The Long Journey to the Pie

Pie is always a good idea.

Pie is an even better idea when it is shared with friends.

Not too long ago I got together with some good old friends. It was a typical “guys” night. Way too many buffalo wings, lots of laughter, and a sad realization that we all are a lot older than we used to be. As the night wore on everyone threw out options for what we should do next.

We stood in the parking lot for a solid 15 minutes trying to decide.

  • Go-karting? Too expensive.
  • Mini Golf? Too lame.
  • Video games back at so-and-so’s house? The baby was asleep.
  • Pie? Perfect.

“Why don’t we just walk there!?” I exclaimed. “It’s literally right down the street!” My idea was met with a lot of enthusiasm and even called, “the best plan of the night.”

So, we set off walking. And it was just about a half a block into our journey that I realized the pie place was quite a bit further than I had originally thought. Our short walk was not going to be short at all.

After about 10 minutes the group caught on that our walk was no small stroll. One person even asked if we should turn back and just drive. But the collective answer was, “No. We have come this far. The pie will be worth it.”

And let me tell you, the pie certainly was worth every step of that brutally long (I’m exaggerating just a bit) walk. At the table, one of my friends suggested I write a blog about the event (this is your shout-out Steve) and so here it is.

And here is the point…

Often times our journeys turn out to be a lot longer than expected, and that’s OK.

Many of us are faced with situations and seasons that cause pain, frustration, and fear. Maybe for you, it’s a frustrating situation at work. Or a broken relationship with someone you love. Or maybe you are dealing with health problems that just don’t seem to go away. Or maybe you are like my wife and I and are waiting to adopt and experiencing the pain of childlessness. Whatever your journey is, it may seem unbearable, or at least unbearably long.

But we must patiently endure and pray that God would help us to be content.

Proverbs 16:9 is clear that even though we may have our own plans ultimately it is God who directs our journey. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

And because it is the Lord who “establishes our steps” we need to remember that He knows what He is doing. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

As I walk through my own unexpectedly long journey I find comfort knowing that God is with me through it all. King David knew that truth as well. In the 23rd Psalm, he wrote about walking through terrible, dark, and deadly times, but he did not fear. Why? Because he knew that God was with him. We need to remember that truth as well.

The journey may be long, but we have a wonderful companion.

We also need to learn to be content in the midst of our journey. Now, please understand that contentment isn’t just simply saying, “I guess I’m fine with this for now.” Contentment is saying, “Lord, if I have nothing else in life other than you, I am ok with that. Because you have already given me everything I need, and you are what I want above all else.”

If you are reading this and you resonate with the frustrations of a longer-than-expected journey I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am praying that God will give us the strength to endure, joy in the midst of pain, and peace that can only be found in Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Spring Snow

I don’t care what the weather says…it is spring.

The calendar doesn’t lie, Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 was the official first day of Spring.

For many people across the country that is very welcomed news. However, those same people might be having a hard time believing that Spring has indeed sprung. I recently heard someone say in passing, “the weather didn’t get the memo.”

It’s hard to think about the things that define Spring; baseball, tulips, and grass that is actually green when there is still snow falling from the sky. Now, let’s be fair…this kinda happens every year, at least in the Midwest. So, with that in mind, we really shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, shame on us for expecting anything different.

Personally, I am in no hurry to usher in allergy season. However, I can still understand and sympathize with those who look longingly towards the warmer weather.

It can be an extremely frustrating thing when, even though you can see the start of the next season, you just can’t quite grasp it yet. And yes, I’m still talking about the weather, but I’m also kind of not.

You see, looking forward to the future and the sunny days that it brings can be a very healthy and helpful thing to do. The problem, however, is when that is the only thing we do.

When we only look forward to what is to come, we actually might miss some of the extraordinary things happening right in front of us. Like the strangely beautiful juxtaposition of fresh snowfall on newly budded flowers. Or a well-used snow shovel propped up against a lawn chair. Or even the fearless bit of green that pokes up from the frost covered dirt.

