Category: Encouragement

Sharing support, courage & hope

Advancing in Years

Sunday Sermon 12.31.21

As I share this blog post with you today, I feel compelled to remind you that you are not getting any younger. That’s profound, I know, (she said facetiously), but important for you and me to hear as we sit on the perch of another new year. No matter your age, you are not getting any younger and you are advancing in years.

This new years eve, as we turn another calendar month and introduce the new year of 2022, we see all too clearly it confirmed, that the years just keep on advancing. But as we keep step with our advancing calendar, are we truly making forward progress? Are we truly advancing, moving on, walking forward, and going on from where we were?

Because remember, we are not getting any younger.

Let me share with you why this is the absolutely, perfect time for you to truly advance from where you have been. First we will look at 2022 from a numerological perspective, then 5720 (2022’s Hebrew counter part) and close with a quick look at three people, who are perfect examples of advancing in years.

2022

As basic numerology teaches us, the calendar year dates have numerological signifigance. “The first two numbers set the stage for the year and the last two direct that influence in a particular direction. So, the 20 in 2022 will remain powerful through 2099. 20 carries an energy of opposition from two contending forces with the challenge to find common ground.” (1)

22 – “is the most powerful number of all, as it is a master builder. It is associated with building the base or structure.” It is a combination of 11 but aslo 4, which are both powerful building numbers. (1) And let’s point out, that the Hebrew alphabet itself, has 22 letters.

It is based on these premises that Josh Siegel, states, “The future will be challenging but better.” He beleives that the next year will be all about getting back to normalacy and rebuilding our lives, especially focusing on balance in work and relationships. 22 is about bringing balance to the opposing forces in our life and working together. (1)

So, in 2022, it is time to get off the easy chair of our life and begin to seriously advance through the opposition that may stand before us. We have a powerful future to build, and we are not getting any younger.

5782

On September 7, 2021 began the Hebrew new year of 5782, and it too contains insight for what the year ahead will hold. As you may or may not remember, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet each have 3 values. They have a phonic sound, a numerical value, and a prophetic picture or sign. This has been for me a fantastically, wonderful mystery to unfold and enjoy.

Each of the numbers (5782) has a pictoral and prophetic signifigance, but I will focus on just the 82.

We are living in the decade of the 80’s. (5780’s that is, not legwarmers, big hair, spandex or neon colors) The Hebrew letter “pey” has the numerical value of 80 and it’s picture symbolizes an open mouth. It has all to do about our mouth and language.

My friend, wasn’t that exactly what broke upon us in 5780/2020? It was all about the mouth. Cover your mouth, don’t share, speak, canceling mouths, etc. We seem to be living in a decade of this, as we can attest to what we have seen in these last two years. There may be slight changes, but it is still all about the mouth.

The Hebrew number 2, the second letter of the alphabet is “bet” and its name means “house”, or tent, and is saying very loudly that God is the strength of the house, and wise are those who build the house. Two also represents to divide, difference or oppose. We can understand that ideally there should be two that mirror one another, (as in the 2 shall be one flesh); thus making a true pair that works together like ears, eyes, nostrils, hands and feet. When 2 isn’t reflecting the positive side of one (unity), it denotes division rather than multiplication. (2)

Here are my takeaway from all these dates and numbers.

2022/5782 is a year for what comes from our mouth to be in alignment with God’s Word. The fullness of His word (22 letters) and what comes from our mouth should be building His house, and our family. Our words should be strengthening our family tent, members and thereby lending strength to the churches, synagogues or temples that we attend. What we say, reflects what is in our heart and this is the year for it to be dominated by faith. It is time to change the words we are speaking and build up our family, community, temple and nation.

This is why I was so moved to write about the tongue- eating louse a few days ago. We have allowed parasites to steal the power of our tongue and the freedoms that our speech has been granted. (See my previous blog, “An Awful Animal Allegory”)

During these days of division, and of opposing forces contending with each other, what we speak reveals what we are aligned with. Are we speaking Covid protocols, variants and mandates? Are we speaking faith, hope and God’s Word? Are we multiplying or dividing?

