Thursday, December 25, 2014

For Those Struggling on Christmas

For those of you who struggle on Christmas, for whom it's a reminder of loss or loneliness: this day doesn't have to be hopeless.

When we sing all those Christmas carols about joy, it can seem like those songs don't "get" you. Like they don't see the hardship that Christmas reminds you of, or in some cases, still annually brings. Like you're being left out of the spirit of things unless you force yourself to feel good.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The child who was born in a manger would go on to say something incredible as a man: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Note Jesus' deliberate arrangement of the two concepts, suffering and hope. The Savior always picks his words carefully. Hope is the latter of the two, the final word. There's a lot of significance in that.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished far more than many of us realize. He can now offer his comfort and peace to the redeemed heart, and those things are far more than just a weak consolation prize. He can really make your heart light and full. He has mine.

The Scriptures also tell us that Jesus can mend broken lives - and change earthly circumstances. The king who was born in a stable would heal many in Israel who had every reason to resign themselves to lifelong desolation. He's in the business of restoration and triumph.

Some of us tend to be really cautious when we talk about that side of the kingdom, because we don't know how or when he will accomplish such things (and because other parts of the church go way too far with it). I don't want to offer false hope or make promises that aren't God's. We have a ways to go until every enemy is conquered.

But that doesn't mean you should rule miracles out, either. At least let it be a category for you. You wouldn't be the only person who's received one.

Whatever else God is doing in your life, this much is absolutely certain and can be taken to the bank: God cares. He sees. He has taken notice of your struggle, and he is not indifferent. He knows you have fought hard and that you have suffered much. This is more than just God having a "plan" for your life. It's about his heart for you.

A friend of mine just had a conversation about this last night, and we agreed on something vital: God is more than just a caretaker. A caretaker can watch out for you without really caring, without being close. But God is a Father. His heart for you is good. "Gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love" (Psalm 145:8).  He's not annoyed with you. He's not disappointed with you. It's impossible for him to love you more than he already does. Thanks to the child born of a virgin.

And if you want a plan, check this: whatever else God is planning for you, he has arranged for the ultimate triumph: eternal life. Where every tear is wiped away and suffering can no longer reach you.

The blood of Christ and the empty tomb have secured this for everyone who puts their faith in this Jesus whose birth we commemorate today. It's coming.

To find joy is sometimes a deliberate choice. In years past, I've found that I need to fix my eyes on this grace, and not my troubles, in order to find this lightness of heart. That doesn't mean pretending your troubles aren't there. Even God doesn't do that. A lot of folks read the words of Paul about contentment and joy and think that's what he means - denial. But that's not it. It's simply about not letting pain be everything. It's not even the major theme. Jesus has overcome it. And today is the day he finally kicked off the triumphant mission that made it all true.

Christmas is about fulfilled promises. It's about God finally breaking through the darkness that gripped the world and bringing his kingdom once and for all. There are big things going on, and you're part of it.

Whatever else is going on, I hope that will be the final word for you today.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, August 11, 2014

We Must Never Assume

Robin Williams died yesterday of apparent suicide, at the age of 63.

The first thought that went through my mind when I saw the news: "We really needed him." Laughter is a joy and a gift from God and a bulwark against darkness. Williams offered so much of that.

The second thought was, "I had no idea". Perhaps at some point I'd fleetingly read that Williams was in rehab from drugs and alcohol, but I hadn't known that his addictions were an attempt to fight off depression and anxiety.

Now I don't claim to be the world's greatest people-reader, and 99% of what I saw of Williams was, of course, a performance of some kind. But I have trouble hearing the manic, happy-at-all-the-wrong-times boom of the Genie in "Aladdin" and connecting it to a depressed soul. The man's calling was to cheer people up. He was so gifted at it. It was hard to guess what was under the surface the whole time, that the great well of humor and compassion from which he enriched others belied a different internal reality.

It's a reminder to me that we must never assume.

