Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lemuel and Home Depot

A number of customers were traversing the garden department at Home Depot; after a string of hot and humid days there was a break in heat and humidity and people were taking advantage of the relief to catch up on outside projects.

As Lemuel negotiated his way through the aisles of the open-air department he noticed that there was only one cashier on the busy day. He thought, “I wonder why no one scheduled an additional cashier on a Saturday when you would expect more business from homeowners? People are out buying plants and landscaping supplies – this is a weekend for outdoor projects – look at the line of people to check out.”

After loading eight bags of pea gravel onto a dolly Lemuel pushed the dolly to the end of the line and waited. Soon another customer pushed a dolly laden with material behind Lemuel. Lemuel looked at the man and said, “It sure is great weather.”

“Yes,” the man replied, “This is a welcome change from what we’ve been having.”

The two exchanged more pleasantries before Lemuel reached the cashier. As Lemuel was leaving the cashier’s counter he turned to the man and said, “Good talking with you, have a great day.”

“You too,” the customer replied.

Out in the parking lot, as Lemuel was loading the bags of pea gravel into his pickup truck he noticed the other customer pushing his dolly to a pickup truck parked facing him just a couple of spaces away. Lemuel thought, “Should I speak to him again. Should I ask him if I can pray for him? I’ve been gone too long and want to get home. I spent more time at the bank than I intended. I have things to do. I’m tired and don’t feel like asking him if I can pray for him – there is always a risk of rejection involved and I don’t feel up to the risk.”

As Lemuel sat in his truck with the window down he said to the man, “It looks like you have one of the last Ford Rangers made before they stopped production.” The man told Lemuel the year of the truck and made a few other comments about it. Lemuel thought, “Ok, I’ve had some more conversation with him, let me go now.” But knowing that he had a sense that he needed to continue the conversation he said to the man, “I’d like to ask you something that maybe you don’t get asked a lot. I like praying for people and I’d like to know if you have something that I can pray for, for you or your family.”

What that the man came over to Lemuel and shared a need in his family. The two talked for a while longer, they introduced themselves, and Darryl asked Lemuel if Lemuel had something that Darryl could pray for and Lemuel shared a prayer need with him.

It was a Divine appointment and Lemuel has continued to pray for the need Darryl shared, continued to ponder some of the things they talked about, and also has continued to reflect on the fact that if he had not waited at the bank that he would have missed Darryl and that if there had been more cashiers at Home Depot that he may have missed Darryl.

Had Lemuel become angry at the wait at the bank he may have not been sensitive to the Divine appointment at Home Depot. If Lemuel had been impatient at Home Depot, due to there only being one cashier, he may have missed the Divine appointment. If Lemuel had not surrendered his wait at the bank to God his soul may not have been quiet enough to sense the nudge of the Holy Spirit toward Darryl. Stormy souls are souls that cannot hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit over and above its selfish turmoil – Lemuel knows this from experience. But of course this was all about God and about God enabling Lemuel to wait, to be patient, to ponder, to risk, and to realize that all time and space is God’s – including the time and space in which we wait.

We wait so that we can respond. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lemuel and the Bank

My friend Lemuel went to the bank the other day to make a deposit. Since there was only one drive-thru lane open he pulled behind the car in front of him that was at the bank teller window. Soon a pickup truck pulled in behind him. Lemuel waited, and waited, and he waited. He could see the lady in the car talking to the teller…and he waited some more. It appeared as if the lady and the teller talked, then didn’t talk, then talked again.

Lemuel, thought, “If she had multiple transactions why didn’t she go inside?”

As Lemuel continued to wait he thought, “If I could pull out of this lane I could park and go inside the bank.” But the pickup truck behind him was close to his rear bumper so that wasn’t a good option.

The minutes passed. Lemuel was pretty patient, he thought that God must just want him to wait before he could get on with his trip to Home Depot.

Finally the sliding tray opened from the teller’s window and the lady in the car retrieved a paper and drove away.

As Lemuel approached the teller’s window and gazed into the bank he saw lines of people at the counter. “Well,” he thought, “looks like if I had gone inside I’d still have to wait.”

The teller, a young lady named Marla, looked at him through the window and apologetically said, “I’m sorry you had to wait, our system is down and we have to do everything by hand.”

Lemuel thought, “Glad I didn’t make a fool of myself by getting impatient or angry – that would have been stupid.” (Of course it would have been stupid no matter the reason for the wait – our day belongs to God).

“Oh, that’s ok,” Lemuel told Marla, and he meant it.

Marla had to go to the main counter inside the bank, fill out a manual receipt, and then have a manager sign it. As she returned and gave Lemuel the receipt through the tray Lemuel looked at her, smiled and said, “I’m sure this has been a tough morning for you…I hope you have a good day.”

Things aren’t always what they appear to be – it’s better to trust God than to jump to conclusions – waiting won’t generally hurt us – and as Lemuel found out when he got to Home Depot, God had a purpose for the wait…but that is the next post.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

When A Diagnosis Becomes An Identity

I know I’ve probably written about this before, but I recently had conversations with two people close to me who, when facing challenges, basically gave up working through the challenges because they had been diagnosed with one of many cognitive disabilities that are proliferating. In both instances the diagnosis has become the identity.

This is not only dangerous for my friends, it is dangerous for others, for when they find that others also have a diagnosis that diagnosis becomes how they see others – the identity of others becomes the diagnosis. We don’t need name tags anymore to know who we are, we need diagnosis tags.

How vital it is to know that our identity is in Christ Jesus – Christ is in us and we are in Christ.