In the decade of the mouth and especially this new year of the family and house of God, where do our loyalities lie? Are we really advancing through the years or just surviving. Are we building up our homes, and their relationships or have we given up?

Lastly, I am reminded of three biblical characters who have modeled – advancing through the years.

Zechariah/Elizabeth

“… both were advanced in years.”

Luke 1:7,18 ESV

These two, although probably well past 60, were no candidates for retirement. (nor for having children.) And yet, they were hanging onto every promise they had about their family and weren’t about to cave in because of opposition, division or long waits! Their family was gonna advance, by golly!

Anna

” And there was a prophetess, Anna, … she was advanced in years…”

Luke 2:36 ESV

Anna was cut out of the same fabric of faith that Zack and Liz were. She knew she wasn’t getting any younger and she still chose to contend for every promise that God put in her heart. She was definately advancing and not retreating.

Caleb

At age 40, Caleb was recruited for a spy mission, with 11 others. He reported back after the mission that they were well able to take the land that they had spied out. He immediately faced opposition with a loud and convincing report to the contrary. After another 45 years of patiently waiting, look at his statement,

“… the Lord has kept me alive these 45 years… And now, I am 85 years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength then, for war and for going and coming.”

Joshua 14:10-11 ESV

Caleb knew he wasn’t getting any younger, and he also knew that he was advancing in years and in strength and had been for 45 years! I want some of that!

To wish you a happy new year would be cordial, (and that I do), but my wish for you dear one, is that through this new year of 2022, you will truly advance in faith, and not just in years, that you will use a bold, open, faith-speaking mouth, and that you will multiply blessings in your family and not division. I pray that regardless of opposition, you will advance, grow, move forward become better and stronger.

May 2022/5780 see you strongly advancing in years. (cuz you’re not getting any younger.)

Happy advancing!

Debbie

  1. Josh Siegel, numerologist
  2. K. Gallagher, Graceintorah.net

How Do You Manage Stress?

This week I was told that an old friend of mine had just lost his twenty four year old son to suicide.

There are no words to express the range of emotions that accompany this unimaginable loss, either for me, but more importantly, for my friend and his family. There may be no loss greater than the suicide of your child. As a mother, I tried to understand the sheer volume of feelings, emotions, experiences and thoughts that would drive my child to such a permanent decision. There are no words. My heart aches.

It appears that the common thread that connects all suicides is the overwhelming feeling of dread, despair, lonliness and hopelessness among those who commit suicide. Additionally, depression, academic performance, workplace performance, economic standing along with other factors hold serious importance too. (1)

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. It is the 4th leading cause of death for adolescents, globally. In 2019 there were 47,511 lives lost due to suicide, while 1.4 million attempted suicide. (1)

Finding ways to cope with the hopelessness that surrounds us is a very important life skill. Being able to manage the stress and anxiety is vital for all of us. Withhout these coping skills the suicide statistics will continue to climb, and families will continue to be shattered by the unthinkable, unexpected loss of loved ones.

We all realize that during the holidays not every home is “merry and bright”, and although we sing of it being “the most wonderful time of the year”, for the “masked many”, it is not. The lights of the holiday season fail to bring the illumination needed to the dark lonliness of the “masked many”.

Let’s work together to help each other to better manage stress. K?

Here are some signs that you or a loved one may be needing stress relief: (2)

  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • indigestion
  • muscle tension
  • exhaustion
  • change in appetite
  • teeth grinding

If you notice these in you (or your friend) and you’ve not experienced them before, talk to a doctor, discuss the stresses in your life.

It’s important to learn to manage our stress, because stress is a part of all of our lives. We will always have to deal with it. It will look different in each life, but it always impacts our life in a negative way. Chronic stress can even lead to heart disease, memory impariment and depression.