Ian McLaren said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." (No, the quote wasn't from Plato.) It's taken me very few years as a teacher and youth leader to learn a simple truth: appearances mean nothing. A smile can hide immense pain. Good grades, intelligence, and potential can come from a destructive home. That person sitting alone may not, in fact, want to be alone at all. Maybe s/he never learned how to ask for companionship, or how to keep it. 

Society is, at some level, a gallery of facades. Not that Williams was a facade. He seemed pretty honest. But you can rarely tell people's need just by looking at them.

But there is hope. Oh, so much hope. These struggles are the very things Jesus went after in his ministry. Isaiah 61:1 says he came to "bind up the brokenhearted". He forgave sins, healed the blind, touched lepers with his hands, lodged with the ostracized Zaccheus. He reached people whom others either didn't see or didn't believe they could help. He was so compassionate, so earthy, so giving in an intimate way.

I love this Jesus. Instead of using great and wondrous signs in the heavens and on the earth to confirm who he was (which he certainly could have), he identified himself by loving on people. He walked right into their brokenness and healed it. And then, he died and rose again to provide our greatest need - eternal life with him. Restored bodies and minds.

And the servant is not greater than his master. Everything Christ did, he commanded his followers to do. Just as we are God's hands and feet to the nations unreached by the gospel, I believe we are a crucial instrument of God in keeping each other afloat. The New Testament is chockablock with hints that he chooses to work largely through us, his church. (Don't be intimidated by the burden. In Christ, we are more than able.)

And we must never assume that people are hunky dory. Some of those who are most in need are the ones least able to address their need. Loving on people can be unrewarding. We fear that we'll get pulled in. But if we're going to be serious about this "loving people" business, we must allow for the fact that people are weird. (You are, too.) The key, of course, is remembering that we're not in it for reward. That's the point of love. It gives without thought of reward. The great thing about love is that you needn't wait to feel it. You just do it! Sometimes it's as simple as sitting next to someone in church.

I learn two great things from the life of Robin Williams. One, to be a giver. In the scramble to spread and defend our faith, let's never forget to be a source of joy. Two, we must never assume. Instead, we must pursue. Get to know people, build relationships with them, become part of their life.

Because wherever we go, we bring Jesus with us. When we go into people, we bring Jesus to them. That is seriously good news.

P.S. Robin Williams' two best movies were "Patch Adams" and the criminally underseen "Awakenings", both quieter movies about hope and about treating people with dignity and compassion. Those of you who only know Williams' "Mrs. Doubtfire" persona, take note.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Every year you grow, you will find me bigger

In Prince Caspian, the second of the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, the four Pevensie children are unexpectedly whisked back to Narnia for new adventures. Lucy, the youngest, faces isolation and fear as the children gain their bearings, faces a trial that she had not known during her previous journey. But all is forgotten when she is unexpectedly reunited with Aslan, the mighty lion, their protector and king of Narnia.
“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan," sobbed Lucy. “At last.” 
The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face. 
“Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger". 
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he. 
"Not because you are?" 
"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."
Eventually the day is saved, the kingdom restored. But Lucy's battles are not over. She will continue for a little while to be misunderstood by the others, to watch as Aslan tarries and gathers before finally completing the rescue. And she has yet another Narnian adventure ahead of her years later, the most difficult of them all, during which she sees Aslan only sparingly and has to live mostly by what she has learned of him, of what he would say or desire.

As most of us know, C.S. Lewis was a great Christian theologian and wrote his Narnia stories as parables, with Aslan as a stand-in for Jesus Christ. His heroes were children, because we are as children before God and before a world much bigger than us. Lucy, especially, is Lewis' main and favorite character because she wants to see Aslan. She wants to believe.

And Aslan's promise to us is God's promise - that as we grow, he will become bigger.

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:20

I used to believe that things would get easier as I grew in the faith. The opposite is true. Like a video game, the levels only get harder. High school, college, the military, career, people in general...each one has been steadily tougher, presented fresh challenges to my faith and my identity in Christ, strengthened the lies and the spiritual warfare. The enemy doesn't just go away, and he doesn't give up easily.

