Monday, November 28, 2011

Quit Yer Wailing!

My toy poodle does this really annoying thing when I take her in the car with me: whenever I put the car in park and turn the key to shut the engine off, she SHRIEKS and WAILS and YELPS as if she's being brutally murdered. Every. Single. Time.

Why? Well, I can only assume it's because she's afraid I'm going to leave her in the car alone. FOREVER!

Meanwhile, of course, I've never done that. I always jump right out and get her out of the car with me. If I do leave her there, I run into a store for maybe five minutes. She's never alone for long, and she's never in danger. Ever. I've established a pattern and level of trust with her now that she really shouldn't be scared anymore. She knows I'm not going to leave her. She knows I'm always going to either get her out or come right back to her.

And yet still, every time, she yelps and cries and wails.

As I pulled into our parking lot after walking with a friend and turned off the car's ignition to the familiar chorus of her shrieking in fear again tonight, it startled me into often do we do that with God?

How often do we shriek and cry and wail and whine at God when we know He'll never leave us or fail us? It hit me with a wave of shame tonight that I do it all the time. I'm doing it now, actually. Wandering around wailing to God, "Daddy! DADDY! Daddy, please! Please don't leave me alone in the car! DADDY! DO YOU HEAR ME?! YOU PUT ME IN THE CAR; DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE HERE! PLEASE!!"

Fact is, He's never left me alone in the car. And if it's felt that way, it's only been for a few minutes. He always comes back. He always comes through. He always knows what He's doing. I'm never really in danger. Ever.

Every time this happens, I say to Lottie, "Shhh, little girl! I would never leave you! Don't you trust me?"

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5

Um. Yeah. Oops.

I stand in spiritual humility as a direct result of shrieks from my poodle. And there's a sentence I bet you don't read every day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holding the Line

So, when I'm not frantically scribbling things in my writing notebook, or flinging myself on the floor wailing at the wide-eyed volunteer actors at my church to "GIVE ME MORE!!", or scheming up my next pratfall to elicit a laugh from someone...I'm sitting in a cubicle at a very large company, using my sweet pixie voice to convince customers to purchase the services the company sells. No, I'm not a telemarketer. Ahem. But yes, indeed, I'm a salesperson.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a customer who was interested in possibly ordering one of our services. I'd done the work. I'd put in the time. We'd gone over all the pros and cons, all the features and benefits, even what my company's competitors offered. I really believed that from what the customer was telling me he needed, our service was the best fit for him. I'm not peddling junk here. Plus, I made him laugh a few times, which seemingly always helps.

But he was still a little waffly. As they are.

Customer: I still want to think about it a little bit. Can I call back and get you?
Me: Unfortunately, probably not, sir.
Him: But if I buy this, I want to buy it from you!
Me: I appreciate that! I'm sorry.
Him: Hmm. I'm just not sure.
Me: Sir, if you like, I'm happy to hold while you think about it for a minute. I want you to make the best decision.
Him: You can hold on?
Me: Sure! Take your time, I'll be right here.
Him: You're very persistent.
Me: Hopefully in a good way!
Him: *laughs* Yes, in a good way!

Thirty seconds later, he bought the service from me. He even paid upfront - and that hardly ever happens.

Metaphor for life, people. I'm just saying.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Man with a Plan

"Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then." -Mr. Bennet, "Pride and Prejudice"

As I've mentioned before, right now I'm working on being a heroine and waiting for my hero. That is, I'm a (not-quite-thirty-something) Bridget Jones waiting for Mark Darcy to knock on my door and say things like "I like you, very much, just the way you are." Even better - the Harry to my Sally who will finally come running in my direction and declare, "When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." Or, y'know, his own version of that sentiment. I'm all for creative liberties.

What I'm learning, though, is that the man I'm looking for is going to need to be more than just hanging out - and about God, even more than just about me. The kind of relationship that God has been preparing me for for years is the Real Deal. The purposeful, Christ-centered, really investing, sacrificial, ministry-minded, leading-to-marriage kind of relationship. A partnership to edify the other person and ultimately bring glory to God through our union. And for that, I'm going to need a man who knows what it means to be, well, all of those things - basically, who has a plan. The plan of being obedient to God when He speaks.

As I've personally learned in many a trial-by-fire situation throughout my twenties, that kind of spiritual maturity doesn't come easy. Work has to be done. You have to wander through the wilderness with God to get to the other side - and more than just once or twice.

You can't be Moses without climbing up Mt. Sinai.

You can't be David without gathering the stones.

