Friday, January 25, 2013

...Nothing to Fear... pt. 6

      My silent cry did not fall unheard by the One who knows the depths of human need. The Same has greater concern that our need of Him be supplied, than that we be shielded from difficulty. He is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but from His calm eternity He orders that difficulty will not destroy His children. God does not grapple with giants. He knows no defeat. I knew this was ground I needed to go over, and intellectually, I knew that God, for me, in this instant, was trustworthy. But intellect is not enough. God wants us to experience.

      Turning I noticed, as if simply appearing from thin air, a man sitting inside a glass cubicle. I approached and asked if I could get a ticket to Colfax. The man stared at me blankly. “Cofax? Where’s dat? I’ve neve herd’of it.” I had this sinking feeling in my stomach. “Uh, it’s beyond Sacramento… You are supposed to be able to take the train to Sacramento, and then a bus—” “Oh, ye’ need Amtrak.” I nodded my head vigorously. “That’s ‘cross the bridge t’ward ‘a stadium.”  “How do I get there?” I asked, wondering if I could beat the steady progression of time.

      Following the man’s directions, I eventually came to the few benches and awnings that comprised the station. Intense minutes of waiting later and Amtrak paused for those of us desiring passage. 

“When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straightened”, the Lord reminded me. Trust Me… Just trust Me. You have nothing to fear with Me by your side. Nothing. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

...Nothing to Fear... pt. 5

      Multiple flights. Amtrak to Sacramento. Bus to Colfax. Then, someone would pick me up and take me the rest of the way. 

      The connection between my last flight and the train’s scheduled departure was tight. Not only that, but my googling had not given me total clarity for the means of getting to the station. I was pretty sure I could not walk there with my allotment of time. Oh, and I needed to have enough money to pay the train fare, so I couldn’t overspend on transportation to the train. What’s more, there was a rail system of transit that would not get me where I needed to go should I mistakenly alight upon the wrong train… 

      Leaving the airport’s sterile area, I saw no signs for amtrak. Nor did I see a train. The lady at the obligatory info desk told me a bus outside would take persons such as myself the several miles down the road to the station. Upon locating the bus, I learned that this was no complimentary service. Although not expensive, I had very little more than the train fare in my bank account. If this was not the right bus, and I paid for fare I didn’t need, I might not have enough to get where I needed to go. 

      The bus driver grunted some not-quite enlightening response to my inquiry as to the buses’ destination. Uneasily, I deposited myself into a seat. Time was moving on, but the bus was not. Lazily, it sat, with no apparent concern for the passage of time. 

      Finally there, I stumbled out of the bus. I was dazed and could hardly see straight. My limited experience behind locked car doors of inner city Chicago did not come close to this. Trash decorated the cement as if it were the proper place to dispose of such things. The people looked so hardened, as if city life had shown them more of violence than opportunity. 

      I had roughly 15 minutes. And the clock was ticking. 

      It was obvious you could not get to the train without some kind of pass, while I had been told you get the ticket  once on the train. I examined the computer screens showing the options of where a person could go. Colfax was not an option. What now? This had to be the station, hadn’t it?

     Despite the simplicity of a situation to any other person, God has a way of bringing us face to face with something that we cannot handle. Whether the battle finds us on the couch in our living room, or hundreds of miles out of our comfort zone, we will, sooner or later meet a giant. With no armor. No shield bearer. No human aid. Nothing. 

…But God.

      I gazed around me at the quickly dispersing group of people who had just disembarked off the same bus as myself. Cold, unfriendly, or just as unfamiliar as myself, I saw no human to which I could turn. There was no one upon whom I could call for help but the Lord. In my extremity, the words of Proverbs 4:12 came forcibly to my mind. “When thou goest thy steps shall not be straightened”… Lord help me. The waves of fear beat about the sapling of faith with the fury of one who is set upon our destruction. What was I to do?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

...Nothing to Fear... pt.4

      Weimar? California no less? Beyond that, me? Why me? My thoughts swirled and whirled back and forth. The more I thought and prayed, the more sense it made. Still, to my limited mind, this was wacky.

      If the Creator of the universe asked us to do only that which we understood, how would faith grow? Noah was asked to build an ark when rain had never fallen. Abraham was asked to move without the knowledge of where he was going. Then he was asked to sacrifice the most treasured of blessings heaven had bestowed. In eternity we can ask them if they understood. But I don’t think we have to. Humanity simply does not comprehend Infinity. 

      My devotions were taking turns that constantly pointed me toward Weimar. I was not attempting to turn the course of my study, it “just happened.” My parents, and those few who I told about the opening, were decidedly favorable. I didn’t expect that. 

      The way I looked at it, God had given confirmation through His word, through providential leadings, through counselors, through His still small voice… Comfort zone or no, I knew I had to go.