Yet God has stepped up to the plate each time. If you've ever read the Bible just once and assumed God's done revealing himself, you've missed out. He never fails to reveal more as you stay committed to the pursuit. As the enemy's lies and discouragements increase, God's power and truth increase at a greater rate. He has answers for every obstacle we face, every loss we experience, every question that arises.

The apostle Paul describes a progressive journey - that part of the reason for each trial we face is preparation for the next one.

"Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us" - 2 Corinthians 1:9-10

Don't be surprised as things get harder despite your spiritual growth. Expect it. See it as a kind of backwards honor that the enemy feels threatened by what God is doing in you. And as you grow in Christ, Christ may sometimes seem to step back into the shadows for a while, but that is not abandonment. He will show up. His victories will grow in proportion to your challenges. He will guide you to the world's end and to Aslan's Country.

Man, now I wish I could find that boxed Narnia set that Mom got me. To think that there was a time I didn't care for reading.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Will God Repeat?

Five months ago, my Seattle Seahawks marched onto the national stage and practically waltzed away with their first Super Bowl. It's a cathartic and dizzying event for a sports fan, having YOUR team be the champ. The Seahawks are a relatively young franchise, without the storied history of older teams like the Packers, and most of their years have been synonymous with futility. The 90s were most embarrassing. To a lifelong diehard like myself, our Super Bowl isn't just awesome. It's therapeutic.

Yet here were are, five months later, and what are a lot of Seahawks fans doing?

Taking to the internet forums and dissecting the draft, analyzing our player transactions, and worrying. Worrying about what?

Whether we can repeat as Super Bowl champions next year.

Are you kidding me? We fight for almost forty years to get here, finally prove our place amongst the NFL's big boys, finally shut everybody up for nine months, and what do the fans do? We dart on to next year. We start worrying.

You'd think that now, of all times, we'd be taking the time to simply bask in the moment. Swagger around, buy and wear our merchandise, plunk down our emptied mugs, we proclaim loudly to, establishment...that we're the champs. For at least nine months, we're the undisputed top dogs. Can't we just enjoy it?

Now, yes, part of this worry is the desire to get a Seahawks dynasty going, rather than just a one-off win. I walked up to a guy in church the other day wearing a Broncos hat, deliberately and pointedly adjusted my Seahawks hat with my best mischievous grin, and he just chuckled and went "Yeah, everyone gets lucky once in a while." And we don't want that to be the case. We want to prove that not only did we win, but it wasn't a fluke.

But part of it is...we just forget. The glow fades and it's back to prove-it territory. And I am not immune.

I have just been blessed royally by God. I've gotten a new job for next year and a sweet pad to stay, a treat from his good heart that I wasn't expecting. It was the last-minute culmination of two years of prayer and waiting during which I had to fiercely battle and overcome my doubts about God's heart and attentiveness. (Perhaps that's why God kept me in the game until the last minute?)

And yet now, here I am just four days later, and I catch myself worrying about other things. My car, missions fundraising, how the new job will actually go. You're kidding me. It hasn't been 100 hours and already I'm worrying about the next season? "Yeah, but that was then. What if next time is different?"

Heck, what about the part where I just enjoy what I've been given? God didn't give me a good gift so I'd let other anxieties still the joy away!

Woe is me. My capacity for unbelief rivals the playoff drought of the Cleveland Browns. (That's enormous.)

"My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck." - Proverbs 6:20-21

The Pharisees took this verse literally and bound pieces of Scripture around their necks. Whatever other evil they were up to in the Gospels, I actually think they were ahead of me on this one. It helped them remember.

My good friend tells me to build physical altars in my life to remember what God's done for me, touchstones of faith for the next season. I'll do it. It's a simple matter of learning styles, providing visual keys to important things. Could be as easy as taking bright red paint to the key to my new apartment. It'll be hard to miss it then. An excellent, dominant-color reminder of his faithfulness. (And a shortcut to that usual jingling and fumbling on the key ring that typically results in your desired key being the last to be found.)

Next time might be different, but God won't be. He gives us evidence of his power and his love so that we have confidence in him for the next season.

