Translate

13 November 2013

Packaging

Listening to others share about their lives and testify of the goodness of God got me started thinking about about my own life. The original conversation was centered around the topic of "share about a time when you wanted to quit". Like most discussions, that topic connected to another (and another and another). My first thought was, "I don't remember ever wanting to quit." It took a few minutes to recall a time. Honestly, at 45 years old, it was the only time. 

That time was just about a year and a half ago. I felt so useless in the kingdom that I said to the Lord, "use me or take me home". There was no anger or hostility in me, just emptiness. If I couldn't be actively doing something to honor Him, I saw no point in continuing life on this earth.

As I pondered that, I thought how interesting that I had no preconceived notion about what His response might be. I could have woke up in glory, or as He would have it, I could be offered an opportunity to share in a work for the kingdom. 

That propelled me into another thought. 

The Lord had offered an opportunity to work with someone that I didn't particularly like, with a call on their life that I struggled and failed regularly, to embrace. Initially I was so relieved to have something productive to do that I never questioned the circumstances. As time went on I frequently found myself saying to the Lord, "What am I doing here? I don't even like this person." Imagine my surprise one day when I was driving alone in my car, talking to the Lord about the situation, and heard myself say, "I love that guy!" I was so shocked, I looked in the back seat to see who said it.

It's funny now, but it brought me to my next thought. 

We are more than willing to tell the Lord what we want. I wonder how often people miss the gifts He sends in response, because they don't like the wrapping it came in. Can you imagine discarding a new iPad because someone put it in a shirt box? Christmas is coming. Most people will open gifts and discard the wrapping quickly, just to get to the surprise inside. Even if the box says something odd, we'll open it, just in case there is something we really want inside.

But how often do we discard the gifts God sends, along with the packaging? From the way someone combs their hair to their conversation, to their history, we are quick to find a reason to reject the gift nestled inside the human flesh we initially see. 

Then, I began to wonder why I am less likely to do that than some people I know.

My thoughts drifted back to my childhood. One of my earliest memories was coming home to find groceries on our front step. And another time of coming in the house and finding groceries on the kitchen table. Both times I had been gone with both parents. I hadn't known we were lacking prior to the provision, but I was well aware that provision had come. The Lord started preparing me early to recognize His provision. Somehow, in my child's mind, that was His way of clearly articulating to me that I was loved and He would always give me good things. It wasn't a Bible story. It was real life.

My parents modeled that love. With every word they spoke, not only to me or about me, but to or about anyone else. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all", was not discussed in our house, but it was demonstrated by my parents, always. That love was also modeled in that I never knew what the financial situation was in the family. I just always had what I needed and most often what I wanted. Not immediate gratification, but good things always came. I never doubted that I was loved by my parents and therefore never worried about what I would eat or what I would wear, or if I would be able to go roller skating on Saturday (or Sun or Mon or Tuesday or Friday).

The root of it was provision. 

As a very young child I came to know the ways of the Lord. I didn't worry, and yet, food and clothes were always there. Those were also the years, or perhaps the end of the years of the church teaching that we had to "tarry" before the Lord and to "pray through". We almost laugh at such wording today, but, again, as a child, I had experience with "tarrying" before the Lord. Waiting. I remember so clearly, waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

To Tarry is akin to Patience. It means to wait, but not to wait inactively. I means to wait as a waiter at a fine restaurant would wait on a customer. Standing nearby, watching, prepared to meet the slightest request, before it was made. Actively meeting the need, a little more water, a fresh napkin, warm your coffee? It is about tending to the Lord. It also means endurance. Endurance is when steady pressure is applied against an obstacle, in order to move that object out of the way. That's what old fashioned Tarrying was about. It was about staying face to face with the Father as you pressed through the obstacles intended to keep you from Him.

In my case it was an upward ascent to the Throne where He sat with Jesus at His right hand. There in front of them was a huge, beautifully wrapped box. Once I scaled the obstacles, the Father sat me on His lap and picked up that huge box, which immediately became small enough for me to handle. I lifted the lid and didn't know anything else until I came to myself, dancing in the Spirit and speaking in tongues. I was nine years old. The Lord was busy imparting His truth into my life. Letting me know beyond any doubt that He is, and He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

But what if I had rejected the gift I asked for because I had to endure in order to obtain it? What if I rejected the gift because I didn't like the wrapping paper? What if my parents had rejected the groceries because they found them on the step outside? It sounds almost laughable, but people do it every day. They ask God for a Oak tree and He gives them an acorn. They curse the acorn and then complain that God doesn't answer their prayers.

Which brings me to my next thought in that conversation. 

God ALWAYS answers prayer. He may not always say "yes", but He always answers, "Yes, No, or Wait". Thank you Mary Chin, primary Sunday School teacher, in the days of surprise groceries and tarrying for the Holy Ghost. Somewhere in that Sunday class, one little girl, who understood that the Father loved her, picked up that a good Daddy doesn't always tell you what you want to hear, but He will always tell you need to hear.

Which brought me full circle to my prayer that Sunday when I was ready to "quit" in this earthly place. My personal acorn came nestled in the heart of a prophet who had two counts against him in my world. One, he was a prophet. I had been deeply wounded by some who called themselves prophets, but only served to kill, steal and destroy. Two, I didn't like his method(s) in ministry. I sat there in awe at the wonder of my God.

To a hungry man any bitter thing is sweet.

Because I chose not to reject the gift based on the packaging, but instead, determined to see what was inside, I found not one gift, but many. Today, I see that prophet from the inside out. I've discovered that his methods in ministry aren't all as bad as I thought, and I am blessed to know that not everyone who carries the title of Prophet is set on my destruction. You see, those leaders who are five fold ministry, are gifts, according to scripture. If you have one of each in your life, you are well blessed. If you have more than one of each, consider yourself favored. 

Additionally, inside that wrapping was the salt that made me hungry and thirsty for intimacy with Jesus again. No longer satisfied to be busy about the kingdom. Now, wholly desiring Him alone. Once again I found myself "tarrying" before the Lord, on a much more regular basis. Not because I had a need, but because I want what He wants to give me. 

I didn't ask Him for an oak tree. I asked Him for a whole forest. He took me around and showed me all the forests He has been preparing for me.

Then He gave me one acorn.



With His Heart,

Kimberly


Col 3:15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also were called in one body, and be thankful.