Nothing stresses me out like a deadline

Psalm 31-15.PNG

A deadline.

Few obstacles pound harder at my faith than a due date, a deadline, the tick-tocking down of time until God has to either come through or He doesn’t.

I know, I know.

God’s timing is perfect.  

He is never late.

I cling to the promises and repeat the reassuring phrases to myself, but God likes to push right up against time boundaries, doesn’t He?

He usually doesn’t show up early, that’s for sure.

Sometimes, He’ll let me pace nervously right up until the last second before He shows up in His glory.

To Him, one day is like a thousand years.  Time is fluid and free.

But it doesn’t work like that here on this physical planet.

 

Bills and meetings and due dates are a little less subjective here.

Besides that, I hate being late.  I like to be early.  I like to be the first one to arrive, the girl sitting in the parking lot for 5 minutes collecting her thoughts, not the one zooming in 5 minutes late and haphazardly throwing her minivan into park and jumping out the door.

I’m the opposite of a procrastinator (whatever you call that).  I like to have things settled two weeks in advance, not at 11:59 p.m. right before the midnight deadline.

But God knows this about me. So God helps me to cement this shaky faith onto some sturdier foundation.  And God, with His sense of humor and His infinite wisdom, does this by bringing me toe-to-toe with deadline after deadline and coming through for me at the last possible second.

Not because He likes to drive me crazy.

Because He loves me, of course.

Last week, though, I read about Jesus’ first miracle in a new way:  A wedding miracle, a miracle of substance:  Changing plain old water into the finest wine for a marriage feast on the verge of social disaster.

I think as I read that Jesus didn’t just change water into grape juice.

This wasn’t just miraculously altering the chemical makeup.

Jesus bypassed time. 

Quality wine like that would have required years to make–to ferment–, but Jesus simply told servants to fill jars with water and serve it up, and the wine simply was.

Margaret Feinberg writes in Scouting the Divine:

When it comes to making great wine, time is your friend. Yet Jesus didn’t need to wait.

In the past, I’ve tried to explain it all to Him, how some due dates are pretty set in stone and we people here on earth do actually have to follow them or bad stuff can happen.

But today, He explains it to me….

How when I tell Him something will take two weeks…

When I say there’s not enough time for Him to come through for me….

He tells me that He can turn plain old water into aged wine in an instant.  Something that should take years is completed in less than a second.

God isn’t just able to do anything; He’s able to do anything at any time.

Not only that, but even when circumstances and the world and your own eyes tell you that God is simply too late, even then He is not too late.

Jesus showed up at Lazarus’s home days after Lazarus had already died.

Jesus waited too long to come and heal His friend.

But even a deadline as firmly set as death wasn’t too much for Jesus to overcome.  After four days in the grave, Lazarus walked right out of the tomb when Jesus called him back to life.

And maybe after hundreds of years of waiting for the Messiah convinced many Jesus that God wasn’t able, wouldn’t fulfill His promises, couldn’t ever bring the miracle to pass.

Yet, Paul says,

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law… (Galatians 4:4).

The set time fully came and that’s precisely when God acted.

And the time wasn’t set by any man.  It wasn’t set by a government, by a bill collector, by a judge, by a teacher, or by any human rule or law.

God Himself set the perfect time for the perfect salvation, and He was not a second too early or too late.

So, we’re human and in this world we have deadlines and due dates, we have words like ‘late’ and ‘overdue’ and ‘delinquent.’

Sometimes we think the clock and the calendar rule over us like arbitrary and cruel overseers, always demanding, always penalizing, always stressing us out.

But our God doesn’t need time to deliver you or time to save you.

He’s not working frantically, racing the clock, sweating with panic as the seconds tick down.

He’s not asking for extensions or inventing delay tactics while He scrambles to get things done.

God’s perfect plan includes His perfect timing.

 

When the tiger piece doesn’t fit in the tiger space

Psalm 77

My son drops the tiger-shaped piece onto the tiger-shaped space, but it doesn’t slip in easily.  It’s askew, just a bit.

He snatches the piece up and tries again.  Puzzle piece into the puzzle….almost.  It’s slightly off again.

Bang!  Slam!  Bang!  Slam!

Subtlety isn’t his strong suit, apparently.

Over and over he tries.  He knows exactly how this puzzle should look in the end, how it will all fit together.

But it just….won’t…..go……in.

Finally, I cradle his hand with my own, helping him shift the piece, wiggle it a bit, shimmy it around until it can fit right into the puzzle with ease.

He protests with some rising pride and unwillingness to be helped:  “I can do it myself.”

But I insist.  I show him how to do it because he can’t do it on his own, not this time.  Next time, maybe.  With practice, yes.  With the skills I’ll show him, absolutely.

His resistance is familiar.  “I’ll do it myself.”

Sometimes I don’t even recognize my own little prideful tantrums and uprisings, my insistence that I do it myself, and if I just work at something long enough, maybe I’ll figure it out.

But this is what I do.

Last week, I wrestled in the night with a ‘problem.’

I felt like God was asking me to do something.  But if I did this, then that would happen and what about this possibility and that issue?  It was a train reaction of complications all initiated by my own act of obedience.

So, I lie there in bed in the middle of the night, slamming that puzzle piece down onto the board.

Slam!

What if I did this instead?

Bang!

What if I asked her to do this?

Slam!

What if we tried it this way?

Bang!

What would happen….?

Nothing fit.  I failed and failed and failed.

