January 26

“I have begun to give;…begin to possess.” Deuteronomy 2:32

“A great deal is said in the Bible about waiting for God. The lesson cannot be too strongly enforced. We easily grow impatient of God’s delays. Much of our trouble in life comes out of our restless, sometimes reckless, haste. We cannot wait for the fruit to ripen, but insist on plucking it while it is green. We cannot wait for the answers to our prayers, although the things we ask for may require long years in their preparation for us. We are exhorted to walk with God; but ofttimes God walks very slowly. But there is another phase of the lesson. God often waits for us. We fail many times to receive the blessing He has ready for us, because we do not go forward with Him. While we miss much good through not waiting for God, we also miss much through over-waiting. There are times when our strength is to sit still, but there are also times when we are to go forward with a firm step. . . . We are set to fight certain battles. We say we can never be victorious; that we never can conquer these enemies; but, as we enter the conflict, One comes and fights by our side, and through Him we are more than conquerors. If we had waited, trembling and fearing, for our Helper to come before  we would join the battle, we should have waited in vain. This would have been the over-waiting of unbelief. God is waiting to pour richest blessings upon you. Press forward with bold confidence and take what is yours. ‘I have begun to give, begin to possess.’” (Streams in the Desert)

“You cannot be a Christian without also being a pilgrim, travelling light through the world.” (Peter Masters)

I happened upon a new way of expressing feeling foreign to a situation or circumstance: “As out of place as a kingfisher on the Interstate.” On leaving New Orleans International Airport and rounding up and onto Interstate 10 East toward the New Orleans business district, I spied a kingfisher sitting on a grey metal guardrail overlooking the highway below. I did a double take, and had I been able to do so without endangering myself, I would have snapped a photo of the unusual sighting with my cell phone. Questions jostled for consideration: Where were the fish? Was he lost? Had she been confused by traffic, causing it to need to regroup and regain her wits about herself?

I sense a certain kinship with the ill-fitted urban kingfisher. I find myself feeling frequently out-of-place in the land of my birth. Not like when trying to pay my phone bill in Meru, Kenya, or meandering through a Hindu temple in Ahmedabad, India, where unfamiliar customs and language left me more than uneasy and wondering what a peaceable man like me was doing midst a scene of seeming chaos and conflict; but out-of-sync with the currents swirling about in this postmodern world. Ironically, life down here is supposed to feel this way. The Bible terms us “pilgrims passing through,” transients in a culture gone mad. Believers are earthly vagabonds, cultural hobos. The moment we feel fully at home in this world is the instant we have forsaken our sacred destiny; a divinely orchestrated tension is intended. Christians are called to extend grace that beckons to the One beyond, without holding hands with that which disgraces the name and character of Christ. If you find yourself increasingly restless as you encounter a world you no longer understand, take heart. This is precisely as God intends. Do not wring your hands as one powerless to change the situation, or hang your head in despair. Advance with a sense of destiny. The world of faith is indeed small, always navigated by the next step. Faith inevitably fans the flame of distrust. Learn to operate by divine dependence by valuing obedience over reputation. Others cast dispersion simply because it is always easier to criticize than support. Move forward. The more at odds you feel with this present age, the more suited you are for the age to come.

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