate resource:

Isaiah 30:15 : "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it."

Israel was trusting in abnormal ways of getting their needs met: oppression, deceit, unhealthy alliances, and God said that all of that striving would get them nowhere. Rather, their solution would be in turning from those ways and in resting, in quiet trust. It seems that a solution was offered, but they denied the offer for help by their refusal to quiet their busy lives and stop their striving to take control.

Is the solution any different for us? In what ways are we trusting in things other than God and acting in ways that are harmful to ourselves and to others in order to get what we want? I'll tell you for my own part, it's not working. More and more I'm ready to try out this quiet trust, this restfulness that says, "Okay God, I'll wait. I'll do it your way. Show me what you're doing, and help me to follow in that, even if it takes longer."

Would you rather have home-brewed chai that may take a good while to make, or a few minute steep from a tepid tea bag? Or if God decides to act quickly with a good quality 5 minute tea bag, are you willing to wait the full 5 minutes for a proper steeping? The longer the wait, the greater the strength, the richer the taste, and better the chai.

God knows microwaved tea is an unsatisfying option. He'd rather we drink the good stuff.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What do you WANT? (With a bit of encouragement for Singles)

I want to muse a bit on resources for the next few moments. If you continue reading for very long, you will find this topic is almost the same that I wrote about in my last post about fountains, yet looking at it from another angle.

The word resource can tell us a lot about our needs and what we are trying to do in getting our needs filled. When we are lacking resources or looking for resources in our lives, we are desiring to re-source ourselves, to refill the supply that we once had or were drawing get to recharge our very core.

A question came to me the other night at a dinner and discussion group centered around the spiritual needs we have and ways in which Jesus modeled filling those needs. At one point after some group talk, we were asked to take a few moments to quiet ourselves and ask what it was that we were really needing deep down, in terms of resources for the soul. The second part of this was to ask God to provide those resources of soul. Th millon-dollar question that I felt God popped up for me during the first part of this exercise was, "What are the needs behind your needs?" In other words, "Go a little deeper, David. You are desiring, but what desires does A represent?"

I'll tell you what God did in a little bit, but first I want to explore this idea of God getting to the needs behind our needs. In Matthew's account of Jesus initial earthly ministry, there is a story of these two blind men who are calling out to Jesus as he passes along what sounds like a busy road, bustling with people. The men are crying out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us!" Jesus' crew of disciples ignore the men and tell them to shut up (much like the world's response to our own needs at times, eh?). But these men keep crying out, and Jesus notices. He has the men brought to him and asks them a very key question, "What do you want me to do for you?" to which they reply that they want their sight back. Jesus then heals them, giving them their sight, and makes a key connection to their faith being what had saved them. (This is all from Matthew 20 in the Bible if you want to check it out.)

What I find interesting in that story is that Jesus asks these blind guys what they wanted. Why? Couldn't Jesus see that they were blind? Why would he ask such an obvious question? Perhaps it wasn't so obvious. Perhaps the daily traffic would simply hear these blind beggar's cries and assume that they wanted alms like so many other beggars they'd experienced. That wouldn't be a bad assumption, would it? But Jesus doesn't just assume. He asks, "What do you want?" He's getting to the deeper need. These beggars didn't just want a quick fix for the day, alms to get them by. They had the faith in this moment to ask for something BIG, something truly RESTORATIVE, namely, their sight! I wonder how many times we stop at the surface of our own needs, asking Jesus, life, or other resources to simply put a band-aid on the troubles of the day instead of restoring in a deeper, more substantial way.

I told you that I'd let you in on what God did later that evening at the discussion group during the quiet exercise examining our needs and how God may be able to resource us. After God asked me in essence, "What do you really want? What's behind these other things that you are initially wanting?" what I came to was the realization that I wanted to be noticed. "Noticed how?" you may ask? Well, I'll get a little more vulnerable with you, if you will read on.

As a single man approaching 30 in an American culture that equates being married or in a romantic relationship as "having made it" in the relational circus, it is easy to feel somewhat less-than at times. I, along with several other of my peers, would love to be in a relationship with someone such that cultural stigma of singleness no longer holds it finger-pointing power over me. So as I was thinking about my desire for deeper companionship and romantic relationship with a woman, God hinted that there was something even deeper that I was seeking. I didn't quite know what that was until the resource of the evening came.

Sitting quietly, waiting for Jesus to resource me with whatever he would provide for my soul in those few moments, I sensed him looking at me and saying, "Wow!" It was almost audible, as clear as it was. And in the depths of my spirit, I felt an immense peace, satisfaction and joy. I had just been validated by the God of the universe. Affirmation and validation were among those deeper needs I was longing for. And Jesus had them for me in some small yet significant way that evening. He noticed. I was noticed. Wow.

"The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." -Psalm 34:10

What are you seeking? What do you want? He is resource for us all, bread, life, fountain, good chai. Won't you drink with me?