01 June 2006

Last night I contacted the clerk of Elders at 2nd Street Community Church in Newberg, OR and let him know that I was accepting the call to be their new lead pastor-teacher. I will teach there on Sunday 11 June.

Then the flock will make a decision about the Elder's recommendation at a called meeting for worship and business on Thursday evening, 15 June (this date is tentative until they nail down a couple other things). And if they approve this recommendation, the goal is that I would begin in the position on 15 July, 2006.

Here are more of my journaled thoughts about HABAKKUK 2:1-4, specifically on v. 3 ...


1 I will climb up into my watchtower now and wait to see what the LORD will say to me and how he will answer my complaint.
2 Then the LORD said to me, "Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else.
3 "But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

4 "Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked; but the righteous will live by their faith."


My grandma-friend Sue Johnson used to love saying, "God is never wrong. God is never late. But God is very seldom early." Man, I can relate to that ... especially the third part of the equation. God basically tells us two things about His plans in the Bible. First, that "His will is unknowable, and impossible to chart out." And second, that "It's possible to seek out, find, and live into His will."

When we're in love with God, this two-sided conundrum doesn't dissuade us from embracing more and more of the mystery of God. But when we're disengaged from God, this seemingly unsolvable riddle drives us nuts because it will always be hard for us to get past the false-belief that by using this kind of two-sided-truth-coin, God isn't trying to get us to trust Him more intimately, but that rather, He's simply yanking our chain.

And yet, through the breath of the Holy Spirit and the pen of Habakkuk (his name is Hebrew for "embrace"), God encourages us to not give up hope that He's alive and well, even when the circumstances of our lives scream out otherwise.

If it's true that our "own life experiences" are the filter through which we read, understand and apply the WORD of God – integrating it into the day-to-day realities of our lives – then for me, Habakkuk's use of the words "slowly, steadily, patiently" and "will not be delayed" are adjectives that not only make sense, but that bring comfort to my frustration that God's timing doesn't always perfectly in sync with what I've wished for, hoped for, or even prayed for.

When I read the words "slowly, steadily, and patiently" I think of the Fable "The Tortoise And The Hare." And remember who won the race? Well if God's love is represented by the Hare (nearly always quick out of the blocks), then God's plans are represented by the Tortoise (persistent and plodding much of the time).

I guess if I had to choose, I'd rather have it this way than the other way around. Because in my book, "quick love and slow plans" will always be better than "slow love and quick plans." For in God's love I see His intent, and in God's plans I see His methods. And I'd much rather have God's intent informing and preceding His methods , than have God's methods informing and preceding His intent.

It's like God's at an AA group and He's telling us a truth about Himself that He knows we need to hear, no matter how hard it is for Him to explain it or how hard it is for us to really understand it. "Hi, my name is God" He says. "Hi, God" all those of at the meeting respond. "You are My people and I am your God" He continues. "My plans are Mine to make and yours to discover. My plans are based on My view of history and how you fit into it, and not on your often-times skewed perception of your 'wants and needs'."

God ends v. 3 by saying, "[My plan] will surely take place. It will not be delayed." We can't destroy God's plans anymore than we can destroy gravity or run away from our own lap. We can merely choose to participate in God's plans, or choose to turn away from God's plans.

Remember the old question, "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Of course it does. Sound is caused by events, not by whether or not an audience shows up. "If God has a plan and we choose to not grab onto it with all we've got, does God still have a plan?" Of course He does. God's plans are in play because He has designed them, not because we participate with Him in them.

But to know God, is to know that He is a God of engagement. He's constantly inviting us into conversation, into partnership, and into adventure. I'd be a liar if I said that I didn't get frustrated with God's timing "from time to time".

But deep down inside I believe that my life is in His hands. And I am choosing to trust His hands. And for me, right now, that's what my life of faith is about … it's about trusting God slowly, steadily, surely, and with great patience. And in doing so I find myself taking on more of the character of Jesus Christ and participating more fully in the will of God – learning to live a life of response back toward Him, that is based on the way He lives toward me. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

I'll let you know more once this boat is securely docked. Please remain in prayer for the precious flock and leadership team at Ogden Church. They have a pastoral candidate and his wife visiting tomorrow evening through Tuesday morning. He will be teaching this Sunday and meeting with a plethora of folks and committees between now and when he returns home. Please pray for peace, discernment, joy and courage ... both for them and for the sheep who make up the flock called Ogden Church. Godspeed.



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