One warm afternoon, I stood in my front yard watering my flowers. I noticed my neighbor, a few doors down, pacing on her driveway. Her unusual demeanor caught my attention. With arms folded and head down, she walked back and forth on the driveway, frequently straining her neck to look down the street. Eventually, the postal truck stopped at her house. Her anticipation grew as it was obvious she was waiting for something to arrive in the mail.
Arrive it did! The postal worker barely got to her mailbox when she asked for the letter to be given directly to her. I expected her to race into the house, but she didn’t. Instead, she made it about three steps, then tore open the envelope and eagerly read the contents. Her eyes were fixed on the paper and her mind focused on the words. Her stance – totally still. Her hands firmly gripped the mysterious paper. She couldn’t read it fast enough. She was lost in the moment and never even never noticed me.
Recently, my favorite camera met its untimely demise on a family trip. It was accidentally knocked off of a table onto a cement floor. The lens is trashed. Ug. And, of course, the three-year warranttee expired last month. Okie dokie. So, I either get it fixed (not cheap) and be left with an unwarantteed camera for the next accident, or we buy a new one with a new waranttee. We opted for the new one because I use my camera all of the time. With it came a lens, memory card, two instructional dvds and a big instruction book. I must confess, although we weren’t in the market to camera shop, this new one is so cool! It has many updated features compared to my old one. This time, I told myself, I want to know all of the secrets this camera possesses. I am going to watch both instructional dvds and read the instruction manual over and over until I know how to fully utilize this tool. I won’t quit until I completely understand my new camera, unlike my last one that had features I never figured out and sat on automatic most of the time. I am so excited to have this camera as a fully functioning tool in my life.
The other day, our dog was in an extra pouty mood. She knew we were going to carpool and gave me the biggest doe eyes you’ve ever seen. Tail down, ears down, she begged to go with us. Okay, I finally caved, you can come. Let’s go! She instantly perked up, raced out the house and jumped into the van. With her head proudly sticking out of the window, fur blowing in the wind, taking in every sight and smell, she was so excited to be with us. Truth is, she just loves to go with us not matter where we’re going. She’s been water rafting, hiking, camping, and beach-combing with my family. She’s been on long car trips to visit family as well as short jaunts to the grocery store. To her, it doesn’t matter where she’s going as long as she is with us. If she sees her leash and food bowl get stacked on top of luggage – oh my – she can hardly contain herself! Actually, she’ll just go ahead and jump in the van before we’re ready, take her favorite seat and wait for us to load up. She’s a mess.
So, what do these three stories have in common? They were all used by God to show me what He wishes He had with His children – with me. The day I watched my neighbor nearly trip over herself to get the mail, He nudged me that He wished I was as eager to hear from Him. He wished I would hang on His every word, totally focused on Him. He desires intimate communication with us every day. Who are we more like? Are we like my neighbor who couldn’t even wait to reach her door to open the envelope and had to read the letter right then and there? Or are we like who I was just today – casually sauntering to the mailbox, slowly walking back to my door while sorting through the stack, disappointed I didn’t see anything very interesting, therefore leaving the pile of mail on my counter until tomorrow? How precious are His words to us? Do we wait for them? Hang on them? Hold them close to our chests and breathe in the joy of Him connecting with us?
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6
With my camera, I was totally convicted that I got way more excited about reading the instruction manual and watching the dvds about how to use my new tool, compared to my sense of self-obligation to read the Bible every day. Isn’t that terrible? But, I’m being real. It’s not every day I feel this way, but sometimes I find myself creating busy work because I don’t want to commit the time and energy to reading, absorbing, and putting into practice what the Bible says about daily living. My carnal nature wants to stay in automatic mode. I don’t always want to know the spiritual functions of living. I want to stay within my habits and not begin a new normal. If I could just catch the same excitement over reading the Bible like I do reading my camera manual, what would my life look like? I LOVE the Bible. I am fascinated, encouraged, and inspired by it. But my pesky human nature fights me on it. Just settle with what you know, I hear it say to me. If I’m not willing to settle with automatic mode on my camera, I should not be okay settling for automatic mode in my life. The Bible has far greater purposes to teach us, and more than feeling privileged to even own a camera, I should feel grateful and thankful to own a Bible.
That dog of mine. How she makes me smile. God used her furry self to show me how much I need to be like her when it comes to being on the move in service for Him. Okay God, I’ll go here, but not there, I’ve said to Him. Or, Um, God, I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to go anywhere that involves moving from my home, I told Him for years. I’ll do this job, but don’t ask me to do that job, I’ve audaciously spoken. Why is being willing to go with God such a painful request? I know why. I like normal. I don’t like change at all. I like stable. I like comfortable. I don’t fully trust God that what He has planned for the future may actually be better than today. I’m not a huge risk taker. I like spontaneous…under controlled circumstances. I’m a total contradiction.
I want a heart that begs and pouts to come with God – no matter where He is going. I want an overwhelming sense of joy – as if hanging my head out the window smelling the smells and seeing the sights in sheer delight – in being a part of whatever He is doing. Why do I have to know where we’re going before I’ll even consider obeying? Why does He have to work on me to want this? I want to desire, like my dog, the opportunity just to be with Him. My, oh my. I could learn a lot from my dog. Her total devotion to me. Her blind trust that where I am going is okay with her. Her excited attitude that she gets to ride with Mom – no matter how close or far the trip. I need to be more like that. If I see God packing up my things, I shouldn’t have to ask where, when, or for how long. I want to get to a place in my journey with Him to just jump in the van, take a seat and wait for Him to drive.
Then (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.“ Luke 9:23
So, a letter, a camera, and a car ride. Which are we? God wants a personal relationship with us. He desires to be a part of our every day. Actually, He wants to be the biggest part. He has hidden treasure for us to find in our adventure with Him – about Himself, about ourselves, and about this great big world in which we live. Are we willing to go deeper, be vulnerable to Him, and trust Him? How much of the passion that drives our energy is directed toward God? Today is a new day. I love mornings, because they remind me that God is a God of second chances. Of new beginnings. Of hidden potential. Of our Creator’s crazy, radical love. Love for you and me. Let the adventure begin.
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