You'd think, after being a follower of Christ for over 10 years, I'd have the system down by now. I mean, really, Jesus made it sound pretty simple. Follow me. I can do that. Where we goin'? When we gonna get there? Are we there yet?
Thus is the problem I face. Somehow I missed the scriptures that talked about the patience that the servants of God had to endure. I mean, really--bondage for 400 years, then you'll get to the Promised Land? "Excuse me," I'd say as I raised my hand from the back row (closest to the bathroom), "but, uh, won't we all be dead before that happens?" I'd surely embarass my tribe as I requested the "Quick Start Guide."
And then there was Moses. Fifteen years into legal retirement age, collecting his sociable security benefits, getting the free coffee refills at the Wal Mart cafeteria, and he's called to lead a million people across the desert. For another 40 years.
I'll be honest. Patience is not my strength. I think of microwave popcorn as "a step in the right direction."
So, whenever an opportunity to serve God has popped up in the last ten years, I've jumped in like a congressman at a spending party. And the results were always about the same. I've stopped lately, and asked myself, "Self, maybe you should pause and seek the will of God before making a total arse of yourself again." I wonder if Moses had the same thought after he offed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.
I've got a lot of buried Egyptians myself. Sunday school teaching. D. Heading up the Wednesday night children's ministry. F. Adult Bible Study. D+. Stewardship Committee Chair. C-. The list goes on.
Not the proudest ten years of my life. I didn't even do so well in the prayer department. But I suppose I should learn from this. All these failed or mediocre attempts had one thing in common. They were my idea or I jumped on someone else's idea. I'm not sure I prayed once to receive direction from the Lord. And, if He gave me direction, I was probably too busy or distracted to listen. My wife had endured this shortcoming of mine as well.
It's tough for me to grasp that my life is a mere tick of the second hand in God's eternal clock. I may never see the fruit of my labor. I may die in the desert after my nine hundredth meal of manna and qual. Not even microwave popcorn. But, somehow, I have to deal with the fact that my calling may seem unimpressive to me and the rest of the world. I suppose I should be happy that God's still talking to me, regardless of my failings.
I call this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas the "Long Pause." It's a time to reflect, think about the direction of our lives. I often find myself wondering what happened to the dreams I used to have. Did I just give up and settle for what came my way? I think probably I did. I started digging into my writing again this year, and it feels great. But I've also seen those who've passed me by, their success leaving me in a trail of half written novels and dusty keyboards. Where did I go?
Yes, I know. Regrets won't do any good. But, somehow, I get the sense that plowing right in is not the right answer, either. Maybe I get frustrated and quit because I'm following my own direction instead of His. It just so happens that my 43rd birthday falls at the end of this month, another time of reflection. It's a double whammy for me. I think, for my New Year's resolution, I'll promise myself to do nothing. I'll do nothing without first seeking His will and waiting--patiently--for a response. And following His lead, no matter how small a step it may seem to me at the time.
Maybe then I'll finally get a report card I can hang on my Father's fridge.