I don't know whether the Seahawks will repeat next year. But I know God will.

Monday, June 9, 2014

It's Not About You, Graduates

Graduation is upon you.

What a relief. To be freed from the hallways of the high school you've learned to hate, to be launched upon the world full of's a great feeling. Heck, just to be celebrated is a great feeling. Goodness knows we don't get enough of that these days, of being delighted in and pumped up by others. It's your moment in the sun. You've earned it. Congratulations!

The graduation speeches are exciting. Live your dreams. Reach for the stars. Realize yourself and your potential. Don't let anyone tell you who you are or what you can't do. No doubt there is some truth in these, even stuff God would agree with.

Yet as the ceremonies and banquets conclude and the pictures flood Facebook, the life of Jesus intrudes upon this season and offers a word that, frankly, a lot of us aren't sure we want to hear.

It's not about you.

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." - John 12:23

As Jesus walked the earth, his eyes were fixed upon the cross as surely as your eyes have been fixed upon the cap and gown. That was his goal. He brought it up all the time. He kept his disciples thinking about it. He shushed up most of his miracles so that his "big moment" wouldn't be diminished. The cross was Jesus' graduation. He thought of nothing else, because it pleased his Father.

And what was the cross? Sacrifice. Pain. Shame. Jesus' ultimate emptying of himself. His identification with the lowest. Putting others first.

But he called it "glory".

Something in me just revolts at that, if I'm honest. Blood is glory? It doesn't match up with my system. And it doesn't match up with this graduation season, which, if we're honest, has a way of putting focus on ourselves.

But we know what we hold as believers. Jesus' whole focus, his great mission, was not an act of achievement but an act of sacrifice.

When we young folks (dare I say, we young Americans?) think of glory, we don't often equate it with emptying ourselves. We equate it with college degrees, prosperous jobs, families, success. I tend to, also. We talk of "making a difference", but I'll wager that half these valedictorians with their glowing speeches don't see themselves working at McDonald's. Will they end up there? I don't know. That's asking the wrong question. The question is, can Jesus use us there?

In case you haven't noticed, the world is a mess. Shootings. Starvation. Slavery. Everyday people riddled with shame, self-hatred, and shattered hearts. Christians are desperately, desperately needed, and not in a self-actualizing way. Contrary to popular belief, changing the world is not done by one person with an awesome scientific discovery or piece of legislation. It is done in a million small battles that will never make it into the history books. It's done on street corners, in shops, in classrooms, in counseling offices, on the manufacturing line and on the firing line, on the factory floor and the kitchen floor, in random acts of kindness and secret Santas and anonymous donors. That's where people's lives and hearts are healed. That's where they see Jesus.

I know. Hardly glory by our standards. Yet Jesus could hardly be worried about his image if he were climbing onto the cross. And he called that glory.

So many of these valedictorians' speeches seem to be envisioning some far-off moment, some pinnacle of achievement, that we should work towards. Maybe that will be true for some of us. But a lot of folks commit their entire lives to finding it and never do. For us, our shot at glory might lie before us everyday. Some of us might already have made an incredible impact and we won't even see it until heaven.

This is actually immensely good news, very freeing. We need no worldly position, no decades of work, to be Jesus to those around us. We need only a humble and willing spirit.

Graduates, this is not meant to diss your diploma. Congratulations. Really! Enjoy the parties and cards and loved ones and cake. You've earned it. Just guard your hearts against the hype of the season, because some of it is of the world, cleverly disguised. Don't lose sight of the One who showed us what graduation really is.

"For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God." - Hebrews 12:2

Monday, June 2, 2014

Living One Hour at a Time

I'm living one hour at a time right now, and not by choice.

I think God might be finally finished with me living life in the future and not the present, and is giving me live-fire training.

Yoda's words might be applicable here (just imagine God with the funny head-cold voice): "This one, a long time have I watched. All his life he has looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was...what he was doing."

