Sometime

I was searching a hymn website a few weeks ago and came across the words to a song titled “Unanswered Yet”, written in 1894 by a singing evangelist named Charles Tillman.  Immediately, I felt a bond with the hymnwriter – seems he had learned some lessons in the waiting, too.  When I shared them with my sister, she  found the song in an old hymbook, this time with the title “Sometime, Somewhere”.   The hymnbook belonged to my grandmother.  The page was turned down.  I wonder what Charles Tillman was praying for, and I wonder if the words to the song had some special meaning to my grandmother.  The vocabulary may be from another time, but the prayers and the promises are timeless.  Savor these words.  Mull them over.  And be reminded once again that if your prayer has been unanswered yet, God will answer – sometime, somewhere.

Sometime, Somewhere by Charles Tillman, 1894

Unanswered yet?
The prayers your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years?
Does faith begin to fail, is hope departing,
And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer:
You shall have your desire, sometime, somewhere,
You shall have your desire, sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet?
Though when you first presented
This one petition at the Father’s throne,
It seemed you could not wait the time of asking,
So urgent was your heart to make it known.
Though years have passed since then, do not despair;
The Lord will answer you, sometime, somewhere,
The Lord will answer you, sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet?
Nay, do not say ungranted;
Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done;
The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
His glory you shall see, sometime somewhere,
His glory you shall see, sometime somewhere.

Unanswered yet?
Faith cannot be unanswered;
Her feet were firmly planted on the Rock;
Amid the wildest storm prayer stands undaunted,
Nor quail before the loudest thunder shock.
She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
And cries, “It shall be done,” sometime, somewhere,
And cries, “It shall be done,” sometime, somewhere.

“And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear”  Isaiah 65:24

Snuggled

It got pretty cold here last night – at least by South Florida standards.  Somewhere in the low 40’s.  And because I’m somewhat of an anomaly here and I LIVE for these kinds of nights, I slept with my windows open.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  This morning when the alarm went off, I realized just how chilly it had become.  So I reached down and pulled up the comforter (something I cannot do very often) and snuggled down deep.  It was just the right combination of perfectly worn and softened cotton sheets and weighty comforter. 

Delightful. 

I didn’t intend for it to become a spiritual moment, but God  used those few extra minutes in that delightful state to remind me how He loves to wrap me up like that.  Verses came to mind about how He’s like a mother bird who spreads her wings over the nest to cover and protect her young, and how God is the perfect Comforter.   Soon we’ll be back into the tropical weather here, but I’m grateful for cold mornings, a warm bed and reminders of God’s loving cover over me.

He shall cover you with His feathers and under His wings you shall take refuge.  Psalm 91:4  NKJV

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you. Isaiah 66:13  NKJV

Battle

It cannot be stated too frequently that the life of a Christian is a warfare, an intense conflict, a lifelong contest.  It is a battle waged against invisible foes, who are ever alert, and ever seeking to entrap, deceive, and ruin the souls of men.  The life to which Holy Scripture calls men is no picnic, or holiday junketing.  It is no pastime, no pleasure jaunt.  It entails wrestling, struggling; it demands the putting forth of the full energy of the spirit in order to frustrate the foe and to come off, at the last, more than conqueror.

E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)  from  The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer, Baker Books 1990

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  Romans 8:37 NKJV

Rubble

Three BIG booms.  Then came the rapid-fire explosions…and a 30 story high-rise condo in West Palm Beach came crashing down on Valentine’s Day.  It was over in 10 seconds.  All that was left was a 40 foot tall pile of rubble and a big dust cloud.

And the crowds cheered. 

They cheered because they knew it was coming.  They knew someone was in control.  They knew that an experienced implosion team had carefully set the hundreds of pounds of dynamite, calculated the blast and made sure everyone was out of harm’s way.   They knew that in a few months, the pile of rubble would be gone and something newer and better would take its place.

We don’t cheer when things come crashing down or fall apart unexpectedly.  We can’t put them on our calendars, plan viewing parties and count down the big moment.  But as believers we can have the same assurance that Someone indeed has been in control.   God has known precisely what was going to happen in our lives and when it was going to happen since time began.  He has known about the literal earthquakes, and He’s known about the tremors in our lives that rock our worlds and bring dreams crashing down.  And while we haven’t been able to plan for them, He has – and He’s waiting to see if we’ll trust Him.  The rubble and the dust cloud might remain for a while,  but when they clear God promises something newer and better in their place.

Do not consider the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold I will do a new thing.  Now it shall spring forth.  Shall you not know it?  Isaiah 43:18-19 (NKJV)

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”  Revelation 21:15 (NKJV)

Olympic

There’s a newspaper clipping from the 2002 Winter Olympics hanging over my desk.  It’s had that place of honor since the Salt Lake City games 8 years ago.  It’s a photo of an obviously ecstatic cross-country skier coming over the finish line with his ski poles held high in the air and an enormous smile on his face.  It’s a gold medal smile.  But I have the photo hanging there because he didn’t win the gold medal.  As a matter of fact, he came in last.  He finished 19 minutes and 33 seconds after the winner in that 10 kilometer race. 

