Waiting…again

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord…

Stillness does not come easy for me.  I find myself in another season of waiting, this time for a phone call from my physician. My mind is full of jumbled thoughts.  In the grips of apprehension escape to find time alone with the Lord becomes a priority.

Less than a quarter mile north of Roosevelt National Forest on Hwy 34 E lies a piece of real estate heaven called Dripping Springs Inn.  Without question the entire Estes Park, CO, area is extraordinarily scenic.  Yet something about this particular mountain retreat calls my heart to return again and again when solitude is beckoning. 

Dripping Springs is a quaint collection of small cottages and a B & B snuggled up to the Big Thompson River. Arriving  at the break of dawn, this place is as sleepy as I am. 

I’ve been coming here for years and it has never appeared more inviting.  Only a few short steps down a concrete stairway and I am immersed in woods.  A small walking trail outlined by rocks on each side follows the river.

Fire pits encircled by outdoor chairs dot the landscape and my mind’s eye envisions last night’s guests warming themselves in the cool mountain evening as they swapped life stories.  Small canopies will partner with ample aspen and prolific pine trees to offer shade in the afternoon.  Further on down the trail a wheel barrow rests against an old shed. 

 

Backing up to the river, a wooden platform with its tall, white wrought iron arch conjures up images of a blissful bride and groom exchanging vows.  

At last my eyes land on my favorite spot in this idyllic hideaway…an oversized hammock dangling between two aspen.  Over the years God has cradled me here as I penned numerous private thoughts, praying countless prayers for wisdom on various issues confounding my senses.  Here, too Scripture has often come alive for me as I incline my ear to hear from the Lord.

I sprawl into the swaying paradise and begin to sing praises in competition with raucous waves .  The Thompson is raging with waters higher than I have observed in 20 years.  As the river races furiously downstream, mud and silt paint the surface a copper hue crowned with white foam.  Swirling, crashing into boulders at a frantic pace, water bounces into the air and explodes like liquid fireworks.  The sight brought laughter and feeble attempts to photograph the elusive spray.

I wondered audibly, “God, why is wisdom so often this elusive to me?”  In the midst of the river’s thunderous roar I heard His silent reply, “Wisdom danced with me before waves were ever formed, before the foundations of earth were laid.  Wisdom is mine to give and it’s plentiful but it is not for those who utter a casual request.  Wisdom belongs to those who earnestly seek me.”

Recently I spoke to a group of single women about the necessity of waiting on God.  Today I groan over how long I’ve gone without a purposeful retreat alone with my Lord, to quietly wait on Him, seek Him, and hear from Him. 

The morning sun peeks down the canyon walls and smiles on my face as I read God’s Word,   

“You make me glad by your deeds, oh Lord.  I sing for joy at the work of your hands.” Psalm 92:4

 “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for JOY” Psalm 98:8

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not his benefits.  Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5 

Reaching into a folder for paper to jot down my thoughts I came across notes from my earlier talk to the singles… “my two least favorite words paired together? ‘Waiting patiently’.  I’m not good at it, never have been.”

Jesus beckons me to wait on God.  All through his earthly journey He exemplified the importance of withdrawing for time alone with the Father.  Christ’s final act of obedience before his arrest leading to his crucifixion involved a time of waiting in the Garden.  Friends had accompanied him but ultimately He waited alone while they slumbered.  It was in the waiting, seeking, praying, that He mounted up strength to face his destiny at Calvary.  To have approached the Cross without a time of waiting before God, would have meant to forgo the strength required to endure eminent suffering.

Christ’s example compels me.  His invitation is not to be missed.  He says, “Come to the Garden of waiting and find strength for whatever lies ahead.”

None of us know what tomorrow holds.  If we have been a follower of Christ for any length of time we know that this path we walk is not always smooth.  Yet in moments alone with Him, earnestly seeking, expectantly waiting, Christ re-emerges as the sole longing of our hearts.  In the process, He speaks and our path supernaturally becomes level again.

