The place of longing

There is a place of waiting God will take us. He will birth a dream in us and then it seems… the dream delays. The question at that point is this: “Will you keep pursuing? Will you keep asking? Will you keep longing for what God wants to do?”

For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay. (Hab. 2:3, NRSV)

We want everything in a hurry. We hear something from God and think it’s going to happen… yesterday.

Let God birth something magnificent in you that will take your attention, your time, your passion. May you long for it to happen!

I want to have new dreams planted in my heart. I want to long for God to come and get it done. I need to learn to wait, to anticipate. We need to learn to have our eyes glued to the Father and what he has for us rather than what we want for ourselves.

 

Violence in Our World

The bombing in Boston has shaken us again. We will be on the lookout again for the perpetrators, and then we will ask, “WHY?”

In our time, we are fixated on “WHY” as if we should somehow be exempt from problems. Somehow violence needs to be “over there” and not “here.”

Violence is a part of the human condition. A world in rebellion will breed violence in some way. It might be somewhat more “acceptable” in some ways… like abortion… or violence against women and young children in sex trafficking…. or undocumented in slave labor… but a world in rebellion is going to manifest violence in some way and we are not exempt.

It is not a condition new to our day.

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted. (Hab. 1:2-4, NIV)

Our hearts grieve. The loss hurts. We want “justice,” and probably “justice” will come in some way on this event… and then another event will roll around and we will feel that shock all over again.

Lord, we are a people in rebellion and our hardened hearts breed violence in every way imaginable. Help us to surrender our hearts and lives to the King of all kings so we may know the blessedness of being ones who bring peace instead of violence.

 

We have the choice to give thanks

My reading this week took me through the tiny book of Habakkuk. The hand of the Lord he would see would be a hand of judgment as God had to deal with his people. He had the assurance that God would deal with Israel’s enemies as well, but the heartbreak for Habakkuk was knowing God had to deal harshly with his own people.

He asks for the mercy of God. He also asks to be prepared in his own life.

He wants to be prepared as well for the time God would deliver them. Habakkuk lived in a fearful time. Yet, he CHOSE to give thanks. He CHOSE to lash himself to the Most High and hold on for dear life. He decided to trust God in the storm.

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (Hab. 3:17-19, NIV)

Knowing that physical pain would be on the horizon, Habakkuk chose to rejoice in the Lord. He knew the Lord would give him strength to rise above the situation.

Our world may still have a tremendous amount of instability. It will probably always have that possibility. But it’s not about what is around us. It is about what is IN us. In this Thanksgiving season, we can still choose to give thanks. We can rejoice in God our Savior. We can know the joy of the Lord carrying us above the storm.

Waiting… and waiting…

In the words of Shawn Spencer, my favorite TV detective (currently): “Wait for iiiiiitttttt.”

But waiting is such an awful thought! We complain and we want an answer… NOW.

We ask something from God and we want it… NOW.

Habakkuk was an impatient prophet. God did answer, just not in a way Habakkuk liked.

Then the Lord replied:

“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald[b] may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it[c] will certainly come
and will not delay. (Hab. 2:2-3, NIV)

We need to learn to hear God and then wait for his timing. His clock is just not our time zone.

Complaining to God

We don’t often look into the “minor prophets.” It’s “flyover country” for us. They are too far removed. They are too “mean.” We have all kinds of excuses.

Habakkuk gives us some insight into prophetic complaining. He has a case against God and he is willing to voice it.

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted. (Hab. 1:2-4, NIV)

He gets even more demanding later in the writing:

I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint. (Hab. 2:1, NIV)

He is saying, “I am going to stand here with my arms crossed and just DEMAND God answer me! What kind of excuse will he give me this time?”

Habakkuk is bold. Yet, here is the thing about Habakkuk: God answered. 

We are allowed our fits and rages with God. He does not fear our anger.

What we need to be ready for in return is the possibility that he just might answer. 

God does indeed answer Habakkuk, and the prophet has to hear God’s response.

Scared Spitless

That means really scared.

Habakkuk had that experience. His small book is look inside his prayer journal. At first, he seems pretty ferocious. He’s upset with God. The wicked are getting away with murder, blah, blah, blah.

“I’m just going to give God a piece of my mind and see what he does with that!”

2 Lord, how long will I call for help and you not listen?
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you don’t deliver us.
(Hab. 1:2, CEB)

“So, there! Take that!”

God seems unfazed. Imagine that. We wag our tiny little fingers at him and “rage” at him in our pipsqueak voices… (Come on, even Charlton Heston’s voice sounds like some tiny little mouse from God’s vantage point. Admit it.)

Habakkuk is just so enraged. And God let’s Habakkuk know he’s got this one.

His answer?

5 Look among the nations and watch!
Be astonished and stare
because something is happening in your days
that you wouldn’t believe even if told.
(Hab. 1:5, CEB)

Translation: “Shut up and watch something.”

Does Habakkuk learn? Not yet. He rages on in the latter part of Chapter 1.

Then, in Hab. 2:2-3, God shows up.

“Habakkuk, just watch.”

Whatever Habakkuk witnessed in a vision was enough. In fact, it buckled his knees.

16 I hear and my insides tremble.
My lips quiver at the sound.
Rottenness enters my bones.
I tremble while I stand,
(Hab. 3:16, CEB)

This isn’t the warm and fuzzies. God showed up and let Habakkuk know what was about to happen and it scared Habakkuk spitless.

There are times we need to have THAT feeling come over us. There are times we need the realization that the warm fuzzies is not the entirety of God. We think WE see injustice? When God shows up and gives us HIS view, we need a sense of fear and trembling.

God is ready to do amazing things. But “amazing” isn’t going to necessarily be in our definition. But whatever God does, when he shows up, have a glass of water close by. You just might need it.

Tenacious Waiting and Our Millisecond Attention Span

I will take my post;
I will position myself on the fortress.
I will keep watch to see what the Lord says to me
and how he will respond to my complaint. (Hab. 2:1, CEB)

We often think we are just THE THING when it comes to walking with God. We’re smarter, faster, more “spiritual”…

We certainly know better than the old fogies who’ve gone before us. While they “tarried” in prayer, we can get things done. Plug in the right marketing strategy and BOOM… instant church. Good stuff.

And even when God seems to throw us a curve ball, no problem. We’ll just lodge a complaint. We’ll even sit and wait for his response… as long as he gets back to us by the end of the business day. And we have a RIGHT to complain! There is injustice in the land! And we know injustice. We are trained professionals!

So, we lodge our complaint with God and wait.

And we think, “Let’s just see what he says about THIS.”

What if God just lets us stew there? What if we wait and five p.m. rolls around?

We may be good at complaining… but how good at we at waiting? And more still, how good are we at taking God’s answer?

He basically tells Habakkuk, “If the revelation lingers… wait.”

Habakkuk probably could wait. Some of the “old saints” of the Church could wait. That was the point of “tarrying.” They knew what it meant to “pray until.”

In our day… do we know what it is to have a tenacious pursuit of God? Do we know what it is to latch on and not let go until we hear from God?

There are times we truly need to hear from heaven. I believe we live in those times. We are suffering from extreme prosperity as an American Church and it is killing us. We just don’t know it yet. We are living in an anorexic lifestyle spiritually that is killing us. Yet, we are not wanting to hear from God… at least not yet.

We need to repent of our ADHD spirituality and get back to the call to WAIT for the vision God gives.