Of course, we have seen the ways it can impact our relationships with other people, too. We have less patience with people and struggle to handle situations that we normally are able to manage.

So, here are some stress management tips: (3)

  1. Get to the root cause of the stress – look deep, beyond the obvious. Hone in. Evaluate what you like and don’t like about it.
  2. Meditate – collect your thoughts, bring them back. Center them in truth and focus them on the truth.
  3. Deep breathing – focus on taking deeper breaths, it slows your heart rate down and relaxes muscles. Consequently, your stress responses are slowed and your concentration improved.
  4. Manage your time – allow yourself breaks in the day to rest and recharge
  5. Consider journaling – this helps you to get your feelings out and identify things that are causing stress
  6. Make lists and prioritize – you may have alot to do, so write them down. But also order them, not everything is a priority. Be honest.
  7. Do one thing at a time – multitasking does not allow you to do your best work because you are doing too many things. Your brain does not like jumping back and forth. Allow it to focus and offer your best, then move on.

Learning to utilize these tips and tools will help, but should you find they are not helping enough, seek the assistance of a professional. They will be able to help you identify causes, and equip you with skills to manage your stress.

Take honest stock of your life or the life of your loved one. Learning how to manage stress and helping our loved ones manage stress will help to assure that no one you know has to deal with a loss due to suicide.

So, how do you manage stress? Are you managing it, or is it managing you?

Cheers to you,

Debbie

Works Cited:

  1. afsp.org (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
  2. http://www.betterhelp.com
  3. ibid

The Right Place and Time #2

#2 of 5- In a series of Sunday Sermons 12.4.21

#2 Elihu – a spokesman

Last week we introduced this series by exposing our driving desire to be in the right place at the right time. As an example, and for insight, we looked at Job, who was targeted by God for tremendous surprises in his life as he suffered through his many losses.

What surprises have you seen this week in your life? Your families life?

As you may remember, after Job lost his family, wealth, health and the support of his wife, he was visited by some friends, who came to show him sympathy and comfort. Job 2:11

Elihu and Job

These men were elders, men of high standing, just like Job. “These three were from the East, an area known for the wisdom of man. They relied solely on their reasoning and presuppositions to explain Job’s suffering” (1) Yet, for the next 30 chapters, what we observe is their endless reasoning and arguing with Job that he has sinned and must repent. while Job insists on his own righteousness.

Elihu – a spokesman

Elihu – the tender, truth-teller

Then, out of nowhere, appears a fourth voice. Elihu. It is thought that Eliju was an observer of these four men’s interactions and reasonings. For days he sat, observed, listened, mused, fumed and stewed as he listened to their empty arguements and baseless assertions. Until, he had had enough. They had finished their exchanges in a dead heat and now Elihu was heated enough to explode.

” So these men ceased to answer Job… Then Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job… he burned with anger also at Job’s three friends…. Now Elihu had waited to speak because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.”

Job 32:1-5 ESV

Was Elihu in the right place?

Geesh, here was an elder who had been beset with horrible boils running with pus, blood and infection. He was actually unidentifiable, his friends didn’t even recognize him. Job 2:12 He’d lost all he valued and was sitting in the junkyard. Surrounding him were his “friends” attempting to comfort and console him. Yet, nothing he’d heard from their “wise” mouths brought either. Elihu was aghast! These are wise men from the east? These men are renoun for their understanding and insight?

“It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” Job 32:9 Elihu concluded.

He knew now, that he was in the right place at just the right time. He was full of words, had respectfully waited his turn, attentively listened to all points of view and was now ready to speak. NOW was the right time. Job 32:18

Four times this text states: “he burned with anger“.

This phrase when translated more fully from the Hebrew would really read, (2)

Elihu’s heart began to race and his breathing intensified. His face began to imitate the rage of his heart, because as a seer-prophet he saw and understood what God was saying and knew that he must speak on God’s behalf. He must open his lips and answer. Job 32:7-8, 18-22; 36:2

He was in the right place and the right time had finally come!