“The path of the righteous is level. O upright one, you make the way of the righteous smooth.  Yes Lord, walking in your ways, we wait for you.  Your name and renown are the desires of our hearts.  My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.” Isaiah 26:8-9

The End is Near…

I’m intrigued by the voting in my previous poll about a possible relationship between Billy Graham’s eventual death and the end of the age.  {Scroll down to view results.  If you haven’t voted yet, go for it!}  Makes me wonder about a few things…like, if I knew the world would end tomorrow would I change anything about my life today?

What if you knew that this world’s clock had only 5 more years ticking on it before the alarm sounds?  Would you still be so wrapped up about your failing retirement fund?   Would the demands of the office give way to purposeful energy invested in spouse and children?  Would you exchange the pettiness and resentment you feel toward someone for forgiveness?  Would you be inclined to develop your own “Bucket List” of activities and adventures to conquer?   Would you make a passionate effort to get your everyday life off the “Groundhog Day” track and do something radically different?  Would you be more purposeful in counting your blessings?  Would you reevaluate your relationship to your Creator and try to “make peace with God?” 

Ten years ago, in anticipation of the year 2000, the cover of Time magazine carried a photo of a barefoot man with long hair wearing a flowing white gown and a sandwich board sign bearing the message  “The END Of The WORLD!?!”.  As the world prepared for certain annihilation at the stroke of midnight Y2K, people all over the globe took inventory of their lives and made adjustments to their priorities. 

In our melancholy and/or panic we considered that life is short.  We searched for purpose and meaning.  One of the most popular books of the decade…The Purpose Driven Life…flew off store shelves as we sought to make sense of our existence.

Now, here we are again ten years later and none the wiser.  Rats returned to the maze, wondering who moved our cheese…

The Bible makes it very clear that life is a vapor.  Man is but a blink of an eye in an infinite cosmos.  If you could truly begin to comprehend this fact, what, if anything, would you change?

For me, I have been taking a hard look at what it means to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength…” Mark 12: 29.  Mine is an on-going quest to relinquish those things in my life that so easily become idols, to instead focus on Christ as my everything.  To LOVE Him with ALL that is in me. 

Such a quest cannot be confused with religiosity and a lengthy list of “thou shalt nots”.  Instead it requires a daily surrender of all that is in me in exchange for ALL that He is.  Being the selfish creature that I am, surrender does not come easy.  Still, I am learning that it is the only road worth traveling.  Whether the world comes to an end tomorrow or not at all in my lifetime, I long to be a spiritual being consumed with livin 4 Jesus.

 

The Upside to E-Harmony

Lest anyone think that my time spent on E-Harmony left nothing but a sour taste in my mouth {per my April 2008 comments}, I am writing to state that I have had some divine appointments and have made some wonderful God-blessed friendships as a result of my prior membership.  I am grateful for some seriously sold out Christian men out there and am honored to call them friend.  When Harry Met Sally he vehemently tried to convince her that “men & women can never be friends” but I beg to differ.  Not only is it possible for single men & women to spend time together as “just friends”…it’s HEALTHY.  We need to break out of our selfish mindset about male-female relationships & come to grips with the fact that God calls us first to SERVE one another.   Over the past several months, God has allowed me to be an encouragement to several men that are disillusioned in their quest for a soul mate, even giving them lots of female insight & advice on how to win the {other} girl.   Most importantly, the Lord has used these relationships to spur me into deeper & broader fellowship with Him as I learn & grow from challenging conversations & written discourse from these fellow believers.

