Monday, June 23, 2008

Waiting...argh....why does it take so long?!

My wife read my last post entitled "Pen you remember" all the while expecting a "spiritual lesson" somewhere near the end of it. I hadn't originally planned on this, but then the spiritual lesson came to me while praying last night. A few weeks ago, our pastor taught from Acts 1, where Jesus appeared to the disciples after his death and resurrection. "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:1-5) He goes on to tell then in verse 7 & 8 that they must wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit saying, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

The disciples were required to pray and wait "a few days" for the Holy Spirit to come, as Jesus had promised. We can compare their waiting and praying to waiting on a letter to arrive in the mail. Every day, we faithfully go to the mail box with anticipation that the letter will be there. And on those days that the letter was not there, we are disappointed. After a few days of the letter not being there, we stop running to the mail box. We start walking to the mail box, with doubt that the letter will arrive. Eventually we just stop going to the mail box.

Isn't it the same scenario with waiting on God? We start out praying faithfully every day that God will answer. When He doesn't answer in what we think is a reasonable amount of time, we begin to pray with doubt that God will answer. Eventually we give up praying about it altogether, because God doesn't answer in what we think is a reasonable amount of time. Lest we forget that God's time is not like ours: "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." (Psalm 90:4)

So I guess the point is do not give up. God will answer. When we quit checking the mail for the letter, we've essentially given up belief in the person from whom we're expecting to hear. It's the same with waiting on God. The Pastor of my church prayed for his Dad's salvation for 30 years before his Dad came to know Jesus personally. Talk about a lesson in faithfulness!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pen you remember?

I remember having a "pen pal" when I was a kid although I never kept in touch with her after elementary school. I no longer recall her name or what kind of things we wrote about. I just remember that we were learning letter writing in English class and we were given the names of potential pen pals from another school. It required hand writing a letter, hand writing the address on the envelope, licking the envelope and the postage stamp and then actually taking the letter to the postal mail box on the corner; and finally waiting sometimes weeks for a response. Do you remember what that is like?

I can remember the anxiousness that used to accompany waiting for a return letter from the pen pal. It would drive you nuts. Remember going to the front door and peering through the window, wondering where the letter carrier is? Why is he taking so long to bring the mail? And then suddenly, I'd see him coming around the corner and heading up the street, going from house to house, sometimes stopping to chat with one or two people on the way. Oh man I hated that. Didn't he know that I was waiting for him to deliver a letter? Why would he stop to talk to someone else when I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the letter from my pen pal?

And then finally he approaches our house and walks up the front steps. As he steps onto the porch I nearly bowl him over as I come running out the screen door. He would flip through the pile of mail in his hand or dig into his leather mail carrier's pouch and finally hand me a pile of mail. After hastily thanking him, I'd run in to the house as I'm flipping through the pile of mail, tossing aside anything that doesn't concern me. If you'd follow the trail of mail into the house you'd see one of two things: either me reading the letter I may have received, or me ranting about why it's taking so long to get a return letter.

Ah, I remember it well, as if it were yesterday. But times have changed somewhat. Isn't it interesting how we can now almost effortlessly keep in touch with "pen pals" from across the globe? It merely requires finding one or two minutes to sit down at your computer and stroking a few keys and hitting send! The circumstances are a little different, but the anticipation of waiting for the response is much the same. You know what I mean, you come in the door and head straight for the computer, hoping to find a response your pals.

I love communicating with people. Thanks writing tools such as email and blogs, we can keep in touch in so many more ways. I do however miss the anticipation of waiting for the mail carrier as it was back in the day!