Archive for category Hope

Waiting

spanky waitingIt is extremely difficult for most people born in the age of information and technology (the baby boomers and those who came after), to understand or appreciate waiting.  I say this as a member of the tail end of the baby boomers. Waiting, is an annoyance and time is fleeting so we must have what we want, when we want it.  This particular motto is not new mind you, but with each successive generation that comes behind generations who toiled more, sacrificed more and received less; patience is practically non-observable.  Marketing and advertising experts know this and seize on the opportunities.  They have coined slogans such as “Why wait, when you can have it now?”, “Zero down, no payments for 18 months, get it now!”, “You only go around once, go for the gusto”, “Just do it”, “You deserve this and more”, “Fulfil the American dream, today!”  If we have to wait 15 minutes or more for a meal, doctor appointment, haircut, tag/license, phone call or an oil change we have heart failures and hissy fits.  We demand attention, service, promotions, bonuses, refunds, rewards, retribution, vengeance, restitution, NOW!  We are blessed with the capability to fly anywhere in the world in less than a day! However, if we have to wait in an airport because of a 1-hour delay, mass hysteria ensues. Thanks to companies such as Amazon, merchandise can be at our door in one day! I pity the UPS man who brings it in three. “We just don’t have the time to wait!”

                Imagine yourself in the sandals of Joseph who at a young age was sold into slavery.  Then, after God gave him success as a slave, false accusations are brought against him and he once again is in another form of slavery, prison. After some time Joseph receives an opportunity to get out of prison. He interprets the dreams of both Pharaoh’s cup bearer and baker. He says to the cup-bearer in Gen 40:14  “Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. Perhaps after many years of being treated so poorly, Joseph will receive freedom and some reward for his Godly behavior.  However, it would be another two years before he is released. Gen 40:23-41:1  Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.  (41:1)  Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. From the time Joseph is thrown into the pit by his brothers to his ascension as Pharaoh’s right-hand man, roughly thirteen years had passed.  Joseph’s reward for trusting in God took years, but waiting on God, as we can see from the text, benefited Joseph greatly.

                Adam had to wait 930 years before he could be reunited with God again. Abraham had to wait 75 years before he could actually call a place his home. He had to wait until he was nearly 100 to have his own son. Jacob had to work for over twenty years before he could return to his home.  Moses was roughly 80 years old before he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.  Jacob and Caleb, who were faithful and obedient, had to wait 40 years with the lot who were not, before they received their portion of the promised land. Even the angels had to wait to see God’s plan come to fruition. 1Pe 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things into which angels long to look.

                Some waited patiently having never received the promise Heb. 11:39-40  And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,  (40)  because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.  Moses never got to enter the promised land.  Daniel never got to return to Jerusalem.

                It is a difficult task to teach young people the virtues of waiting on the Lord.  So often they are rewarded with “at the moment stimuli” and instant gratification from meaningless things such as clothing, food, music, etc.  If only a young married couple could understand the great rewards that lie ahead when they stick together for 30 plus years.   Sometimes it takes years to establish productive fruit from vines and trees.  It often takes the same from marriages, businesses and even children.  We sometimes become discouraged when we don’t see growth in church or in others.  How discouraged would you be if you sat and watched a tree grow each day?  I’d dare say we would be tempted to cut it down before it ever reached its glorious potential.  God knows our short-sightedness and reminds us in Gal. 6:9  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Wait, just 17 more minutes!

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Babe Ruth was thirteen years old when the Chicago Cubs had last won the World Series.  It would be another two years before my Grandfather was born. Jimmy Stewart, Betty Davis and Lyndon B. Johnson were born; Butch Cassidy and Grover Cleveland died that year.  Such mark the significance of any given year.  Little did Cub fans realize that it would be 39,466 days, 69 managers, 4 different owners, 18 different Presidents before they would lay claim to being World Champions again.  I stayed up to watch this historical event, well, until the end of the 9th inning. Chicago let a five run lead vanish, giving hope to the Indians in extra innings. It was 11:05 and I might have made it for one extra inning, but the forces that be (Rain!) delayed 108 years a little longer.  Seems the Cub fans have waited this long, they may as well wait on a rain delay and who knows home many extra innings.  When they brought the tarp on to the field and covered the diamond, my eyes begged me to record it and go to sleep.  I obliged, and in real time missed a great ending to a really great series, one for the century!  Turns out, the rain delay was only 17 minutes and the Cubs scored two runs in the top of the 10th and held on to win its first World series in 108 years, 7 games, 1 extra inning.  I was fast asleep!

