We were on our way to New York for spring break. On the way, we were listening to a book on cd called “Ribsy” by Beverly Cleary. Ribsy is a dog and the story is about his adventure of getting separated from his family and being found by his family. The third disc had just ended. In the story, Ribsy was still separated from his family. As Michelle takes out the third disc and puts in the fourth and final disc, she says “last one.” To which Kaitlyn replies without missing a beat, “they better find Ribsy.” Michelle and I just laughed, she is so quick.
As I have had a chance to think about it. I wonder if we ever get anxious, ever get worried (not that I think Kaitlyn was anxious or worried they wouldn’t find the dog, she was just being funny). I wonder if we ever think “it better happen quick,” “something better happen soon,” or similar thoughts?
I wonder what the Israelites were thinking as Pharaoh’s army was coming upon them with their backs against the Red Sea? “Something better happen soon!” I wonder if these were some of the thoughts that Elijah was having as he was running away from Jezebel? “God, you are going to have to do something. I’m all that is left!” But God was already doing something, even if Elijah couldn’t see it.
I wonder if Peter was thinking some of the same thoughts when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden. “God, this isn’t right, we have to do something.” Maybe this is why Peter draws the sword. He thought something had to be done and he was going to do all he could to do it. The problem was, God was already doing it and it was different than Peter thought.
Do we ever find ourselves in those spots? We feel anxiousness, we experience worry, fear wells up within in us and our thoughts turn into prayers of “how, when, and please.” I think prayer is absolutely the right place to turn, because it is us turning to God, but maybe the prayer shouldn’t be for answers to relieve our questions. Maybe it shouldn’t only be a pleading for His help (although we find it in the psalms, “be pleased O God to deliver me, O lord make haste to help me” Psalm 40:13, 70:1). Maybe part of our prayer should be out of the confidence that God is at work. Maybe part of our prayer should be simple, asking for the eyes to see what He is doing. And maybe part of it is to ask for peace and courage to stand even in those times we can’t see it.
As I thought about examples of people who might be looking for God to act quickly, I also thought about people who didn’t seem anxious in situations that I certainly would have been anxious in. Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac (which of course God doesn’t let him). I thought about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. Even Christ and the cross. We know that for Christ, and I would assume the others, there was the thought of “God if there is another way, but whatever you need to do so that your work is done.” That is the place I want to be. The place of knowing God is at work, the faith to stand even when I can’t see it and the faith to go and do even when I may not know how.
There is a way God desires us to live and we can see it even in how He talks to the Israelites about the promised land. Deuteronomy 1:21 says “See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Do you hear it. God has already given it to you; go get it; don’t be afraid; don’t be discouraged.
So hear that today. The promises of God are already a given, let us live like it. Don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged. I don’t know how many more chapters my life might have, but what I do know is that my God has a wonderful ending written, even if I can’t see how all the twists and turns will work out.
Because of Him,
Rev. Lynn Beach is married to his college sweetheart, Michelle, and they have two adorable daughters. He has been at Park Church since July 2013.