Soybeans vs. Wheat

Sometimes you gotta’ wait

Why is waiting important? It seems like every area of life is about waiting. You’re either waiting to hear back from someone. Or you’re waiting for a specific day to come. Or you’re waiting for people to arrive or for people to leave. Waiting is hard work, even though it feels like you aren’t accomplishing anything.

Farmers wait for their crops to grow. Business people wait for opportunities to shine. Actors wait for a script where they can pour their heart into. Teachers wait for their students to bring back their homework to show that they actually learned the lesson. Doctors wait for the next medical breakthrough. Everyone waits. It’s part of life, no matter if you follow Christ or not.

Soybeans vs. Wheat

Soybeans vs. Wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 62:5-8.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
      for my hope is in him. 
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
      my fortress where I will not be shaken. 
My victory and honor come from God alone.
      He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. 
O my people, trust in him at all times.
      Pour out your heart to him,
      for God is our refuge.

Waiting on God is a concept that is mentioned over and over again throughout the Bible. I think God brings it up so many times because people like me insist on forging ahead independently. And I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with that. After all, we are supposed to be bold and courageous, and we’re not supposed to live life in fear. But there’s a big difference between living life in fear and running ahead when you can’t see your feet in the dark.

Sometimes you have to wait. Sometimes the choices you make mean you have to wait longer.

My neighbors across the street planted two separate crops. They both tilled up their land at the same time, but one planted winter wheat and the other planted soybeans later in the year. So when June rolled around, the wheat was ready to be harvested (it was actually cut down the day after that photo was taken). But the soybeans were just beginning to sprout because they were planted later. So the wheat was cut and stored away in June. The soybeans weren’t harvested until many months later.

So why is it important to wait?

Practically, that’s a simple answer. If you try to eat hot soup straight out of the pot, you’ll burn your tongue. But in regards to living life? Waiting is important because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m not saying you have to wait before you make a decision, especially if you know it’s the right decision to make. But I have a hard time letting it go at that. I can make decisions all day long. I can choose to act in a certain situation. But then I don’t want to stop acting. I want to keep going.

It would be tantamount to harvesting that whole field of wheat and not wanting to stop before I harvested the soybeans too, even though they weren’t ready.

Because my heart and my head tell me I’m right and that I know what I’m doing and that I can handle any trial that comes my way, so I forge ahead without consulting God about it. And I expect to earn my victory in life on my own because I am a capable person and I don’t need help.

But that’s not what this Psalm says.

When people and situations rise up to challenge us, the first inclination is to strike back. When circumstances align where it seems that obtaining success will be easy for us, the first inclination is to seize that opportunity. And, yes, if you’re in a situation where the obvious answer is to do the right thing or choose the right thing, do it. Don’t wait for answers you already know. But we are rarely in that situation. We have a multitude of choices laid out before us and all of them can be good — but many of them give us the chance to run ahead of God seeking our own victory. And whenever we try to seek victory for ourselves by ourselves, we will fail. Because we’re not that good.

Choose a path. Stay on it. Do what you’re supposed to be doing. And wait for God to work out the details.

Sometimes you have to wait. Waiting doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong. And it doesn’t mean that God isn’t working. It could just mean that the crop you planted needs a little more time before you harvest it.

Sun behind the clouds

Trusting what will endure in a life that is temporary

When the sun rises in the morning, what are you doing? Are you still sleeping? Are you already at work? Are you on your way to work? We get 24 hours every day until the day that we die, and even though 24 hours a day sounds like a long time, it really isn’t. It seems even shorter in the winter time because the sun rises later and sets sooner.

The 24 hours we get in each day, we never get again. They come and they go. Fast. As a child, 30 seemed ancient and far away. But I will be 30 this year. But what is 30 years compared to 60? What is 60 compared to 80 or 90? And what is 90 compared to eternity? I think 90 years is a long time to live, but in the grand scope of what our existence will truly be, 90 years is nothing.

Sun behind the clouds

Sun behind the clouds - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 39:4-7.

LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;  at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in you. 

We are so consumed with time, especially those of us in America. We all carry watches. We all have clocks, although most of my clocks are set wrong. We all have cell phones with the time displayed. Why? Because we don’t want to be late. Americans are the culture most controlled by the power of the clock. We rush from meeting to meeting, always listening to the tick-tock of time and rarely understanding its true significance.

We grasp and clutch and cling to our possessions because it took so long and we worked so hard to earn them. And in the brief time we are alive on earth, we scramble to accumulate as much wealth as possible so that we can live comfortably. Is that wrong?

Well, no. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life. And there’s nothing wrong with trying to provide for yourself and your family. There are biblical examples of how to run businesses successfully. God has nothing against making money. But the problem with wealth and money and comfort is that they so easily become our idols. When wealth and money and comfort become what we live for, our lives lose their significance. Because what good will it do you when you die? You can’t take it with you.

