Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘waiting’ Category

A friend recently asked an interesting question on his Facebook status.  He said “Are spiritual gifts rewards?”  What followed was a discussion that went a certain way because of the things that his friends had been thinking about.  It wasn’t a simple, abstract, objective discussion.  I have been reading Andrew Murray on the Holy Spirit, and it is frustrating me.  He teaches that we are utterly dependent on God, and that we ought to wait on His power and guidance instead of being self-directed.  But he also says that the reason many Christians have not received a Pentecostal manifestation and ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit is because they do not want it, have not surrendered to it.  I don’t like this because it puts the gifts of God out of the realm of grace, leaving people feeling anxious that though there is a gift they want and which God wants to give, they must do more to persuade God to give it to them.  They must be doing something wrong.  But are they under conviction about any sin?  Does God not hear their pleas for deliverance from sin, for power to be God’s vessels in the Church and the world?  Does He judge them as insincere who cry out for this gift?

 

But maybe God doesn’t always work in bursts like that.  Maybe He doesn’t want our goal to be the acquisition of some particular gift.  When I searched deeply for what really bothered me about Andrew Murray’s teaching, I found that I believe God wants daily faithfulness, that He sanctifies us as we follow Him.  And my Facebook friend pointed out that in this life the sanctification and maturing will not end.  We should not be content – Andrew Murray advocates discontent with our mediocre spiritual experiences.  But even if our experiences are not mediocre, we shouldn’t be content.  We shouldn’t ever feel that we’ve reached our own ideal of spiritual intimacy, so we need not desire or pursue any more.

 

This brings to mind Philippians 3:12-14, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

There is a movie called Leap Year, and I can’t recommend it because of a couple scenes that just aren’t beneficial for holding on to good morals.  But like some sort of hypocrite, I watch it occasionally.  It is thought-provoking, but then my brother says everything makes me think.  This in-control woman (whose control issues are a response to an out of control childhood) is tired of being disappointed and waiting on her boyfriend to propose.  They’re living together already, but she still dreams of commitment and forever-love.  So she decides to take advantage of an Irish tradition and propose to her boyfriend herself, on Leap Day, in Ireland where he is at a conference.  So she sets out to surprise him.

 

But there’s a detour of more than her travel plans.  Miss get-her-done responds to a series of difficult situations with great skill.  But when things keep going wrong, and she can’t do anything about it, she finds herself in need of being more reactionary but in a trusting way instead of a plan for every contingency sort of way.  This reveals some flaws in her relationship with her boyfriend, and also in her plan to deal with it.

 

Guiding her both geographically and psychologically is an Irish pub-owner with wounds and disappointments of his own, but with much more common sense.  He isn’t so good at trusting, either, but at least he knows it’s the way to go.  Sit down, pull out an apple, and wait.  There’s a castle near the bus stop.  Why not climb to the top?  You might have to put up with some rain, but the walk is worth it, right?

 

Being thrown together, forced to work together to accomplish their goals, the heroine and her guide start to fall for each other, despite her mission to propose.  (Yeah, it’s another one of those movies.)  For one thing, the guide has confidence that if the boyfriend wanted to get married, he would have asked, and that rather than chasing him down and trapping an unwilling husband, the girl should reconsider entirely.  But they also start to reach out in totally selfless ways, taking interest in each others’ lives and motives.  There is realistic resistance, but a persistent direction towards understanding and friendship.

 

Near the end, the beautiful American doesn’t have to propose because her boyfriend asks her to marry him himself.  Mr. Irish Guide has his bit of disappointment, but he’s benefited from the experience, from the friendship, from being forced – through her – to think about his own choices in life.  In a way, he’d been holding out just as much as she had.  Things are not quite as happy for the heroine, who finds out that the proposal was brought on not by real desire to get married, but by social pressure from people selling them an apartment together.  She stands in the middle of her dream home and realizes that she has everything she wants and nothing she needs.  So she flees.  What makes a person leave everything they know and have dreamed of?

 

This time our heroine, who feels she has learned something but still hasn’t really learned, flies to Ireland pursuing another man.  In the middle of his pub, she confesses the way the time she spent with him changed her life, and invites him to “not make plans” with her, just to see where this “thing” goes.  But Irishman, common-sense, slightly cynical, guide-guy pub proprietor rejects her proposal.

