Waiting

I just wasn’t made for waiting. That artificially efficient voice on the doctor’s automated voice system, even after I’ve pressed 1, 2 or 2: “your call is very important to us and it will be answered…” And you wait…and wait.

I read the Bible…and the psalmist says “Wait…on the LORD” Fifteen times. Even twice in the very same verse. “Wait for the LORD: be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Psa.27:17) Unlike the doctor’s office, that waiting isn’t because God’s busy and I have to wait my turn. But it’s still waiting. And words like “be strong and take heart” make me think it could be a long wait.

I’ve prayed about several major things. Now I’m waiting. And I’ve used the time to suggest several potential answers to my prayer. Honestly, I’m anxiously frustrated. But I’m beginning…just beginning…to see that the LORD is looking for a totally different kind of waiting. The word the psalmist used for “wait” comes from a word that means to bind together. That’s the reason for the waiting. It’s for  surrender. Not the surrender of defeat. But one of re-shaping. And wonder. And FULLfillment. For re-shaping and binding my plans and designs to his.

Prayer – O LORD, forgive my impatience, and teach me to surrender to your re-shaping. Amen

Jesus and the Caregivers

Two women – two very different women – loved and cared for Jesus – in two very  different ways. You know them: Martha – busy, preparing food for Jesus, and Mary- unbusy, at least in Martha’s mind, choosing to sit at Jesus’ fit and listen when there was work to do in the kitchen. Everybody knows that story.

Martha’s the “take-charge” person. It’s her home, and she’s determined to make Jesus feel “quite at home” (Luke 10:38 THE MESSAGE) For her, caring and loving meant doing, and everyone ought to share in the work. Sitting was for later. There was work to be done…“NOW!” You know that feeling…and you can understand Martha’s frustration.

Mary’s caring took a different direction. She had questions for Jesus. Things she needed to learn. Events she wanted to re-live. Who knew how long he would be with them? For her, kitchen duties could wait. Listening and learning came first.

But what does that say to caregivers?

To the “Martha” in all of us – frustration and stress destroy. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. Getting away – it’s now called respite – restores and deepens your ability to care for others.

And to the Marys – those with a patient, listening heart: Celebrate the memories of the one you serve. Share them with others. Treat them as a precious gift. Give dignity to declining years.

Prayer – Teach me, O LORD, the value of rest and renewal, and give me, I pray, an affirming, listening heart. Amen

The Source of Help

The psalmist said: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills…” (Psalm 121:1)  At first glance that sounds like good advice for a desert traveler.  Hills could be a source of surprise and danger, a hiding place for enemies.  Or they could be a refuge, a place of protection in times of danger.

But the writer wasn’t simply posting an ancient travel warning.  Whatever the “hills” of our lives may bring us, what challenge we are called upon to face, expected or unexpected, he asks “where does…help come from?”

And his answer echoes loud and strong in the dark “caverns” of our questions and uncertainties: “My help comes from the LORD”.  Then…uncertain souls ask of his experience. “{He is} the Maker of heaven and earth.”  “Forgive me, but can you tell me, is he dependable?”  All eternity witnesses to the fact that he is.  “He will not let your foot slip – he that watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he…will neither slumber nor sleep”. (Psalm 121:2-4)

Attentive, compassionate caregiving is not something of our own invention.  It flows from the forever-trustworthy, forever-caring heart of our LORD to caregiver and care recipient.

Prayer – LORD, help me today to be a channel of your ever-faithful help,  Amen