On the 4th of July I hung out with T, a dear brother in Christ I met several months ago.  He’s crazy.  There’s no other way to describe him.  A resident of the Peoples Republic of Boulder, T is in the conservative minority in a bastion of liberalism.  Still, he shares his faith with unashamed boldness & conviction that could disarm even the toughest naysayer.  T lives everyday of his life as if his mid-life crisis arrived early and tomorrow will not come at all.  Sometimes being around him is exhilarating,  other times it’s just flat out frightening.  But I learned some really cool things from him this past weekend.  T is the kind of man that when he makes up his mind to do something you can consider it done…like the plan to watch fireworks from Flagstaff Mountain.  He wanted to be up there because the view is spectacular.  Just one problem.  The Boulder police closed the road and no one could access the drive up.  Undeterred by this, T decided we would simply climb the mountain instead.  Not an issue for him, he’s an athlete through & through.  And while I enjoy a good hike, I was completely unprepared for running up the side of a mountain clad in flip flops, in haste to make it before the fireworks began.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the practical side of me panicked at the thought of climbing down in the dark after the festivities were over.  I was quickly scolded that that’s what cell phone LCD’s are for.  Just the same, I reached into the glove compartment, pulled out a little flashlight and off we went.  T was right, the view was spectacular.  We could see for over 30 miles and got to enjoy fireworks in rapid succession from several Colorado cities.  It was awe-inspiring from our dusty rock perch.  We rubbed sage and scratched pine needles, then huffed them like exotic perfumes.  And as always with T in the outdoors, we talked about our magnificent Creator. 

Fireworks over, soon came the time to venture back down in pitch dark. The moon was virtually worthless this night.  We experimented with several maneuvers until ultimately we ended up with T in front, holding the tiny flashlight illuminating the path directly in front of him. My feeble attempt to generate my own light from the cell phone was useless.  I had to hold tightly to T’s arm and he to mine as I moved my steps in sync with his while we traversed rocky, steep mountainside with no trail in sight.  Several times I stumbled over huge stones in my path but each time his grip on me was solid and he never let me fall.   The trek down this treacherous hill seemed to take forever but T kept talking and encouraging me that “we’re not in a hurry”.  In the absence of sight my mind drifted to the sounds around us…was that a rattlesnake?  T’s tone was comforting and direct, “just hold on tight, follow me & focus on my voice.”  He had climbed this mountain many times and he knew how to get us out of the thick woods.

I see two important spiritual lessons from our adventure on Flagstaff Mountain…the first, that men of God are to look out for their single sisters in the faith, to help us navigate the rough places and protect us from “predators” along the way.  I am grateful that T is that kind of man.  I know that he would come to my rescue anytime, glad to help, expecting nothing in return.  His constant supply of energy often stretches me beyond what I think I am capable of and his depth of knowledge of Scripture provokes thought, challenging me to dive into the Word.  His friendship is a precious gift from the Lord.  Singles would do well to cultivate this kind of public fellowship with one another rather than get all heated up over “falling in love for all the right reasons”.   {Caveat: If indeed, our Lord has a man for me that is all my heart desires, I suspect I’ll find him on the path of friendship, following hard after Jesus.  Isn’t that what we all long for…for our life partner to be our best friend?}

The second lesson came from all the parallels I drew hiking down that mountain in the dark and seeing T as a picture of God…my Heavenly Father knows the dark mountains & valleys that I face every day.  He has traveled them before me and he assures me that I have nothing to fear.  He is walking them closely with me, shining His light, reminding me that to walk in my own light is futile, assuring me that though this is a walk of faith & not sight, I can have complete confidence in the One who is leading…even when I am ill-equipped for the journey and my steps are unsure He bids me to follow closely in His steps.  Griping me tightly, He will not let me fall.  He urges me to shut out the distractions of the world around me & focus on His voice, trusting Him to protect me from danger and to guide me safely home.

As T & I emerged from the woods, I looked up to see directly in front of us, the Big Dipper in a sky as clear and still as any I had ever seen.  I stopped for a moment to enjoy the beauty of the night and to thank T and God that we were safely down off the mountain.  I noted the irony that on this “Independence Day” I had been completely dependent on someone other than myself for my deliverance.  Because of that willingness to be dependent, from a view few others were privy to, I had witnessed beautifully orchestrated Fireworks in the Heavens.