You see, Elihu, although younger than the other wise friends, was a prophetic voice. His name means, “He is my God”. He is a prophetic descendent of Abraham. The city he was from (Ram” short for Aram, Abraham) was known for its prophets. The other three friends came to Job from the East, with man’s wisdom, but Elihu came to Job with a prophetic voice, Godly insight and perspective.

Eliju had been groomed and prepped his whole life for this exact place and this exact time.

As a new wineskin bursting with fermented, new wine he exploded on the scene. Job 32:19

For the next six chapters of Job (32-37), Elihu speaks for God. He brings four charges from God to these men and this case:

  • Chapter 32 – Elihu rebukes the three friends
  • Chapter 33 – Elihu tells Job that he is not right, because God is always just
  • Chapter 34 – Elihu emphasizes that God is just
  • Chapter 35 – Elihu confronts Job’s misspeech. Saying that Job is not suffering becasue of sin, but is sinning in his suffering.
  • Chapter 36 & 37 – Elihu tells of God’s greatness, majesty, might and power

The Encyclopedia Britannica says this of Elihu,

” Elihu is a superhuman intermediary who will help restore Job to God.”

When a tender, truth-teller shows up on the scene, in the midst of hopelessness, pain and suffering, that one could surely be considered super human.

Elihu’s perspective was that God is always just. Powerful. Merciful. God is always seeking to teach us and uses every situation in our life to teach us. Elihu identified God a the teacher in Job’s sufferings and Job would do well to learn the lessons that God was teaching him, rather than accuse and misspeak. God is always good and will never do wickedly. Why contend with God?

Elihu, the son of “God has blessed”, the father of the “prophet”, of the family of “high or exalted ancestor of David”, was in the right place at the right time with his heart full of words, his belly like wine without a vent. There he was called to speak the word of the Lord that was burning within him, just like Jeremiah in Jeremiah 19: 9 The burning truth of the Lord was shut up in his bones and he could not hold it in any longer.

These are the days that we are living in, oh mighty ones. Days of being in the right place at the right time and speaking what God has burned into our heart. Days of Elihu’s arising. Watching for times to speak. Listen, observe, wait, respect, honor and then speak boldly the truth into the situation.

Understand the times and seasons, and be that one who, out of nowhere, speaks the powerful Word of God into a hopeless situation. Let his Word ferment within you and be released into your family, workplace, neighborhood, church, synagogue, temple, classroom, and your sphere of influence.

We need more tender, truth-tellers. We need more spokesmen like Elihu.

Next week, we will study Esther – a princess who was beautiful, brazen and blessed. Hope to see you back.

Go with God.

Debbie

1. Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., Keyword Study Bible

2. Hebrew lexicon H2374; H639;

Avoid

Defined by Oxford as “to keep away from or stop oneself from doing.” Merriam-Webster concurs, ” to prevent the occurence or effectiveness of, to refrain from.”

What is it that you avoid? What things do I avoid?

A quick internet search offered these things to avoid:

  • bad company
  • unhealthy food
  • fake friends
  • wasting time
  • abusive fights
  • smoking weed/weeds/drugs

Actually, a pretty good list, in my opinion. What do you think?

Here’s another great list of things to avoid:

  • grabbibg your phone without a goal
  • answering messages on the spot
  • waiting for others to contact you
  • see the negative first
  • buying more than you throw a way
  • not letting silence in
  • and the list continues, but you get the idea

But just for a minute, let’s go micro rather than macro. Micro looks at the small segments, compartments of your life. Lets go there.

In those places, compartments of your life, of your heart, (maybe known only by you and a close friend), what areas are avoided? What rooms are off limits? Which places are are sealed up? Which memories, motives and masks are eluded, evaded and escaped from? What are you avoiding or trying to stop yourself from dealing with?

