Watching and Waiting

“Sit in your yard and watch the leaves fall,” said the message in my Dove chocolate wrapper.  It was New Year’s Eve, and the message was supposed to be a fun suggestion, perhaps a small resolution easily kept.  But it was the middle of winter!  The leaves had already fallen, and it was cold outside.  Plus, my yard isn’t anything to write home about: just a tiny patch of grass with a short brick wall outlining it.  We didn’t have any lawn chairs, and the doors and windows of our inner-city row house were barred–an indication of a neighborhood that was anything but savory.  Still, that message whispered simply of peaceful times.  Maybe next fall, I could see that promise fulfilled.

Who knew that the fulfillment of that vision would come just one day later, on New Year’s Day, 2012.  I had just driven home after a glorious weekend of fun.  It was Sunday night, and it was time for a good night’s rest.  I found a great parking place, just across the street from my house.  After waiting a few seconds to soak in a few more notes of music from my radio, I shut off the engine and went to the back seat.  I pulled out everything that had sustained me over the weekend: my sleeping bag and pillow, my unused change of clothes in my duffel, my book bag with Bible inside, leftover salmon and green beans from New Year’s lunch.  Taking them all to the door, I remembered one thing I had missed.  I went back to my car, grabbed my jacket and locked the doors, not realizing that my keys were sitting in the back seat.  I had locked myself out.

Upon discovering my mistake, I quickly called my roommate.  I had an extra car key in my room, so I wasn’t worried about calling a locksmith or anything drastic like that.  I just had to wait for my roommate to come home.  So I waited.  I found myself sitting on my front step next to a pile of luggage and bedding.  It was dark, but the street lights illuminated the DC street.  I looked up and saw the trees, a few leaves still remaining, clutching the branches tightly as the strong breeze danced through them.  I remembered my message from the night before.  How interesting, I thought, that I might witness the exact thing which last night had seemed so unlikely.

I watched and waited.  One minute turned into two, which turned into three.  Minute after minute, my expectancy grew, but the orange leaves continued to hold on.  They were the strong ones, the last few remaining after one long year.  I continued to sit in peace, the fifty-five degree air cooling my lungs while the Spirit soothed my soul.  Finally, gloriously, a sizable gust shook the branches, and several cold leaves drifted to the street below like a curtain of natural confetti.  I became a witness to the fulfillment of a dream.

That was just the first day of 2012.  What more does this year have for all of us?  What promises will be fulfilled?  If January first was any indication, I believe we are in store for incredible things.

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.”–Genesis 1:14-15

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Women Are Not Incubators

I’ve been reading a few pro-choice blogs lately, and that phrase, “women are not incubators,” really struck me when I read it.  I think that phrase really sums up the feeling of pro-choice women as to the perceived attitude of the anti-abortion side toward them: that they care more for the fetus than they do for the woman herself.

Is this true?  I’m sure most pro-life activists would deny the charge, but what do their actions say?  Do they truly love their enemies as Jesus commanded them?

Yesterday, I read a comment on a story that really saddened me.  A pro-choice commentator was sickened by the story of a man who had offered to adopt a young woman’s baby if she would carry it to term.  When the woman chose to abort, the man ended up having to go to grief counseling because he had loved that child as if it were his own.

That’s where the “incubator” thing came in.  For me, my heart breaks for every person involved in that evil situation, but for the commentator, she could only focus on the lack of respect the man showed the woman herself.  How dare he treat her only like an incubator of his adopt-o-spawn?  Didn’t he know that she was a woman, a real human being with rights to make choices?

I’ve prayed about this issue.  I’ve meditated on it.  I’ve wondered, what would the field look like if we as pro-life people really loved the women dealing with the abortion issue?  I know we do love them, to an extent.  There are myriad Crisis Pregnancy Centers around the nation that exist for this very reason, not to coerce or brainwash, but to love.

Here’s my question: how far will we Christians go to love?  Jesus told us to “love one another as I have loved you.”  That’s a whole lot.  Seriously, I can barely start to imagine how deeply God loves us.  So how deeply should we love?  Crazy thought: would someone marry a single woman to save both her and child?  Give their entire earthly life to truly love a woman with her heart set on murder?  Maybe not marry, but still give his whole paycheck for the rest of his life to save not one, but two.

Women are not incubators.  They’re mothers, human beings designed and loved by our Father God.  We should, by the Holy Spirit, treat them as such.

“Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.”–1 Timothy 5:2

Real Life is More Fun than Video Games

Life sometimes seems like one big surprise.  When you’re born of the Spirit, none can tell where you’re coming from or where you’re going.  Maybe not even you know.

I went to Boston last weekend, seemingly on a whim.  It wasn’t though.  I just felt that God wanted me to go there, so I went.  IHOPU and JHOP were finishing a forty-day fast for New England, and I was privileged enough to participate in the final two days.  I hope my presence there helped shift the heavens over that city, but I feel like I was blessed more than anything.