We cannot forget to be faithful to the present as we look forward to the future.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, this is something that I must continually remind myself of. Jesus said in the Bible that He would, one day, return to gather His church, home to Heaven with Him. Jesus told His disciples, “don’t be troubled… I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself.” (John 14:1-3)

In the book of Acts when Jesus ascended into heaven angels spoke to the disciples and said, “why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

And Jesus, Himself, told His disciples, and subsequently, all who follow Him after, that they are to be His witnesses. And in Matthew 28 He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus promises eternity in Heaven for all who believe in Him. The wonder and magnitude of that alone is incomprehensible. And yet, we are still here…on earth. Why? Because there is still work to be done. There are still people who need to know about the love and life that Jesus gives.

And so, we need to be faithful while we wait.

I would encourage you to have this same approach to the seasons in your life, those that are weather-related and those that are not. Faithfulness in the present, alongside expectations of the future, are two things that can actually coexist. But we must be diligent not to only focus on one over the other. If we only focus on the snow on the ground, then we can easily miss the greenery underneath. But if we only focus on the coming greenery then we forget our responsibilities in the present-like shoveling snow and putting the grill cover on.

So, once again, let us be faithful while we wait and trust in God’s timing. …Besides, it’ll probably snow again in May anyway.

The Wait of it All

“There is one thing that we can be sure of, even as we wait, God has not and will not forget about us.”

“We have done everything we can…all we can do now is wait.”

This is what I usually say to well-meaning people who, with a smile on their face, ask me about our adoption process. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the questions at all. In fact, the other night I asked my wife if she ever got frustrated or saddened by questions that reminded her that we don’t have a baby yet. She said no. We both can see the love and genuine concern that people have for us that leads them to ask these sorts of questions. We don’t mind thinking about it. We don’t mind talking about it.

But what we do mind is the waiting.

It’s hard to explain the feeling – a sort of excitement and expectation mixed with frustration, joy, hope, and a bit of disappointment.

But I think what bums us out the most about waiting is that we can’t control it. We can’t do anything to make it go faster. We just have to wait.

If you know my wife and I, then you know that we and doers. We do things. We get things done. Go-getters are often a step behind us because we have already gone and gotten.

And that’s why this period of waiting is so important for us. It’s why it is so good for us. God will/is/has been teaching us lessons about the waiting, and through the waiting, whether we like it or not.

I did a quick search and found the word “wait” in one form or another in the Bible upwards of 135 times. The most common words from Hebrew that get translated into the English “wait” would be: קוה and יחל. Now, I know those squiggly lines may not mean much to you so let me just tell you what they mean. קוה means- to await, hope; to wait for. יחל means-to wait; to cause to hope. You don’t need to know Biblical Hebrew to see the common theme of hope.

In the New Testament the three most commonly translated words for “wait” are: προσδοκάω, ἀπεκδέχομαι, προσδέχομαι. Their definitions are in the same order- wait for; look for; expect – await eagerly – and wait for; look forward to. Here also is a common theme of eager expectation. I would even say that the Greek words help to “sum up” and complement the Hebrew.

Waiting, more specifically, waiting on God, has to do with hope which is an eager expectation of what will most assuredly come.

So why does the Bible talk about waiting so much? Well, there are a few reasons, but I will just highlight two in this short time.

First, the Bible talks about waiting a lot because it is a natural part of life on earth and we ought to know how we should respond in a God-honoring way.

Psalm 37:7-9  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. (Emphases added.)

While we wait we still need to continue to live our lives, and the quality of how we live our lives needs to be worthy of the Gospel by which we have been saved.

Second, waiting teaches us about God and His genuine care, steadfast love, and kindness towards us.

Romans 8:15  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Psalm 33 20-22  Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

God loves us with a love that is far beyond our own comprehension. But there is one thing that we can be sure of, even as we wait, God has not and will not forget about us. He will not forsake his own adopted children. If you are like us, in the midst of a wait, be encouraged. He is our shield. He is our help.

He is greater than the wait, and He is using this time to teach us and to draw us closer to Him and to one another. It kinda hurts, but I’m really thankful for it.

Proverbs 3:5-6