Read Genesis 8-9 today. Three God observations:
- “The ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” God was in control, even to the detail of placing the ark where it needed to be. He made sure it rested and stayed put. OBSERVATION: Take care of the ark’s inside. God will take care of the outside.
- They were in the ark about a year, mostly waiting on the water to recede. While they waited, God had provided what they needed. Why was this important? Once they entered the ark, nothing was ever the same. The Flood was the pandemic of pandemics. There was no returning to normal. OBSERVATION: God is God of before, during, and after.
- Noah lived 350 years after the flood. Noah’s life lasted 950 years. Scholars estimate the entire ark season of Noah’s life was anywhere from 75 to 120 years-at most 13% of his life. What’s the story of the other 87%? Through the “mundane,” God prepared him, sustained him, and multiplied him. OBSERVATION: God is there for all 100%, from the headlines to the footnotes.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Cam Adams
Yesterday morning a group of our church leaders shared what we’ve learned from the last 13 weeks since we were forced to respond to COVID-19. It was helpful for us to share with one another. In the spirit of sharing, here’s something I learned, maybe was reminded about last week while in the grocery store.
A while back I came across this brand of chicken salad in the deli that I now consider a staple. It’s an every-other-trip-to-the-store item. So as I headed to the shelf where my tub waited for me, another staple-finder beat me. He stopped right in front of my chicken salad. No big deal. What’s a few seconds to wait?
Well, he needed more than a few seconds. So you know, I rarely need more than a few seconds on any aisle in the store. I was getting a little irked waiting, but keeping my cool and my distance. I told myself, “Take a look around right where you are. If nothing else, distract yourself. Maybe there’s something here worth trying.”
One of my favorite pastas is tortellini. You can stuff them with just about anything, and I’ll pass you my bowl. Oddly though, I don’t buy it to make at home. It’s not a staple, more of a restaurant-only choice.
So…guess what I discovered after listening to myself. Yep, deli tortellini that I’ve walked by dozens of times…clueless and unfulfilled. (Yes, that’s over dramatic.) I had stopped right in front of it, but only because I was forced to.
What did I learn in the deli? Waiting has benefits.
- Respecting others
- Looking and learning
- Seeing what you’ve missed
- Discovering a new routine or staple
- God may smile on you with a surprise…”Good job, waiting! Have some tortellini!”
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Izzy Boscawen
Parlor magicians hired to entertain children at birthday parties frequently begin tricks with a display of an empty hand, offering clear proof that there is nothing up their sleeve, nothing in the shiny top hat they are about to sit on the table in full view of the fascinated children. Then suddenly-presto!-a rabbit is pulled up by the ears, a dove with fluttering wings emerges, a shiny silver dollar flips into view. Something created out of nothing! We adults know that these are just parlor tricks, sleights of hand, practiced technique.
This quote comes from chapter seven of Andy Davis’s book, The Power of Christian Contentment. Davis is describing the best worship that comes from contented believers, and he shares this thought under the heading Most Comforted by Things Not Seen.
Some people want to know how the trick works. Not me. I’d rather not know. Were I to know, the awe and wonder would be gone. To keep the awe, I don’t want to know.
Often I’m tempted to know how God is going to do something, what He’s up to, or even to tell Him what to do. I’m learning that giving in to those temptations ruins contentment. Giving in also displays my lack of trust or my need for control. What I’m realizing is I’m also ruining my awe and wonder.
I need to stay off the stage and wait for presto!
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Omid Armin
I’m finding the best part of Bevere’s book is the 30-day devotional guide at the back. He directs you to read a portion of a chapter, then leads you through a short, relatable devotional, very practical and forward moving in dealing with offense.
Day 11 entitled Hiding from Reality has this quote:
Offense blocks spiritual growth, but suffering and obedience take us to a deeper relationship with the Lord and with others.
This quote aligns well with the one I posted about on August 4: “If you stay free from offense, you will stay in the will of God.” Staying clear of offense isn’t only freeing; it also allows growth to continue. The truth is we grow from suffering (Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Peter, Elijah). What the enemy baits us to do is run from the suffering, or at least be distracted from the growth by focusing on the hurt or the ones guilty of causing it.