In the real scope of things, big deal!  I’m not that big a Cubs fan to start with.  It really only was interesting for the novelty and historical perspective.  I couldn’t help ponder the fact that I stayed up to watch it and then gave up on it.  If I’d only stayed with it 30 more minutes.  Oh well!  I probably won’t even be around when they win it again in 2124. No big deal!

What is a big deal, is to miss heaven!  I’ve often wondered about those who have struggled faithfully, enduring good and bad times only to get so close and then give up or give in.  The Hebrew writer reminds of endurance;  Heb. 4:1  Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. Heb. 10:36-37 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  (37)  For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;

                Six times in the last book of the Bible, we are encouraged to have and show forthEndurance” (Rev.1:9; 2:2, 19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12).  Similarly, eight times in the book of Revelation it is pressed upon us the importance of overcoming (Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7).  Christ knows too well that his followers will have to be prepared to see their salvation through to the end.  Satan will not relent.  He may for a season flee from us, 1Pe 5:8-10  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (9)  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  (10)  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

                On the very eve of God’s plan coming to fruition, the fulfillment of God’s promises to mankind, the means of man’s very salvation, while Jesus prayed under tremendous torment of His soul in the garden, we slept (Mark 14:33-42).  Peter, James and John and the other disciples are stereotypical of us all; a longing to put forth strength and courage, yet rarely able to do so when needed.  God’s best fan, stayed the course, endured all the sorrow and pain when we should’ve, but couldn’t.  Heb. 12:3  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

                I don’t mean to trivialize our faithfulness and steadfastness to that of a weary baseball fan but consider these two points:

  1. We grow weary and are quick to dismiss the coach, the players, the whole organization when things seem bad and victory appears to vanish, but there’s still an inning or two left. We should not lose hope (Gal.6:9).
  2. Victory is sure! It may not happen in my lifetime or my grandchildren’s, but somewhere in our future is the greatest victory celebration (1 Cor.15:57).

Darryl Fuller

Home away from Home

my home

My Home In Kathleen, Florida from 1968 to 1983

Bill Bryson in his book Home Town Reunion,  says there are three things that will never happen; you’ll never be able to pay the debt you owe, you’ll never get a waiter to see you until he or she wants too, and you’ll never be able to go home again. In some regards he’s right about all three, but I find myself puzzling over going home again. Every time I would visit my parents in Florida, I always had this sense that I was going home. After all, that’s where I grew up and became who I am. That’s where I played and went to school, where I got my first job and met my lovely wife. It’s where I learned to be a Christian and was baptized, where my parents and my Grandparents lived, worshipped and planted their roots.

My parents and I lived in a modest home in the rural community called Kathleen, just 10 miles north of Lakeland. My father’s parents lived next door and this it seemed for a time would always be home.  There were a lot of great memories with that home.  I had plenty of room to ride motorcycles, play football and baseball.  Kid’s from the neighborhood would all come over and we would get a baseball or football game up.  I camped outside in the yard with my friends, threw the Frisbee with mom and dad, had picnics with brethren from church in that yard and yes every Saturday morning I had to mow all that grass. I was blessed to have many wonderful years in that which I called home for some 16 years. Recently, I drove by the home and stopped across the street to reminisce. Home, was gone! Since I left some 30 years ago, Kathleen has grown 10 times since. The once slow two lane road has now given way to a four lane congested highway.  The 80 acres of orange grove across the road from us is now all gone, replaced with hundreds of homes.  The farm and pasture land behind us, gone, replaced with hundreds of homes. The house I grew up in, gone, replaced with a four lane road.  The memories are still fresh in my mind, the place where I had once lived was still there, but the essence of home, the house with it’s sounds and smells, the placement of furniture, the feel of the carpet in my room and the bed where I slept, the images of mom and dad, grandma and grandpa sitting in the living room and watching man first set foot on the moon, the sound of mom calling us for dinner, or dad coming home early enough to throw the baseball or shoot baskets with me, that home was forever gone. Yep, you can never go home again!

