Stop and Watch and Wait

“Look!”

This is what I shout out in my minivan while my kids were a captive audience.

“Wow!  Look!  Look!  Look!”

I point out the front window at the massive rainbow stretched from one side of the road in a perfect arc all the way to the other side.

Its colors are deeply defined and easy to spot in the curious sky—deep gray, light mist, bright sunbeams shooting through dimples in the clouds.

The week had been long and busy and I had been weary as in weary-in-the-soul.

And then this, this glistening reminder, this flash of hope, this tangible presence of God-at-work. God created something beautiful THIS DAY.

All  the beauty isn’t in the past.  His glory is here and it’s now, not just been there, done that, and nevermore to come.

So, it’s not just the beauty of the sky, (though it was beautiful), it was the beauty of  God bursting through the gray and the overcast; this is what caught my attention.

My kids, however, weren’t so impressed.  Most  of them ignored me.  One child gave a halfhearted attempt at interest and asked, “Where?”

I’m not confident she even bothered to look.  I think she was just trying to  make me happy because she’s nice that way.

But I didn’t let this one go, not easily anyway.  I told them to LOOK.  Really LOOK.  I’ve seen rainbows before in my life, but this was astonishing and breathtaking and they were MISSING IT!

At this point, I was on a tiny country road with no other car in sight.  I slowed to just below the speed limit and urged my kids to please look at the sky.

It still didn’t matter.  They listened to their music.  They flipped another page in the book.  They didn’t see because they were busy,  busy with their  own noise and their own agenda.

A few minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot and stopped the van.  We unloaded lawn chairs and jackets and gathered with friends around a bonfire.

“Did you see?” others asked.  Many had missed  it, but some of us were in on this divine secret, this magnificent rainbow caught in the early evening sky.  We shared that moment of awe with each other.

This time, I was one of those who had seen.  But maybe other times, maybe lots of the time, maybe even most of the time, I miss seeing.

Maybe God has been painting rainbows in the sky and I’ve been too busy with my own noise and my own agenda to  notice.

What about you?

Frederick Buechner writes:

Listen for God, stop and watch and wait for  him. To love God means to pay attention, be mindful, be open to the possibility that God is with you in ways that, unless you have your eyes open, you may never glimpse.  He speaks words that, unless you have your ears open, you may never hear.  Draw near to him as best you can” (The Remarkable Ordinary).

Pay attention.  Be mindful.

Stop and watch and wait.

God said it this way to the prophet Habakkuk:

“Look among the nations, and see;
    wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
    that you would not believe if told.” (Habakkuk 1:5 ESV).

How often do we do this?

How often do we:

Look

See

Wonder

and Be Astounded?

Maybe today is the day to begin, to  renew our determination, not to look for signs or miracles, but to wait expectantly for God Himself with eyes wide and ears open.

Of course, my life is loud.  My son is no longer napping and he likes to talk to me.  A lot.  My older girls come home from school and they want to review their day and maybe fight with each other and practice the flute, the piano, the drums and ask for homework help.  Maybe they are doing all this at the same time.

I’ve been considering the discipline of silence, though, how choosing quiet whenever possible heightens my senses to God at work around me.

I try to keep my words few.  I walk in  quiet.  I drive in quiet.  I listen more with friends and try to talk, talk, talk less.

I can’t be silent all the time.  I can’t be quiet all the time.  But there are times when it’s possible and I step into those possibilities and choose the discipline of quiet and silence.

Somehow quieting the noise helps me not only hear God better, but see Him better, too, and hearing Him and seeing Him…well, that’s what we really want.

Book Review | The Remarkable Ordinary and Crazy, Holy Grace

The Remarkable Ordinary and Crazy, Holy Grace
by Frederick Buechner

I’ve become a curious thing, a fan of Frederick Buechner without having read many of his books. I’ve seen his quotes posted online or read other authors as they referred to him. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve jumped into reading his books myself and enjoying this invitation he offers to quiet contemplation and thoughtful consideration of life and faith and believing God even when we’re in pain. Zondervan’s newest releases of Buechner’s spiritual memoirs, The Remarkable Ordinary and Crazy, Holy Grace, are part of that discovery for me. 

Each of these books collects essays and lectures Buechner gave in the past, some of them never-before published and other just shared anew. In each of these books, Buechner shares a little about his life and how He saw God at work in it, even in his father’s suicide when Frederick was a boy, even in family tensions and the hushing up of the past, even with his daughter’s anorexia, his brother’s death, and his own depression. In all of these things, he reminds us to listen for God. He says, “We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned to pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music. Sometimes we avoid listening for fear of what we may hear, sometimes for fear that we may hear nothing at all but the empty rattle of our own feet on the pavement…..but He says he is with us on our journeys. He says he has been with us since each of our journeys began. Listen for him. Listen to the sweet and bitter airs of your present and your past for the sound of him” ( A Crazy, Holy Grace). 

The Remarkable Ordinary is my favorite Buechner book so far, particularly his writings on story and Christ’s parables and how we can learn so much about God by slowing down and listening and looking in the most ordinary parts of our most ordinary days. He says, “joy is knowing that this is true from your stomach. Knowing that even though you see only through a glass darkly, even though lots of things happen—wars and peacemaking, hunger and homelessness—joy is knowing, even for a moment, that underneath everything are the everlasting arms.”

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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