Response Time Matters

miami_package_feelthehealdetoxGod’s family is certainly not exempt from hurt, including the hurts that come from within. People in churches are just as vulnerable to unjustly criticize, gossip, neglect, and offend one another as anyone else. It’s true that God sets us apart to reflect his image to the world, but to believe Christ-followers are perfect representations of Jesus will, to say the least, lead to disappointment. What (should) set Christ-followers apart from the world is how they deal with one another to heal the hurt. Will they do the hard work it takes to unite or will they further divide into quarreling, backbiting, judgmental factions? Which will you choose? This is the first post in Healing the Hurt, a 10-post series to help hurting communities cope in biblical ways.

Response time matters in emergencies. It also matters in non-emergencies, because the time it takes you to get through a grocery line, wait in traffic, or fix a meal impacts other plans and responsibilities you have. Sometimes a fast response is essential. Sometimes, to give or expect an immediate response is premature, invasive, and inconvenient.

It’s important to invite God to determine the best response time when you’re dealing with issues among your church family. Let God tell you when and how to respond instead of your default comfort settings becoming the driving force. You might prefer to let things simmer for a while and see what the impact will be before addressing the issue, but carefully listen to God’s promptings. He might agree with you, but it’s also possible that he knows if you approach a particular person right away, the behind-the-scenes whispers will be quieted and the eventual roar will be eliminated with the early action. On the other hand, you might prefer to jump in and solve issues right away, and while that might be the best option at times, God will also encourage you to wait at times, because he knows approaching the hot fire will cause the flames to burn higher and hotter, making it more visible and dangerous for those otherwise unaffected.

Responding isn’t about your preference or comfort. God knows what’s best. Responding in his time is what matters, because he knows everyone involved, including yourself, much better than you do. Response time matters because people matter. Response time matters because your relationship with God matters.

Listen to Jesus’ instructions to his disciples—and us—about responding to others. Be sensitive to his leading and trust him. God knows best.

If the people in a certain place refuse to welcome you or listen to you, leave that place. Shake its dust off your feet as a warning to them. (Mark 6:11)

But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.  Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy. (Luke 6:27, 36)

The Internet Impossibilities

2364b98bc293049f75580f87ff08b495We have easy, fast access to information. If we have a question, all we have to do is search for it. Our phones are rarely out of reach, so we can sit or stand wherever we are and find an answer. We don’t even have to type the question or read the answer anymore; we can speak into our phones, and we get a spoken answer.

But not all questions and problems have easy answers. Being able to search the internet for quick solutions might make it even more unbearable when we face the impossible, when we’re confused and overwhelmed. We can spend so much time searching for the perfect answer to our dilemma that we waste time we could spend solving it. We waste time we could seek God’s presence through the struggle. Not that He always gives us an answer, but if He doesn’t, maybe there’s something even more important we need in order to deal with the impossible. Maybe the search and the trust we give God through that search is much more important.

In fact, I know it is.

We can’t make the impossible possible with an internet search. Of course, we can find some tips and ideas, and I’m not suggesting we stop searching for those. In the past 24 hours, I’ve searched how to properly dispose of dry ice, common issues with a phone model, and comparative prices while shopping. But Google has its limits.

God does not.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

What Notifications Do To A Prayer Life

When we grow accustomed to instant feedback and notifications, made possible by technology, we struggle to wait to hear from God.  We want instant feedback and answers. We want immediate approval and results. That’s not the way God works. As we get used to the immediacy technology affords, we begin to listen to and look for the constant input into our lives, and those voices begin to crowd out God’s.

We’d rather have something quick and inaccurate than use our patience to hear truth.

God has His own notifications, and they’re not usually instant. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they seem like a blinking light or alarming sound, but most of the time, God is quietly consistent and patient to respond to us. He wants us to be patient as we seek Him.

Praying isn’t about what we get from God; it’s about our relationship with Him. Are we willing to listen, pursue, seek, and wait? Or do we want God to fit into our timetables and schedules? What we see as urgent often isn’t, because what we learn through the process of waiting for and pursuing God is much more important to Him. He sees all of time and knows right now is important but is one moment that adds into many. It all matters, including how we respond to Him, demand of Him, and wait on Him.

Pray well.

Listen well.

Wait well.

 

You Stood Me Up

I waited for you today. I had hoped to meet you in the quiet corner of the coffee shop you frequent. I enjoy sitting across from you, listening to your heart. Hearing you share about your daily life thrills me. I’m honored when you share. I want to walk through life with you. I’ll listen to the details and never trivialize them. I’ll listen to your dreams no matter how silly or out-of-reach they might seem. I’ll help broaden your perspective to see the big picture.

I just want to sit with you. I treasure our silence. It’s the time we spend together that I value. I waited, hoping you’d slip into the empty chair across the table from me.