 

It’s the kind of movie that could have ended unhappily and still been meaningful.  The filmmakers timed the scenes well so that I got to imagine such endings, the implications, and how I still feel satisfied, like there was a message that was useful anyway, experiences not wasted even if the end wasn’t happily ever after.

 

But she’s standing on a beautiful cliff on the coast of Ireland and he comes after her, and tells her he doesn’t want to not make plans; he wants to make plans.  And he gets down on one knee.  In the end it isn’t the having a dream that’s to be rejected – it’s an empty dream, a selfish and shallow life, that doesn’t deserve all that effort and pursuit.  Make plans to deal with contingencies together, with more to guide you than a destination.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

Worthiness

God, the One

who created

everything,

and who is mightier

than everyone,

and who knows

the end

from the beginning,

who is

all-righteous

and good –

is the God

who speaks,

who moved in my own little life

to save me,

who moves each day

to lead me,

who prepares the way

before me

and lights it

with His own presence,

who gives to me

tiny good gifts

and listens to my

trembling prayers.

And yet I doubt;

I fear:

one sentence

one moment

and I freeze,

imagining the worst,

forgetting my

pleadings have been heard

by He who is

worthy

of being trusted.

And even if

what I imagine

is true

this day,

God is not

bound for tomorrow

by what is today,

and His plans will

come to pass,

so that

those who know

their own plans

are no more

in control,

future-assured

than I am:

wondering,

worrying,

guessing.

I spend the

rest of the night

resisting and

trying to

trust

and know

and be still

and be quiet

and be good

and rejoice.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

Read Full Post »

Maybe you’ve seen it.  One of your friends comes up to you on a summer’s day and his face is all red except for a raccoon-like mask around his eyes.  The day before he’d been out in the sun, wearing his sunglasses, and gotten a sunburn.

Why was he wearing sunglasses?  To protect his eyes from the sun.

Is there nothing to protect his skin from the sun?  There is, but he didn’t use it.

Why not?  I suppose he was uncomfortable with the brightness of the sun in his eyes, and sunglasses relieved that.  But the sun on his skin was less troublesome at the time – and sunblock wouldn’t relieve the discomfort from the heat.

So the friend took care to make sure that he was comfortable in the moment, but had no thought for the comfort of tomorrow.  He went on feelings.  The only good he would accept was immediate relief.

What can we learn from this?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

Courtship Roadtrip

My brother called yesterday.  He is a Marine finishing up training in Virginia.  And he’s had a lot of time to think the last few months.  His conclusion is that I am jinxing the rest of the family.  Because I, the oldest, am not married, none of the rest of my brothers and sisters have a chance.

The truth is, I’m not avoiding marriage.  I believe I’m doing everything I can do.  There are still some questions about whether I should do things differently: Talk more or talk less?  Wear more skirts or fewer?  Use makeup or not?  My (single) best friend and I read a book a while back called “Get Married,” which suggested that single women be very careful not to throw away the interest of a good man.  We were comparing notes recently and wondering whether there really are girls who get that chance!  Anyway, on the major things, I’m doing what I can.  I don’t hide.  I am friendly.  I speak to men.  I let it be known that I want to get married.  I prepare to be a good wife.

A lot of my friends are on the lookout for a good husband for me.  “When did this plan start?” brother Marine asked.  I shrugged and told him that when my friends ask how to pray for me, I tell them that I want to be married.  They get the idea.  Several of them tell me, “I wish I knew a man to introduce you to.”  During the past year or so, I have gotten about a half dozen suggestions of potential mates, thanks to my helpful friends.  Unfortunately, they all live out of state.  That fact inspired my brother’s plan.

It’s something like how high school students are choosing colleges.  They load up the car, bring their dad along, and travel the country side visiting the schools on their short list.  This is the Courting Roadtrip.

You gather from your helpful friends the names and addresses of every out-of-state man they have suggested you may be destined for.  Plot them on a map and work out a route.  Show up at each door and say, “I’m Lisa.  Hear you’re looking for a wife!”  Then you try to get to know them and let them get to know you, before you move on to the next victim of matchmaking.  I think you might have to do some explaining to the poor unsuspecting men.  I’d say to have your friends call and warn them, but that might take them off your list of “potentials” too quickly.

