Are We There Yet?

"I believe I'm called to full-time ministry."

The young man gazed back at me, intensity radiating from every pore. He clenched his big fists in frustration.

Then he dropped his gaze and slumped in his chair. "I'm so tired of waiting. I wanna get ON with it! Why does it have to take so long!"

Timing is one of the hardest lessons to learn. But the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis gives us a perfect example of the difficulty waiting on God's timing.

Sold into slavery at the age of 17, Joseph toiled for years at menial tasks, working for someone else, and receiving very little appreciation. In fact, to reward such loyalty, he was thrown in prison for something he didn't do. All because he was trying to obey God the very best he knew how.

He, too, was called by God for something big. He'd known it from his early teens. He must have expected a triumphant ride to glory as God revealed the thrilling ministry He'd chosen for Joseph. Instead, he got the dungeon.

We humans are so time-conscious. We watch the clock and the calendar and assume God is doing the same. He's not.

He is above time. He's all about preparation and working things out the way He wants them to go. After all, He's the only one who knows what's around the bend ten...twenty...a thousand years from now.

What does he expect us to do in the meantime?

As I told my eager client, God is looking for those who have proven themselves faithful in the interim. We like to focus on the end result: Joseph being honored as second in command over all Egypt.

But what was Joseph doing in those 13 years before fame?

He was proving himself faithful in everything he did. No floor was better swept. No food better served or correspondence more neatly written for whoever was dictating. No job was too small to do perfectly in honor of his God.

Is that your attitude? Are you punching that time-clock in honor of your God? Are you waiting tables, creating spreadsheets, making service calls in honor of your God? Are you providing for your family, teaching your children or someone else's, or caring for a sick parent in honor of your God?

God looks for servants like that when He's ready to hand out big assignments.

"He who is faithful in little will be trusted with much."

It could be you're only in God's graduate school. The best is yet to come.

Don't be a dropout and miss the life calling He has for you. Stay faithful. You won't regret it.


Get the Picture

I bought a new camera.
All I want it to do is snap quick pictures.
That's all!

I do not wish to converse with it in Japanese.
I do not wish to make videos, television shows, crop, slice, edit or otherwise mess with my pictures while they are in the camera.
I just want it to take a picture.

Those cameras are hard to find.
I can take pictures with my cell phone, my iPod, and practically every device I own except my old camera.
It wanted to do the Tango instead.

So I bought a new one. The quality is okay,
but when I look at the picture compared to what reality looks like, I'm frustrated.

The green is so much greener in real life, the lavender brilliant.
Our house is yellow and those roses are wild fuchsia
But in the photos, they look faded.

And a flat screen can't capture the fragrance of the honeysuckle just out of sight, the spicy hint of the iris, and that distinctly spring smell of freshly mowed grass.
The greatest camera on earth can't capture that.

And what about the feel beneath my feet of soft green grass, the scratch of the tree bark, and the gentle caress of a warm breeze.

These are only pictures, never to be mistaken for the real thing.

You can see what the front of my house looks like, but that's not the same as being here.

A relationship with God is much like that.

We read about Him, hear sermons about him, pray, and seek Him.

And then we get a taste. Just a hint of His glory. A flash of insight. An electrifying encounter that lifts your soul from your body and leaves it hanging suspended between Heaven and Earth in a moment you never want to end.

A glimpse of His majesty is enough to take your breath away. Like a shadow in the corner of your eye, it's there and then it's gone. But you saw it. You know. Nothing can convince you otherwise.

But it's only a taste. A picture. It cannot possibly encompass the reality of being in His presence when all senses come alive and we experience Him in person! That's what makes Him so amazing. He's impossible to describe. You just have to know Him.

That's what makes Him God. He cannot be adequately described or experienced in this life.
Every attempt is only a faded picture.

It can be frustrating at times, but would we really want a God who could be captured in a snapshot or encompassed by a human brain?

Are You Overwhelmed Yet?

The job is overwhelming!

A thousand things to do and only one YOU.

How can I...?

I can't possibly...


Ever look at the task ahead and quake in your boots?

Inadequacy taunts as you gaze wide-eyed at all that lies before you.

If you are in the season of life when the job God assigned you seems waaaay bigger than the gifts he assigned you, then this post is for you.

Hope is found in the famous story of Jesus feeding the five thousand in John 6. I was singing the Inadequacy Song one evening when I came to this story. As I began to read, God spoke:

Pay attention. I have something to say to you."

With each verse, the meaning became clearer.