It’s quite possible that God has allowed the enemy to shower us with suffering. Think Job. Satan thought he could break him. Satan was wrong. The end result was Job’s deeper trust in God.
So how does our obedience play out in these moments? It could be that we…
- …stay instead of run
- …face instead of ignore
- …wait instead of hurry
- …listen instead of ramble
- …submit instead of control
- …rest instead of worry
If you’ve been feeling stunted or blocked in your spiritual growth, maybe it’s time to check your obedience, time to give up the bait.
I’ve decided I want to chat with Caleb in heaven. Of course, by the time we get there this thought won’t matter, but currently I’m curious.
I’ve never thought about this before today, so here’s the deal. Caleb and his pals were sent to spy out the land of Canaan in Numbers 13. The end result, only Caleb and one other guy said they believed God would allow them to take the land; he was outvoiced by the other ten guys and spent the next 40 years waiting to enter the land. Caleb believed God, but his belief didn’t allow him to receive what he could have had in that moment. He had to wait because of other men’s fears and unbelief. He did nothing wrong, but he had to wait.
Scripture doesn’t mention anything about Caleb during these 40 years. All we know is that when they were up, he was more than ready to claim his inheritance (see Joshua 14-15). Evidently, Caleb waited well. He didn’t allow himself to get focused on himself long enough for anyone to notice.
No “poor me!” No “what did I do to deserve this?”
No, he made a choice to “wholly follow the Lord God of Israel” even after watching his spying pals focus on themselves to the point of death.
Maybe your life situation is the result of someone else’s bad choice. Maybe it’s “not your fault.” Maybe you’d rather get what’s coming to you sooner than later.
May you catch some hope from Caleb. God sees you. He is for you. He hasn’t forgotten you. Your thousand days are a second to him. Hold on. It’s coming…just not yet.
(This post came across my FB feed today from 2015. Based on Joshua 14:6-14.)
Someone should make a movie about Joshua and Caleb. I’ve always imagined they were buds, but who really knows. Not sure if their families shared manna together, but they are linked in the story of their nation.
Here, Caleb illustrates what it means to be totally with God. Not only was he faithful in his task at age 40, he also managed to stick to his guns for 45 more years.
At age 85, he reminds Joshua what happened on their first visit to the land which they now possessed. God spoke to him through Moses that his faithfulness would be rewarded. Still as strong as at age 40, he was ready to receive the fulfillment of God’s promise.
Through Caleb’s life, we can see these truths about how to live in the light of God’s promise:
- God’s promise is worth your lifelong surrender.
- God keeps His promises, even if it takes your lifetime.
- God’s promise doesn’t give you freedom to do whatever you want while you wait. Remain totally His.
- Your family could also live in the light of God’s promise because of your willingness to be totally His. Worth it?
I’m nearing the end of R.T. Kendall’s It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.
Section three of the book focuses on God’s faithfulness. Chapter 13 is entitled “Vindication.”
Vindication means to have your name cleared. It means to be exonerated from a false accusation, to be absolved from blame. It can mean that your reputation is restored, that your integrity and judgment are extolled by the same people who sincerely thought you had been unwise or untruthful.
Kendall points out scripture that declares we don’t need to seek our own vindication; God will do it for us. The challenge is to wait for it, for Him.
Kendall asked this question that grabbed my attention:
Has it ever crossed your mind that God is the most unvindicated person in the universe? Have you ever wondered why God does not vindicate himself when he could surely do so? Why does God not clear his name now-if He wants me to believe he exists?
Kendall then referenced the lives of Jesus and Job. Jesus did not seek vindication after He resurrected. He certainly could have found those who mocked him and eventually carried out His death and demand vindication; instead, He only visited with those who sought the truth, to show them the power of the truth. Job eventually did seek vindication after his friends drove him there; God’s questions brought him face to face with the reality and power of the truth also.
Truth is, God isn’t after vindication; He will eventually clear His name, but He is more after us knowing and seeking truth. Therein lies all vindication.