You can't be Paul without getting on a donkey pointed towards Damascus. (Okay, bad example.)

What I'm saying is, to win the joust, you have to actually pick up the lance and get on the horse. Maybe not in that order.

See, now, I know I'm, um, unique. I know I'm a lot to handle. I know I'm pretty much dynamite packed into a tiny, 4'10" curly redheaded package. It's been that way my whole life. The general consensus I've heard from several sweet young men now is, "You're not like other girls." I take it as a compliment. But even so, what ultimately tends to happen is that men take an interest, get close to me, and come to realize that they're not quite ready for me yet.

It can be maddening, especially when the man has a razor-sharp wit that I have to run to keep up with and a laugh I'd voluntarily do pratfalls for just to hear again. Really, Lord?

And the answer I get back from God is, "Shhh. Just trust Me."

I don't know how long it will take. I don't know who it will finally be. God won't tell me. But I will say this: when God spoke to me about this during one of my own many wilderness periods, back in London in 2006, one of the things He said was, "It will be hard, but it will be worth it."

He wasn't lying about the first part. So I'm pretty sure the second part will be true, too.

In the meantime...pratfalls can be lots of fun if you know how to do them well. And you all know, I don't do anything halfway.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

When the Dealing's Done

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom will I send? Who will go for us?" And I said, "Here I am. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8

So, here's the thing about me: I don't do things halfway.

(I may have mentioned this previously, in fact.)

What I mean is, when I invest in someone, as in for real invest in them, it's more than just cooking what they like to eat and finding out what makes them laugh. That's just what I'll admit to. But it's so very much more than that, what God calls me to do when He plants someone in front of me to invest my emotions and prayers into. Behind the closed doors of my church when I steal inside to worship alone, in the darkness of the hours before bed when I'm laying everything out in front of Him, in the songs I play in my car and on my lunch break at work when I hide behind the building and meet my Lord there. Praying for God's will, for that person's relationship with Him, for direction and clarity and blessing and love and purpose and strength. Praying as God has spent the last ten years teaching me how.

Recently, in one of the most unexpected turn of events in my life thus far, God planted someone new in front of me in whom to invest. Getting to know this person has been an absolutely incredible adventure so far, and I can't wait for more.

This time, though, I hadn't really been investing the way I should've been.

Why, you ask?

Well, it's simple: because I was afraid.

Investing in someone like this, like God has me do, is a lot of work. It's exhausting. It's emotional. Also, up until now, it's ended with God using me in that role for a season and then saying, "OK, now it's over." (I always end up seeing His timing and will perfectly afterwards, but the whole process can be a humdinger.) And right now, I have no idea what God's will is, so I was just sort of spiritually...chilling. Just hanging out. Going with the flow.

If you know me at all, your reaction to that last sentence was probably "Ha!" And you'd be right.

Because that's not me at all. It's not in my nature. If I'm acting that way, that's fear. And where is fear from?

Oh yeah. Not God. Not in the least bit.

Yet, still, I was afraid. I was hedging my bets. Not really ready to lay my cards on the table. That's right - I was playing poker...with God.


But then (because there's always a "but then" with me and God, right?) - I visited a new church a few nights ago. One of the members shared with everyone that his father always used to say, "Either get out early or commit to see it through and give it your all. Don't do anything halfway."

Well, bugger.

Immediately, this happened:

God: *raises eyebrow*
Me: *ignoring*
God: Ahem.
Me: ...
God: AHEM.
Me: What?
God: Did you hear that?
Me: Yes...
God: Well?
Me: What's Your point?
God: You know what My point is.
Me: But I don't know what Your WILL is!
God: So?
Me: So...I'm trying to do Your will!
God: No you're not. You know what you're supposed to be doing, and you're not doing it!
Me: But...but...I didn't know...
God: Don't you get it? What you're really saying is that you won't step up until I say yes.
Me: I...what?
God: You're holding out on Me.
Me: No, I'm not!
God: Yes, you are! Is that really how you're going to treat this incredible blessing I've given you?
Me: No, Daddy! I didn't mean to...
God: And anyway...why should I say yes before I know you'll say yes?
Me: But...I...
God: You should know by now that's not the way it works, my dear.

No, that's not the way it works.

And so, this is me, laying my cards on the table. Stepping up. Here we go. No matter what God's will is in the end, I have to invest for the time He's called me to it. I don't have a choice. But I can do so confidently, because I know He'll be there to catch me no matter what happens.

Because ultimately, more than anything else, His glory is, and always has to be, first.

Here I am, Lord. Use me.