Monday, March 30, 2009

LINGERing in the Desert

Can I just say it right now? I'm not a desert dweller. I like trees... and grass... and well, green. That's not to say I don't appreciate the desert. My husband introduced me to the desert in order to meet his parents (and again to announce our engagement). And I've visited many times over the nearly 30 years we've been married. The desert has some qualities I adore... Like the brilliance of the night sky and scape of the dunes.

Yet it is dry. Very dry.

... And sometimes we dwell in the spiritual desert. And it is hard. Our prayers become unfocused. Our hearts become anxious. And we long for a huge spiritual drink. Sometimes, however, we remain thirsty.

Desert experiences are all through the Bible. One of the most notable: the Israelites wandered in one for 40 year before they (the next generation) were allowed to enter the Promised Land. According to Deuteronomy 8:2 (NIV), the Lord led them "all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." And during this time, He showed them many signs and wonders to encourage their faith in Him. Their clothes didn't even wear out. Can you imagine?

And then there was David. David escaped from Saul, and "stayed in the desert stronghold and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph" Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands." 1 Samuel 23:14 (NIV). The desert, though physically uncomfortable to live in, was a refuge for David - a safe place. It was in the desert that he won some of his greatest victories, yet wrote some of the most heart wrenching Psalms.

... And then, Jesus. "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Matthew 4:1 (NIV). Our Lord was led into the desert - BY THE SPIRIT - where He was tempted by the Devil for 40 days. That's over a month. In my book, that's a long time. Yet, the victory of Jesus' outcome was nothing less than well... Victorious!

It seems none of the desert experiences in the Bible were pleasant. But read them again. They were faith building. They were safe. And they led to victory.

How do you react when you find yourself in a spiritual desert? How do you LINGER with the Lord? Do you LINGER with Him, or do you isolate yourself from everyone, including Him?

Desert dwelling takes survival skills. And there are necessary items one must have in possession for such a journey. First and foremost, is the Word of God. It's not always easy to concentrate on the Word when you're thirsty, but it is vital. In it, you will find your nourishment. Secondly, you must stay in communication with the Father. The words you would like to speak become few and far between as you listen, but permission is granted to cry out (see David).

What else? Tell me about ways you've learned to LINGER in the deserts of your spiritual journeys. We all need a drink now and then. What better place to offer one...

Monday, March 23, 2009

LINGERing - In the Meantime


No. Don't just wait.

Wait patiently.

Few things in life are more difficult. More frustrating. More exasperating than having to wait. Our society today abhors waiting. Everything is fast. Technology is at our beckon call. Our phones do everything for us. They scan the Internet, call anyone, anywhere, anytime. They keep us connected with social networks; and direct us when we get lost on the road to our desired destination.

Food is in our hands no sooner than we pull up to the little window and hand over our hard-earned money. Gone are the days when we called our children's teachers to make an conference appointment. Everything we need to know about their progress is available for viewing online at the simple entry of a password.

It's a wonder we've run out of patience. I remember paging my husband and waiting for his call (whenever he could get to a landline phone). Now, I call; he answers. Or vice-versa. Instant results in an instant society. Just add water. Stir, and voila! Life without the wait.

And when the Lord calls on us to wait, we cringe. We fidget. We try to fill every waiting moment with some sort of activity. The interim hardly reflects our obedience to ... wait.

Hence our topic for the week. LINGERing in the meantime. There are few things as difficult. Perhaps you never thought about it until now. That's probably because you've not been obedient to the call to stop... and wait. Because it's the hard thing. Understood. But we must realized, it's the RIGHT thing to do.

*Remember guilt and judgment hold no place on this blog. It's a place to share openly. It is my prayerful goal to assist you along your journey - as you assist me - with real life, relevant answers to the challenges of how-to LINGER with our Lord smack in the middle of our hectic lives (maybe better interpreted, lifestyles). AND, more importantly, this is a place to minister to one another with God's Word. He is, after all, our ONLY reason for LINGERing.

So... You've prayed for direction. You're sure you've received an answer. He's leading you to minister, somehow, some way. We are His vessels, open to His use, anywhere, anytime. What that looks like? I have no idea until it happens. One person perhaps, maybe two. Maybe a multitude? It matters not. It's all in His time. It's all according to His will. It's the best way.

Now, what do we do with the call? Or better asked, what do we do in the meantime until the call comes to fruition? Do we just wither away in our constant cries of "when, Lord?" becoming more frustrated than encouraged? Do we focus on the impossibly faraway goal or on the present? Are we willing to keep our meantime filled with LINGERing moments of praise and fellowship as we enjoy - though sometimes simply endure - His process of winnowing the chaff before the harvest is complete?

Do you LINGER patiently? Or do your LINGER anxiously? To answer my own question, I've LINGERED both ways. I can tell you from experience, that LINGERing patiently is the better way. Because it's His way. It is.