Finally, I stopped shoving, and straining, and making all this effort to work this out on my own and I prayed:

“God, this is not my problem.  It’s Your problem.  If You want me to do this, You’ll need to make a way for me to do this.  It’s got to be You.  All You.  Only You.  I just need to get out of the way and leave this in Your hands.”

Nothing has happened yet.  I’m still waiting.

I keep praying about it, of course, but I’m refusing to hunt for the fix or the solution any longer.  I’m just praying, “God, take care of this, please” and then moving along with my day.

This is hard.

My mind keeps slipping into the old habit, turning that problem over and over and looking for the new angle that will make everything fit.

But I think of Mary….

At the wedding at Cana, Jesus’ mother saw the problem.

No more wine for the wedding guests.  Social faux pax!  Party disaster!

She could have brainstormed solutions and considered all the posibilities.  She could have calmed down the hostess and offered strategies and fixes.

But instead, she brought the matter to Jesus, telling Him simply, ““They have no wine” (John 2:3 ESV).

Not, “They have no wine; please make them some wine from water.”

Not, “They have no wine; please miraculously keep everyone’s glasses full.”

She just told Jesus the facts of the situation: Here’s the problem.

And then she left it there with confidence, telling the servants:  “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5 ESV).

Who knows what she expected in that moment?  What possibilities had she considered?  What solution did she have in mind?

We just know that she trusted the Savior to handle the problems she faced, every detail of them,

It’s not easy, releasing that control, opening up those hands and letting the problem fall at the feet of Jesus instead of clutching it tightly to our chest.

But it pushes us into expectancy.

We hold our breath and open ours wide and we just can’t wait to see what God will do.

God, I have no idea how to fix this. 

The problem is too big.

I am too small.

Nothing I’ve thought of is the right answer. Nothing I could do would make this right.

But You are bigger and more powerful and more creative than anything or anyone.

So, it’s up to You.  I thank You in advance.  And, I sit back and watch to see You at work. It’s going to be quite a display of Your glory.

~Amen~

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Twist, Wrap, Glue….Trust: Pursuing the Presence of Christ Through Creativity

I don’t really create so much as I copy and adapt.

Those pictures on Pinterest, the photos in that project book, the links on Facebook, all entice me to pull out the hot glue gun, some fabric or paper scraps and make a huge mess, take up far more time than I expect, and finally gaze with pride on what I created…..I mean copied.fabric flowers

I’ve been wrapping strips of fabric into flowers and covering my hands into a hot mess of “Liquid Stitch” and stabbing my fingers with the needle when I try to sew the button into the center.

I’ve taken someone else’s ideas and made them my own.

I’ve wrapped the fabric too loosely now and my flower unravels.  I begin again.  Twist, wrap, glue, twist, wrap, glue.

As I try and try (and try) again, I mediate on this:

God started from nothing.

 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2 NIV).

No McCall’s pattern.  No Pinterest.  No step-by-step directions on the DIY channel.  No classes at Michael’s or demonstrations at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

He takes that void, that nothingness, and He brings the fullness of His plans and design with the power of His Word alone.  Then He “saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:25 NIV).

In May, I’m continuing my 12 months of pursuing the presence of Christ by sewing and baking, gardening and gluing.  I’m ‘creating’ because this is who God is.  This is His nature.  His character.

If I want to know the joy of His presence, then I join Him in His activity.

Sally Clarkson writes in The Mission of Motherhood:

Creativity is such an integral part of the image of God within all of us… Whenever we adapt an idea or try a different approach to an issue or give our personal spin to a particular endeavor, we are learning a little more about our God-given nature and the nature of our creative God.

God….He’s Creator.  God…He’s creative.

He creates beauty.  He brings light into the dark places and hope into the hopeless situations.  He brings order into chaos and joy from mourning.

I pause and examine the flower I’ve made with a critic’s eye.  It’s not exactly like that Pinterest picture.  Nothing I make ever really is.

But the beauty of its originality grows on me.  Maybe I like it well enough.  It’s perhaps a little unexpected, maybe a little unplanned, but it’s a flower and it’s fabric and in it’s own particular way, it’s created for beauty.

So, why do I insist that this Creator God who is able to do “far more than all I ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3) and can speak a few words out into a formless universe and create a planet of complex life and intricate and breathtaking beauty….

Why do I insist that He do things my way?

I do this.  I pray, “God, here’s my need.  I’m hopeless here without You. Please reach right here into this pit and save me and here’s how….”

I’ve given Him agendas, to-do lists, blueprints, and step-by-step instructions. I’ve given Him 5-year plans and 10-year plans and custom orders for the needs I face that day.

I cling to my plan and argue like a lawyer in a courtroom before an unyielding judge, and then with just a few simple words He creates and I am stunned into silence and worship.

What God does over and over is create an entirely unexpected solution for the mess I’m in.

Yet, it’s perfect.  It’s exquisite.

I think of Mary, loving Jesus as she did, the mother who rocked Him and sang to Him in the night.

She brought to Him a problem in John 2 at the Cana wedding feast.  No more wine for the guests, she told Him.  The host of the party would be so embarrassed, she told Him.

And that’s where she stopped.

She didn’t tangle Him all up in her expectations, her solutions, her suggestions or demands.

No, she laid that problem right into His hands and trusted Him to care for it in His own way.

She gave Him the opportunity to create.

I look at the stack of fabric flowers I’ve made and they form for me a prayer:

God, help me remember that You are the Masterful Creator and I can trust You.  You make all things beautiful in Your time.  Whatever need I have or problem I face, I leave in Your hands.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Create Beauty’?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King