Monthly Archives: December 2015

Remaining Hopeful in the Waiting



“If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
II Timothy 2:13

This has been a weird year. Last year about this time, Shawn made a New Year resolution to play more basketball. He loves it and it gives him some exercise in the process, so it’s a win-win. But the first game he played in January resulted in knee surgery, a new-used ACL and a meniscus repair, followed by 3 months of physical therapy. (His resolution the year before was not to wear pants… Neither lasted very long).

The year trudged on, with me going back to work some, difficult times at church that have brought me to a time of what feels like grieving, and a writer’s block that would leave me sitting at my computer with no words to spill out on my screen.

I’ve stared at the blank page far too many times to count. There was nothing to say that could benefit anyone who might read it. I prayed for words, but felt nothing.

I am not a patient person, and it’s hard for me not to get answers right away (and, by the way, they need to be the answers I want). And while it hasn’t been a terrible year at all (many good things have happened – Noah likes high school, I like my job, our family got away for a weekend trip to Tennessee, and God has faithfully provided), it has felt like a year of chipping.

A bit of chipping away at our self-sufficiency, when so many friends and family have given and blessed us in ways we never would have asked. A bit of chipping away at my selfishness of my time, time I was wasting and didn’t realize it until I had to fill those hours up with working. Some chipping away at my comfort, seeing that new or different isn’t always worse, even if it hurts a little.

And I’m learning some patience. If God has words for me to write, first I must spend more time with Him to hear what that is. If He wants me to wait on His words, and not just fill up a screen because I need another blog that week, that’s okay too.

But the waiting is hard.

I was reading in Luke this week, and in chapter one, Zechariah gets big news. He is old, and so is his wife. While we don’t know exactly how old, “well along in years” doesn’t sound like something you would say to a 40-year-old. But Zechariah gets a visit from Gabriel, telling him, “Your prayer has been heard.” He and Elizabeth are gonna have a baby! And not only that, but a baby who will do great things for God’s people, and who will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from birth. Now that’s an answer to prayer.

But it made me wonder, how long did Zechariah pray for this? How long did he go month after month, waiting to see God bless them with a child, only to find out that again, it hasn’t happened? Did his prayers lose their punch, as months and then years start to add up, without seeing any result?

Did daily prayers to God turn into weekly, then monthly, then an occasional, “Please God,” when he saw another new baby in the neighborhood? Until at some point, he just resolved that it was too late.

In verse 18, he questions Gabriel, saying, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” That didn’t sound like a guy who had just faithfully prayed that morning for a bouncing baby boy. And Gabriel responded with a bit of a punishment – he will be silent for the remainder of the pregnancy, “because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

God’s proper time is rarely what we want and hope for it to be. We are really like toddlers, wanting it now, sometimes throwing in a tantrum to show we mean it (just me?). But God is a good Father, and He knows far better than we do what we need, and when we need it. He knew Zechariah’s baby was going to be special. John would bring many people of Israel back to their God. He paved the path for the ministry of Jesus, then was blessed to baptize Him himself. God knew when this needed to happen. He knows best. He always does.

Don’t lose hope. Our prayers aren’t always answered in the way that we want, nor in the time frame we want, and sometimes it seems like they haven’t been answered at all. But we can trust our Father.

Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past, and His faithfulness to others around you. He is a good Father.

Don’t lose hope in the waiting. There is always hope.




Counting the cost, with Dave and Jesus

Counting the cost, with Dave and Jesus

daveI am not the money person/bill payer in our family. We figured out that Shawn is the more “responsible” one in our marriage. I have said many times, “Just because it says ‘due date,’ it doesn’t really mean it has to be paid by then.” Clearly I had to step back and let Shawn take over, and all the utility companies are thankful that I did.

And while he does a great job, we still thought we had some stuff to learn regarding savings, so when Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class was offered at our church on a night when we didn’t have other obligations, we said, “Why not?”

Dave is all for people having control over their dollars. One of his quotes is, “You’ve got to tell your money what to do, or it will leave.” He thinks every dollar that comes in needs to be assigned a place to go. It’s not something I have completely wrapped my brain around, but it sounds wise. If you have a savings or a stash of money that isn’t designated for bills, it is tempting to splurge and buy a Christmas necklace you don’t need because it feels like free cash. But if that stash has already been marked for a savings plan for the new washing machgallery_hero_555d1340-ad0e-4208-becb-cd370da7eea9ine you know you are going to need soon, you would have to think a little harder about whether or not you should spend the money.

*But if you decide to buy the Christmas necklace, you can find a super cute one here

Without thinking and planning in advance, it is easy not to pay attention to what something will really cost you.

In our neighborhood Bible study, we just finished up the study of Daniel, through Beth Moore’s series. We learned as early as Daniel chapter 1 that Daniel had resolved to live his life in a way that pleased God. He and his three friends made the decision early on to make choices that lined up with what God wanted for their lives. And when faced with a flaming furnace or a lion’s den, it was already determined that what those unbelievably tough scenarios would cost them, including their lives, couldn’t compare with what losing their devotion to God would cost them.

They counted the costs early on, and resolved to remain faithful to their God.

Jesus told his crowds of people following him the importance of counting the cost in the last ten verses of Luke chapter 14. Until recently, when I read this, I thought how silly it seems to first count the cost of following Jesus. Why count it? Shouldn’t we just say, “I’ll follow Christ no matter what”? But until that’s thought out, those are really just empty words.

If I’m committed to follow Christ while things are easy, saying I’ll follow Christ isn’t a tough one. But when things are harder and it starts costing me more, deciding moment-by-moment whether it is worth it can leave me teeter-tottering, not fully committed.

Is it worth it if God asks me to give up more of my time to serve someone else?
Is it worth it if God asks me to give up money to people whether or not I think they deserve it?
Is it worth it if people think I’m “too religious?”
Is it worth it if God asks me to move to somewhere without a Wal-Mart to tell others about Him?
Is it worth it if someday I have to go against a law to worship God?
Is it worth it if someday it could cost me my life?

Deciding early on that I am committed to God, resolving that in my heart, I can face a situation, even a scary one, with boldness and courage because I already know it will be worth it. No “easy way out” of a pit of lions could compare with losing out on an eternity with God.

Sometimes people (my past-self included) think that God really just wants us to be happy, whatever that takes. That this is what life is about. But that’s not why we are here. Our lives really aren’t about us. And our lives aren’t always going to be easy.

Jesus himself said we are to carry our crosses and follow him. That in no way implies easy. So is it worth it?

Take a few minutes and picture the scenarios that you fear most. Things that might make you question, “Would it be worth it?” And then compare that with the first time you get to see Jesus face-to-face. When you will spend days that never end with no more sickness, no pain, no tears. No more death. When He says to you, “Well done. Come on in!”

Count the cost and see if it’s worth it, and then let’s resolve like Daniel to stand firm no matter what.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4