This morning, in my life, those were the types of questions that were filtering through my mind and heart. What was I avoiding? Was I avoiding anything that needed to be dealt with? Were there issues, items or incidents that needed my attention rather than avoidance?

And here’s the thought bubble, that appeared very cleary over my head and resounded in my heart –

When we avoid God and what He is pointing to in our life,

there is a VOID in our life, and we are left empty, without what we need.

There is so much truth and power in that statement, my friend.

We avoid things in our heart for a miriad of reasons and excuses. No matter the reason, if it is avoided at all, it will indeed leave a void in your heart, that must be filled and healed. If we avoid allowing God into that place (or those places) in our heart, we fill it with things that will never heal it our last. Things like, bitterness, anger, resentment, hatred or even apathy, and isolation, perhaps becoming callous, hard, harsh or cruel. These things fester and inflame all we do. They poison our entire life, outlook, hope and relationships.

It would be wise for us to allow God into those places in our hearts that we have avoided, for He alone can fill the void and heal at the root level any issue we have been avoiding.

Is there a void in your heart that He wants to fill and heal?

Please don’t avoid it.

Cheers to you.

Debbie

He Knows You

Sunday Sermon 11.13.21

Imagine spending three years of your life lovingly devoted to someone. Walking daily with them, eating, sleeping, traveling with them and even having sacrificed your career for them. In your heart you love them and are fully committed to them. “Never in a million years would you ever leave them”, is your declaration.

So sincere we (think) we are. So sure. We (think) that we know our heart and are certain of it’s trustworthyness.

Therein lies the fallacy.

We don’t really know the depth of our heart; it’s hidden caverns, twisted motivations, roots of anger, biterness, resentment, and pride. We don’t see it’s deceit, arrogance, fear, shame or wounds. We don’t really know the ability within us to hurt the one we love, or even abandon them.

the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Peter, Jesus devoted right hand man, experienced this very conundrum. Having declared that he would NEVER DENY Jesus in Mark 14:29, that, in fact, is exactly what he does. Mark 14:66-72.

But the phrase, found at the end of Peter’s denial is what gripped me,

” And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Mark 14:72 CEV

Peter didn’t really know what he was capable of. He didn’t really know what was in his heart, but Jesus did. Jesus knew the good, the bad and the ugly of Peter’s heart, just as He does mine and yours. But here’s the impacting part to me, when Peter remembered what Jesus had foretold about him, he broke down and wept.

You see, realizing how well Jesus knows and loves us is overwhelming and should bring us to tears. When we understand that Jesus knows all of those deepest carverns, twisted roots and dark recesses of our heart, we, too, just may respond as Peter did, with weeping.

But first we must remember.

  • Remember that before He formed you in the womb He knew you. Jeremiah 1:5
  • Remember that He has searched you and knows you. Psalm 139:1
  • Remember that He knows when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
  • Remember that before a word is on your tongue He knows it. Psalm 139:4
  • Remember that He has called you by name. Isaiah 43:1
  • Remember that He knows His own. John 10:14
  • Remember He formed your inward parts and knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
  • Remember that your frame was not hidden from Him when you were being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths. Psalm 139:15
  • Remember that His eyes saw your unformed body. Psalm 139:16
  • Remember that every one of your days of life are written in His book. Psalm 139:16

All of this remembering is in itself overwhelming, but consider this, as well:

“But this I recall to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every mourning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:21 CEV

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

Psalm 139:6

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast in the sum of them! Were I to count them, they are more than the sand.”

Psalm 139:17-18

God is LOVE. He keeps no records of wrongs, He is patient with us and demonstrates loving kindness. He bears all things with us, always believes in us, and endures beside us, even in our “denials”. (like Peter) 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4:8

THAT my friend, is what causes my eyes to mist over. That kind of love is overwhelming. I am captured by the depth of His love for me, in spite of my dark heart.

