Friday, October 29, 2010

Waiting for God, and Hoping He Doesn’t Show

Lately, I have been talking a lot about taking risks. What it looks like and how I hate it, but it is at times like this I remember a point in my life where God showed up in the middle of freefall.

I was working selling tools and lawn equipment at a major department store. I had been approached about taking some management training, and moving up the food chain. It would have been a nice, safe move, one that would have guaranteed that I could pay my bills, feed my children, and all that trivial stuff. But I kept looking around at others who had chosen that path, listening to their conversations, and all they could talk about was how soon they could retire.

All the while, somewhere in the back of my head was this nagging sensation that I would never be happy unless I was doing something that had to do with my faith. I didn’t know what that would look like, what I could do, but that little voice turned into a scream that could not be ignored – not without killing off a part of who I am.

I woke up one morning and I said enough, and I began making phone calls. The whole time I am grumbling about how stupid it was for me to go back to school. I was going to have to take out loans, drive at least an hour to get to class, and hope to God that I could balance getting an education and taking care of my kids. I kept listing off all the reasons I should not even try. I didn’t drive in Tulsa. I didn’t type. I didn’t even own a computer, nor did I have the funds to purchase one. This was the height of insanity and I knew it all too well.

So I made a deal with God. If he would get me a computer I would go to school. I counted off the days until the classes began, and there seemed to be no sign that he was doing anything to get me what I needed to do what I thought he called me to do.

The first day of class began, and I refused to buy my books because I still didn’t have a computer. But I didn’t see the harm of showing up for class. I reasoned that surely I didn’t need a computer for the first day, but the thing was once I was there, sitting in those seats, hearing what I could learn over the next few months I wanted to be there. I needed to be there. So I went to the bookstore, where I ran into one of the men in one of my classes.

I only intended to say hi, but I heard myself saying, “If you know any place where I could pick up a computer cheap, or even better free, let me know.”

Without missing a beat, he said, “Come by my house Monday morning and pick it up. My wife and I have one we want to give to someone who can use it. We just had the hard drive cleaned and updates installed.”

That computer got me through four years of school without a single glitch. You would think that I would have been thrilled over the fact that God provided for me so abundantly, but no. I even grumbled about that because I could see my excuses for a safe existence slipping over the horizon.

Now, maybe I am projecting just a bit too much, but I think a lot of us are like that. We ask God to show up and then complain when he does. I mean, after all if he is silent than we can justify our cowardice. We can hide behind the excuses of not having what we need to do what we should.

The other lesson from all of this is, sometimes we have to wait until we really need it before God gives us what we need. And that means we have to start down that path even before we are fully outfitted. I never would have gotten that computer if I hadn’t shown up for class. I would have been sitting at home, going to work peddling wrenches, feeling sorta smug as I lamented the fact God hadn’t provided for my needs.

In my desk is a piece of paper. It says, “It is a shame to ask God for help and not be prepared to receive it.” It is my reminder that I have an obligation, not just to ask, but live like I expect God to show up.

And again, maybe it is just me, but isn’t it time that we started living a life that shows we believe that God is out there expectantly waiting for us to make a move towards him? Towards his provision? Isn’t it time that we stopped putting our great ideas of how to serve him on hold, and actually started pursuing his will for us? Sure it’s scary, and yeah, I hate that in between feeling, but faith without works is dead. And I don’t think that James was referring just to the safe acts of going to church and reading our Bible, because after all, how much faith does that really take?

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