God is so good that it starts to become natural to expect miracles.  Did you know that many back problems are caused by one leg being slightly shorter than the other?  Yesterday at church, four people’s legs grew out to be even with their other one.  I witnessed two of these healings with my own eyes!  It was amazing.

These recent happenings have served to strengthen my faith and increase my love for my fellow-man.  I just know that God has so much more in store for us.  This is no time to live in fear or distraction.  God’s passionate heart is seeking true worshipers who will worship in spirit and in truth.  I have set my heart to do just that.

What will seeking God look like for me in this season?  I’m not really sure, but I know it will be good, because I know Him.  He is faithful until the end.

“Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.”–Luke 21:14-15

Presence

There I was, walking back to my car from Best Buy.  I’d just bought a cable for ten dollars, so I could connect my laptop audio to my TV.  Of course I needed sound if I wanted to stream video.  That was a ten dollars well spent.

Walking in the opposite direction was a group of four young black ladies.  They seemed very happy to be walking, as evidenced by their loud talking and laughing.  I flashed a little smile at them from a distance, for they were quite amusing to see.  I’m not sure if any of them saw that smile, but it didn’t matter.

As I passed them on the sidewalk, to my surprise, one took a slight break from her chatting and looked right at me.

“Hi!” she said in a most energetic tone.

“Hi!” I replied, with a bit of a shocked look on my face.  I think I took a half step backwards in that one moment.

“Do you work alone?” she continued, not missing a beat.

“No, I don’t,” I said after giving the question a second of thought.  Because I don’t, of course.  I do work with others.  The fact is undeniable.  I immediately continued walking in my initial direction, back to my car, and the ladies continued towards the Best Buy.  It wasn’t until that night that I really started thinking about what I had said.

I believe in the omnipresence of God.  At least, I do in theory.  But it seems at times that I try to do His work by myself.  Sometimes, I just end up getting intimidated and not doing anything.  I knew I needed a renewed mind, so I started meditating on this: He is with me.  Oh, the joy to know this Truth!  My God’s presence is within me!  I do not work alone.  May that fact be always in my heart.

It’s funny how the smallest encounters can shift paradigms.  Now that I think back on it, those girls did seem almost angelic.

“[Elisha] said, ‘Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’  Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”—2 Kings 6:16-17

Frailty

At this moment, I feel a little sick, a little more tired and even more worn out.  Seems like life has been going full speed ahead for the last two months straight.  Moving, traveling twice across the country, working 10-hour days, and most recently, looking for a new car.  Just about all the energy is gone.

Do you know how hopeless the DMV can make you feel?  First, finding out you don’t have enough proofs of residence to get a driver’s licence, then finding out your car is about $2000 worth of repairs short of a passing safety test and registration.  I’ve spent so much time in the last two weeks researching cars that now sitting in traffic, I’m noticing the make and model of every car on the road.  I’m making myself crazy.  And it’s cold outside.

You know what, though?  Throughout this whole ordeal, God has been faithful.  In my frailty of mind, body and spirit, He continues to sustain me.  And He’ll never stop either.  I don’t care what I have to go through, my prayer remains, “Stretch me, Lord.  Build me into the mighty man you want me to be.”  I find myself thankful.

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
–(Psalms 16:11, 17:15, 2 Cor. 1:9)

This Is My Home

It really is strange, moving to a new place.  Geographically, spiritually and relationally, everything is different now.  You see, I visited Tallahassee last week, and what I found was this: it is no longer my home.

I flew down for my friends’ wedding(which was incredible), and I got to see and talk with most of my good friends from the last four years(who are all amazingly lovely people).  I was blessed, for sure, to have that opportunity.  Finally, though, I had to face the reality: I just don’t belong there any more.  It’s unnerving, quickly growing distant from many old friends and very slowly developing new ones.  It leaves me in a kind of in-between place.

There is good news for me.  I know I was placed here in DC by God.  And since that is the case, I know He has a purpose in mind.  This is my home, because He is with me, and my heart belongs to Him.  Wherever He sends me I go, even if it’s hard for a while.  His love reigns and will reign forever in me; I am in good hands.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”—2 Peter 1:3

Parallel Parking

One thing I’d never done before I moved to DC is parallel park.  When I got here, I had to learn fast, because there are almost no parking lots or driveways in the city.  It’s not a bad thing, just very different.

There are many things in life we need to adapt to.  Think of it: if I relied only on my previous driving training, refusing to change and learn a new thing, I would be completely lost.  Even now, I would still be driving around the city, completely unsettled, never finding rest.

There’s one other thing to which I needed to change my approach: my relationship with God.  My lifestyle is completely different from what it was just three short months ago.  Gone are the days of sleeping on my friend’s floor, reading books all morning and spending all afternoon in the prayer room.  Now I have a job, a commute, a half-hour lunch break.  When I get home, I’m worn out and want to go to sleep.  Where does God fit in all this?  I’m finding out more and more each day.  It really is exciting finding new ways to seek after Him.  It’s difficult, and it’s worth it.

“Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.  Selah“—Psalm 24:6