I believe THAT is why Peter “broke down and wept.” He remembered just how much Jesus knew about him, all the ugly betrayal that he held in his heart, and yet Jesus still called him. Jesus still told him that he was “the Rock”. Jesus still included him, taught him, drew him close, and loved him.

Let’s remember though, in Mark’s account so far, Peter doesn’t know the end of the story. He doesn’t know what we do about Jesus’ resurrection and appearing to the eleven disciples afterwards, Peter is left remembering and weeping. But not us! We know the end of the story. We know Jesus restored Peter, just as He will us.

I have been moved lately by remembering what God’s word says about His love for me, but also that He knows everything there is to know about me. That is unimaginable! He knows me COMPLETELY, and still loves me! Mindboggling. He loves me so much, He is ever calling me to come near, see Him and be changed. He knows me, my weaknesses, my words and my thoughts, my desires and He loves me. He knows me. He loves me in perpetuity.

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!”

He knows you, too. Through and through.

Remember that.

Go with God.

Debbie

“Can you hear me know?” “Good!”

Sunday Sermon 11.6.21

For nine years, this question and response became a very popular and effective commercial for Verizon Wireless.

We use our hearing 24 hours a day. Our ears are like antennae that pick up signals from all different directions. Then they process those signals and pass them on to the brain for interpretation and action. When both ears are functioning we have optimal hearing.

Hearing.

Do you think much about what you hear between those 20 and 20,000 Hz? Of course, those important speech frequencies between 500 and 4,000 Hz are important, but what about the others, the whole range of things that you hear?

Even in “The Sounds of Silence”, what do you hear? (cue up Simon & Garfunkle, Disturbed or Pentatonix.) Is there really silence or are we still resonating with what has been heard?

We are cautioned in scripture, to

Pay attention to what you hear: …”

Mark 4:24 CEV

Or as another verson clarifies,

” Be diligent to understand the meaning behind everything you hear…”

Mark 4:24 TPT

I love the urgent call to action in the Greek words use. “Pay attention” indicates, “look out, look at, see. Beware! Have sight, observe, discern and perceive” (Strongs Concordance G#991) While what you “hear”, means, ” give audience to; be noised, be reported. Understand.” (Strongs Concordance G#191)

Jesus is the speaker in the context of this verse and His warning to the disciples (aren’t we His disciples, too) is to “Beware and look out for what you pay attention to, give audience to, the noise of what is reported. Be careful what you understand.”

You see, Jesus knew the power of hearing 24 hours a day. Jesus knew the power of noises and voices bombarding us with signals every minute of the day. Jesus warned His disciples to PAY ATTENTION to what you hear. Jesus knew the importance of hearing.

I have come to believe that is why, the greatest command, (which we often state as love God and love others) actually begins with:

HEAR, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”

Deuteronomy 6:4

Hear. That is the first priority.

Our ability to love God and others begins with our willingness to listen to God. How we listen to Him is reflected in how we treat others.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. “

Luke 11:28 CEV

What we do and say is contingent on what we hear.

“ The hearing is always found close to the speaking tongue. “

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even according to reknown physcologists, what we hear triggers the brain to initiate a behavior. In anticipation of a reward, we are motivated to act or respond so that the desired reward will be achieved. Think about that – what we hear TRIGGERS us. What we hear gives us cues (to behave in a certain way). Our behavior is driven by cues and triggers from what we hear.

In the mix of all that we hear, ie. news reports, political outcomes, mandates, employment requirements, housing needs, a spouse or friend’s requests and complaints, doctor’s reports and never ending self talk…. PAY ATTENTION to the triggers, cues.

Also, shift through what you’re hearing to determine if you are hearing God? Can you hear His voice in the mix of your days noises? Do you recognize it, understand it, pay attention to it? Is His voice giving you cues or is another source? Again, in the silence of your own thoughts, are you preceiving and discerning His voice?