All in all, my brother’s plan sounds a bit more aggressive than my personality, and I don’t want to give false first impressions.  So I might just wait this out.  Actually I don’t mind if a single man takes a Courtship Roadtrip.  (Without the startling introduction, “Hear you’re looking for a husband!”)  Go find a wife.  That’s what I say.

The truth is I believe in responding.  I believe in being pursued by a man, not the other way around.  I believe I’m waiting on God and His timing for this.  My younger siblings aren’t really bound by my singleness.  They’re waiting on God’s timing, too.  Knowing that, it is all the more important that I wait well, setting them a good example, at the same time being honest with them about how hard it is.  Meanwhile, we’re laughing a lot.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

Lamentations is one of the fiercest books of the Bible.  The prophet dares to know that God is good when there is not a speck of hope, when people are suffering and dying and refusing to listen.  He declares God’s mercy, bowed for the sake of man’s sinfulness.  And God can take everything, but this worship will stay – not the tender worship, but the hoarse shout of desperate truth, aching but glad that God is right and mighty and still good.

Judah thought they would escape Israel’s fate.  They had false prophets saying that things were well when things were terribly wrong.  Their king rallied morale and insisted that God’s faithfulness would preserve the country from destruction.  I don’t know why he thought the suffering already going on would have a limit.  In typical Jewish fashion, maybe they were all just unable to believe that God would let another, more wicked, nation have the victory.

Nebuchadnezzar’s armies marched.  They besieged.  Our peaceful, “civilized” imaginations can barely accept the horrors Jerusalem endured before falling.  The noble and the rich – even the faith-full – were targeted and taken, relocated and enslaved.  Babylonians were triumphant and proud.  Jews were devastated and sad.

Then God does something for them that shows He is a God of Hope and Love and Promises:  “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. …For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”

And a few chapters later, God told Jeremiah to buy land.  Buy land!  Land about to be taken away by foreign invaders.  The prophet is obedient, but he wants to know why.  He acknowledges the righteousness of God that has brought calamity on Judah.  And he says he knows nothing is too hard for God…

“Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it: And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. …And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.”

Nothing is too difficult for God.  Even when things are darkest, there is nothing stopping Him from restoring what was lost.  The question is “What will God do?”

And then the question, the glory of man to ask their God, is “Why?”

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

(Scripture taken from Jeremiah 29 and 32)

Read Full Post »

Sudden

Winter was dragging on.  More out of defiance than comfort, I’d been outside without my coat.  The nights still dipped well below freezing.  Dreary clouds came from the east, shading the still-brown grass and smooth-branched trees.

Overnight and into the morning snow fell.  Big flakes layered across the ground, mounting to over half a foot – for the third time in ten days.  I pulled on my clunky shearling boots and plodded out into my day, bereft of sunshine, pining for summer.

When I got off work the snow was only asserting its memory in patches of well-shaded remnants and dirty piles on parking lot edges.  The sunset gleamed on the wet runoff skimming the pavement on my weary drive home.

And then the next morning I woke up.  I got out of bed and went upstairs.  Blew my nose, suffering the symptoms of my annual spring virus.  Washed my hands at the kitchen sink, ignoring the running water while I watched the back yard.  It needed watching.

When I hadn’t been watching, even while I slept, the world had transformed.  Green struggled through the old year’s lawn growth.  Tiny buds swelled on twigs of bushes and trees.  Birds were singing!

All sudden and without warning.  When a snowstorm had driven back expectation of spring anytime soon, beating me down with the power of winter to persevere past decent dates.  Last time I looked, no sign of renewed life.  Now, everywhere.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

I have a friend, my age, who is married.  To most 25 year olds, this is not surprising.  But I mean what I say, that I have ONE friend who is married and my age.  So she holds a special place in my row of confidants.  Loving her has never been hard, and envying her is unthinkable.  Her story is beautiful, and I treasure it.

The tale her life weaves is different from mine, and that is good.  She was married 4 and a half years ago, but she remembers before.  More than once she has encouraged me to embrace the days God gives me, as He gives them.  Before she was married, she spent time on tour with a Christian conference, interning with a youth ministry, and on a mission in Thailand.  She doesn’t regret ending those things to become a wife and a mom (a busy mom – 5 kids!), but she values them for what they were to her, and values them more for being special to that season of her life.

