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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Keeping Vision in the Rain of Life

It's been raining here in Washington for 33 straight days. They say that the record (50 days) is within reach. When it stays this gloomy for this long, it can be easy to forget how nice sunshine is. In a way, you begin to lose sight that better days are ahead!

I was reading lately the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph went through an amazing amount of trials on his way to great power in Egypt. In my mind, though, I have always pictured Joseph as this quiet stoic who patiently endured, knowing God would have His way in the end.

But listen to something Joseph's brothers said, regarding the time they put him in a dry cistern, and then sold him into slavery: "We saw his terror and anguish and heard his pleadings, but we wouldn't listen." Rather than a peaceful resolve to what was happening, Joseph was terrified and overwhelmed! I think we can expect that he may have had similar feelings in Egypt as he faced betrayal, slander, injustice, and abandonment. Yet in his fear, and his doubt, and his pain, he still kept sight of his hope in God. During his big "reveal" to the brothers, he exclaims, "Don't be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it! He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives."

Do you get the connection here? Joseph experiences deep fear and pain AND he keeps sight of God. So often we think that if we really look to God and trust him, we'll have no fear or doubt. We also conclude that fear and doubt are a sign that we aren't trusting God! But I think God would have us consider that terror and anguish are human emotions that we will all feel. The key isn't to eliminate these feelings, but to make sure they lead us to God and put us in a place of greater dependence on Him and His plan.

So, if the rain of life brings fear, or doubt, or pain, let it lead you to the Son. He will preserve you through the storm and bring you to the place He has long ago prepared for you. The trials won't get easier, but they will remind us of our need for God. Keep sight of Him.

Journey on, friend.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Is God Slow?

I noticed something today. I've read the Genesis account of Abraham on many occasions, but today something new jumped out at me. Among the several promises God made to Abraham, one was the promise of a son, an heir, that would lead to Abraham's descendants becoming a great nation. What I noticed was this- Abraham was 86 when God made the promise. The very next passage (Gen. 17:1) starts, "When Abram was 99 years old..." Hold on a minute. 99? That's thirteen years since the promise of a son. Thirteen years of Abraham getting older. Thirteen years of Sarah, his wife getting older. And she wasn't young, either. Thirteen years of wondering, and wishing, and trying, but still no son.

This leads me to some questions. Why did God not fulfill his promise for thirteen years? Why not give Abraham a son at 86 or 87? Wouldn't that be just as fantastic? Why not wait until Abraham was like 98 to make him the promise? Does this mean that God is slow?

What this brings up for me is the difference between being slow, and being patient. God is not slow. The New Testament book of II Peter says, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness." (NIV) Slow is when you wait at a fast food restaurant for your order, while the workers casually help 14 drive-thru customers while your food sits under heat lamps. Slow is aggravating, because it implies that someone is taking a long time to do something that we know could be done faster. God was not slow in keeping his promise to Abraham. He was waiting. He was patient. God knew just the right time to bring Abraham an heir, and He knew what had to happen in Abraham's heart and life before the son could be born.

Take courage from this. When we wait upon God for an answer to prayer, or the fulfillment of a promise, we can begin to believe that He is slow, or even worse, unresponsive. God is not slow, God is patient. And so as you wait on Him, place your life squarely in His hands and allow Him to work in and through you until the answer comes.

Rest in Him today. His timing is perfect.

Journey on, friends.