Who or where are you getting your cues from?

“The entrance of your words bring light.”

Psalm 119:130 NIV

When we hear and pay attention to His voice, we enjoy walking in light, clarity, and peace. Our path is illuminated and we feel a confident peace in our heart. Apart from hearing His voice we experience uncertainty, wandering and indecisiveness.

Are we hearing His voice or everyone elses? Can we distinguish His voice from others? Or are we just looking to only hear what suits our own way and will? Scripture promises a day when people will have “itchy ears”. That means they will only hear what they want to hear and what stays inside of their own comfort level. (2 Timothy 4:3)

Hearing God’s voice is not only possible, it is the purpose for which you have been created; to walk with Him in a loving, communicative, mutual relationship. He is the Shepherd and we are the sheep, and His sheep hear His voice. John 10:27 CEV

He is speaking, He is sending out His signal, His voice to you. Are you paying attention?

Can you hear Him now? Good!

Go with God,

Debbie

Our Brains Hate Waiting

Sunday Sermon 10.23.21

our impatient brain

Whether it’s waiting in traffic, standing in line, waiting for a delivery, report or answer, psychologists tell us our brain hates waiting, so we speed up everything else.

Dr. Richard Larsen, professor at MIT explains, “Under pressure, our brains stretch time”. In stress, things tend to seemingly slow down but we expect things to happen quickly. That, tends to make us impatient, and we often become angry. It is that anger, that makes it seem like it takes forever.

“How people wait (in line) matters more than the duration of the wait”, he says. Distraction helps though. Notice if you will the TV screens at the gas stations, the end caps along check out lines filled with goodies for you to consider, or how about the master of distractions (entertainment) in line – DISNEY.

the line environment at Disneyland’s Indiana Jones

The “psychology of waiting” studies suggest these facts: (I didn’t even know there was such a “psychology”)

  • uncertain waits feel longer than finite ones
  • unexplained waits feel longer than explained waits
  • unoccupied time feels longer
  • unfair waits are longer than equitable waits

Another consideration when it comes to our brain and waiting, is the idea that whoever makes others wait has the power over them.

As humans, we want to take hold of the reigns and take control, accomplish it on our own effort. Get it done, move on. Waiting is not something we do easily and there is evidence that we can “blame our brain”. (She said sarcastically)

My question tho’ is, what happens in the delay? What do we do in that wait? What do we allow? Remember, “how we wait matters more than the duration of the wait.”

Here’s a story for you to ponder.

There once was a group of over 500,000 people, who were given instructions by their leader to wait at this specific location for his return. He was going to the top of the mountain with his assistant, but he would be back. They were to wait at the bottom of the hill for him.

So, wait they did. Day 1, day 2, day 3. Week 1, week 2, week 3. They were waiting. They were also getting wrestless, impatient and angry. Their brain was not having this waiting.

Finally, at week 5, they had had enough! They were feeling the pressure of their uncertain wait. Their unexplained and unoccupied wait was totally unfair and they were going to take things into their own hands. No one was gonna control them, they were gonna do something about this.

Again, my friend, it’s what we do in the wait that may matter most. Never mind what our brain is telling us, the choices we make in the delay are vital.

So, what did they do? Here’s the account…

” When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain they gathered themselves together… said to Aaron … make us gods… we don’t know what’s happened to Moses…”

Exodus 32:1 ESV

In their impatience and anger, they took matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, Aaron, the second in command followed their lead. From their 5 week waiting room they were erupting with a plan of their own, they were done waiting.

Five weeks may or may not seem like a long waiting period to you, but look at what this text says,

” They have turned aside aside quickly...”

Exodus 32:7 ESV

In the big picture, their 5 week wait was a “quick” turn around. To them the wait was an eternity, but in the big scheme of things, it was a quick, short wait. Oh, for perspective, right?