I know you’re busy. Even on the days when your schedule goes smoothly, it’s difficult for you to fit anything extra. I wish I wasn’t “extra.” Perhaps you don’t understand how invested I am in your life. I want you to know I support you. I love you, and because of that love, I will always approach you with compassion, patience, kindness – and accountability. You might not always like what I say, because my love for you is bold enough to confront you when you need to be confronted. I care too much to let you continue with faulty thinking or unhealthy behavior – no matter how extensively you’ve rationalized it.

You probably get mad or frustrated with me at times. On those days, you avoid spending time with me. On the days you don’t push open the doors and purposefully walk toward me and sit to share time with me, I miss you no matter what your reason is. When I look at the empty chair across from me, I’m sad. I watch people coming and going; many of them are alone, connecting with no one but the person managing the exchange of money and goods. I listened to people placing their orders with specific instructions and becoming disgruntled when the end products aren’t exactly as expected. Every now and then, I catch someone’s glance and exchange a quick smile.

I long for substantial connection, where someone is open to my investment into them.

That’s what I want for you. I miss you. I’m waiting for you. The empty chair and my longing heart are waiting.

Love, God

Willing to Wait

Moses replied to them, “Wait here until I hear what the LORD commands for you.” (Numbers 9:8)

We don’t like to wait. We’re used to being able to Google just about anything we want to know. Whether we can trust the source or not has become a secondary concern to our quick access to information. If we “feel” something is right, we believe we have enough confirmation to move forward. Instead of asking, “What would God want from and for me in this situation?,” we more often ask, “Why wouldn’t God want this for me?” (if we ask anything about or from God at all).

We expect direction on our own terms in our own timing instead of being willing to wait for the best terms and best timing.

But waiting pays off. It’s not about the end result of getting the right answer and instruction, although that’s certainly important. It’s more about the process, the reliance on God, the trust we gain in building a relationship with Him.

Be willing to wait.

For what?

I can’t tell you the specifics. That’s part of the waiting process. But I can guarantee that if you’re willing to wait, you will “get” God. Watch for Him. Pay attention. Listen. He will always respond.

Have Your Most Important Today

Some things jolt our priorities into perspective. We, or someone close to us, receives a diagnosis. We hear of a shooting, terror attack, or unimaginable accident. We’re reminded to hold our loved ones a bit closer, set aside our worries that now seem mundane, and reach out to heal a relationship that has been fractured for what appeared to be important reasons but now seems trivial.

Life has a way of putting itself into perspective.

Instead of waiting for those life-altering situations to realign our lives, what if we realigned our lives a bit at a time every day? We don’t have to sit on the edge of our seats, clinging to our loved ones in fear of something happening. We don’t need to build bunkers to protect ourselves. I’m not talking about living in a dread or attempting to control everything in case the world ends tomorrow. But what about living in full color today to enjoy and appreciate what is right in front of us?

Why wait to ask forgiveness?

Why wait to forgive?

Why wait to be generous?

Why wait to accept someone’s generosity?

Why wait to be bold?

Why wait to be someone’s number one encourager?

We live in a “why wait” culture, where we feel as if we deserve to do what we want when we want it. That’s not the kind of “why wait” I’m suggesting. Instead, why wait before you get to the end of yourself, stripping away all the burdens, self-centeredness, justifications, unproductive pursuits, etc.? Why wait until everything that’s not essential is knocked away from your life with dramatic impact? Why not step up and let God start chipping away at it a bit at a time, preparing you for today and tomorrow?

Choose well right now. Be humble. Be willing. Be changeable.

You don’t have to wait. Today is important. Right now is important. Spend it well.

“Thank you for waiting.” Really? I just got here!

I sat in a busy drive through line.

Well, even though, technically, I was sitting in my vehicle, I was pretty much constantly moving. I paused  briefly to order, then moved forward in a steady stream of cars. After paying at one window, I pulled up to receive my order. I waited about 15 seconds before a friendly girl opened the door, extended my drink, and apologetically said, “Thank you for waiting! Sorry it took us a minute!”

imagesIt didn’t take a full minute!

I appreciated her desire to please a customer, but can 15 seconds really count as waiting? If we don’t have 15 seconds to wait on something, or we get agitated after waiting that amount of time, we have issues. It’s like the spinning wheel on our electronics. Sure, we might want it to spin a little faster and load a little quicker, but the work we do on electronics doesn’t even compare to the time it would take us if we didn’t have them. And when using the “shortcut” becomes the long way around, and time is of the essence, just take the long way around!

We need to slow down enough to process what’s going on around us. We need to notice people. We need to be patient with them and not train them to think we’re going to leave them in the dust or call their manager if they don’t move at an unrealistic, superhuman speed.

Yes, there are times we’re all in a hurry, but most of the time, we can slow down…a lot. Develop your patience. Extend grace to others. Encourage them along the way. Help someone even thought it would be faster if you did it yourself. Quit putting off that lunch with a friend because you know it’s going to take several hours to catch up.

Just like putting together puzzles, looking for the right fit and clicking details and relationships together takes time, patience, and perseverance. Enjoy the journey…even when you have to wait more than a quarter of a minute.

Walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1b-2)