Thursday, June 20, 2019

When God Has You In The Waiting Room

A popular storybook from my childhood years was Goldilocks and The Three Bears. It's a fairy tale that's almost 200 years old now, yet parents and teachers everywhere still share it, and young readers across the globe still love it. It seems as though no kid is able to resist laughing at the theatrics of adults as their voices change octaves in an attempt to mimic what a family of bears would sound like if they spoke our language. The story is quite an entertaining one... but only because it's fiction.

In real life, the thought of being in this little girl's shoes and living her experience is nothing short of frightening. I've often been teased because when watching TV shows and movies on the big screen or even when reading books; I have a tendency to draw a spiritual message from actions and scenes that are merely intended for entertainment purposes. To be quite frank, we should all keep our spiritual eyes and ears open, because we never know what vehicle God may use to relay a message of hope when we need it most.

This age-old tale introduces us to a child by the name of Goldilocks. There's no indication in the story that she was a troublemaker or even mischievous. She was simply hungry and tired, and in her naive exploration, she found a place that provided what she needed. But note that her needs weren't met immediately. This is the portion of the story where my spiritual ears perked up!

Goldilocks came across food that was too hot and too cold before finally discovering a meal that was just right. She had to endure lying on a hard bed, and then one that was excessively soft before she found one that was just right. If Goldilocks had walked away after sampling from the second bowl, she would have still been hungry. If she'd given up after sampling the second bed, she would have left with no relief from her weariness. She had to be patient. She had to be persistent. In other words, not only did she have to wait until the right thing was within her reach, but she also had to wait for the right time to grab it. And to many of us--in our nonfiction real life existences--WAIT is truly a four-letter word.

In Psalm 27:14, the Word says: Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. For most Christians that's a familiar passage of scripture. Many of us can quote the words from memory, but despite all that, applying it to our lives can be frustrating and downright agonizing. Waiting can make us want to lose hope, lose faith, and settle for what we have (or don't have) versus continuing to strive for what we need and deserve.

Our spiritual "waiting room" experience seems to become particularly uncomfortable when we, like the girl in the classic fairy tale, are tired and hungry. Tired of the same-ole-same-ole and hungry for change. Hunger and fatigue have a way of making bad situations appear to be even worse than they are. Waiting can get even rougher when we know full well that God has something greater. We feel like we're looking out a window, and our "something greater" appears to be right there with nothing but a glass pane separating us from it. Yet no matter how hard we try, we just can't seem to obtain it.

have a dear sister-friend who often starts her sentences off with, "Can I be real?"😄 In other words, let's just tell the truth and shame the devil. The fact of the matter is, when God has us in a waiting room, ALL the chairs appear too big or too small, and ALL the beds feel too hard or too soft. It's just not a comfortable place! But through it all, we have to trust Him, which includes trusting His timing. Things don't always happen when we want them to, or how we want them to, but if we just be patient and squash the urge to get ahead of God or His perfect plan; we will find that the end result will be worth the wait.

Does God have you in a waiting room right now? Maybe it has to do with your physical health, your relationship/marriage, your job situation, or something else for which you've been praying will change for the better. I believe at some point in our lives, we're all put in a waiting room where our patience and faith are tested by God. He definitely has me in one right now, and yes... I'm tired and hungry. I know God has something better for me, but waiting for it to materialize has taken much longer than I would like. Perhaps that's your testimony too.

Well, let me encourage you as I encourage myself. We can't give up or give in because doing that won't bring satisfaction either. Victory only comes if we fight and win. So as we continue to wait, we must also continue to pray. During this waiting period, we'll likely see what appears to be multiple ways of escape - many doors may come within reach that we feel can offer us what's needed and desired. But we can't get ahead of God. Just because a door is there, doesn't mean it's our door. If we walk through the wrong door, what we thought was a better situation, might actually be worse. Perhaps the food on the other side of that door would be too hot or too cold. Maybe the beds would be too hard or too soft. But when God fully reveals His provision... when HE opens a door... it will be just right. So I will continue to wait. And I encourage you to do the same.

Wait, I say... on the Lord!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Who Encourages the Encourager of Encouragers?

As I was driving my vehicle into the parking lot at work this morning, my cell phone rang. A sister who comes to me whenever she needs encouragement and spiritual counsel was on the other end. She was in tears as she expressed to me some of the things that are currently going on in her life. I quietly listened until she was all talked (and all cried) out, and then I began to share with her the things that were on my heart and the Word of God that rested in my spirit.

I always arrive at work early; well before the required "clock-in" time. Most days, I go ahead and enter the office and take a few moments  to pray and meditate, and then I grab breakfast and get a jump-start on whatever work assignments await. Today, one phone call altered my normal routine. Although I still got into the office ahead of schedule, it was necessary for me to use some of that time to encourage a heart that was hurting and to help rebuild a spirit that was breaking down. 

By the time we got to the end of our "counseling session," the sister was laughing. Her joy was on the rebound! Just before we disconnected our call, she said to me, "I consider myself an encourager, Kendra. People come to me when they need a lift, but they just don't know that this encourager needs encouraging sometimes too." Then she laughed and added, "Since I come to you when I need encouragement, I guess that makes you an encourager of encouragers." We ended our call shortly thereafter, and as I got out of my vehicle and began the short walk to the entryway of my place of employment, I thought to myself... So who encourages the encourager of encouragers? Sometimes those of us who are known for being strong can be so solid, sturdy, and enduring in our faith that people forget that there are times when our spirits need to be rebuilt, refueled, and reinforced too.

There is a once chart-topping gospel song that says, "Sometimes you have to encourage yourself... sometimes you have to speak victory during the test. And no matter how you feel, speak the word and you will be healed. Speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord." Later in those same lyrics there is a sentence that says, "As I minister to you, I minister to myself." And for me, I believe that's where the answer most often lies. Yes, I have been blessed with a couple of trusted and devout confidants in my life that I know I can go to if I need the listening ear of another Spirit-filled human being, but often times I have found that when I allow God to use me to minister to others, I find, in my own words, the very encouragement for which I've been searching. As I pour into them, I'm pouring into me. As a reward for my obedience in sharing God's word with others, it's as though God, in turn, allows those same words to empower and encourage me. God is awesome like that!!

Psalm 46:1 is a dynamic verse of scripture that reminds us that no matter what comes our way, God is not only our Strength, but He's also our Protection. It says, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. That assures me that even if it looks like I'm by myself in a battle; I'm never alone. If I try to call my trusted friends and they're otherwise preoccupied and can't come to my rescue, I can always look to the Lord. In fact, He should be my first recourse because He is ALWAYS there, and He never fails. He will give me what I need so that I can encourage myself and go forth in victory. Thank God for being the ultimate ENCOURAGER of the encourager of encouragers! 😊