Two Fridays ago was when it started. I'm driving back home for a retreat and, sitting in the Taco Johns' drive-thru (maybe that was my first bad move), I notice with a lurch that my engine temperature gauge has returned to its old pastures of red. Crud. Turns out the radiator's empty. This is a really bad time, radiator.

I park, walk inside, wait for the restroom to clear (the guy seriously took ten minutes), fill up a gallon of water, wait for twenty more minutes so I can safely open the radiator cap, and in the meantime I'm in position to help an old lady get up after she falls on the sidewalk. I fill the radiator with the water. Hard experience at work here. It lasts me just exactly long enough to get past Kalispell and then runs dry again, sending my engine back into overheat.

So there I am, stranded on Highway 2, forty-five miles short of my goal...and its 10pm.

Who to call?

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

Fortunately, I realize I'm close to the residence of a good friend, who not only picks me up but actually drives me to the retreat (I'd given up on it)! I burst through the door of the cabin at 11:15pm and get a round of applause from my teammates. Great people.

But I still have to get back to Kalispell the next day, then pick up my car and get back to school!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

I choose to enjoy the retreat. A teammate winds up leaving early and drives me back. I jump in my car, try the water trick again, and it lasts me just as far as the school.

The following day, me and nine others jump on a plane for the senior trip to Las Vegas (Australia was too expensive), and wouldn't you know - the kids have no idea what they want to do once they get down there. All those fun activities we planned? They're not sure what to do or when. They're not used to the desert heat. They're already tired, already cranky, and everything's fluid.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

So everything starts falling into place, we split up and hit the water parks and malls and movies...everything's going fine. Then, Tuesday afternoon, I walk away from the hotel pool for ten minutes and someone in our party finds her way to a bottle. Comes back to the room tipsy. Great. The student owns up to it, and we agree to make it a "freebie" instead of sending her home, but now I've gotta wonder who it's going to be next time!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

It doesn't happen again. We have an epic time. I even boldly volunteer for get coaxed onto my first roller coaster. (I'm pretty sure it was simultaneously my last roller coaster.)

Then, standing in the airport to head home after having passed security, we sit down to wait for everyone, and eventually I notice that two of our party are taking a while to get through. A male student and the other chaperone. Turns out he doesn't have adequate ID and won't be allowed on the plane! Great Falls TSA had been kind enough to wave him through, but Vegas won't have it. That makes about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine.

So this student is stuck in Vegas. He's going to need a chaperone to escort him home by bus, from Vegas to Great Falls. And the only gender-chaperone? Yours truly.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

Oh, and it's going to be a full day until the bus leaves. So we two skinny white dudes have fifteen hours of either sitting in a dodgy bus station or wandering the ghetto section of Las Vegas.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

Oh, and I just remembered - the bag with all my good stuff is already checked and flying to Montana without me, and I may or may not have remembered to get my car keys into it. They're sure not on my person.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

Oh, and the car to which those keys pertain? Still wonky and unreliable.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34



So, we sleep. We eat. We wander the block for fifteen hours.We find out that the Greyhound station is actually pretty close to the "old strip" of Vegas, so we get to enjoy some sights that the rest of the team never got around to. Yes, I just ended that sentence with a preposition in the most glaring manner possible. The student, appropriately grateful for my companionship (well, what was I gonna do, leave him there?), buys extra gifts for his girlfriend, gets a picture taken in front of that "Pawn Stars" place, and tells me I need a wardrobe and a girlfriend. I tell him he needs some tact.

Finally, we board the bus. More sleep. Not the restful kind, but sleep nonetheless. The Interstate 15 corridor is actually quite scenic. I have some interesting conversations (you meet some real philosophers on buses). Our principal keeps checking in by text, and arranges to have me picked up in Great Falls and driven back to school and my trailer. The student's mother thanks me profusely.

I made it.

I just know God has arranged these last two weeks for me. Little things like the car radiator lasting exactly as long as necessary, or me being in good position to help others or enjoy special things - you can't look at that and see anything but God. A divine stamp on otherwise inscrutable events. He's trying to break old habits in me. Live in the now. Go from Point A to Point B, and don't worry about Point C. I've got you.

