Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Clouds and whispers

J just stopped by to get the packing on his latest incision repacked.  Because this incision is so placed on his body that only Gumby could reach his arms to do the job himself, it has fallen to me to pack and repack a wound for seeming months.  Oh yeah, it actually HAS been months.  Since November.  I feel sorry for both J and me.  More for him, really.  Moms can do just about anything for their kids, no matter how old those kids get.  Of course, I wasn't really all that great with vomit, which tended to illicit a sympathetic gag response in me, leaving much of that job to Beve, at least when he was home, but generally, I can handle what my kids need me to do, no matter what.  J, on the other hand, at almost 24, is, or at least was until all this happened, less disposed to 'drop trou' as they say, and bare his backside for a bandaging job every day.  But he's been a good sport about it, and today informed me that the surgeon who saw him yesterday told him that he rarely sees a non-medical person with the kind of packing skills I've exhibited.  Just think of how that will look on my resume.  I might not have much to say for myself, but I can pack a mean butt, er not a mean butt, just a butt.  I felt so proud.

But I got distracted from what I wanted to write about by that whole episode.

I haven't written about our dogs lately, though they often figure indirectly in my posts.  But I'm thinking of them today.  This morning I spent about an hour working online before I really got out of bed. Before the crack of dawn, Beve had left me a text message telling me to check an email right away, so, being the obedient wife that I am, I hopped right to it, three hours later. One thing led to another and I was answering this email and that one, checking out our bank balance, maybe looking at a couple of fabric sites, you know, very important tasks.  And all the while I was sitting on my bed, Jamaica, our hyperactive Springer Spaniel (do they have Ritalin for dogs?) was lying beside me, quiet as a church mouse (and why are church mice quieter than any other kinds of mice?).  She never once stirred, even though I didn't get up at my usual time, which clearly threw her internal clock off.  And Jackson, the big lug, didn't make a peep either.  Both dogs simply waited for me to make a move before they began their typical morning routine.

Said routine involves Jamaica racing down the hall, leaping around the corner into the kitchen, barely holding it together while I put the kettle on for tea, then barking to let me know it's time for her first ball game of the day.  Jamaica, unfortunately, doesn't really like to go outside and do her business without having a tennis ball thrown for her first.  She's finicky that way.  She likes company when she eats, company when she sleeps, company when she goes outside to...well, you get the idea.  Jamaica is a people dog.  A her-people dog, I should say, because she's mostly skittish about strangers.

Anyway, this afternoon I got to thinking about how those dogs had waited until I made a move before they did, and I began to think of our waiting for God.  How impatient we get.  We have our timelines, after all, and if He doesn't move on schedule, we begin to doubt Him, think He's saying no to us, or wonder just what we've done wrong.

If we could just learn to wait.  To simply lie still (metaphorically) and wait.  Then move when He moves. Twice in the story of Elijah, we see him in the position of having to wait for the Lord.  In chapter 18 of 1 Kings, after facing the prophets of Baal, which ended in an amazing display of God's power and  the prophets of Baal's slaughter, Elijah climbs the mountain of Carmel to pray for rain for the land.  You know this story, right?  He told his servant to go look toward the sea, which the servant did.  The servant saw nothing.  Elijah kept praying, and seven times told his servant to look.  The seventh time, the servant said, "A cloud the size of a man's fist is rising from the sea."  At this news, Elijah told his servant to run to Ahab because a heavy rain was coming. Ahab immediately took off on horseback for Jezreel, and because of God's power on him, Elijah actually ran faster than that horse all the way to the city of Jezreel.

The next chapter has similar story.  A story of Elijah praying and Elijah waiting.  A man who knew how to be still before God, to lie (or sit) quietly until God moved.  And to recognize what that movement was.  Even after these mighty works of chapter 18, Elijah became afraid when Jezebel threatened his life because of what he'd done to the prophets of Baal.  So he went off into the wilderness of Judah, found a bush and sat under it.  And, "prayed that he might die.  I have had enough, Lord."  An angel came to him, revived him, fed him, reassured him.  Then, a few paragraphs later, the Lord tells Elijah to "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."
 A great wind tears the mountain the Lord isn't in the wind.  And an earthquake shatters the rocks, but the Lord isn't in the earthquake.  Then there's a fire but He's not in that either.  And finally, after the fire, came a gentle whisper.  And Elijah heard the whisper and knew. He pulled his cloak over his head. "What are you doing here, Lord?" he asked.  Not the wind, earthquake or fire, but the whisper.  Elijah waited until he heard the whisper to respond.

Like our dogs.  Waiting until their master moves before they do.  That's what Elijah does.  There's no evidence that he is impatient with the waiting, or that he expects God to reveal Himself in a certain way.  In fact, the most compelling thing about Elijah's faith is that he not only recognized where God was, what He was in, but also what He wasn't in.  Not in the big flashy works, but in a cloud the size of a man's fist.  In a gentle whisper.

God doesn't have to split the earth in two to work in our lives.  Obviously, He seldom does.  The question is, are you willing to wait for the small cloud and the gentle whisper.  Are you willing to lie there, your head between your knees, so to speak, and simply trust that He will show up.  Then move when He tells you to?

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