How about you?

Monday, March 16, 2009

LINGERing - In The Undone-ness of Life

During the past 2 1/2 months we've talked about the everyday-ness of LINGERing. We've discussed LINGER interruption, and we've contemplated ways that make the art of LINGERing just a little easier. Our discussion has been frank. What does LINGER look like in the life of the everyday woman? We've LINGERed together with a song by Kari Jobe. (If anyone has missed any of this and you'd like to see where we've been, please go back into the archives of this blog). It's been such joy to share my own journey with you, and I pray that it's been yours as well.

LINGER thus far has been light - full of spiritual Truth, absolutely - but fairly light. But I blame the word LINGER entirely for that. The word LINGER invokes feelings of coziness, warmth, peace, and unlimited time. In fact, some of my own thoughts toward the word LINGER leave me craving a cup of steaming coffee or fragrant tea. It inspires thoughts of a welcoming home, clean and organized. A comfortable throw over my shoulders. And maybe, if it's winter, a crackling fire in the fireplace.

And sometimes, my LINGER time does looks like that. But most of the time, it doesn't. And, you know what? It's okay. In fact, it's perfect when it's just a bit undone. And on the heels of our undone lives, this week begins a new segment of LINGER. A segment that may be a bit unsettling, but necessary if we are to face LINGER moments in REAL life. This part of the journey is not for the faint of heart, but for the faithful of heart.

So much of REAL life is just plain messy. It's painful, it's fearsome and it's grievous. It oftentimes takes us by complete surprise, and not always in a good way. How do we LINGER in the messiness of life? How do we LINGER when hope fails us, when our faith struggles. How do we LINGER in times of injustice, and times of physical pain? How do we LINGER when the economy throws us into financial distress? How do we LINGER when marriages fall apart, when our prodigals move further and further from us - and the Lord?

What happens to LINGERing when life is hard?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Linger - You have HIS permission

...Do you have your own?

Our days are filled with the constant clamor of responsibilities begging for our attention. Needful things. And we pursue the to-do list with tenacity. Day-after-day, hour-by-hour, our clock ticks down the moments toward each day's end. Is there ever enough time to complete every little thing? I'll venture a guess. No.

Mornings are abuzz with activity - and thought for more activity - and we press through our daily grind, checking off the to-do list with vengeance. Yet when the sky turns dark and our eyelids grow heavy, our minds are still scattered with relics from our day, and strolling into the throne room to meet with the Father is the first thing on our mind that is rarely accomplished.

But ladies, the veil is torn. We have complete access and are free to abide with our Father. Anytime. So, what is it that holds us at arm’s length from Him? Why is it seemingly so difficult to go on into the throne room and hang out there? We have His permission to hang out while we grocery shop, mop floors, and prepare that presentation for the boss. We can hang out in the middle of any activity of the day.

Do we wear the busyness of our everyday, all day, and then expect to clean up good before we attempt to even peek into His domain? And then, will our fa├žade suddenly fall apart, taking on our everyday existence, clearly inferior for lingering in the King’s presence? Who gives us permission to enter, let alone LINGER there?

Daily obligations and responsibility often keep women from lingering in the Throne Room, but it needn't be. We can burst in anytime we want to, and we can simply dwell there, no matter what the day holds.

Again, I ask you... You have HIS permission to LINGER with the King, do you have your own?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To BE, or NOT

Sometimes Jesus calls us away with Him. He wants our rapt attention. Or He just desires us to simply BE with Him. No agenda, no doing - just BE there. He called His disciples to BE with Him when He prayed in Gethsemane. He called them to come away to a quiet place when they had been spiritually and physically spent (Mark 6:31; NIV).

... and He calls you too. To just BE with Him. No matter what's going on in your life. No matter the good, the bad, the joy or the struggle. He calls you to just BE with Him.

One of my favorite Scriptures-the one that drew me ever closer to the Father's heart-is Song of Solomon 2:10 (NIV):

My lover spoke and said to me,
"Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, and come with me.

I remember when this portion of Scripture moved me so deeply. The soothing, lovely words personalized God's love and desire for my company. The words fell on my busy heart, soothing it with with His sweet agape. At that point in my life, I had been all about DOING for the Lord, not BEING with Him. In a single moment, He gave me a new awareness. This lesson was sweet; the attention, tender.

Realization of BEING in God's presence took on a brand new meaning. If I DO because He calls me to, I DO with and in His presence - LINGERing. If I just BE, I'm still in His presence - LINGERing. And the same goes for you. Nothing changes.

LINGER in the DOING; and LINGER in the BEING. Both are equally important. Both are vital in relationship with Christ. It is what He desires. It is His good plan. And it is preparation for a grand eternity.