Are you a Molly or an Ellie?
“I waited patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 40
Twice a day Jack or I prepare meals for Molly and Ellie. The ritual begins with the announcement “Who wants food?” which elicits different responses from the two dogs. Molly’s style of waiting is loud and unignorable; she barks and jumps and demands. Her cries do not make the food arrive any quicker, they only irritate me. Ellie’s waiting is quieter and more patient; she sits on the rug with her cute little pug head cocking to the left and to the right, awaiting the promised arrival of her meal.
Two different pictures of waiting, one demanding, the other patiently trusting. (I can’t believe Ellie is the positive picture in this analogy!) To wait patiently suggests an assurance that a hoped for outcome will be realized.
The dogs know their food will be provided. Their life’s regular supply of food has taught them that today will be like yesterday: food will appear as promised. Demanding doesn’t make it come any faster, it only gets Molly worked up and makes life miserable for those around her.
Are you a Molly? Do you get anxious around the subject of God’s promises being realized? Do you pace and fret, bark and make a lot of noise about it?
Or are you an Ellie? Do you come to the kitchen, and keep your eyes fixed on one who is in the process of preparing your meal? Do you trust God will keep God’s promises? Do you look to the Lord, knowing God is currently active satisfying your need?
(Occasionally, I feel compelled to share with you from my personal prayer journal. This one I fearfully offer. Be gentle, you’re holding my heart.)
When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:1-3
Lord, the way this leper trusts you has always amazed me. He models detachment. He’s a leper, he desires to be made clean he knows you have the power to do so, yet, he doesn’t demand it or hold you ransom. He strikes no bargains; just lays his request before you and lets you give him what you will.
Boy, that’s hard. In theory, he’s my hero and I want to follow his example. But in reality I am attached to the outcome. I want to write useful material for your people. You could use me if you choose. I kneel before you, risking my request. Give words through me or not. Help me remain at your feet. Amen.
God, you are quick to respond. You spoke practical things I can do to remain in the trusting position for which I long. It seems God says the same thing over and again to the Israelites (and by extension me.) I guess they needed to hear it more than once. Their hard hearts needed retraining, new ways of being and believing. So does mine.
In summary, from Deuteronomy 7:
- God will give you success. Success for me is measured by my continued listening during my prayer time, capturing the words in my journal and sharing them with my friends. I can cooperate with God by faithfully showing up each morning, and without self-judgement offer the words formed in my heart.
- You must destroy existing idols, you’ll suffer unnecessarily if you don’t. Among the idols I must destroy are perfection, competition, jealousy because others seem more “successful” than I am. I can pray that God uproots this prideful selfishness and grows humility and love in my heart.
- You are God’s chosen, not because of your strength or beauty (inflated ego) but just because God loves you. I am not the best writer, but I express the impressions the Spirit of God has written on my heart. I am loved and chosen by God, I do not need to impress others or myself.
- You have been set free to obey, do so and blessings abound. Like God’s word which does not return void, God speaking through my unique voice will be a blessing, at least to me, if to no one else, because I have been faithful to God’s call for me.
- Do not focus on your lack (deflated ego), but on God’s power. I am not the worst writer, God has given me gifts of communication and opportunities to practice and hone my skills. It is God’s grace and love that works in me and flows through my writings.
Sound familiar? Does it resonant with your experience? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
With you on the journey,
The Lord plans to live an amazing life through you, a life that accomplishes and realizes feats of faith and wonder that will astonish even yourself. “We must work the works of him who sent me.” (John 9:4). “We” – a partnership, you and Jesus together. You are invited, in fact, you are necessary to the plan of God. Since Jesus was physically present to creation for only a brief moment in history, the Trinity needs you to bring the spirit and presence of Jesus to creation now, during your brief moment of history.
In Luke 9 Jesus called twelve of his closest friends together and gave them power and authority over demons and disease. He then sent them out into the world to practice what they had witnessed him doing and now had the power and authority to do themselves…proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing those who needed a cure.
The Trinity has a plan. It is to send Jesus’ closest friends out into the world with the good news. The nature of your intimate relationship with and trust in Jesus makes you one of his closest friends. And the nature of God’s intimate knowledge and trust of you makes you one of the ones with whom Jesus shares his power and authority.
This amazing life of yours begins with Jesus’ call of you and his desire to share his life with you. “He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him.” (Mark 3:13) Jesus called the ones he wanted. His life and his voice filled the air with an invitation to come to him and live. He desired for all to heed his call and come to him.
This invitation has not ceased. Yet, not everyone who hears his voice comes to him; but you, Elle, you came. Your heart, longing for significance, recognized the call of love in Jesus’ invitation. You are one he wants. He chose you, you responded. He initiates, you follow. There is such a mutuality in this choosing. Both sides of this interaction are significant. You’ve climbed the mountain of obedience and now sit with Jesus, awaiting his voice.
With you in the Journey,
My church has come undone and I am essentially unemployed.
I feel I am in a lost and dark place. For me, at this time, journeying with the Spirit is not about an external destination or activity. It is about a waiting.
There is movement in this waiting, but the movement is not toward the light. It is in fact toward the darkness.
“Clouds and thick darkness surround him,” says the psalmist.
For me, in this season of my life, to journey with the Spirit is to walk toward the darkness; the mystery; the unknowing.
Like Peter on the mount of transfiguration, the cloud has overshadowed me and I am terrified.
But Jesus is in the cloud. And in it I hear God’s voice. It’s a whisper, but it is clear and it reminds me that only Jesus’ most intimate friends are invited to join him in the cloud.
So I wait and I listen.
If you find yourself in Spirit-led darkness, don’t try to get out of it. Trust it. Wait there. It is in the cloud where Jesus is revealed.
(Part 8 will follow in my next post.)