Hopefully Devoted: While You Wait

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Waiting is inevitable.

What we do with it is a choice.

Already this morning, I found myself waiting before I could go have “before-surgery-prayer” with someone at the hospital. Then on the way home, I had to stop for a school bus loading a dozen children.

Waiting is not only inevitable, it is inconvenient—we always seem to be waiting when we’d rather be doing something else.

So what can we do while we wait?

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We can read. We can pray. We can sing. We can pace (getting steps is always a good thing). We can talk to the others who are waiting around us.

These are the productive things we can do.

But we can also stew, grouse, complain, belly-ache, whine, and generally make everyone around us as miserable with the inconvenience as we are.

I know these things are options, because I’ve gone there way too many times myself.

Tucked away in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he makes reference to “redeeming the time” (5:16). This echos the Old Testament prayer of the Psalmist: “Teach us to use wisely all the time we have (Psalm 90:12).”

So how will you use your time, especially your waiting time, today?

May we all come to productive and wise usage…we’ll be happier for it…and God will be pleased.

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Hopefully Devoted: How much love?

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The trial of a serial killer has captured the attention of most of the people in my little town. Finding an impartial jury has not been easy. Opinions are expressed in the morning coffee gatherings, in the papers, and on the regional news.

I met recently with a group who were close to one of the victims. Very early into our meetng, one of people spoke up: “I have a question. Do I have to pray for that guy?”

Easy answer: no.

But I’m not into easy answers.

I helped my questioning friend to tease out what she was really wanting to ask. She was somewhat resistant—seeking to hide the truth she was trying to avoid. But we finally got there. “Do I have to forgive him?”

What followed was an honest discussion about forgiveness. No one was comfortable…needing to forgive can do that.

As we were wrapping up our meeting, a new question surfaced: Do I have to like him?

Even easier answer: no!

Scripture says nothing about liking someone. I don’t think we’re wired to like everyone.

But we have to care about them. We have to love them.

Loving someone…caring for them…praying for them doesn’t mean we have to like them—and we certainly don’t have to like or condone what they did.

Perhaps the only thing we can pray for them is that they will find the strength to face the consequences of their actions.

If I did something horribly wrong I would hope someone prayed that much for me.

Hopefully Devoted: Tears

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I just finished putting together a funeral sermon and when I went to save it…I hit delete instead.

I wanted to cry. My disappointment was great. But I realized I could put it together again and I moved on to writing this post.

I turned back to my devotional, A Guide to Prayer For All Who Walk With God, and found these words: “Tears are deemed a gift by many ancient masters of the spiritual tradition…Tears were, for the ancient church, given to some along with wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, and the like, for the life of the entire community (Wendy M. Wright, “Tears of a Greening Heart,” Weavings).”

Ms. Wright goes on to link tears to the word compunction, which “literally means ‘to puncture with’…To have our hearts thus ‘punctured’ is both the beginning and the dynamic of the journey.”

I instantly thought of the words to the old hymn:

1 I love thy kingdom, Lord,
the house of thine abode,
the church our blest Redeemer saved
with his own precious blood.
2 I love thy church, O God.
Her walls before thee stand,
dear as the apple of thine eye,
and graven on thy hand.
3 For her my tears shall fall;
for her my prayers ascend;
to her my cares and toils be given,
till toils and cares shall end.

I sat quietly and listened to the questions pounding, puncturing my heart: Do I weep for God’s kingdom? What do my prayers look like, sound like? Does the intensity of my love for the lost drive me to wrestle like Jesus in the Garden? How hard am I working?

Prayer Thoughts: O God, how I wish you could just tap on my heart and find willingness and openness. I’m sure I can count the layers of indifference, excuses, and busyness you must have to go through to even begin to puncture. I don’t want it to be that way. I imagine removing those layers might be painful…and I’m not into pain. But I want your Kingdom, your Spirit, your love to be my focus, my aim, my life. Peel and puncture. Let tears of love fall from my heart and become a healing stream for those who thirsting for you around me. Amen.

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