How long?

The last day of school has finally arrived and the children are anxiously anticipating our awards program. Even though I have set the movable hands on the demonstration clock at the front of the room to 12:15 one little guy continues to ask, “How long ’til awards, Mrs. Gatts?”

After answering him multiple times throughout the morning I finally point to the clock and say, “What does the clock say?”

He screws up his face in concentration.

“3:00?’

“Try again. The little hand points toward the hour. The big hand tells how many minutes past.”

“Three after twelve?”

I sigh. Great. It’s the last day of school and he still doesn’t know how to tell time. Trying to maintain a happy heart I muster a smile.

“It’s 12:15,”  I tell him.

He smiles back.

“But how long ’till awards?”

This time I can’t help but chuckle.

“I tell you what, darlin’, ” I say. “When it’s time, I’ll tell you to line up. I promise I won’t let you miss it.”

His freckled nose crinkles up as he grins. “O.K.,” he says.

I get it.

Waiting is hard work. And not just for little boys. It’s hard for us big kids, too. It feels unnatural and uncomfortable.

“How long, O LORD?” I cry out. “How long before You hear my prayers and answer them?”

I want answers to my questions, solutions to my problems, sometimes even an end to my sufferings and I want it right now.

Today.

Actually, yesterday, if possible.

But God doesn’t schedule in His answers according to the calendar I keep. He loves me too much to rush the process. That intricate process of me becoming who I am to be.

Learning to be content in the waiting rooms of my life allows me to cultivate trust and obedience. Character traits that can only be grown in the slow, steady light of the Father’s perfect timing. Resting in the knowledge that God alone knows the when and where of my life.

So when impatience gets the best of me and I cry out, “How long, O LORD?” I can be confident that He sees me, freckled nose and all and says,

“I’ll tell you what, darlin’. When it’s time, I’ll tell you. And I promise I won’t let you miss it.”

 

 

 

Obedient Hearts

The children in my second grade class were giddy with excitement in anticipation of our Valentine’s party. Controlling the exuberant enthusiasm as we spent our reading time immersed in a Japanese folktale and then later in math computing two-digit subtraction problems was like holding down a boiling pot lid with two hands. Finally the hands on the classroom clock pointed to two o’clock. The explosion of hearts and candy began! Love was definitely in the air and as candy and cards spilled out it was also on the floor!

What would it mean to our lives if we pursued God’s heart the way a typical eight-year-old anticipates a Valentine party? And what does it really mean- to be a man or woman after God’s own heart? We read in Acts 13:22 that King David was a man after God’s own heart. It’s interesting to think that David was the one God chose to describe in those terms. After all, wasn’t David an adulterer? Didn’t David murderously send a good man to the front lines of battle to be killed so that could have his wife? How in the world could he be a man after God’s own heart?

Doctor Luke wrote these words “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” David was not a man after God’s own heart because he was perfect, for in fact he was full of sinful behavior. But God said that David was a man after His own heart because David would do everything he wanted him to do. When God called David to do something he responded by doing it. David had a humble and obedient heart.

If we are striving to be men and women after God’s own heart we can look at David, a child of God as an example of the kind of heart God wants us to have- full of faith and obedience. Obedience is not exactly my favorite word when it applies to my own self. It reminds me of bossiness and there’s probably nobody who doesn’t want to be bossed around more than me. And yet, obedience to God is exactly what He asks of me.

Each morning when I wake I pray the same prayer- “Lord, let me be a woman after your own heart today.” I am sure there are people in my life who might be thinking at times- Really? Because you sure aren’t acting like that! But just like every other human being on the planet, I am flawed and in need of a Savior. My intentions are to follow after God’s heart and then well, life happens and I get sidetracked.

In order to truly pursue God I need to firmly plant the Word of God in my heart. So when life happens, my default reaction is not worldly but rooted solidly in the Word. What is displayed in my life is the overflow of what is in my heart. For me to be woman after God’s own heart, my own heart and mind have to be open to what God has to say to me. And when He calls me, I must respond in obedience.

For God will never call me to a place where He has not gone before. I can rest in the knowledge that His grace is sufficient to my every need. Every day may not be filled with hearts and roses, but if I am obediently pursuing God’s own heart it will be abundantly filled with the Father’s grace and love.