Abraham must have felt that way at times.  In his old age he sent his servant back to his homeland to procure a wife for Issac, Gen 24:4   go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” Even though he had just bought land and buried Sarah in the cave of Machpelah, and that God had promised him this would be his land, home, would forever be a place that he couldn’t or his children couldn’t return too. Gen 24:6-7  Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there.   The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.

Jacob couldn’t go back home either. When, at the end of his life, he somewhat longed for it Gen 48:7  As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).” His last 17 years would be spent in Egypt. Home for Jacob was where he buried Rachel. You may feel great sympathy for Leah and her unfortunate circumstance but Jacob’s true love was Rachel and the above verse rings with sadness and a fore longing for a time and place that he called home but could not return.

It appears that the bible is full of stories that hit home (no pun intended) the fact that God’s children are wanders and that home is elusive.  Moses home had two major changes, from Egypt to Midian, then wherever they stopped to set up a tent in the wilderness.  David lived in his father’s house near Bethlehem for awhile then he lived in the wilderness, then he lived in the land of the Philistines, then he lived in the Negev and the wilderness again.  Even when he was King, his residence changed from Hebron to Jerusalem, to across the Jordan river, and back to Jerusalem again. Where or what did David consider home? Most of the prophets wandered from city to city never really settling down to a place called home. Ezekiel longed for a far away home while in exile in Babylon.  Daniel everyday went into his room, opened his window towards Jerusalem to the west, and prayed to God.  Do you think in the 70 years he spent in Babylon that he may have prayed once or twice, “God could I go home?”

Even our Lord and Savior had a place that was called home. For some 27 or 28 years Jesus grew up on the outskirts of what was once the nation of Israel, a small and somewhat beguiled and rejected place called Nazareth.(see John 1:46)  He returned there one day after he had moved away to Capernaum (Matt.4:13) and entered the Synagogue to teach his fellow Nazarenes. He taught a lesson about acceptance and God’s favor towards those not Israelites’. He even boldly predicted their next move Luk 4:24  And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. Shortly thereafter his hometown folks carried Him to the cliff there in Nazareth and started to throw him over. The truth has that effect on some people, even in your old hometown. Yep! You really can’t go home again, it’s never ever going to be the same.

Of course home is really never a constant reliable place that will forever stay the same.  It changes as much as we change. Home for me is of course here, in sweet home Alabama. It’s where I choose to come and live and marry my wife. It’s where I witnessed my kids grow up and play and go to school and become fine young adults. It’s where a whole new set of memories and images have been etched into a different part of my being. In time this too may very well change, sad as that may be, but one never really knows where home will be tomorrow. And so God’s word truthfully demonstrates to us all, that home, is really nowhere to be found hear on this earth, in this plane of existence. Our true home is in heaven. That’s home. Abraham spent 75 years living in what was considered his earthly home (Ur of the Chaldees) but he truly understood where his real home was at, Heb 11:8-10  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.   By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.   

There are in some places and over the course of human history been that which could be considered homes. On our trip to England a few  years ago, we saw many such places. Castles built centuries before and in some extreme circumstances still occupied by the descendants of those far away families. But even in “merry ole England” these are rare and hard to come by. Prehaps your blessed enough to live on a home that has been in your family for many generations. The truth is that rather you have a place you can truly call home or not, the real homeland waits.

Jesus tells us of such a home in John 14:1-3  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?   And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

 Paul stated it this way2Cor. 5:1 and 8   For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2Co 5:8  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

We can call this place home or that place home. We can visit our old home, if it’s still there,  and relieve the past. We can make new homes with new memories to relieve over and over again. But let us always remember and frame our lives around this simple and everlasting truth: home is not here! It awaits for us over there, and that’s a home I can go back too.

Darryl Fuller