Life is more than possessions. I try to remember that money is a tool to be used. And I know I struggled with it when I first started working at my current job because I’d gotten so used to having so little that I didn’t know how to live when I had so much. When I could pay my bills and buy my groceries and still have money left over, it threw me. And there is something about having a surplus of money that makes you want to hold on to it. Maybe it doesn’t work that way with everyone, but that’s the way my mind is geared. My first inclination is to hoard. But what good will that do?

No, it’s not wrong to save, especially for someone in my position in life. But if I ever let my hope rest in that savings account, I stop hoping in God.

Verse 11 of this same chapter in The Message says: When you put us through the fire to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke?

God will allow punishment and testing into our lives when we do things that contradict His Word. When we allow money and comfort (or anything else) to take His place in our lives, He won’t let that go. And when the testing comes, those things that we cling to will burn away because they aren’t worth anything, in spite of what the world says.

Comfort. Money. Wealth. Fame. Power. Influence. Sex. None of it will last, and none of it will give you strength enough to face the next 24 hours, no matter how brief it might be in comparison to eternity. Because when God allows trouble into your life, you can try to rely on your idols but none of them will be able to withstand God’s testing.

Only God will remain.

So in our brief, temporary life on earth, it’s a good idea to put our hope in something that will last beyond it. Anything of earth is going to burn away. Everything we know down here is going to come to an end. We need to trust in God because when everything else comes crashing down, He will still be standing.

Grainery Door

Pestering versus Persisting

I hate pestering people. Maybe that’s just me, but having to ask someone over and over and over again for the same thing upsets me. It embarasses me. Isn’t that weird? I don’t want people to call me a pest, but at the same time I need them to do their part so I can finish what I’m working on. So when God tells us to ask Him for things, I always do. But usually I only ask once.

But here is a lesson I have learned from working in the corporate world: if you don’t nag someone, they won’t do it. That’s just the way it is. If you only have to ask someone for something once before they answer, either they don’t have enough work to do or you aren’t getting your work done (I’m exaggerating, of course . . . but only a little).

You have to ask people over and over and over again for something all the time, mainly to show them how important it is. If you only ask for it once and then you don’t bring it up again and they never respond, well, it must not be very important to you. I think that’s the general consensus. And if I understand today’s verse right, God is the same way.

Grainery Door

Grainery Door - Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Matthew 7:7-8.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

When we want something or when we need something, we should ask. We have to ask and ask and keep on asking. It’s not pestering. It’s persistence. There’s a difference. Persistence is continuing steadfastly, according to Dictionary.com. Pestering is bothering persistently.

Do you get the difference?

Pestering is bothering someone. It’s approaching someone with a problem that is trivial or petty over and over and over again. Even after someone has told you not to bring it up anymore, if you keep bringing it up and it becomes annoying, then it is pestering.

But persistence is working toward something that matters. It’s asking for something that matters to you. It’s continuing to request something over and over again because it will change the quality of your life or of someone else’s life. It’s not a petty, annoying request.

Okay. So how do we know the difference between a request that matters and one that doesn’t?

Here’s the easy answer: There’s no petty request with God.

God cares about every instance in our lives. Even the things that we think (and that others think) are petty are huge to Him. Why? Because they matter to us.

I have good friends who have no children, not by their own desire but just because of the way life has worked. Their dog became really important to them because they had no children, and when their dog suddenly died, they both struggled with it. A lot. And it broke my heart because they didn’t feel comfortable talking about how sad they were around other Christians because “it was only a dog.” 

No. It was a pet they loved. And maybe other Christians callously thought it was petty to love an animal so much, but that’s not  fair. We shouldn’t judge someone else’s heart, and we have no place to tell someone what they can and can’t love (we do it all the time, though).

And maybe asking for comfort in a situation like that seemed petty to other Christians, but it wasn’t petty to God. God understands our grief. He understands the pain we go through. He understands our hearts and our dreams and our wishes, and He cares. He wants to be involved in our lives. He wants to give us good gifts. He wants to do great things through us.

But if we don’t ask, He might not. Because when you ask for something–and you really really want it–your attitude toward that request changes. When you ask for something over and over, your level of desire for that outcome increases. The more you ask for it, the more you want it. The more you want it, the more you’ll be willing to invest of yourself.

So ask God for what you want. Not just once. Not just twice. Constantly. Consistently. Let Him know that what you’re asking for is something you’re determined to finish, to see through to the end. Because if you’re only going to devote half your heart to it, do you really want it as badly as you think you do?

Stray milo at sunset

What does your brain think about?

What occupies your thoughts most frequently? Do you think about work? Do you think about what you get to do on your day off? Do you think about your hobbies? Or your friends? If your brain ever has a chance to wander, what do you think about? It’s a fair assumption to say that you are going to spend your time thinking about the things (or the people) you love.

I’m not sure why that is. But I’ve noticed that the human brain tends to spend more time proportionately thinking about things we love than it does about things we hate or dislike . . . unless you’re just a miserable person in general. Then you focus on things you don’t like or the things that are wrong in your life. But that’s not the topic for this morning.

