When Waiting Is Good…

A Psalm of David. My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. Psalm 62:1 NASB

Waiting, waiting, waiting… Are you waiting for something? I am… In life, we are often waiting – for someone, for something, for somehow, somewhere, sometime… Everyday, on the road, I have to wait for the stoplight to turn green. I wait (impatiently) for the jeepneys or buses to take on passenger or let passenger get off. I wait for elevators that take too long because it stopped at almost every floor. I wait for my turn at medical procedures, I wait for the doctor’s secretary to call my name. I wait for friends to arrive when we are gathering to meet. I wait at the cashier counters.

I have to admit I am not a patient person when it comes to waiting. What do I do? I look at waze or google maps to choose the shortest / fastest route. I keep asking when my turn would come. At the banks, movie theaters or airport check-in and immigration counters, I go straight to the PWD/Senior counter to avoid waiting. But even so, I still have to wait.

What do we get from waiting? What good is waiting? How do we make waiting more pleasant and bearable?
The most obvious virtue we get from waiting is patience. Patience is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to be patient. Patience is not a one-time lesson. It takes so much time to learn patience. I do not learn patience in fast-food services where everything and everyone is so efficient. I learn patience in circumstances when it seems time never arrives, when the long dark tunnel is unending. I learn patience when the stoplight does not tell me how many seconds more before the light turns green.

What good is it for me to wait? (aside from learning patience?) Many times, I learn that the longer the wait, the sweeter the results of waiting. Just like children, delayed gratification is a lesson we need to learn. When I eat my favorite piece of food for last, the more delicious it tastes to me!

There was an experiment done with young children to motivate them to wait. They were given one marshmallow to eat – but were told that if they could wait for the teacher to come back, they would be given a second piece. We can learn something from watching these kids learn waiting. Some were tempted to lick the marshmallow. Some kept glancing at the door to see if the teacher is returning yet. Those who waited got something more, which made the wait worthwhile.

On the other hand, how often do I miss out on God’s best because I do not want to wait! I tried doing things quickly only to find out that the results did not come faster or better. I cannot count the times when I changed check-out counters at the supermarket only to see that the previous counter checked out faster than the one I moved to. Same with the immigration counters… It just seemed easier to be doing something instead of idly waiting for something to happen.

How do I make the wait more bearable? I think about the result – the possible result, the hopeful result of my waiting. In the meantime, while waiting, I occupy my time to have a joyful mindset. It is a determined, defiant nevertheless attitude. I count my blessings and maintain a heart of thanks and contentment. I make the waiting time worthwhile – doing something productive and not waste the time being grouchy, unhappy, impatient, stressed over things, people and events that I have no control over.

It does not help to be impatient while waiting. When I am impatient at doctor’s clinic, will it make my wait shorter? If I keep pressing the elevator button, will the elevator arrive faster? When I am impatient with the jeepney drivers on the road or the passengers getting off/on their ride, will it make them move faster? Perhaps if I honked my horn louder and longer? How about if I put myself in their shoes? What if I were to earn a living from the fare of each passenger that rides on my jeep? What if I were the tired worker taking a ride home after a long day at work?

Waiting.. waiting.. waiting… Patience, patience, patience… 1 marshmallow.. 2 marshmallows.. yummy marshmallows… Joyful waiting, grateful waiting, hopeful waiting… My soul waits in silence for God only.
Are you waiting too, my friend? Be not discouraged. Fret not. Draw comfort from God’s Word.

Isaiah 40:28-31 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
29 He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who [a]wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Footnotes:
a. Isaiah 40:31 Or hope in

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Input-Output

Principle of input/output… deposit/withdrawal…
Relationship is about give and take. While it is not so much about pound for pound, an eye for an eye, it is definitely about giving more than receiving.

As in a bank account, you can not withdraw more than what you deposited, so it is with any relationship. But let me apply particularly to that between husband and wife. It’s a cliche to say that no marriage is without its ups and downs. No perfect husband as there is no perfect wife. Each has his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

From the point of depositor/investor, when i give more: put in more time and effort to please hubby, I have more buffer to withdraw from for the shortcomings I have. I also have more leverage if I need some input from him as well. 🙂

From the point of the recipient, when I receive more, I need to put back the investment to generate more returns.

It is so true that love begets love as joy begets joy. Whatever I deposit, I withdraw. Garbage in, garbage out. It takes two to tango. Marriage is an investment in time and effort motivated by love, the capital that God gives to Adam and Eve and to all men and women who come together in holy matrimony to achieve the purpose for which God created them to do.

God took a rib from Adam to put into Eve. Into them both, God gave His breathe. Input and output… surely such a process demands a glorious display of the great big wonderful Creator!

To Love or Not to Love

John, Jesus’ disciple who called himself, the one that Jesus loves, taught us about
love – who to love, how to love, what not to love… The greatest commandment is to
love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength. The second (which is like
the first) is to love our neighbours as ourselves.

John wrote ‘so that’ we will not sin. But if we do sin, we have Jesus to intercede and
mediate for us – He is our way to the Father. v.1-2 When we fail, Jesus is our way to
forgiveness in the Father. He died for our sins.

1 John 2
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does
sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is
the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the
whole world.
Love and Hatred for Fellow Believers
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever
says, I know him but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the
darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there
is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or
sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where
they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

Truths on love:
1) Loving = knowing = obeying. Do u know Jesus? How do we know we know Jesus?
v.3 We know Jesus if we keep his commands. What if we do not do what he
commands? v.4 Then we do not know him or if we claim to know him, then we are
liars.

2) Obeying Jesus = love for God is made complete in us. When we obey, we prove
our love for God. v.5

3) How to prove we know and love and obey? v. 6 We must live as Jesus live. We
must love as Jesus loves. He loves the unlovable, the outcast, the sinners (He hates
sins but loves the sinners). He loves his enemies – those who put him on the cross.

He asked God to forgive them… So must we… Jesus was friend to tax collectors, prostitutes, aliens, the poor, the sick, the unclean and marginalised of society. So
must we…

4) Love is both an old and a new command. Old because this is the message we have
heard since the beginning. We know we are to love. Yet it is a new command because in this love, darkness is passing and light is shining. We are to love in a new way… How so?

5) When we hate, we are in darkness. When we love, we are in the light. We love in
spite of… even when people do us wrong. We love not because… not because people
are loveable and good to us. We love like Jesus loves.

On the other hand, John also wrote about what not to love. We are not to love the
world or anything in the world. What does this world mean? v. 16 tells us
‘everything’ in the world that has to do with ‘lust’ of the flesh, of the eyes, the pride
of life – anything that does not come from the Father – these things we are not to
love.

How often do I lust or desire after the materials of this world, the comfort, the
momentary satisfaction that wealth, popularity bring? v.17 tells us that these things
of the world, its desires/lust are all temporal. They last but a moment. What is
eternal? How to make it last forever? Obey the will of God. How? Love… for only 3
things last, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is LOVE.

On Not Loving the World
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love
for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the
world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God

Dancing in Life, with Life..

What do I do when the dance instructor suddenly stops but the music does not? Keep dancing, of course! But what to do if I do not know his routine? What’s next?

Follow the leader… copy from my classmate… it’s not cheating.. it’s imitating. Next question… which one to copy from? The best dancer in class of course! How do i know which one? Well, they are usually those who stay in front, or better, those just beside the instructor… the closer to the teacher the better…

Living life is sometimes like dancing… with God, with fellow Christians. The more I take time to dance with God, the more I know his moves; the more I read his Word, the more I know his likes, his thoughts and plans for me. Different instructors have different styles and favourite moves. The more time I spent dancing with him, the more I can anticipate what his next move would be. So with God, the more I experience God in the details of my life, the more practice I have at taking Him at His word, the more I see his moves, the better I can dance in step with Him.

When times of being lost, when the Master instructor seems to be silent or I cannot see what’s next, I can turn to my classmates to show me the way… my Christian brothers and sisters, who are mature and discerning.. those whom I know stay close to the teacher; those who dance regularly with the teacher, they help to keep me dancing.

Right or Not?

When bad things happen to good people… this is often observed, asked, complained and explained by Christians and non-Christians alike. What about when good things happen to bad people? Equally frustrating, right? or even more! Injustice… Not right… In this broken/fallen world, it is a sad reality that people do not get what they deserve – or so we thought! It is not what it should be: the ‘just’ reward or punishment.
 
In Ezekiel 33, there are important principles to learn about God’s righteousness and justice.
 
Ezekiel 33
17 “Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. 19 But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”
 
Ponder:
1) What is right? Whose standard do we follow when we declare something as right or not? Similarly, who is the righteous? Is the righteous always right?
2) Who is wicked? The Bible tells us all have sinned. (Rom. 3:23) Does a bad person ever turn around and become good?
3) Is the way of the Lord not right? Is he blind or deaf to the deeds of the righteous or the wicked? No, He is not. He said: I will judge each of you according to his ways.
 
Think further…
Which one am I?
 
1) Am I in despair – feeling hopelessly guilty of the mistakes I’ve committed? Is my path full of regrets for the wrong choices I’ve made? Let me cheer up. There’s good news. To admit that a wrong is better than denying it. It is worst when a sinful person does not even know he is one. Better news, God gives second chances. When the wicked turns from his wickedness and does good, he will live by them.
 
God told Ezekiel to speak to the house of Israel.
 
Ezekiel 33:10-11
“Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?”’ Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’
 
God longs for the bad people to turn from their wicked ways to Him. He does not delight in punishing the wicked.
 
2) Or do I say: “I’m good.”? Am I complacently comfortable in my “goodness?” I’m saved and in a safe place of sinlessness? Don’t get too comfy, my soul. Sin comes knocking just when least expected. Pride comes before a fall. Let me beware of falling into sin… sin of pride and self-righteousness. Let me resist evil and persist in righteousness till the end.
 
Ezekiel 33:13
When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die.
 
The heart of the matter is that in God’s eyes, what matters is how we end the race. In the journey called life, we run, we stumble, we fall, but we have the opportunity to get up and continue running. God is compassionate, slow to anger and ready to forgive – waiting for all sinners to turn to Him. No matter how bad a person is, there is hope.
 
On the other hand, beware of being self-righteous… a righteousness that leads to pride. Beware and be warned: there is punishment for the righteous who turns from righteousness to sin.
 
God will judge how the race is completed. Persevere in righteousness, keep it up and finish well.
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The Point of No Tear

Question: How would you feel if you’re told the delight of your eyes (the apple of your eye) would be taken from you? What would you do if you’re also told not to cry? What is it like to have someone you love dearly die and no tear follows?

Let me attest – it was beyond sadness! In the days after mama passed away, I was in a deep dark place of no tear. It was even hard for me to cry. I was stricken with anxiety and fear for what it meant for my 92 year old father who was also blind. Everyday I visited him I had to brave the sight of his frail countenance and counter his deep grief with small talks of cheer and prayers of comfort. I had no need to hide my tears – but it was not because he could not see; rather it was because tears got stuck somewhere in the midst of the deep dark pit of grief and could not see the light of day in the long dark tunnel of fear.

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In the morning, God told Ezekiel that his wife would die. That same day, she died. Between the start and end of the day and everyday after, how was it like for him?

but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. 17 Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet, and do not cover your mustache and do not eat the bread of men.” (Ezekiel 24:16-17)

What was the point? What for? Ezekiel was called to be a sign to Israel.

“The word of the Lord came to me saying, 21 ‘Speak to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am about to profane My sanctuary, the pride of your power, the desire of your eyes and the delight of your soul; and your sons and your daughters whom you have left behind will fall by the sword. 22 You will do as I have done; you will not cover your mustache and you will not eat the bread of men. 23 Your turbans will be on your heads and your shoes on your feet. You will not mourn and you will not weep, but you will rot away in your iniquities and you will groan to one another.

24 Thus Ezekiel will be a sign to you; according to all that he has done you will do; when it comes, then you will know that I am the Lord God.’”

Just as Ezekiel’s wife was taken from him, the temple – whom the house of Israel valued will be destroyed and taken from them.

In the same way that Ezekiel was told not to grieve, they too would not mourn – but would rot away in their sins.

THEN (So that) they will know the Lord God.

God’s purpose of his children is always for them to know Him. There are many things we experience which we cannot know or understand – the whys and the hows. God uses all of these experiences to draw us to him – for us to trust and obey him even in our grief.

When life is hard and troubles come, it is often the times of experiencing God in His fullness – amazing grace and boundless mercies. From the beginning to the end and all through the journey, God Emmanuel – He with me and I with Him. Even when groaning quietly…

Groan quietly Ezekiel 24:17

“Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”

Reality: Death of a loved one is painful.

Reality: Death is part of life.

Reality: Death is part of God’s plan as life is.

Reality: God knows of the pain of loss. He knew Ezekiel’s groanings.

Reality: In death, God teaches people who He is. Ezekiel was used as an example to illustrate a lesson to the Israelites. They were not to mourn when the desire and love of their life was taken away from them.

Application: It is alright to be sad. God knows our deepest pain. I can groan quietly and He hears.

The Secret to be Patient

What is patience all about? Is it about waiting? Is it about keeping cool – not getting angry or taking offence? To what extent can one be patient? How does one remain patient? Under what circumstances do we need patience?

James encouraged the early Christians to be patient in the context of suffering. He wrote a letter to the twelve tribes dispersed abroad (1:1 NASB). The recipients of his letter were Christians scattered all over – away from their home because of persecutions for their faith. James told them (1:2-4)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various [c]trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces [d]endurance. 4 And let [e]endurance have its perfect [f]result, so that you may be [g]perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

In the footnotes of NASB, trials = temptations, endurance = steadfastness, result = work, perfect = mature

His opening words taught them to be joyful. His closing words encouraged them to be patient. Joyful in trials, patient until the Lord returns.

James 5
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.

Until… until WHEN are we to be patient? Until Jesus comes again, we, mortal beings, who are living in this sinful world, in our morally and physically deficient body will continue to face trials of many kinds.

HOW then are we to be patient?

The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

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Hopeful waiting for the Lord’s Return: (vv.7-8)
We can be patient when we wait and expect something positive to come from waiting. When the farmer plants, he expects to reap. He is patient because he knows there is something good coming out of his labor. How long does he wait? UNTIL the early and late rains come. Early rains start the process of growing his seeds. Late rains begin the time of reaping his produce. From early rains to late rains – UNTIL the soil gets the early and late rains – this is a journey. Being patient is a journey of waiting – there is a beginning and an end. A seed planted and a produce harvested.

We are to be patient – we gather strength in our waiting because we know and hope for the near coming of the Lord. Just as the farmer is hopeful for a harvest, we are hopeful for the return of our Lord to end our sufferings on earth. We are waiting expectantly for our reward from passing the test and enduring to the end.

9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. 
10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 
11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

Peaceful enduring by the Lord’s Character (vv. 9-11)
We can be patient when we are at peace in our knowledge of who our God is.

God’s Justice (v.9)
God is the true Judge. We are patient when we withhold our tongue. We stop whining and complaining about and against each other. We learn to wait on the Lord to judge. He administers true justice. His justice is sure. Behold, He is standing right at the door. Justice is nearer than we think. It is sure to come.

God’s Name (v.10)
How are we to endure? Endure like the prophets of old. How did they endure? They spoke in the name of the Lord. They endured in their calling. They spoke the words of the Lord in the name of the Lord even when people did not listen, did not believe, even when people persecuted them.

God’s Compassion (v.11)
Endure like Job. How can we endure like Job? Beyond the outcome of the Lord’s blessings upon Job at the end of his sufferings, beyond the positive rewards of our endurance, we can endure because we believe that the Lord is kind and merciful.

Patience is hopeful waiting. To be patient is to actively endure until the Lord returns. To wait patiently in hope is to expect that the Lord rewards those who are steadfast. The Lord’s return is sure. The Lord’s character is reassuring – He is just, He is true, He is kind.

How are you waiting, my friend? Be patient and wait for the Lord.

Yet those who wait (hope in) for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31 NASB)