And during all of these proceedings, I've been operating without a job (those interviews were a no-go) or living arrangements secured for the next three months. I have no idea what Point C is. I am literally having to live hour to hour.

But you know, it's almost better facing needs rather than desires. At least with needs, you know God's going to come through. Desires...maybe, maybe not. But a plate stacked high with needs is nothing but a challenge for a God who loves challenges. Pile it on, he loves to tackle this stuff.

He delights in taking care of his people.

Oh, and I still don't trust my car.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

Okay, God. I hear ya.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

God is Not a Magic 8-Ball

"Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do— He reveals to you who He is." - Oswald Chambers

So I'm sitting at my desk, slowly eroding a mountain of math papers and waiting for God to do something. You know the feeling. We know we're supposed to be faithful right where we are, but sometimes we're antsy. Urgh, God...what's next?

Especially if you have to change jobs in the next month and you've got applications out in the wind. The anxiety is a constant companion. A nervous, not entirely unpleasant pit in the stomach. I know God's moving. I just don't know where, or when. And I'd really like to know, rather than discouraging silence every day.

Finally, calls start coming in. My applications have been seen. "Are you available to interview next week?"

Sweetest words ever. Immediately, the pit is replaced by excitement.

It only lasts a couple days, but for a little while, I'm stoked. A great vacation from that up-in-the-air feeling. I'm happy just to see even a hint of movement. that right?

I mean, on one level, sure, I'm only human. This is natural. But on another level, I'm called to greater things.

"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" - John 20:29

...were Jesus' words to the doubters. Thomas and I would get along. He was human. He'd been disappointed before. He wanted to believe, as his confession "My Lord and my God!" indicates. He just didn't want his hopes up. He thought he needed more.

I, too, want God to be my magic 8-ball.

You know how it is. We bring our next move to God - "Should I apply to this college? Should I date/marry her? Should I quit my job? Is this all going to work out?" And we sit back and pray in expectation of a response.

Hopefully it's one of the positive responses. "Yes, definitely." "Without a doubt." "You may rely on it." I'll even take the more reserved "Most likely."

Sometimes, a small part of us is content even to hear a negative. "Very doubtful." "Don't count on it." Because at least then we know.

Instead, my interviews are concluded, and I'm back to the waiting and the grading and getting "Ask again later." "Reply hazy, try again." "Better not tell you now."


I mean, the waiting is easy. Heck, I'm an expert in waiting by now. I just want to know how long I'll be waiting, and where I'll be going after that. Then the wait will be easier. A piece of cake.

In other words...godless.

We ask God for a lot of things, and God is generous. But one thing he'll never give us is something that frees us from needing him in the here and now.

This is why God's will is tough to track down sometimes, even for the faithful. It's why he might often leave us hanging for a long time - perhaps until the last minute - for a direction or resolution. As Steven Furtick said, God sometimes makes it "a process of hide and seek - he hides the answer so we'll seek him." We want to know God's calendar and master plan, rather than his heart. There's a difference. Maybe we don't realize what we're doing, but surely we can all admit the relief we feel when God shows us the next step, right? I kinda just want that.

It's not that God doesn't care about my anxiety and uncertainty. In fact, he cares very much. And that's the point. He wants to deal with my anxiety himself, to salve it himself - not with answers or direction, but with himself. With his presence. By teaching me, through his word, that he's attentive and involved and powerful.

I don't say this lightly. God isn't a harsh teacher who plays mind games. We're not talking about Calvin's dad here, someone who makes his kid take the hardest way possible because it "builds character". Delayed directions can be excruciating, and our heart is understandably bound up in them. God knows that.

But, at the same time...I need character. I need to know God. And before the go/no-go arrives, he wants to show me just how wonderful his presence is.

Hopefully, my wait will be over today. Maybe even by the time you read this. I just hope that God has found me faithful during this time to hear well the one thing I know God wants me to hear: "Let me care about your heart. Don't rely on some circumstance to reassure it. Bring it to me."

That is always his line.