So, why the smile?  The athlete in the picture, Isaac Menyoli from snowless Cameroon, said, “I had no technique, nothing.  But I finished, and people were cheering, and that’s all that matters.”

That picture reminds me of the many times in the Bible that our life is described as a race.  Our races might not be pretty.  Our technique might not always be medal-worthy.  But all God asks is that we run with endurance, that we keep the faith and that we finish the race.  And while we won’t get a medal, I hear there are some pretty awesome crowns at the finish line.

Psalm 19:5b,  Hebrews 12:1,  2 Timothy 4:7-8,  James 1:12

Quotable

When we suffer, we long for God to speak clearly, to tell us the end of the story, and most of all, to show Himself.  But if He showed Himself fully and immediately, if He answered all the questions, we’d never grow;  we’d never emerge from our chrysalis because we’d be forever dependent.

from “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller (NavPress, 2009)

Muzzled

I love the end of the book of Job.  I love it that after 30-something chapters of Job and his friends lamenting over his condition and the ills that have befallen him, God speaks.

And He speaks BIG.  Out of a whirlwind.

And I picture Job sitting down rather sheepishly as God points His finger right in his face and says in a very God-like booming voice, “Where were YOU when I laid the foundation of the earth?”  This declaration of His omnipotence goes on without taking a breath for quite some time.  One of God’s last questions for Job is, “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?”  I’m assuming this question is rhetorical.

Job’s response?  Classic. “I lay my hand over my mouth”.  Can’t you just see it?  And can’t you just imagine yourself needing to do the same thing after complaining to God about some seeming injustice in your life?

Now, I’m not covered with sores, I haven’t lost my donkeys, camels and oxen, and my family has not been crushed by a falling house.  Not even close.  But I have been known to question things in my life.  And in questioning my life, in a round-about way,  I’m questioning God.  And sometimes after I’ve vented, God needs to remind me who He is – and who I am not.  And I need to clamp my hand over my mouth.  When I do dare to speak again, I need to say the same thing that Job did.

“I have uttered what I do not understand”. 

May I learn to clamp my hand over my mouth BEFORE I utter things I do not understand and simply learn to trust the One who laid the foundation of the earth.

Sunday

Sunday my prince will come.

No, seriously.  My Prince Charming will be here on Sunday.  At least that’s what the side of his box says.   According to the instructions for “Magical Grow a Frog to Prince”, all I have to do is add water and “Prince will be fully grown in 72 hours”.  It also promises that he’ll be safe and ton-toxic.

I tried this instant relationship with a “Grow Your Own Cowboy” a while back, but that venture didn’t have the word “magical” attached to it.  My sister in NJ (she’s in the same single wait that I am) sent me this “Frog to Prince” and bought one for herself as well.  It was pretty funny last night on the phone – she was in NJ in the middle of a blizzard, and I was here in FL with the doors wide open – but together we followed our instructions, watched the outer frog shells disappear, and now we both have tiny little Prince figures who just need time to grow into Mr. Charming by Sunday, which, of course, is Valentine’s Day.

If only life could really be guaranteed like that!  We’ve all received the tempting e-mails promising us that if we forward them to 10 people in the next 5 minutes, our prayers will be answered within 24 hours.  God doesn’t work that way.  Sometimes He has us wait.   Sometimes we wait a whole lot longer than 72 hours.  But I’d still rather trust Him than follow the “guaranteed” instructions on the side of a box, or relayed in an e-mail.   

“My soul waits silently for God alone.  For my expectation is from Him”.   Ps. 62:5

And I’m going to wait for God to bring me His choice of a Prince Charming.  The one in the jar on my kitchen table is looking kind of scary right now.  The black smudge on his face may turn into a mouth, but then again…

Yet

Three letters make for a very short word.

Long, multi-syllabic, many-lettered words seem somehow more important than tiny, seemingly inconsequential ones.  Sometimes we wish we had a big word on the tip of our tongue to use to make a big impression.  But sometimes the littlest word can change everything.  A word like…yet.

Yet does change everything.  Yet reveals the other side of the story.

YET those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.  They will mount up with wings like eagles.  They will run and not get tired, they will walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Though He slay me, YET will I trust Him.  Job 13:15

YET in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  Romans 8:37

We are hard pressed on every side, YET not crushed.  2 Corinthians 4:8

And He will YET deliver us.  2 Corinthians 1:10

Strength, trust, victory, protection, deliverance – all because of a little word.

YET does change everything.