      The thought of traveling took on a different dimension when I considered that it would be alone. Comfort zone? Not here. This was new territory. Real new.

      It was not without butterflies that I stepped out of our truck, alone. It seemed incomprehensible that I had set about to do what I aimed to do. Alone to go where I had never been, to meet people I had never met, to do oodles of things I had never done in my life. But my merciful Savior had placed a particular promise in my path. “When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straightened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.” Proverbs 4:12. That verse was like a word straight to my soul. When I go, not if- I’m going, when I go, my steps shall not be hindered. My steps shall not be straightened, my steps shall not be straightened… the words came to me over and over again when timidity and my natural personality threatened to plunge me under waves of fear. When thou goest, thy steps shall. not. be. straightened.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

...Nothing to Fear... pt. 3

      So I was waiting, and finally, I heard. What I heard was the unmistakable clink of a shut door, totally, thoroughly, shut. 

      But God is merciful. The next few days were full of precious blessings, heart-searching, prayer,  and waiting. This waiting was a bit different though. I knew I was waiting, not for the last textbook chapter, not for the completion of paperwork, nor for the go-ahead of the nursing home. God was calling me to wait. for. Him. He was calling me to a willingness to go or stay, to do or not to do, as He saw fit. He was calling me to examine my heart and redefine the purpose for which I live.

      The One who commissioned His followers to go into all the world, does not lack a place in His field for any one. He knows the spot that is best suited for the training and discipline of those who give themselves to His service. God calls us to the work that lies nearest, to minister to those who are dearest, but His call is sometimes to leave the familiar, to step out of our comfort zone.

      Then I heard. 

      Not an audible voice, nor a silent impression. This time it was the vibrating of my phone. I didn’t get the call… in more ways than one. Actually, I laughed. Even as I did so, the thought flashed across my consciousness that this was really interesting timing.

      My schoolmate called again (before I had returned her first call), and then again. I knew I ought to pray about her proposition. Talking to her only convinced me further that I needed to pray.

            To be continued...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

...Nothing to Fear... pt.2

      Even though I thoroughly enjoyed school, ah… the anticipation of “the end.” The end of school and all it entailed, equaled, in my mind, the beginning of work. But God is merciful. My textbooks had required several more months to complete than I had hoped for. Then there was the externship and testing and paperwork (which someone suggested was moving as fast as “molasses in the wintertime”)… and finally the end for which I had been waiting was upon me.

      But God is merciful. In His infinite wisdom, God ordained more delay. There is a difference between impatience at delay and submission to delay. God wants us to learn to Wait. On. Him. A puppy may be restrained by it’s master’s hands, but unwilling to wait for a command from his lips. It's great to see a dog wait. How much better a person?

      One by one, the opportunities and options on my list withered. My small, but very faithful clientele evaporated as soon as I started to charge for my work. Chair massage in a local business produced virtually nothing. The list of what didn’t come to fruition could continue, but the point is simply that I was not seeing God direct me to what I honestly believed I was supposed to do.

      January, February, March, April… There was one door left to my finite way of thinking. One for which I had higher hopes, and even expectation than any other. My externship had been in a local nursing home, and both the employees and I hoped that I could continue working there. I had been waiting for a response with the requirements of their mother institution for working in that facility, and then… finally...

      “Hope deferred (or delayed) makes the heart sick...” so says the wise man. Then why is waiting such a positive thing? Good question, but keep reading. “…when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Solomon also wrote, “The fruit of righteousness is a tree of life…” Proverbs 13:12, 11:30. Delay may be unnatural to us. It may even feel wrong. It may be a chastening experience, but it is “for our profit.” For the joyous purpose that “we might be partakers of His holiness.” “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews 12:10,11. Perhaps that is why waiting is not a one time experience for the christian. A tree takes years to grow and develop. Hmmm… not a moment, or a day… but a lifetime.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

...Nothing to Fear... pt. 1

      Waiting. It’s part of life. A seed planted in the morning will not bear fruit in time for dinner. Yeast does not instantly turn a bowl of dough into puffy-topped loaves. Nor does the oven immediately brown the hopeful products placed inside. We have to wait. 

      Abraham had to wait. Sarah had to wait. Noah, David, and the disciples had to wait. Have we any less need of that experience than they? Do we think somehow that the ideal world would be devoid of need for patience? 

      Lamentations 3:25 says, “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” It is good… What does that mean? Waiting is a good thing? “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14. The fulfillment of the promise is conditional upon waiting. Would the Lord make a beautiful promise dependent upon something that was bad for us to have to do? 

      In merciful love our Heavenly Father leads us down a path that includes waiting. Not merely that we can learn the benefits of patience in earthly life, but that we will learn to wait on Him. 

      So it was a year ago.