Just this month, out to eat delicious Italian food and celebrate that significantly frightening birthday of mine when I turned 25, she repeated her exhortation.  This time she made clear that she doesn’t think the only way to make the most of one’s singleness is mission trips.  Her life isn’t the only way.  Her story is hers.  In fact, she said she rather likes having me live close!  “One day you’ll look back, and this time will seem short.  You’ll wonder why you worried.”  I didn’t tell her I worried.  Good friends don’t have to be told, I guess.

But I pondered for a moment.  The waiting hasn’t been short.  I don’t ever want to forget that, because that cheapens this time.  For years I have been enduring hope, striving for hope – and patience and faith.  This has to be for a reason.  God is doing work in me; I haven’t stalled in this in-between season of singleness.  And He is doing work around me, through me.  Living at home, I have an impact on my family.  Being single, as my friend said, I get to spend more time with friends.  And who knows what God is up to with the man who will be my husband some day.

Though her time of singleness was short and cram-packed, mine is long and also full.  I don’t want to call this time fleeting, not only because of all that it contains, but because of what it represents.  There is a sacredness to waiting, something to be attained through practicing it. Without delayed gratification, there is no hope.  If one has everything one wants before you think to desire it, there is no desire.

But hope and desire were not made merely to serve romance.  Experiencing hope and desire and something about time that I still don’t understand – these train me for my walk with God.

We use words like thirst to describe how our souls long for God because God made us to sense need for water.  “God deals with us as with sons” – “for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”  If God had not given us fathers willing to spank us, how would we know to relate to God this way?  So also, this yearning time, and stillness time point me to the yearning I ought to have for God.  Do I put my trust in His action?  Am I catching my breath every day thinking that He might come?  Is my imagination captivated by His promises?

This turns back again and says more.  I’m not the only one waiting.  God is waiting.  Just as He chose to love, and chose to suffer, and chose to be tempted, and chose to be born and to die, He has chosen to wait.  Eternal God has put Himself in time.  And time is not yet full.  In exercising waiting and containing myself to hope, I am learning about God’s hope and God’s waiting.  He has patience.

There is a praise song that alights on me like a vision of radiance.  “We will dance on the streets that are golden: the glorious Bride and the Great Son of Man…”  Think of the joy with which the Bridegroom will dance among His Bride, with which He will feast with her.  If that will be his joy, this strangeness called time will be part of his payment.  He knows that future and is waiting with eager expectation for the day and hour only His Father knows.  Somehow to think of God’s joy makes me want that more than I want it for myself.

Jesus is no Peter Pan, who lives only for the moment, forgetting past and future.  No, to live with an eye on the future that can only be reached by walking the present, that is grown up.  It is mature and sober.  But the joy it produces is most free and most giddy.  There is nothing unsure in the joy, even the excruciating joy of this waiting.  Peter Pan might enjoy the moment, but that is all he has; he must be ready for a turn of events.  The joy of Christ – and His Bride with Him – will be everlasting.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

Chirp

My brother told me a story about his life the last month.  Several times he has walked somewhere, or stopped at a stoplight, gone to unlock the door to his condo, and heard a single chirp from a cricket.  Just once, that familiar echo of nature, but only once, cut short by the move to the next thing, next time, next place.

Outside my living room window is the sunset of the hottest day of the summer in Denver this year.  My gray long-hair kitty is sitting at my shoulder, and I am on my couch at an odd angle that has my back tucked into the corner.  This morning for church I put on my navy blue linen dress that is so cute, and a white crochet jacket with three-quarter sleeves.  Sunday school was out on the grass, half in the shade, and I kicked off my little white sandal-heels to cross my legs beneath me.  Clouds have gathered and opened back up today, taunting me with the prospect of a storm I know won’t come.  All afternoon my eyes have wanted to close on themselves, but between this and that phone call or vacuuming or chopping ice in the kitchen, real sleep has been beyond me. 