Stray milo at sunset

Stray milo at sunset - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 139:17-18. And this verse isn’t about our thoughts–it’s about God’s thoughts.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

I don’t know if this amazes anyone else, but it leaves me speechless to understand that God thinks about me. And not just passing thoughts. Enough thoughts about me that they outnumber the grains of sand on the beaches. That’s a lot of thoughts.

That God would take so much time to think about me is beyond my comprehension. It doesn’t really make sense. But that’s what this verse says. And the rest of the chapter talks about how God knows every inch of us, knows what we’re going to say before we say it, knows what we’re thinking before we think it, knows everything there is to know about us. So I don’t think I’m misunderstanding the concept here.

I can’t help but compare it to how many times I think about God in a day. I wouldn’t say my thoughts number into the grains-of-sand level. More like, having-to-count-on-fingers-and-toes level. And compared to how much God thinks about me, that’s pretty pitiful.

Most of the time, my thoughts are consumed with my busy schedule. If it’s not my schedule, the writing nerd in me is thinking about the book I’m working on or the next short story I need to finish or a skit that needs to be written. I’m doing better about leaving work at work, but it still pops up too. And, boy, do I spend a lot of time thinking about church, which isn’t the same thing as thinking about God by the way.

I get so busy. I am constantly running around like my hair is on fire. With all the responsibilities I have taken on, some days it’s like I can barely keep my head above water. There’s too much to do at work. There’s too much to do at home. There’s too much to write. There are too many people I need to communicate with. Too many and too much of everything. And all of them are jockeying for position in my head.

So in all that thinking about my life, when does that leave me time to think about God? My hour-long commute? Two hours, if you count the round trip? And that’s not really thinking about God. That’s my prayer time. When was the last time I just sat and thought about God? When was the last time I just sat at all?

I’m not really a thinker. I’m a doer. And I’m a fixer. So sitting and thinking is difficult for me. But taking some time to sit and think about what God means to me might help my perspective. Because if I can slow down and remember who my God is, I can do anything.

God loves me enough to think about me. And not just once or twice a day. Constantly. So am I constantly thinking about Him? Not really. So maybe that needs to change.

Sleeping with his eyes open?

Sleeping with your eyes open?

Some mornings I wake up and the last thing I want to do is get out of bed. There are a number of reasons. The number one reason, as some of you know, is that I have no heat and no air conditioning in my bedroom. So in the summer, my bedroom is 95 and in the winter it has gotten as cold as 15. I have an electric blanket that does a super job of keeping me warm during those cold winter nights, and this winter we’ve had it pretty easy. My room has only gotten below 30 once.
But one of the hardest things to do, especially after a week of late nights, is to wake up in the morning and climb out of my toasty warm bed into the 30-degree air of my bedroom where my feet make condensate on the wood floors when I walk. But I usually get up anyway. Know why? I have a lot to do. Granted, most of my tasks are self-appointed. But either way, I only get 24 hours in a day, and if I lay around I’ll never get anything done.
Sleeping with his eyes open?

Sleeping with his eyes open? - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

The verse I read for today is Titus 3:14.

Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.

I was curious about this one so I did a little comparison on translations and context. It’s taken from the very end of the Book of Titus, which is a letter written by Paul to a young man named Titus (surprise!). And this last bit which encompasses verses 12 through 15, makes up the conclusion of the letter where Paul is giving specific instructions to specific people. But verse 14 isn’t specific. It says “our people,” meaning believers in general.

I decided to look it up in the Message too. The Message isn’t my first choice for deep Bible study, but it’s a good paraphrase in real modern language to understand the concept that the Scripture is trying to get across.

Our people have to learn to be diligent in their work so that all necessities are met (especially among the needy) and they don’t end up with nothing to show for their lives.

And there it was. Be Diligent. Our people must be diligent.

Christians, real believers, are to be diligent. Not indolent.

We’re supposed to work so that we can be ready when trouble comes. We’re supposed to work so that we can help other people who haven’t been as fortunate as we have. We’re supposed to be up and on our feet and moving. Not sitting.

It’s easy to spend your life sitting. In a way, sitting makes life easier sometimes. I know I can convince myself that I’m waiting on God so I can’t actually do anything. But what if God is waiting on me? Maybe I need to take the initiative sometimes.

So what does that mean? Does that mean I have to sleep with my eyes open? Does that mean I can’t get any rest or ever take a break? No. That’s not diligence. That’s perfectionism, and there’s nothing that will wear you down and burn you out faster than perfectionism.

The dictionary defines diligence as constant effort to achieve something. But I say, diligence is character. Diligence is getting up when you don’t feel like it. It’s taking the hard path instead of the easy road because you know it needs to be done.

That being said, diligence is never easy either. But diligence is always productive. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If you approach it with diligence, you will accomplish something, and you’ll have something to show for it, whether it be a completed novel or a clean house or projects completed at work. Maybe all you’ll accomplish is that you’ll learn something. But that’s something.

Diligence never goes unrewarded. It’s never easy, but it’s worth it. So get out of bed. And get busy. We all have tools and gifts and opportunities. Let’s do something with them.