The Waiting Vigil–A Lesson in Patience

The lights are on, but nobody’s home

            The bathroom heater quit this week. One minute it blew hot air across my face and in the next instant nothing. I twisted the thermostat up and down to see if I could jiggle its memory awake, but the heater stared back in stony silence. Chagrinned, I wondered if I should check the warranty. Wasn’t it installed two years ago?

With the temperature outside riding in the twenties, the once warm bathroom didn’t stand a chance. As the day progressed, the room chilled, as did the toilet, sink and marble surfaces.

            I told my husband about the defective appliance when he returned home from work and he approached the matter with determined enthusiasm. Something about the thought of warm skin on cold porcelain in the middle of the night fueled his efficiency. By nightfall, he’d shopped the local hardware store, purchased a new heater (it even fit the hole in the wall!) and had connected the power source.

            The next morning I showered in amazing warmth—not only was the water hot, but the air circulating in the room bathed my skin in tropical-like temperatures, blowing down on me like a breath of heaven.

            Sometimes life can grow cold as we wait on answers to prayer. God can seem far away, disinterested or too busy to care. Writers know this kind of waiting all too well—replies from editors, agents and publishers take time.  College graduates wait on answers to job applications or responses from interviews. Patients anticipate the diagnosis a recent blood test will reveal. Answers can seem as slow as a snail in Montana snow.

            In  Psalm 40:1-3 (NKJV), King David speaks of waiting. “I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to  me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God.”

            Like a breath of warmth from heaven, God smiles down on us, bringing us answers, hope and a new outlook on the future—if only we can have the patience to wait.

Never Underestimate the Revenge of a Bar of Soap

Serviceable

 

After spending big bucks remodeling our bathroom two years ago, choosing the soap dish didn’t rate high on my list of priorities.

Small, the oval dish sat on a pedestal three inches high. Not chrome like the hardware, nor white like the marble, the plastic saucer’s trim—a vine of tiny, red flowers—was its single redeeming virtue. The floral design matched the poppies in the clock and on the shower curtain.

The dollar price tag lured me more than any other factor.

To my dismay, the dish cradled the soap into a miniature lake at its bottom, puddling the water left on the bar after use. At day’s end the soap swam, and left to its own devices, slowly melted into a wet gooey mess. I frequently had to dump the puddle to keep the soap from disappearing.

I mentioned the problem to my husband who in true guy mentality—I-can-fix-anything-with-a-drill-or-a-hammer—proceeded to drill a hole three inches long and a half-inch wide down through the stem of the pedestal. Problem solved—NOT!

The soap sought revenge. The water no longer puddled in the dish as before, but instead ran in soapy refuse down the inside of the stem, slowly plugging the hole and scumming up the sink where the pedestal base sat. Within a day or two the soap again floated in water, the filmy residue forming a seal worthy of a new brand of resin. Who knew soap had such resilience?

In a similar fashion, our daily routines affect the spiritual stem of our lives. Too much attention to the cares of this world closes off the avenue to the Holy Spirit, wrapping around our prayer moments, and clogging up our day with busy-ness that steals our quiet time with the Lord. Soon we become like the bar of soap, swimming in a sea of life’s leftovers, our pipeline to God plugged by trivial matters.

In Luke 10, Martha complains to Jesus that her sister Mary is not helping her with the meal preparations and serving of the food. Mary has chosen instead to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to his teaching. Jesus says, (10:41-42 NKJV) “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

I’ve solved the soap problem. All I needed was a sponge under the bar. The soap stays dry and the sponge is handy to wipe out the sink. A simple solution.

 Now to fix the business of busy-ness—an hour in God’s Word and time on my knees.

Resolutions 101

A long time coming, bur worth the wait.

My husband spent several days at home over the Christmas holiday working on a project we had talked about for years. He rented a jackhammer and removed a section of sidewalk in our entry that had crumbled beneath ice storms, too much rain, and lots of traffic.   

 The section of cement, shaped like a quarter of a circle with a radius of eleven feet, had seen too many winters when we purchased the home twenty years ago. Other tasks, though—like roofs, new windows, painting, toilets, water heaters, and  hardwood floors, etc.—always seemed to receive priority when it came time for repairs.

I had given him a gift certificate for brick to replace the sidewalk one Christmas three years ago. It remained beneath a magnet on my refrigerator during that time, reminding me and him that the sidewalk still deteriorated and the gift certificate was aging.

 Yesterday we visited the brick yard. To our surprise they still honored the gift certificate and we hauled home a quarter circle of decorative pavers. My husband had already purchased the sand and the weed stop fabric. With the hole already cleaned out, he anticipated laying the brick today.

This morning we woke to an outside temperature of 23°—not a good day to lay brick. But the sun came out, defrosted the front of the house, thawed the pile of sand, and grew warm on his back. The project moved steadily along. Completion will probably take a couple of free Saturdays, but we’re excited that this project is one we can finally scratch off our to-do list.

All of us resolve to do things of one kind or another, but life has a way of tripping us up and meddling with our plans. Resolutions are made, whether at the beginning of the year, or in the face of necessity, and shoved aside by circumstance, like the gift certificate under the refrigerator magnet. Then we wake to bad weather. Keeping sight of our goal becomes more and more difficult. 

In Colossians 3:23 (NKJV) God’s word says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

Knowing this makes finishing the task even more important, doesn’t it?

A personal word to my readers—On New Year’s Eve, Word Press, my blog host sent me an analysis of my readership. I was pleasantly surprised to find my readers span the globe, from the United States to the United Kingdom and as far away as India.

Thanks to each one of you, whether you simply read the post, or you replied, either to me personally through e-mail or publicly on the blog itself. It is my prayer that reading my humble offering brightened your day and encouraged you in your life. God bless each one of you in 2013.

Greet 2013 with Anticipation

The new year burns as bright with promise as the candle.

This week I happened across an advice column where the writer decried the senseless violence at the end of last year and asked the columnist, with regard to the start of 2013, “What’s the use?”

Indeed, with media coverage what it is and the daunting arrival of a new year, we all shiver a little in our boots. None of us can know what is to come and the unknown can be most frightening.

 God’s word says, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). A new year is an entire calendar of days to anticipate and greet with enthusiasm.

In 1 Peter 3:10 (NKJV) we are told how to proceed. “He who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit.  Let him turn away from evil and do good: Let him seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

The columnist mentioned above told the writer words similar to these, encouraged him to find a way to spread joy to his fellow man. Go the extra mile to improve the world around him. Make someone else’s day better because he had risen that morning.

Great advice for all of us. And why wouldn’t it be? It came from the hand of the Creator himself.

Happy New Year!