When it’s been a while

waiting-on-a-bench

Yesterday in small group, we spoke of New Year’s Resolutions. The majority of them had to do with reading your word. Some wanted to read more; some more often. Some wanted to follow a plan…many voiced their dread of failure in the same breath.

“I always get way behind, and by March it’s like ‘well, I tried…’ 

It brought to the table the thought of how we approach you when it’s been a while.

I think much of the wall that bars me into stagnancy, even when I KNOW the clear, cool spring of connection with you is waiting on the other side, is guilt over the times I never showed up.

But I don’t think you ever check the attendance record to determine how sweet the time will be or the criteria for me to come. The attendance record is only in my head. If it is sin-the record is wiped clean at the cross: no one’s referencing it but me. If it is lack of commitment…this has never been about MY commitment to you. You are unflinchingly faithful. I have never been that, and you knew that getting into this.

Besides, consistency on my end grows stronger as I gaze into your faithfulness to me through my failures; not as I gaze upon my failures and determine to do better. As I look at YOU, not at ME. Hearts are driven further by affection than by disgust.

And so I would like to learn to think about time with you less in terms of ME.

Simply put: you cleared the way for me to come and you wait there for me.

You are so worth visiting. So worth the thought process. So worth the mental effort to push away the vines of obligation and the cobwebs of worry and to clear my way through the tall grass of distraction and other responsibilities.

To push forward and push aside and push into the clearing where my thoughts are finally still and I may see you. I may know you.

You are worth this and I will always feel that as I approach that meadow. I will always know that as I let the cool water sink in and the bitter poison of my anger and fear and guilt drop from my tightly clenched fists. As you whisper, “I will handle this-you don’t have to drink that anymore.”

Your answer to my questioning eyes when I raise them to yours is not,”Where were you?”

It is, “I’m still here.”

It is not “Why would you drink THAT?”

It is, “You look thirsty.”

“If you knew the gift of God…you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

John 4:10

“And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires. let him take the water of life freely.”

Revelation 22:17

Because…in the end, the meadow, the clear pool, the fresh air, and the calming whispers of the Almighty-they are not for the disciplined readers and the New Years Resolution keepers;  the dutiful worshipers and the ones who are reliable about keeping their commitments.

They are for whoever desires.

Whoever needs. Whoever is desperate. Whoever is thirsty.

 

Lord-

YOU do the disciplined, perfect, always keep your promises part. It is my part to come to you, aware that your faithfulness covers where I am unreliable, and you do not greet me scolding. You rush to me with open arms-a Father overjoyed to see his child, regardless of how long it’s been.

He did it at night

gideon-at-night

“So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it at night.”

Judges 6:27

I tend to latch onto “he did it at night” and think coward.

But here’s a consideration I’ve never chewed on: Gideon ALSO “did as the Lord had said to him.”

He was afraid, but HE OBEYED. It’s not like it was an anonymous act. Everyone knew who had torn down the altars by morning. Gideon knew he’d still get the flack. Yes, he could have obeyed during the day, and been a marvelous spectacle, and You would have helped him. But it’s significant still that he obeyed. Also…he chose a time he wouldn’t be interrupted and wouldn’t face interference, perhaps so that he knew he could obey and finish…

…and also because he was afraid.

We all aspire to act without fear. But down here in reality, I think it is a very good thing when we are afraid and we still choose to do what You say. Many never venture there.

So Lord-

May you take me past this…to where I see the danger, and I fear YOU; I do not fear it. But in the meantime, teach me to be obedient because I fear you MORE than I fear it.

Teach me to obey even while afraid, and in that, to learn that I didn’t have to be.