Easy Buttons and The Waiting Place: Trusting God and the Need for Revival

Hearing “That was easy!” from an “Easy Button” from Staples would come in handy with a lot of our current situations. The stock market has taken a tumble, politics has rattled everyone, North Korea’s nuclear missile ambitions are frightening, the Artic is clogged with plastic waste, and the list goes on. Then there’s the usual personal stuff: illnesses, financial limitations, emotional struggles, work-related stress, and add graduation to the list. Whether it’s graduation from kindergarten, high school, college, or grad school, we wonder what’s next. What if my friends move or switch schools, what if I can’t find a job? How will I pay off these student loans? What’s the next step in my relationships? None of these questions are easy.

Then there’s the cultural dilemma of a rudderless society. We need a revival that is Spirit-led that begins with repentance. Our flippant devil-may-care “YOLO” – You Only Live Once attitude smacks us in the face every day when YODO is more accurate, You Only Die Once. Kids, youth, and adults of all ages make goals out of things that are so self-centered and oftentimes unspeakable. Our standards of morality have fallen to new lows. We need Jesus more than ever.

My favorite gift to graduating high school seniors for years has been Oh, the places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss. I’ll give them out again this year, but my optimism has been tempered by “fake” or real news. The bias in the news media makes me long for the days of Huntley and Brinkley or Walter Cronkite. I remember clearly the awful daily reports of the number of Vietnam dead. That was terrible, but today’s cacophony of talking heads makes it impossible to compartmentalize our lives to block out the noise. Sports used to be a great escape, but doping scandals and head injury debates make me feel like we’re watching fights to the death by gladiators in ancient Rome.

We can get fooled by placebos that only mask our main malady. I can push my “That was Easy!” button and it doesn’t change a thing. Heck, in my rush to get on and off elevators, I can push the “close door” button countless times to no avail. What most people don’t know is that those buttons don’t even work. They are set with specific intervals so that no one gets caught in the doors. The placebo effect makes us think we’re going somewhere, but it’s really the same-old, same-old. I can go out and buy an Ultra High Definition 4K Television and fool myself into thinking how sharp and crisp the picture is when all the while it doesn’t matter. My cable provider can’t handle 4K, so there you go. It’s a sham.

So, Dr. Seuss, the places we’ll go don’t look that great right now. What are we to do? If you know anything about Seuss’ book then you know that he identified what he called the “most useless place.” It is “The Waiting Place.” For maybe the first time I think the author is wrong. In these tumultuous times, a waiting place might just be the best place to be. Instead of purchasing or chasing placebos for what ails us, why don’t we wait? There’s a Bible verse in Isaiah 40:28-31 that says that “those who WAIT upon the Lord will renew their strength…” Amen to that!

Our society is into pushing the instant gratification button, and it doesn’t work with elevators or much of anything else! We think we can control all of life’s variables, and we overlook the best source of real peace and joy: Jesus. It doesn’t get much plainer than Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Our frantic frenetic world needs to wait on the Lord, pause, quit rushing here and there, and cast our cares on the Lord.

I Peter 5:6-11 says the same thing another way, and speaks volumes of good advice to me: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Another Bible passage that helps me wait and listen for God comes from I Kings 19. The prophet Elijah was about to give up and was in hiding and waiting in a cave while his enemies pursued him. In the midst of his waiting, God spoke to him: “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then the Lord spoke, but not through the powerful wind, nor the subsequent earthquake, nor the fire that came next. After the fire came the Lord’s “gentle whisper,” sometimes translated as “a still small voice.” Let us be like Elijah and, though our foes be many, let’s listen for God’s whispers each day. He will speak, not in huge ways usually, but in gentle whispers.

We need to cock our ears toward God and be attentive. Our world and especially American culture needs to get right with God. We need to repent of our own foolish efforts to fix our problems. We need to shut our ears to the shouts of doomsayers, and we need to listen to God. We need to wait on the Lord, listen to his direction and follow his will. Just maybe, if we wait long enough, we’ll hear God’s still small voice and there will be grand places that we will go! Listen!

So hear this blessing from Jesus in Matthew 6:25ff: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, drink or wear…Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…Seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Let us turn to the Lord and mean it more than we ever have before. It’s time!

Oh The Places

Holy Saturday Redux


Waiting, waiting, waiting – We’re waiting to hear from Narcie’s doctor about the pathology report. We’re staying busy in this limbo land. Narcie is staying at Josh and Karen’s parsonage a few miles from her house. Mike comes over during the day and will stay tonight while his Mom a.k.a. “GiGi” takes care of the kiddo’s. She has been great with them! Narcie couldn’t stand being away from them any longer today so Mike brought Evy over this morning and Evy slept on Narcie’s chest for an hour, angelic. Tonight Narcie couldn’t do without her Enoch-fix so she went over to the house, and it was reunion-time. Sweet. Enoch and Evy were so glad to see their Mommy. She would be staying there except for the doctor’s concern about her condition and stamina, plus the stitches that stretch all the way across her head like a braid. Narcie got Enoch & Evy to bed and we’ve made it back over to Josh & Karen’s. It’s a weird feeling to me, doing the hokey-pokey with one foot here and another foot there. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for Narcie and Mike.

At least they gave me something to do today. Narcie’s van had two recalls on it, plus it needed a few other maintenance issues done. So what was supposed to be a 2 hour-max visit to the car dealership ended up lasting all day – all of which had me feeling a little out of the loop on the home front. I know I bothered them all, calling to see if they heard anything from the doctor. Waiting sucks! I’m trying to prayer-walk like I do in Columbia and do what Cindy always says, “Turn your worries into prayers.” I did that in the parking lot at the car dealership and that was fine except for the salespersons.

This in-between time is such a funky place. You’re not sure if you should plan the next day or the next week because you don’t know what it may hold in store, but, hey, c’est la vie, n’est pas? (That’s life, isn’t it?), but in this case I’m starting to feel more like saying, c’est la guerre, n’est pas? (That’s war, isn’t it?). The battle rages in my heart between the unanswered what-if’s and the answer that I know by faith, “All things work together for the good of those who love God… and nothing in all creation will separate me from God’s love” (Romans 8). Well, yeah, I believe this. I know what Good Friday feels like and I know Sunday is coming, but this is Holy Saturday, the day between the crucifixion and Easter’s glory. What do you do with Holy Saturday? How do I handle this?

Maybe I’ve been missing some of Easter’s power because I’ve skipped too quickly from Good Friday’s gloom to Easter Sunday’s resurrection. I’ve been guilty in too many churches of scheduling Easter Egg Hunts on Holy Saturday. Boy, does that seem pretty stupid right now. Maybe if I had been more able to sit in the stark silent reality of “no news yet” on Holy Saturday I would have been better prepared for this surreal experience. I’ve been guilty of glossing over God’s times of silence and jumping ahead to God’s shouts of “Victory!” Why? Because it’s easier to hear a trumpet than the sound of crickets. One says, “Hop to” and the other lulls you into silent oblivion. Silence and death are both anathema to being Christian, right?

Wrong. God’s silence is a megaphone. Doubt is the handmaiden of faith, not its enemy. Holy Saturday confirms Easter rather than denies it. If Jesus’ death weren’t a real death, and if Jesus didn’t really descend to the dead, then Easter ain’t much, is it? Next year Holy Saturday is going to a be observed with a fitting amount of reverent anxiety so that Easter glory might be better appreciated. That’s where I am tonight – pondering, praying, waiting – not in vain, but it isn’t Easter yet.