An end

Pslam 138_8

They gathered in front of me for one last morning devotions. Twenty-eight faces. Some ready for the day of lasts. Many unsure what the day would hold. Others completely unprepared. Emotions laid bare on faces. It was our last morning together.

We ended like we had started.

 

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me:  Your love O Lord endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8 (NIV, 1984)

 

The text had been our devotion on the first day of school. The ten months had passed in the blink of an eye. As we sat down for the last day, it was only fitting to end as we had begun.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. God has a plan for every life. It was by design and purpose that each of those learners had been placed into my room for the school year. We learned together. We cried together. We grew in character together. None of it was a chance occurrence. There was purpose in every moment. We looked for God’s direction. We sought His hand. We felt His peace surround us. Some days were great. Others could be described as the exact opposite. But all of it had a purpose – to grow every person in the room, adult and child alike, to become more Christlike. To be more like Him. Sometimes His purpose is clear and it is easy to spot and therefore easy to apply and follow. Other times, God’s purpose seems hidden, buried deep under layers of life, easily missed. But, regardless of experience and circumstance, God has a purpose for every life.

The application:  Keep looking and listening. God’s purpose for each life is unfolding. Keep in step with Him. As He continues to reveal His purpose a step at a time, walk in His way. I know He has good plans that He will carry to completion.

Your love O Lord endures forever. We have sung, over and over again, about the love God has for us. It is vast – deeper, wider, higher than we can ever understand. It knows no limit. It cannot be outrun, out-muscled, out-sinned. It goes on and on and on. God’s love never gives up. His stamina defies human logic. It’s a love that passes the test of time. It will not flicker and fade. Rather, it is steadfast and true, a constant presence. This love is collective. He loves the world so deeply He sent His Son to die for its redemption. It’s personal and specific. He loves me. He knows the number of hairs on my head. He knows what has made me laugh. What has made me cry. What has caused my heart to delight. What has broken it in two. He has walked, and continues to walk, each moment of life with me. In love.

The application:  Bask in the love God has for you. Notice His love and affection. Ask Him to open your eyes to His love. I sometimes forget. I need reminding that God loves me. Remember the moments where God showed up and showered you with love and affection. His presence is there. In love.

Do not abandon the works of your hands. We built things this year – LEGO projects, Science experiments that failed (on purpose). We wrote this year – paragraph plans, paragraphs, articles, stories, poetry. We read – books that made us laugh, others that were really serious. We were creative this year – art projects, gifts made, music classes. The works of our hands were many. The stack of work the learners took home was bigger than they thought it would be. At times, some of them were ready to give up. The work had moments of easiness but, more often than not, the brains were stretched to try something new. God’s work of forming and shaping is similar. When we allow Him to, He works on our lives with purpose and direction shaping and forming us to be the image bearers of His name. Sometimes we do not let Him work. We resist, throwing up our hands in an attempt at self-preservation. He is working on us and in us even in those moments. It’s much less comfortable and fun but He is at work. God’s perseverance defies understanding. He does not get tired and weary. He will go with us right to the end. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. What grace and mercy to know that God is with us. Now and always.

The challenge:  Let God do the forming and shaping that He desires. While it will not always be comfortable or even fun, His end desire and purpose is beautiful Christ-like character. The result of God’s work – better than could ever be anticipated.

We ended as we began. A God of purpose, love and continuity has been our focus. He goes before, behind, above and below. He knows each summer with all its plans and hopes and dreams. He will continue with us whether we are all together or not. Twenty-eight faces. Image bearers of Christ. What a challenge and blessing to have been their teacher.

Wait …

Psalm 27_14

A flash of lightning was spotted in the distance. The soccer pitches were cleared. All players and spectators needing to report inside. A short while later, the wind kicked up. What had been a calm evening of watching a soccer match suddenly changed. Chairs and gear were packed up and the stairs leaving the pitch were suddenly clogged with players, coaches, and fans.

In that moment, my impatience reared its head. Those walking in front of me were in no rush. Their steps leisurely at best. Behind them, people backed up waiting for them to get a move on. A spot opened and my teacher walking pace kicked in. I just had to get past them.

I’m not sure what the prize was. I got to the bottom of the steps faster. I got to my car before rain drops spattered my windshield. But a reward? There really wasn’t one. My impatience, that was on full display.

 

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again:  Stay with God. Psalm 27:14 (MSG)

 

God’s been doing a waiting work in my soul in the last while. He keeps saying wait. It’s on repeat – over and over again. I keep wondering for what. Why am I waiting? What is the purpose of this experience? Is there some sort of change that I’m meant to be experiencing? Is there some lesson that I’ve missed so far that I’m meant to be gaining? But, in the middle of all of my questions, the word wait is at the forefront of my mind.

WAIT.

It’s in these moments of waiting that my patience or rather lack thereof has manifested itself. I do things. I move. I am given a task and I want it to get done. I don’t want to miss the deadline. I want it checked off the to do list of work, home or life.

Waiting feels so passive. I’m not accomplishing in the waiting. In my mind, for something to have purpose, something must be done to accomplish it. But this waiting period, doesn’t have a to do list attached to it. It’s a sit and be still. There’s an air of anticipation with it. But what is being anticipated? I have absolutely no idea.

According to David, waiting takes strength and courage. Clearly, he felt uncomfortable in the middle of the waiting periods that he encountered. The strength to stay in the wait, that’s more strength than I realized I needed. I’m certain I haven’t acquired that strength yet. Take heart – I’ve wanted to bail out of this waiting thing for a while now. I want to get on with it. God, just give me the assignment and I’ll make it happen. Oh, my can-do spirit is sometimes so not helpful. Courage would not be needed if waiting was simple and easily done. Take heart – I know there’s a purpose to all of this. I don’t know what it is. I know my patience is being stretched in ways it hasn’t before. I know I’m not finished growing in that particular Fruit of the Spirit.

I wait. I am looking forward to finding out what the waiting was for. It has a purpose, of that I am sure. I know it will be good because it will come from my Father’s hand and He is good beyond measure.

Wait.