The crowds who came to hear Jesus were hungry. It was late. There was nothing to feed them but one little sack lunch--bread and some little fishies. The disciples complained to Jesus: "This is all we have, but what is it among so many?"

"Do you understand?" the Lord asked me.

Yes. I'm the bread and fish. And I'm not enough for this job You've given me.

"That's right. You're not."

Jesus told them to bring the lunch to him. He took it and gave thanks.

"Are you thanking me that you are not enough? I made you that way so that I can do it through you. Thank me even when it looks overwhelming. It is then I am about to do My work."

And after giving thanks, Jesus broke the bread and fish and began to pass it out. It kept going and going until the thousands had not a taste, but were completely filled.

You must stay humble and broken in My hands and when you do, I will flow through you. All those I bring to you will be filled. Their needs will be met. They will not go away empty."

I blinked at the words on the page, comprehension and gratitude filling my heart.

"Keep going."

After Jesus had done such a miracle, the people wanted to make him king right then. But knowing what was in their hearts, he slipped away to meet with his Father.

Do you understand? When I give you success, the world's way is to exalt that success, capitalize on it, expand it, publicize it. But that is not My way. When you see it coming, slip away and meet with Me. Keep doing only what I've given you to do and then I can bless it."

I understood.

And ever since, He has done just that.

As I stay broken and humble in the hands of Jesus, He accomplishes far more through me than I could ever do by myself.

If I want Lea Ann-sized results, I can try to feed the multitude with what I have. But if I want to see God-sized results, I have to stay pliable in His hands, trusting Him to do everything through me.

He did it on that hillside and He continues to do it every day.

What size results do you want?

Don't Mind the Detours

It seemed like a miracle! That long-awaited job. The acceptance letter. The proposal.

You knew it was from God and you also knew in that moment that no one was as blessed as you were. You'd kiss the sky if you could jump that far.

You were the Fair-haired Son, God's favorite, Prince for a day.

So you plunged ahead, confident that God was with you, would bless you from now on, and nothing could mess it up.

Except everything messed up.

Stunned, you backtracked to that moment when you knew--you just KNEW--God had given you this. Had he taken it back? Did you do something wrong? Had he handed your Fair-haired Son Award to someone else?

Abram must have wondered the same thing. God had come down and actually spoken to him, promised him out-of-the-blue that all this delicious land was his for the taking! HIS! And all those descendants he didn't have yet.

It was beautiful, lush, fruitful and it was HIS!

Abram must have done the Patriarchal version of the happy dance. Possibly called it the Blessed Dance.

But a mere 3 verses later in Genesis 12, we learn that "there was a famine in the land."

Imagine how Abram felt.

What's up with the famine, Lord? I thought this was gonna be great! My land, and all that? I can't live in a place like this, dust blowing everywhere, no food, no water...What kind of thing have You led me to? Was it all a joke?

In confusion and possibly disappointment, he packed up and headed to Egypt to keep from starving to death. I found it worthy of notice that when God promised him the land, Abram built and altar and "called upon the name of the Lord."

Then he did the Egyptian detour and things got a little rocky. Scared to death, a foreigner in this wicked land, he forgot to trust God and resorted to lying. He did not deserve to be bailed out of his cowardly act, but God did anyway.

He eventually left his foray into Egypt even richer than when he went in. God used his mistakes and brought good out of it anyway, because he knew Abram's heart. God is amazingly patient that way.

I noticed that when Abram and company got back to his Promised Land, the Bible says "he again called upon the name of the Lord." I'll bet he did! Kissed the ground, probably. But most likely realized with great sadness that he had NOT been calling upon the name of the Lord the whole time he was in Egypt.

Don't we do that too?

We get very spiritual when we can see God's Hand directly involved in our lives, bringing us what we want. But then things change. The sky clouds up, the job gets shaky, the school changed it's mind and all of a sudden, we think God disappeared.

Take a lesson from Abram. Even though a famine looked like the worst possible disaster for a new plantation owner, God was still in charge. God knew about the famine. He also knew what Abram would do and arranged to bless him anyway, while he learned a few things about God. By the time he got back to his Promised Land, he was better off than when he left.

And when your life seems to be taking a wrong turn, your golden dream has all but disintegrated, what you thought was a promise from God appears to be nothing but a daydream, take heart. God knows about the broken dream, the broken heart, the broken promise.

And he can bring you out of it better than you were before. He's far better than a GPS, because he delights in detours. Just ask Father Abraham.