In fact, to them it seem liked nothing was happening down here. They were stuck in the dry ole desert, at the bottom of a gigantic mountain, waiting for Moses to hike back down. What, for goodness sake was taking so long? They were unable to find any sort of distraction to take their mind off of the 5 week wait from hell.

As the story goes, from their impatient and raging wating, came a golden calf, fashioned from the rings and jewelry donated by the frustrated mob, by the hands of someone who should have known better. In fact, they all should have known better. But their brains were blazing and they were defeated in the delay. They had turned aside quickly from the instructions to wait.

One last point to make about this group. It was their view that nothing was happening. Here they were, 40 days later, and nothing had changed, nothing was different and of course that meant nothing was happening.

But not so fast. In fact, tucked away on this account is this enormously important phrase,

“… the tablets were the work of God, written by the finger of God…”

Exodus 32:16; 31:18 ESV

This is phenomenal! While they thought nothing was happening, God was at work. His finger was intricately involved. They couldn’t see Him working, didn’t believe He was working, and therefore decided to work themselves.

Oh, that lie, shouted from our brain, “YOU have to do something”, it screams. “NOTHING IS HAPPENING, you are stuck here waiting, and God is no where to be found.” Oh, that brain of ours…

All along, something was happening. Something they had no idea about, something so big their puny lil’ mind could never fathom. God was writing with His finger, words for them. God was at work for them. God was the power in control and they could trust Him in the wait.

And that is precisely the key. God was in control and they could trust Him in the wait. But how and why didn’t they?

What we do in the delays can defeat us (like it did them, they were judged with a plague & 3,000 people died by the sword), but it doesn’t have to, because learning to wait on the Lord and trust Him is at issue.

To “wait” for or on the Lord is a phrase that is used over 106 times in the Old Testament. It is an active verb not just sitting and impatiently tapping our fingers on the desk in a frustrated huff for something to happen. In fact, here’s the meaning:

“The Hebrew word, to “wait”, H6960 means – to bind together by twisting. To expect; the straining of the mind in a certain direction with an expectant attitude. “

Strong’s Concordance and Lexicon

Here’s what that looks like in my life.

When I find myself waiting for things to change in my life or family or nation, the thing I must choose to do is place my focus on God, His promises, His Word, and not be overcome by the cloud of doubt, impatience, anger or taking matters into my own hands. For me, I must choose to lean into Him, strain through the hard, seemingly inactive circumstance, and trust with confidence that He IS at work, even if I cannot see it. It is a mental and emotional battle I can and must choose.

My waiting in the delay is really about learning to wait in eager expectation of a positive result because the Lord is the one I trust and He has the power. Because He does have the power over me and my circumstances, and He loves me and has a plan for my life, I can trust Him completely.

King David knew this truth and lived this truth quite well.

” Wait on the Lord, and keep His way…”

Psalm 37:34 KJV

Isaiah and the prophets, too told us to wait on the Lord:

” … but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31 ESV

As I learn to twist my will with His will in the waiting, I find renewed strength, the ability to fly above the problems, endurance to keep on running and faith to walk each day trusting Him.

Again I say, it is what we do in the waiting that determines our victory or defeat. We can learn to wait and trust in Him or we can, in unbelief make idols.

We are not meant to be idle as we wait for things to change for us. We are meant to be actively twisting our will to His and believing in His outcomes, purposes and plans. As we wait, we are actually waiting on Him.

Even though our brains hate waiting, may we continue shaping them to wait on the Lord in spite of what we see or how long the delay.

Go with God.

Debbie

Still Enough to Hear

In Directions, James Hamilton writes:

Before refrigerators, people used ice houses to preserve their food. Ice houses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In the winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the ice houses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.

an ice house

One man lost a valuable watch while working in an ice house. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the ice house during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.

Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.

“I closed the door,” the boy replied, “lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”

Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.

Cheers to your listening,

Debbie

Excerpt taken from Phillip Gunter/Fresh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching