No Substitute for Time

In the process of preparation, there is no substitute for time. This is true, whether you are preparing a meal, preparing for a journey, or preparing for battle. I thought it this morning when I was trying to clean my cup from yesterday’s breakfast. To get it truly clean required that I let it soak in soap and water for a time. I tried to speed up the process by using boiling water from the coffee maker, but that only speeds it up some. I still had to let it sit for a bit. That’s when I had the thought, There is no substitute for time.

The addition of heat, or pressure, to the process can help it along, but without enough time, preparation will be inadequate. If you don’t let the turkey cook long enough, then it won’t get cooked all the way through. If you don’t take time to plan your route and prepare your suitcase or bag, then you will either have trouble finding your destination, or you will have insufficient changes of clothing. If you don’t gather enough supplies or train properly, then you will probably lose the battle you have to fight.

There is no substitute for time. When God makes us wait on things we don’t want to wait on, and we can’t figure out the reason why, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason. It simply means we can’t see the big picture. All these long months (or years maybe) of waiting have their purpose, even if the only purpose is to test our trust in God. Building character is something that cannot be done in a hurry. Learning patience only comes about through having to wait on the Lord. Beyond that, we have to realize that our finite understanding cannot comprehend the mysteries of God… like, why do I have to wait for my husband to get a job? As Jeremiah put it, why do the wicked prosper? Why can’t I have “___” when I think I need it now? Why did a perfect man like Jesus Christ have to suffer and die for other men’s sins? Why do children suffer?

These are unanswerable questions in the realm of reason. Sure, there’s the problem of original sin and how God is waiting patiently waiting for the wicked to turn to Him (Ez. 33:11); but, honestly, how does my waiting affect the world around me? I am reminded again that in the preparation process, there is no substitute for time. Time is probably the most important ingredient in any recipe, journey preparation, or in getting ready for any kind of battle. Perhaps, this time of waiting will produce a savory meal suitable for my God’s table, or maybe the next season will be one of change and travel… or maybe the next season will be a season of war, and I need to be spiritually prepared.

Whatever the reason is for waiting, Paul said, “I have learned in all things to be content. (Ph. 4:12)” This means that even in the times of waiting, he learned contentment. Truly, truly, it’s a long journey that we travel in this life. Sometimes we have to stay in one place. Other times we have to race as fast as we can to the next place. Wherever we are at on the journey, in the process, or whatever terminology you choose to use, there is no substitute for time and the only way to pass through time with any degree of contentment is to trust that God really does know what He is doing.

*I ran across this piece that I wrote in the fall of 2009. As far as I can tell, I’ve never published it anywhere, so here goes… 🙂 Maybe it just needed to percolate on the back burner for the past few years so I could really appreciate it, thus proving the point. I did make a few minor editorial tweaks, but for the most part, this is as it came out of my head in the first place.

True North

One’s moral compass should not be calibrated by the socially acceptable or civilly legislated standards of the day. True north is always, always God’s standards set in His word. When the Sanhedrin told Peter and John they should stop preaching Jesus, Peter’s response still holds true, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20) My experience, my heart, my changed life, tells me over and over and over again that I can trust God, that He is a good God, that His love shapes me for my ultimate good. Thousands of years of believers stand testament to this, so WHY would I have any interest in conforming to make others more comfortable?

Truth is supposed to make you uncomfortable; otherwise, you would have no reason to change. The goal is to become more like Christ—not some fictional, socially acceptable, wimpy Jesus—but like the Jesus who stood up to the Pharisees of his day and said, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:6-8)

Governments may legislate; Churches may decree standards (by democratic vote! …and where is that in scripture?); but God’s word reaffirms that when we stand before His throne, we will not be able to excuse our behavior by saying, “But they said it was okay!” We are accountable to God, and to God alone, for our own choices and our own actions. I leave you with the words of Christ in Matthew 10:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell…. 34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

How can I be a child again?

When I think about my childhood, all I can remember is trying to be older, more adult, part of the grown-up crowd. I spent most of my time listening to the grown-ups talk or reading to escape my childhood.

I’m sure I must have played sometimes. I had toys and games, favorite dolls and stuffed animals—although those last were mostly because I felt I needed comfort. I was happiest deep in a book, far away from my environment. I had no idea how unhappy I was, though I remember long periods spent staring blankly, without thought or focus.

There was the interlude when my brother and I were on the local swimming team. It got me out of the house and into something competitive and physically challenging, but after less than two years I lost interest and stopped competing.

By the time I was a teenager, I became conscious of my unhappiness. My first remembered bout of depression came when I was somewhere around age 13 or 14. My parents had left for the Sunday evening church service, and I was waiting on my ride to youth group. I recall standing in the kitchen, staring at the oven, and thinking I could just slash my wrists with a knife and be done with “it.” In all honesty, though, I’m not really sure what “it” was. Thankfully, I did not act on the impulse, and it passed.

School was actually a good place for me. I enjoyed learning things, even though I hated the homework assignments. What kid doesn’t hate homework? I mean, like all kids, I preferred controlling my own free time. But, I was a loner, a thinker, and an outsider for the most part, at least as far as I can remember it. Middle school and high school band offered me a new outlet…music. Music came to me like breathing, and I dove as deeply into it as I ever did into reading, because it was another escape from my home environment.

Still, being a child is not something I remember ever really “being” in all truth. Moments, yes. Brief interludes, yes. Childhood…no. What was that? I had to take care of my younger siblings from the time I was between six and seven years old. I had a depressive, suicidal mother and an abusive father. It is interesting to me that when I think of my childhood, I have this sense of everything being overlaid with a brown-colored filter, like a sepia photograph. It speaks to me of fear (of my father), sadness, uncertainty…hunger.

These last few years as I have begun exploring more spiritual experiences, one thing that has stood out for me is the Lord’s repeated references to the joy of being a child, to playing with Him—on the beach, in the fields, and on the clouds. One of the most powerful experiences happened this spring (2016) when He took me to a place in the Spirit…and I was nine years old again. I don’t even remember all the intimate details of what He talked with me about, only that I found myself weeping in some kind of inarticulate grief for something of myself that I had lost.

I would like to think that I can find childhood again somehow, even if I am in my late forties now. All this adult, super-spiritual thinking about resting in the Lord seems to point back to the attitude of a child that Mom and Dad take care of everything. Good parents do, after all, put the food on the table and the clothes on the bodies of their children. They provide protection from people that pose a danger to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of their children.

In actual fact, God is the ultimate parental role model. Father offers love, protection, and provision. Holy Spirit offers comfort, guidance, and encouragement. Jesus is our best friend, our oldest sibling, leading by example in His reliance on the Father and the Spirit. I’m trying to figure out how to stop trying to figure things out all the time. I want to rest and be a child in His presence who trusts without question, but I keep banging my head up against this internal wall of intellectualism, fear, and an overwhelming desire to escape reality again.

Please, Lord Jesus, help me to trust without question and rest in Your presence again. Help me, Lord, to be a child again.


Like the waves rolling into the sand,
Your Spirit is powerful, inexorable.
You resonate within us—
Unstoppable, bringing change.
Even when we resist,
Your grace never gives up on us—
Saturating our hearts with love…
Till the rough places are made smooth,
The mountains are brought low,
And our hearts bow in humble gratitude
For all the transformations You’ve wrought.
Let the susurration of Your waves
Spread peace across the valleys in us
Where we have tried to hide our secret rebellions.
Bury them in the depths of Your love and power,
So we can release every part,
Every place to Your Lordship.

susurration — noun 1. a soft murmur; whisper.


When wonder at the world becomes insipid,
When watches of the night become too long,
When days drag on until it all seems vapid,
When noises overwhelm your every song,
It’s time to press beyond your inclinations,
To make your feelings cave beneath your will,
To stand upon the Rock of your salvation,
To hold firm, finding rest in being still.

Ignore the weight that seems to press around you.
His Spirit holds you safe from every harm.
Instead let quiet grace and peace surround you.
Come nestle in the safety of His arms.
Refuse to let this fleeting world dictate
The way you feel and how you choose to live,
For heaven’s true realities await
All those who can accept what Father gives.

By His own hand He brings us through the fire.
No flood can overwhelm us in His grace.
His unseen realms are far beyond desire,
But open to all those who seek His face.
Believe that all His promises are faithful,
That every word He gave to us is true.
Don’t listen to the clamor of the hateful,
His everlasting love has made us new.

By Holy Spirit’s power there is a door,
Through which a child of God can pass with ease.
Your inner, spirit eyes can see much more,
If you will just submit to Spirit’s lead.
Come find the joyous universe within.
Fly far beyond all boundaries of thought.
If you will trust when everything seems dim,
The Father will reveal what He has wrought.


Holy Spirit,
Today the warm, gray clouds wrapped around us
As we stared out the car window.
I thought how really present I felt in the moment,
Realized you hovered there quietly with me,
Smiled to myself for the sheer pleasure of you.
The grayness of the warm, moist, late spring day
Felt like a blanket enclosing us,
Tightly wrapping me right up with you
Till I felt the joy of being,
The delight of togetherness, oneness.
You filled me up with fullness of your holy presence—
All the greatness of your majesty
Compressed into the silent, unified
Enjoyment of your created refreshment.
The rain sprinkled down on us in spurts and spates, and
It was just so lovely!!!
Observers might have thought me alone,
Might have thought the day dreary,
But no, not today…
Today I was filled with wonder at your work.
Today I was replete with you, Lord.

Life in Christ

Sometimes, my Lord, I wonder why
You chose to come, to live and die…
Because we are so full of sin,
With hearts of wickedness within.

Yet it’s so clear you loved us still
Despite our weak and foolish will,
So in due time you saved us all.
You offered us your loving call.

By one man’s sin, death reigned supreme,
But by your blood, you make us clean–
Free gift by your one righteous choice
To those who heed the Spirit’s voice.

Great God of love, of life, of light,
Remember me this dark, dark night.
I need to know your grace once more.
Bring peace again within my core.

Let loving-kindness reign in me;
Let truth and love bring liberty.
Sweep through my heart with your sweet grace,
Till I can only see your face.

Your goodness is your glory, Lord,
According to your spoken word,
So, hide me in the rocky cleft.
And in your mercy, be my breath.

Please, manifest yourself this hour
That all may see and know your power.
Make clear your gift to all mankind–
One only you could have designed.

Ro. 5:6,18-19; Ex. 33:18-23

In The Moment (For John)

In the moment,
When I sit and think of you,
All the crazy recollections
Give me bits and bytes of joy that lift my heart.

In the moment,
When I meditate on us,
All the bumps along the way
Make me glad we had each other for support.

In the moment,
When I contemplate and muse,
All the good and bad together
Formed the present circumstance in which we live.

In the moment,
When I’m with you in the now,
Everything becomes more focused
Giving life and joy and purpose to our love.

In the moment,
When my gratitude abounds,
Every step, we learn to listen,
Till our hearts and minds find harmony in Christ.

In the moment,
When I give “us” to the Lord,
I find greater peace of mind
Letting Love infuse our love with His great light.

In the moment,
I’m just happy that I’m with you,
As we jointly journey forward,
Knowing God will draw us onward into Him…
Ever loving, living, growing, still transforming, trusting Him.

Being Me

There really is no way to quantify, or qualify, the struggles I have been so deeply entwined inside the core of my being, my very selfness, so to speak. Sometimes words help. They used to help a lot more. These days…not so much. I find it difficult, almost impossible if I were honest, to articulate how deeply I have been torn, confused, unhappy with myself, while all the time wrestling my own soul into an acceptance of God’s immeasurable grace. Even just saying that to you only highlights to me the inadequacy of language.

I feel, at times, buried under the deepest seas, feeling the weight and burden of sustaining my life with all its practical demands (food, sleep, clothing, and hygiene) and the added burden of the necessary interactions with family, friends, coworkers, strangers in the marketplace, etc. When I feel overwhelmed to that degree, all I want to do is sit still in my house in the dark and withdraw from the world.

Then there are those moments, and most of the time they do only feel like moments in retrospect, when I feel confident in my place before the Lord—sustained and lifted by the Spirit into the unseen reality so that I am comprehending more fully all of what is happening around me and experiencing the fullness of Spirit life until it boils out of me in tears. I cannot tell you whether those are tears of joy and gratitude that I am once more participating in what God is doing, whether they are tears of sorrow and frustration for the difficulty that both I and those around me have in letting go and letting God, or perhaps a combination of the two extremes. I only know that I weep in some visceral response that I have no control over and no desire to control.

I find myself reaching for things out of years and years of habit:

  • books to read, that once I start reading I lose all interest in;
  • food to eat, which has little or no taste appeal anymore and makes me feel physically less well in various ways;
  • alcoholic drink, which no longer really tastes quite right and doesn’t make me feel any better;
  • music, that I also lose interest in quickly once I start listening;
  • physical activity, which I find I have no desire to attempt and no strength when I attempt it anyway;
  • and even sleep has no appeal and seems pointless.

It is at this point that I am just beginning to recognize the tastelessness of my current existence. This also seems paradoxical. I don’t feel in the least bit suicidal, which might be the obvious conclusion an observer would make. “Being” me just feels gray. I love; I laugh; I cry; I get angry; I talk and banter with others; and it all appears to my observer’s mind to just be external. Maybe I have not physically shut the door and turned out the lights, but on the inside, I’ve turned off. I feel no connection.

Oddly enough, I know this to be a lie. I am very connected with my loved ones and friends. We pray together, and I see the truth of the spiritual realm around me. If I were to be honest with myself, I would have to say that the reason everything feels so gray and disconnected is because I keep searching for the ultimate connection with the Life inside me, yet I cannot seem to find it.

It’s there. God’s there. He’s there beyond a shadow of any doubt. I know this only because I know this deeper than words can articulate. I’ve always known His presence in my life. I cannot conceive of life without. I think what I’ve been struggling towards is some way to let go of all the things I reach for and simply sink into the Person of God, the Holy Spirit, already indwelling me.

O Lord, may you give the ability to quit striving and rest in You.

In Him We Live

I feel this compulsion to write again,
To try to express something new and different
Than the thousand thousand ways I’ve written before.
Words have always been my comfort,
My way of pushing the envelope of my emotions
Until I can define and quantify some aspect of myself
In a verbal space that others identify with—
All with a hope that I will help my fragile emotional state
Settle down into something steadier,
Easier to deal with,
Not quite so overwhelming in the end.
…And with some vague idea
That I can help someone else in the process,
Anyone who feels with an inability to articulate those feelings.
Yet here I am, back again,
Caught in a swirl of tumultuous inner upheaval,
Trying to claw my way back to sanity
By way of letters and words jumbled together on a page.
Today it feels like it’s all just going, “Splat!”
The bifurcation of myself between
Analysis and experience doesn’t seem to help at all.

I wonder…
Maybe I should stop trying to segregate my soul
Instead of integrating my being
Into wholeness…completeness.
Is it possible to be centered,
Smack in the middle of all the troubling sensations,
Fully aware of all the logical implications??
Trusting my Comforter, Brother, Father
To hold me securely inside the Christ anointing
Until I come into Their/His order
Rather than my own???
What if it really is okay to feel, think, move, function—
All of them at the same time!
Because ultimately,
“In Him we live and move and have our being…”[*]

I cannot seem to be satisfied with that,
Though in the core of who I am
I know it is Truth.
The weight, the jumble of life
Keeps catching up to me when I’m not expecting it.
I focus on the circumstances just in front of me,
Putting off the consequences of my choices,
Till suddenly I am forced to stop.
The burdens of yesterday’s decisions catch up,
Jerking me off my feet,
Landing me on the ground
Where I sit shaking my head in a daze,
Wondering what, exactly, happened…
Then I go,
“Oh yeah… that…”
All the stuff surrounds me
Like a big cloud of dust I displaced
When I fell on the dry ground.
I just want water again…
Living water.
Father keeps telling me
It’s okay to be still, to rest.
This is where Word, Living Word,
Rises in my heart again.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear
The yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone and keep silent,
Because God has laid it on him;
Let him put his mouth in the dust—
There may yet be hope.
Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him
And be full of reproach.
For the Lord will not cast off forever.
Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.”

Lamentations 3:25-33

Many people quote verses 22-23,
How many go on?
How many read it all in the context
Of Jeremiah’s lament for his people?
Or how about verses 38-41…
“Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?
Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?
Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.”
So, Jeremiah keeps calling to his people,
But they turn a deaf ear.
Will I listen?
Will I turn?
Will I repent of my self-seeking,
Self-focused way of living
That turns away from “the Lord,
The fountain of living waters”

To hew myself “broken cisterns that can hold no water?”[†]

Then the cloud of dust subsides,
The air clears, and I notice
The quiet stream beside my path.
My weary, thankful heart remembers grace
As my trembling hands reach for His arms.
Before I am barely conscious of it,
I find myself stepping forwards,
Able to go on in His strength,
Not my own.
Just like that He’s brought me back around
Making sense out of my nonsense,
Reminding me that He guides me—
My thoughts, my feelings, my fingers, my focus
As I allow His Spirit to flow through me.
Yup…there it is again:
“In Him we live and move and have our being…”

[*] Acts 17:28 (NKJV)
[†] Jeremiah 17:13; 2:13 (NKJV)

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