My grandpa is in the hospital again, and facing once again the possibility of moving away from his home, the most peaceful little retreat I’ve ever known, in a small Kansas town dominated by wind and the hum of grain elevators just a block from the old city park.  Mourning doves coo at dawn there, and cicadas chant the dusk on its way to night.  My grandparents have a clock that chimes the quarter hour, and so you know that time is passing even as you know just as surely that it doesn’t matter, because that place outside of everywhere is eternal.  Except I know that someday it won’t be there, not for me.  Not the old house with the dull tile and the bugs and endless shelves of pack-rat treasures or the bright garden now boasting a mere crop of weeds.  I can visit the park, and walk the streets, even drop in to the post office, but someday, closer every hospital visit, the summer spot, the holiday feasting hall of my grandparents’ stained-glass and curio decorated living room will be locked, sold, inhabited by others.  History really lives there, in Bird City, Kansas, in a way that it cannot in the suburbs that have been my lifelong residence. 

And a friend’s aunt died, losing her battle with cancer.  It’s a passing day, nothing happening in it but the slow observation of the changes you dared not believe would come.  Maybe it’s a hoping day, for as the birds fly across the rays of sun outside my window, the scarce breeze ensuring each glance is just a touch different than the last, I know that all these old things under the sun are endlessly changing.  Some other August day I will sit again and wonder at the life that laps about me, tides ebbing and flowing, forever eroding the shoreline into shapes that have never been. 

My daddy, who had gone to be with his dad and mom, is back now, the deliberate slide of our van up the slope of the driveway into the garage, with the elegant steadiness of practice and weary routine.  He meows at the cat, now stalking in the kitchen, retrieving suitcase.  Soon he’ll pick up the television remote.  I know, because somethings are the same. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

I have been camera crazy this year, filled with intentions of having one of those beautiful blogs filled with artistic pictures that speak effortless, silent poetry. Life has kept me busy, stunned me with its picturesque every day. This is my small sample. Me in one of my creative Christmas outfits. Here in Colorado the weather has scarcely ventured above freezing for two weeks, so I’m a little bored of my usual sweaters, inspiring creative ensembles.

There’s another cause, too. In December, for several reasons, we should cancel laundry: 1. We are buying new clothes for Christmas parties anyway. 2. We are receiving new clothes at Christmas. 3. We are never at home, so laundry is impossible. 4. There’s going to be enough guilt from all the candy and baked goods we eat, and all the New Year’s Resolutions we instantly break. Why add unfinished laundry?

(To be honest, my laundry is all caught up as of about an hour from now. And I really don’t get new clothes at Christmas or make New Year’s Resolutions. Nor do I feel guilty about my sugar intake.)

For my birthday I hosted a party at which we watched the movie, Penelope (starring Christiana Ricci, James McAvoy, and Reese Witherspoon). The bright contrasting colors inspired me. For my parties I usually have either candles or flowers. These were too perfect, and looking exquisite in the daisy vase a friend gave me for my high school graduation.


Aren’t the colors so vibrant?
Fall lingered in Colorado. I’m glad I have pictures to remember it by, not only because it was beautiful, but also because now it’s so cold that I can’t believe the Indian Summer we had.

See. Winter.
For weeks I went around with my camera in the passenger seat of my car so that when I found beautiful colors, driving through the right part of old Denver, I could snap a shot at a stop sign! It turned out great!

This old house was so charming as I drove that I took a picture of it, too. Denver is a lot nicer place when you see the cozy residential areas near downtown.
It can be a frustrating place. There is something nostalgic about railroad crossings, I admit. And I’m glad I had my camera, because otherwise the wait that day would have been intolerable. Trains are such dirty, slow, loud vehicles!
Speaking of waiting, that is one of only two things that I have done this season. The other is enduring impossible stores with gifts impossible to find or afford. I’m ready to stop waiting in lines and in traffic and behind trains and for people to come or go or catch up. My idea of nice waiting is to be curled up in front of the Christmas tree with a book, Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby crooning in the background, a nice plate of fudge and a cinnamon roll handy.

These are some of our family’s signature cookies. Admit it. You never want just one of those regular-sized cookies. So instead of making you go back until you’ve had three or four, we put the whole serving into one cookie. They’re amazing. And my 11 year old sister is a pro at making them, attributed to her procrastinating style.
Mom tried to recreate the salad she likes from Chik-fil-a. It was so bright and pretty that I had to take a picture.
That’s all.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »