Where’s Waldo

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here am I, here am I,” This morning when I read this passage in Isaiah 65:1 I could not help but remember the evenings before bedtime with my son Adam. He was a huge fan of Where’s Waldo, and rather than read (I know-bad mom) we would pour over the crazy drawings. There were two full pages depicting various events each drawn with great detail. Together we would scan the pages for a funny looking red head with round glasses named, you guessed it, Waldo. He was not easy to find as he was drawn in surreptitiously amongst the activities, actions, and hordes of people in each unique scene. After a while Adam and I got pretty good at finding him, one because we knew he was there, and two because we took the time to look for him. I am not the first to see the correlation between the spiritual life and Waldo, but when I read this passage in Isaiah  with this invitation from God, “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me, I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said “Here am I, here am I,” it reminded me of playing the game hide and seek only no one comes to look for you. Is God waiting for me to come look for him? I think so. I wonder how often I go throughout my day and somewhere God is hidden in the picture, inviting me to come look for him, to come and cry out for him, and I go about my business, totally unaware that he is waiting for me to find him. Truthfully, I forget to look. Sometimes I don’t want to look, what if I do find him—things will have to change. You can’t find the living God of the universe and not be impacted. I know that my deepest desire, my truest self, wants to find him, to have him mess with me, to change me. I have such fond memories of looking for Waldo with Adam. It was a ritual at night, but like most things in life I had no idea that God was there too, and that he would use that little life experience to teach me a great truth. He is always in my story; I just need to remember to persistently look for him. I need to remember he is crying out to me, “Here, am I, here am I!” Oh that I would have ears to hear him and eyes to see him! Oh that I would remember that he is in every scene, every frame of this thing that is the story of my life! Lord, let me see you, let me hear you in the story of my life events today. May it be our ritual together.

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Tell Him Everything

This morning I was reading in Numbers 22. It tells the story of Balaam, some mysterious non-Jewish prophet, who is summoned by the king of Moab to come and curse the Israelites because there are just too many of them and they are way to close to the king’s territories.  He is obviously nervous and fearful that his own country does not have what it takes to protect himself from this people, called Israel, and known to be blessed by God. He decides to fight fire with fire and resorts to supernatural means, thus we are introduced to Balaam—a prophet.

Balaam is a mysterious man, it is clear that he has a very real and powerful relationship with God. And so when the messengers arrive from the king of Moab with their lucrative proposition, Balaam doesn’t just throw in his lot with them and go. No. He tells them, stay all night and tomorrow I will tell you what God says.

That night God comes to Balaam, and this is what intrigued me most about this story, God asks Balaam, “Who are these men visiting you?” Now God knows who these men are. God knows the whole story. This is the omniscient God we are talking about. He knows everything. So why is he asking a question to which he knows the answer? Balaam tells him everything; who the men are, and what they want him to do. Then God gives him instructions. But that is not what jumped off the page at me. What jumped out and grabbed me by the heart is the question, asked by God, to which he already knows the answer. God knows who these men are and what they want; in fact he knew everything about them. Then my mind was flooded with other Biblical passages where God asks questions to which he already knows the answers. To the hiding couple, Adam and Eve, he asks, “Where are you?” To a guilty Cain after murdering his brother Able, “Where is your brother?” To a disbelieving Sarah after hearing an incredible promise, “Why did you laugh?” And Jesus to a blind man, crying out for his attention, “What do you want me to do for you?” Is God incredibly dense or is something else going on?

What I find about myself is that when I pray, I don’t tell God everything. In fact I just assume he knows it all and I jump to the chase….. so Lord would you do this?” (Fill in the blank). Now I am wondering how often I have missed the opportunity to tell him everything, every little detail of my story, and all the feelings I have about it. How often I have cut to the chase because that is what I assumed He wants. There is a subtle belief in me that he doesn’t have time, or isn’t interested in the details. What I found out this morning is that I could not be more wrong. He wants to know everything.

What I have also realized is that I have a resistance to telling him everything; it takes too much time, I don’t want to go there myself, or it seems way too complicated. What is this about me? Why do I resist a stroll in the Garden with my creator? Why instead, do I choose to hide from him and from myself? Maybe because when I tell him everything I totally invest myself, I become vulnerable and open, and I allow him in. Once the King of Heaven invades, well, all sorts of things can happen and it’s not always easy, safe or secure. It is like jumping on the greatest rollercoaster ever but with now safety harness! There is no sitting on the sidelines being a neutral participant. Tell me everything really means I want everything. Am I game? Are you?

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The Currency of Heaven

Lately I have been thinking about heaven. I’m not sure why, maybe it has something to do with how much Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven. This morning I read Romans 4 and these phrases about Abraham popped out at me:

4:17 b this happened because Abraham believed God who brings the dead back to life and who created new things out of nothing.

Vs.18: And when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping.

Vs.19: His faith did not weaken.

Vs.20: He never wavered in believing in God’s promise.

Vs.21: He was fully convinced.

Vs.22: And finally—because of Abraham’s faith…..

As I thought about these passages it occurred to me that in the Kingdom of God, faith is currency. With it we purchase our inheritance, and our very well being. Of course faith seems counter-intuitive in the world we live in, but in heaven it is pure gold, with no impurities. It takes faith to recognize this simple fact.

Can I multiply my investment?  Can I stockpile faith, or like manna does it disappear and I can only carry enough for the day; and does hope in someway correspond to faith? These are just a few of my questions about faith.

Here is what I do know from my personal experience of faith.

My faith is encouraged by:

–       The Scriptures (today Abraham’s faith inspires mine)

–       By prayer

–       By good music

–       By rich heart to heart fellowship

–       By worship

–       By thanksgiving

–       By remembering God’s faithfulness in the past

–       By writing it down

–       By looking for God and expecting to find him

My faith grows when:

–     I exercise it through scripture memory and meditation

–     Visible and audible reminders to trust God (lately wind chimes)

–     Hearing of others who have walked difficult journeys and persevered

–     Encouraging words

–     Answers to prayer

–     Keeping track of those answers!

–     Trials, suffering and pain. I think this triumvirate particularly increases our heavenly portfolio. Why else would the scriptures remind us to rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3)?

So I guess the answer to my own question is yes. Yes I believe I can increase my faith—every day and in every way when ever I put my trust in Jesus.  But I also need to remember that faith usually grows in small increments and through trials. Abraham’s road was not an easy one. He had to step out, wander around, and wait—a long time, and he had to obey. All of these increased his currency of faith. If they did that for him, I can trust they will do that for me as well.

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Why another blog?

This is the question I am asking myself as I start, yet another new blog. I am not a writer, but I have been encouraged to write by some friends who think I have something to say. That sentence makes me smile, but because I deeply respect and admire these dear friends –here it is.  I dedicate this blog to those of you who have encouraged me to write (you know who you are) and to God whose material I steal from all the time.

So this blog is hopefully going to be about listening. Ten years ago I trained to become a spiritual director–one who listens to others for the evidence (sometimes hard to find) of God’s movement in their life.  I learned that to do this well, I needed to listen to my own internal voice as well as the voice of God. Sounds simple but it’s not. I am hoping this blog will help me to be a more attentive listener to God, to others, and to myself. If I have any readers at all I hope it will help them become better listeners too.

My assumption is that God is speaking all the time. Psalms 19:1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard. [a]

4 Their voice [b] goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Listening for direction is learning to hear the voice of God through the cacophony of busy lives that demand our attention . Developing a capacity to listen to God requires that we be much  like the dog who hears a silent whistle, we must train our  heart to hear what few are listening for; the silent voice of God.  I want to develop the capacity to hear that voice! As Jesus said, She who has ears to hear, let her hear!

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