Almighty Father, Today I wait quietly in your presence while my thoughts become silent in the depths of your being. I will not rush this process, because when I hurry my heart is earthbound not focused on you. You are the creator of the entire universe, yet you have made my home in your heart, where you know me most intimately; where you speak to me in holy whispers. Holy Spirit I ask you to quiet my mind so I can hear God’s still small voice within me. Help me to listen as God speaks love and peace to me continually. My heart is tuned to receive these messages of abundant blessing. I lay my request before you Lord, and wait in expectation. Amen.
I’m not a fan of most things. I rarely keep up with celebrities, artists, sports teams, or popular books. I’m just now reading Ayana Mathis’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie that debut last year, with the Oprah’s seal of approval. (I haven’t actually read it, just checked it out at the library.) Sometimes, for days on end, I stay away from Facebook and Twitter. Even though Scandal is one of my favorite nighttime dramas, I record it and watch it on Friday. Most times, I can live without the television. A fan is an enthusiastic devotee, a fervent, passionate admirer.
When I become a follower on a social media site, I’m merely just a fan, and not as devoted as I should be. Same with sports, I prefer football to basketball, basketball to golf, and tennis to baseball. (I’m only watching the Williams’s sisters. I’m a fan of them.) I simply prefer not to watch baseball on the screen. Please if I must, take me to the ballgame and give me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I can watch sports while I read a magazine, pay bills, fold laundry, or do something else. I can hang out on social media sights for one or two days, maybe a month or two, then I’m done. I’m an admirer of these things, not totally committed.
However, what I’ve discovered is I’m more than a fan for Jesus, but a follower because he’s my savior, Lord over my life. Once I was just a fan. I went to church twice a month, rarely if ever cracked opened the Bible at home. I didn’t memorize scripture or even attempt to understand God’s promises. When I sat in the pew, I heard what the preacher said, but I didn’t listen; I didn’t even search the scriptures for more meaning. But I was a fan, enthusiastic about God, an admirer of Jesus.
Along the way, my life transformed from a fan to a follower, from a spectator to a servant, from an admirer to an imitator.
Here are the signs if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ:
- Followers give Jesus the master key he wants to turn their life upside down.
- Followers give Him more than an hour a week on Sunday.
- A follower’s prayers are more than whispered prayers at night in their bed before going to sleep.
- Followers do not consider God a small box of religion.
- Followers are not defined by their religious credentials.
- Followers do not believe their good deeds get them to heaven.
- Followers have a relationship with Jesus, not simply knowledge but intimacy.
- Followers love him with all their heart.
- Followers have unconditional joy and peace that God is in charge despite the circumstances.
How many lives would change if you followed Jesus? When you stand before God will you be judged as a follower or a fan?
In the blog post Watch + Wait + Pray = Patience two comments surfaced about praying for patience: “beware of the trials that may come and be careful … we usually only learn to be patient by going through trials and tribulations.”
How else can we learn to be patience without obstacles, trials and tests that help us learn? Isn’t that how Job learned patience, which is really longsuffering and perseverance. Having and learning to be patience builds and strengthens our character, our tenacity, and our faith. The psalmist says, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he will strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 24:14 KJV).
Patience is not a virtue I claim to possess. Yet, I am a bit more patience these days, because after reading Psalm 40:1—I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry (NLT)—I realized my faith had been wavering as I was sailing through one of the worst storms in my life. (And it’s not over.) When I read that verse, it hit me. I had not been waiting patiently for God to help me instead I became angry and bitter. I was impatience. Lord where are you, when are you going to show yourself. My faithful, spiritual warrior friends, including the pastor, could not convince me that God had not left me to drown.
Just as my blogger and Facebook friends warned: obstacles come in the face of praying for patience.
At a Tuesday night Bible Study, where this scripture presented itself, I read it six times. I was ashamed. My faith was weak. I had not been faithful to God’s promise—He would not leave or forsake me; I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Instantly, I repented. I confessed openly in the prayer circle. I begged for God’s forgiveness.
Now, through the trials and the test my faith—complete trust in God— doesn’t waver. My patience has become a bit more Job-like. I’m still faithful—devoted and loyal— to watching, waiting and praying that I can and will endure those things that make me want to give up. Often I do want to give up, because sometimes my life seems like on big boxing ring, and I’m not winning. Since I haven’t been knocked out, my patience is long-lasting.
What about you?
Today’s Prayer: Thank you, God for working all things out for our good and your glory as we wait on you and seek you; for energizing and strengthening us for the task we are called to do; for giving us patience, and faith to run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint. Amen.
Next week, we’ll explore “The Waiting Period.”
The moment I hit the send button, I knew I’d fallen off the wagon; the wagon of planning and harvesting. Last week I sent out the same blog, “Move On, So God Can Use You” twice. I knew that it had been posted, but when I noticed it in the draft box of WordPress, I thought oops, I didn’t hit send. Yet, I had.
Then I realized I had not implemented or followed through with the advice I’d gathered over the last few months, if so I wouldn’t have skipped a week of posting or sent the same post twice. Proverbs 11:14 indicates that without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances (The Message). And I try to seek good counsel that helps me continuously sharpen my saw, such as creating an18-month plan to pursue my career goals.
In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, she suggests making an 18-month plan for your workplace goals. But I don’t have a permanent workplace, so my new skill as a writer, speaker, and adjunct lecturer is applying for grants, fellowships, and residencies. Nick Flynn, author of The Ticking is the Bomb, also recommended I apply to and accept as many invitations as possible.
This new skill requires planning and research. When I begin to research, I’m consumed. This can be good and bad. The good part: being invested in the project. The bad part: forgetting my other responsibilities and deadlines. In order to stay focused, I started, but did not complete, an editorial calendar for angchronicles, suggested by Michael Nichols’s grow on purpose. He suggests creating an editorial calendar to write consistently and regularly. If I’d followed through, I would not have sent that blog twice—can you tell I’m annoyed? More than annoyed, I’m convicted, according to Proverbs 15:22 “refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.” I failed to set up an editorial calendar, and for the last few blog posts I’ve stayed up all night writing it. Ugh.
Another useful harvesting tool, I’ve acquired, but haven’t put into action is changing my writing habit. In Writer Unboxed it is suggested that if you are a slow writer, I am, then write drafts faster. For me this is not so easy. But to gather more crops, I have to speed up.
I’m planning to harvest advice, so my crops will be fruitful and ripe, not repetitive and stale.
Do you have some helpful advice?
Father, Send us wise counsel, teach us to listen, and remain diligent as we plan, fail, plan, succeed, fail, and plan some more.