Sweet Obedience

Between the rows of asterisks you will read a post that I wrote last Passover. (Points if you know when that was. 🙂 ) Even though I didn’t publish it at the time, I think it is still of value today. For one thing, I was reminded of one of the many lessons God has taught me in this past year; in other ways it is a piece of the bigger picture that now forms my life. The words that follow this post, written so many months ago, will include what I have learned since.

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Today is Passover. We celebrate the Passover to remember what God has done for us, in sparing the Israelite’s from the plague of death. So let’s think about that. They obeyed God because to do otherwise would result in death. But why else did they obey? What happened to those who did obey?

God gave very specific instructions on how to sacrifice the lamb, cover the doorposts, eat the meal…so many details and each one has a very deep significance even today. I would love to go over those, but I want to look at just one thing right now.

Some of those Israelite’s grumbled – at first they celebrated, but discontentment soon followed. They were tearing their entire lives apart, leaving the only country they knew, and risking death just because God told them to. How many of them obeyed with a loving heart?

Well, I can’t say. But let’s look at a much tinier event. It has to do with this week and last week. I promise, it isn’t as significant as the Passover. But holy crikey, when God speaks, HE SPEAKS!

So two weeks ago, one of my best friends got a job at the habitat for humanity store right across from the toy store that I work at. I thought that was pretty cool, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever see him at work. His shift ends thirty minutes before mine, so I figured I might see him and wave as he walked home.

Little did I realize how much I cared for this to happen. One of the days I worked was supposed to coincide with my friend’s work schedule. So when it came close to closing time over there, I waited at the window. I didn’t even realize it at first. I tend to wander the store, looking for stuff to clean or staring out the window daydreaming. But then I realized that time was passing really……really….really slowly. It dawned on me that I was actually hoping to see my friend. A bit more than hoping. Time totally stopped, just because I couldn’t see him. Yea, sounds creepy, I know. That’s because it is creepy.

Anyway, about ten minutes after he should have walked through the door, I realized what I was doing. I was so focused on what I wanted-to see my friend-that I wasn’t doing or even thinking anything else. This might be a part of obsessive compulsive disorder, but that doesn’t mean I need to let it run my brain. Which I totally did. Absolutely nothing else was on my mind. I allowed my desires and my thoughts to take control of me. Now, nothing came of it. When I glanced at the clock for the third or fourth time I realized what I had done and, rather ashamed, made my way back to my desk.

Never again, Lord. I muttered. Maybe not for this, but sadly I do not trust myself to obey that. But to think that I was overcome by empty thoughts when I should have been focusing on what God desired for me to do made me feel shame.

Now guess what happened today. The whole AWANA section was on service. Yay. It was really hard. I didn’t like it…..but I tried to live it. I just started praying and asked God what he wanted me to do. The first thing that happened was a text from my coworker, confirming that I was working until the end of the shift. Ok, I can do that. Now what? Well then my Mom called and started giving me directions to my little sister’s dance lessons. The door opens and I glance over to greet my next customer. In walks this tall, blonde, blue-eyed man in a blue habitat for humanity shirt. Instead of freaking out, I patiently waited for Mom to finish talking to me. He calmly waiting until I had finished.

“Anything I can do to help you sir?” I asked. He smiled. “Yes Ma’am. I’m not working tomorrow, so if you wanted we could watch that movie tomorrow afternoon instead of Saturday morning. You aren’t working since it’s good Friday, and- ”

“Actually, it turns out that I am working….” and so our conversation continued. Basically he offered to spend time with my brother and I. But I can’t, because I will be working all day. Even last week I would have sighed and groaned and been totally bummed. But that’s the coolest part! I was so eager to do what God said, that 1. I didn’t even realize that I missed what I wanted, only to have something better walk through the door. 2. When a possible day of pleasure was offered, and I had to turn it down to work as the Lord called me, I wasn’t even upset. 3. I am so full of excitement to do what God said!

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Nearly a year later, I wish that I could say I never had to relearn this lesson. If anything, I believe God saved this little post as a reminder to me of what He has done. Like the Israelites I am in a time of rejoicing. When I began this post, I cared dearly for a friend. That same man is now my fiancé.

Yet like the Israelites, I ran right back into grumbling. Life is so busy…so full of stress, excitement & work. Over the last two weeks I chose to focus on the stress. It boiled down to two things; time and sacrifice.

Last year I was so excited to do what God said that I could hardly contain myself, thus pounding out an eager and well-meant blog post. This year I dread making sacrifice of my time & plans to God. This came as a shock to me, but it was a gradual change as my future (namely, the people within that future) became more important to me.

Of course I can’t keep my own future. How dare I trust my own plans over God’s! No, better for Him to have it all, than for me to wrest it from His hands only to lose it. To say to Jesus, “more love to thee!” is more valuable than the perfect life in this world. For life without true love is not living.

Love is not love without sacrifice. May I delight in giving unto God once more.

Shalom.

 

 

Time

“Keeping time, time, time,

in a sort of runic rhyme,

to the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

from the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells,

from the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Always when I am late. Pressed for time and in a rush, the voice of Poe echoes in my mind like an alarm. I cannot explain why his poem repeats so often and so loudly on the days when I am losing time, but it has played non-stop in my thoughts in the last few days. Months, if I am honest.

As you know I have not had the time to blog. My life has taken a drastic turn since I graduated this last summer. No longer do I split my time between school and a quiet little toy store. My peers are gone to college, some close at home, others gone to universities & colleges elsewhere. I stayed here. A bus full of squirmy, eager, story hungry children was in need of an extra aid. It seemed perfect for a story-teller in need of work. Sitting still for two hours straight is just as difficult for me as it is for the kids, so we work together to make light of it with our tales. Unfortunately working with children on the bus exposes one to every germ available to the town, and I have endured more sickness over the course of two months than previously experienced in as many years. Last month my car suffered one ailment after another and left me stranded for several days. (In the middle of a house-sitting job, too. Praise God for all the people who helped me get to work & church!)  Within the last week I have acquired a second part time job; weekends involve projects given to me by patchwork press – a publishing company for which I am an intern.

Yet really, these are not what have turned my life so totally upside down. On November 5, 2016 I got engaged. The last two months have been unbelievable, between the ecstasy of knowing that I will spend my life with the man I love most, and the little daily trials and tasks that come from adjusting to that fact.

Hear the mellow wedding bells, golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

Through the balmy air of night how they ring out their delight!

From the molten golden-notes, and all in tune, what a liquid ditty floats

to the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats on the moon!

Oh, from out the sounding cells, what a gush of euphony voluminously wells! How it swells!

How it dwells on the future! How it tells of the rapture that impels

to the swinging and the ringing of the bells, bells, bells,

of the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells,

– to the rhyming and the chiming of the bells! – E.A.P.

Happy am I for the day to come, but in the now I fight for time. Over this last week I’ve forced my schedule to accommodate time to study God’s word and pray. These pursuits have left me feeling dry and unsatisfied. I’ve done all that I could to honor God in this matter and I have set aside other tasks in order to know Him better, so why does He remain silent?

I asked Him just that, when He drew my attention to one fact that I had ignored. Always something – something that compels me to make “my” time and ignore the gentle prodding of the Maker of time.

“Lord, I have no time! But why?”  I asked. His reply was “What have you done with the time that I gave you?”

Time is so very short. Surely a small piece must belong to me? A few minutes here to look at wedding dresses, an episode of a t.v. show with my family there, a chapter or two of a fiction book in between bus rides…

Now I’ve squandered the half of it..soon, the whole. My time is gone. Above my heart a whispered tick-tock sounds from a pocket-watch hung round my neck. ‘Tis followed by the mutterings of a poem.

What I cannot manage in pennies I shall not be given in pounds. Like the servant who hid his money I hid my time for God. A precious, liquid gold to be treasured in ticks and breathes when it was meant to be used with all of my being. God gave me this little snatch of time, this day is His, this age bears His name, and He is beyond time.

My time is not borrowed or bought. It was given to me in measured supply- the vessel which binds duties, gifts, and lives into a single frame. Dare I call it mine, as if I were god of my own hours? By God’s grace I will learn to use a little that I may be given much. Let me be an investor of time, never a spender of time.