Month: September 2016

stacking stones

There is a small flower garden tucked behind the historic jail museum in the small coastal town of Southport, North Carolina.  Within the garden, there is a pathway of engraved stones called Heritage Stones. These Heritage Stones honor individuals who had a significant impact on the development of Southport. Some commemorate the signers of the 1792 original charter. Others represent women and men of various professions: postmistress, pastor, principal, artist, historian, and civic leader. Each left their mark on this town.

One Heritage Stone names an event, not an individual, that left its indelible mark. An event that forever changed Southport and eastern North Carolina: Hurricane Hazel. When Hurricane Hazel arrived on October 15, 1954, she brought with her 120+ mph winds and a storm surge of 15 feet. Southport and surrounding areas would eventually recover but the landscape would never look the same.

In our lives, people and storms change our trajectory and our lives are never the same. We are headed one way; but then our direction is altered. When that happens, it is important to pause and remember. It is time to stack some stones. The Heritage Stones invite the residents and visitors of Southport to pause and remember. Remember the people who gave unselfishly. Remember the Storm.  Do not forget. To help remind us, they placed stones.

Stacking stones as spiritual markers began in Genesis. In chapter 31, Jacob and his relatives stacked stones following their covenant with Laban. This monument of stones and this stone pillar that I have set up is a witness, a witness that I won’t cross this line to hurt you and you won’t cross this line to hurt me. Genesis 31: 51,52

Later in Joshua 4, the stone stacking continues. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. Joshua 4: 5-7

Stacking stones so those whom come after us will see and remember. Remember how the mighty God brought us through this situation. Do not forget. Stack stones.

If I were to stack stones representing my life-altering events, one stone would be for my fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Cordell.  He inspired and encouraged me to be a teacher. His love for his students and for teaching left a mark on my life. My life was changed because of Mr. Cordell.

I would need another stone for Bill and Ruth, my Sunday School teachers. They took time, tons of time, to share about love, life, and God. They walked their faith everyday. They changed my life.

Another stone would represent my junior year at college: 215 Seavers. My 5 roommates drew me closer to God and made me laugh daily. It was crazy fun. They changed my life.

One more stone would be for a country that feels like my second home, Tanzania. I love the people. I love who I am when I am there. I love the beautiful children. I feel closer to God. Tanzania has changed my life.

There are many more stones that have shaped, molded, and altered my life. When I pause to remember, I know I am very blessed.

What about you? What names are on your stones? Who are the people who helped mold you into you?  Have you named your storms that altered your lifescape?  Let’s pause to remember.

We need to stack some stones for those who come after us. They will see the stones, and they will know we were here. But more importantly, they will know God was here.

Stacking stones claims ordinary moments of life for God. And when someone comes along and asks you, “What do these stones mean?” tell them the story of what God has done. ~ Jayne Hugo Davis

 

waiting

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work. 

~ Peter Marshall

Waiting is hard. Waiting for the light to change, the line to move, the game to start, and the phone to charge. I wait for the laundry to finish, the microwave to beep, and the repair person to show up.  I wait for my food to come through the magical drive-thru window and for the line to snake through the amusement ride queue. Please stop me if I ever insist on waiting five hours for Disney’s newly open Frozen Ever After ride. A five-minute boat trip through the mythical land of Arendelle is not worth the wait!

Winter-lovers await the first quiet snowflake. Summer-lovers await their first beach day. Moms and dads wait for doctors’ reports while comforting their sick child. Children, women, and men around the globe wait for their freedom from abuse and exploitation. My friend, Tommy, spent 8 days waiting on a boat while fleeing Communism in Vietnam. Some waiting is cruelly defined by life or death.

Waiting isn’t easy; it requires patience and perseverance both qualities I am recently lacking. I am a doer, by God’s design, not a wait-er. I want to go and do, not wait and see. Waiting is starting to freak me out. I am becoming  grumpy and fidgety. Let’s get on with it!  I don’t own a git ‘er done t-shirt but maybe I should as a visual reminder to God of my inner workings.  Nike and me: Just do it!

So here I am, anxiously waiting.  I am waiting for an answer, actually 2 answers. One answer from a lady regarding my writing. I am pretty sure what her response will be, but I am waiting to hear it in her own words. I pray she is kind.

The other response?  I am waiting on God. I am waiting for Him to tell me my purpose in life. My I-am-turning-55-and-at-a-crossroads purpose in life. You would think I would be willing to be extra patient for such an important answer, but no.  I am growing impatient with God. Sadly, my impatience is creeping toward anger. Why doesn’t God answer me? Doesn’t He hear my cries? Doesn’t He care?  I am starting to believe I am no longer a blip on God’s radar screen.

Perhaps my impatience is being fueled by a post mid-life crisis. Approaching birthday, getting older, slowing down, stepping away from ministry responsibilities, too much gray hair, too thick at the waist and other areas, too many new aches and pains. All those red flags which scream, Help me find my usefulness, my purpose in this life! Wherever I drive, speed limit signs remind me of my age and my anxiety gauge ticks up a few notches.

I know I have turned the page of a new life chapter,  but did God forget to turn the page? Is He a few chapters behind?

I need Him to show me my new path, my new game plan. What does He want me to do? How can I serve Him? I am seeking His direction, which is a good thing. But I so desperately want a map. A nice big, clear map, since my eyesight left a long time ago.  I need to know the next play.  Football players receive their next play through their helmets. I will strap on a helmet, if need be. I want to get busy for God; my hands aren’t happy idle. As these waiting days flow into each other with no answer, the grayness thickens. The darkness is getting uncomfortably close. How long will I have to wait?

When will God answer me? Not sure. Sarah spent many years in the harsh grip of childlessness while waiting on God. God’s people waited in Egypt for 400 years before hearing His response to their cries. How long did Simeon wait to see the child Jesus in the Temple? Paul waited in jail for two years before arriving in Rome.

Two requests before God and silence. The deafening kind of silence. I want answers, yesterday. I recognize my time-table is so nearsighted, so finite.  God’s time-table is beyond comprehension, certainly beyond my limited vision.

David reminds me over and over again in Psalms to wait and do so patiently.  Psalm 27:14,  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 37: 7a,  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

As I learn to wait, perhaps I will find God is patiently waiting for me. Is He waiting for me to become still? Is He waiting for me to start trusting Him again? Is He blessing me with time to be quiet but I am narrow-mindedly discarding it as wasted time? Is this waiting time a precious gift from my good, good Father?  Time to rest and refresh, not whine and complain. During this waiting period, I need to accept the open invitation to climb onto His lap and be close to my Heavenly Daddy. A gift of time to rest in His embrace.

Time to pull up a chair, grab a soda, and lots of chocolate. Time to wait but also time to read, pray, be still, and just enjoy Him. Maybe being in God’s waiting room isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I can learn to embrace this time and utter thank you, instead of hurry up. 

As I look around, I see I am in very good company. So many pictures of those who have passed through this same waiting room. Some waited longer than others, but all have waited. Joseph waited in a pit and prison. Job waited. Hannah waited. Father of the prodigal son waited. So many have waited and so many are still waiting. I am not alone here.

I will wait expectantly of what God will do. I will wait as He authors the next chapter in my life.

I will wait; for I know He is working.

Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. ~ John Ortberg