Hope in the Queue

printersWhile typing and printing off documents, my printer suddenly decided to morph into la-la land. Electronic devices are so wonderful – until they don’t work. Then we’re stuck.

Frustrated, I tried and tried to print the last document, not realizing what was happening on the other end of electronic cyberspace. After rebooting, unplugging and still not printing, I turned everything off and quit for the day.

The next morning, when I turned on the computer, the printer decided to resuscitate itself. It spewed out page after page of documents that had been hiding in the queue.

Eventually, it stopped – but not before I added several inches to my pile of recyclable scrap paper.

The electronic world sometimes imitates life.

How often do we pray and pray for something, wait and wait longer while heaven seems to exist in an introverted silence?

Nothing happens for weeks, months, even years. Our prayers seem stuck in the queue of God’s waiting room. Then suddenly – an avalanche of answered prayers, all bunched up at the same time.

We gasp at the range of unexpected blessings and rejoice again in the assurance that God loves us.

As a writer, sometimes my words get stuck in a creative queue. I’ve never experienced a complete writer’s block, but I do know how to procrastinate and avoid sitting in the chair, hoping by osmosis to produce something memorable.

What I’ve discovered, though, is that the discipline produces its own fruit. Even though I may slug through a paragraph or two, if I keep going, keep making the words happen – then suddenly – the creative muse kicks in and I’m in another world for hours. That’s when writing is most fun.

So what can we learn from our moments stuck in the queue?

Persistence is still a worthwhile virtue.

The best writing, the purest answers to prayer, the most productive days evolve as a result of self-discipline. When we give it our best and keep at it – over and over – day after day – that’s when we eventually produce good fruit.

We may not see it for a while, but it WILL happen. Persistence which produces results is one of the key principles of life.

Nothing worthwhile happens easily. When we have to work for it, we appreciate the results and feel energized to persist with even more fervor.

Effective Results Require Patience

Patience and persistence are twin brothers. They sometimes look alike and often require some of the same disciplines to feed them.

But the persistence twin is a process while the patience twin reveals a quality of life.

Patience reminds us to wait, then wait some more. And when we can no longer stand the wait, we dig deep and learn how much strength authentic waiting requires.

Patience is the months-or-years-long battle, waiting for poisonous chemo to take effect and save a life.

Patience allows the preschooler to tie his own shoes even while the school bus honks.

Patience sits beside the Alzheimer’s resident and hears the same questions again and again, then responds with gentleness because it is what it is – a plaque-infestation of the brain and we know Mom cannot help herself.

Patience understands and gives grace when the addiction festers but the victim still tries to recover.

Patience learns through the passage of time because it cannot be hurried and if we want the best results – we must not deny the waiting.

Patience turns off the printer, instead of continuing the process of trying to print – adding more documents to the queue which then wastes paper. Lesson learned.

Sometimes the Best Action is No Action.

For planners and doers like me, it feels better to do something – to hit that print button over and over – to unplug and try again and again.

But sometimes, the cyberspace universe has to get its pixels in order and find its missing megabites. I don’t even understand its language. How then, can I make it do something?

When we’ve prayed and prayed, waited and persisted – yet nothing happens – we can use the prayer of relinquishment.

“Oh God, I can’t stand this, but I absolutely have no clue what to do. Please take over and do whatever you need to do to mend this problem. Please help me to rest in you and trust that you know exactly what’s wrong and what to do about it. I give up.”

That prayer seems so counterintuitive to what we’ve been taught about productivity, but even the Psalmist portrays the same advice, “Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon him; fret not…” (Psalm 37:7 AMP).

Be still. Unplug. Stop trying to figure it out. Don’t worry. Let go and let God salve your weary soul.

If we don’t learn how to be still, then we end up with a heap of nothing – wasted words, frustrated prayers and sometimes – piles of worthless paper.

But if we just let go and let God figure it out, then we return to the task rebooted and refreshed, ready for whatever he has to give us and grateful for the lessons we have learned.

As we wait in the queue for God to redeem this wicked world, we can be certain he does indeed know what he’s doing.

Maybe he’s just waiting for us to trust him so he can finish the task.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Hope Finds Resolution

church doorsThroughout my search for a church, I have gleaned important lessons. Because life-long learning is one of my core values, it gives me joy to learn something new or to confirm principles I’ve known for decades.

So what have I learned?

The Community of Believers Thrives

Throughout this year, I have met so many wonderful believers. Pastors have rearranged their schedules to talk with me. Gracious and vulnerable, they let me pray for them and asked how they could serve me. I have been humbled, awed and thankful for these men and women who love the same Lord I love.

Within these communities, I have snacked on a variety of goodies, experienced a women’s Christmas tea and tried numerous versions of the same coffee brand. Eleos seems to be the favorite. However, I believe my choice of a church is solid even if they have no snacks and no coffee bar.

The variety of music has provided a soothing balm for my pilgrim soul. Although I love the old hymns and enjoy a rousing classical version of the “Hallelujah Chorus” – I have found so many wonderful worship teams, praising God with joy. Do they know how important they are, lifting the spirits of saints who need the comfort of lyrics and chord progressions?

We Share Common Struggles

Churches are living organisms, peopled by fallible human beings. The world we live in makes it easy to ignore God and focus on ourselves. Yet so many believers are trying mightily to be the persons God created them to be.

And in every church where I have talked with the leaders, they’re not quite sure what to do with me. My particular demographic is a puzzle. Most churches aren’t set up to serve single moms or know how to deal with the growing numbers of divorced people and their children. This is one reason why 67 percent of single moms leave the church and never return.

But I am encouraged that leaders are willing to at least open the conversation. They’re hoping to try new programs, discuss new resources and consider how to be vulnerable even within traditional guidelines.

Sunday is the loneliest day of the week, and in my visits I have seen many women who worship alone – sitting by themselves, their heads bowed even as I peek at their solitude. I imagine they pray the same words I pray, “Will someone, anyone, Lord, talk to me or come and sit with me or invite me to lunch or even acknowledge I am here?” Can we do better? I believe so.

Church is Important to Me

Although I took a sabbatical from church to soothe some of the hurts, I always knew I would return. I just didn’t know where. It is important to belong within a body of believers, to find how my little digit somehow fits into the kingdom work of a particular group where my gifts are respected and utilized.

In searching for church, I have been encouraged by my own faith and by the principles my soul believes so strongly that I will hunt for them week by week. I stepped forward, fell back and began again.

Because belonging to a church body is part of who I am. Because church sanctifies my core beliefs and helps me grow. Because the people in my church become family. Because I am a believer, and church is what we do.

God Cares About Where I Go

Throughout this journey, I have prayed every Saturday night, “Show me, please, Abba Father. Make it clear. I want to be where you lead me.”

And God came through. When I visited the church where Jesus was absent, the Spirit in me cried out in melancholy loss. When I attended a church with my son and his girlfriend, God told me it would be only “for a while.” The following would result in leaving.

And when I came to a crossroads which almost exhausted my list of possibilities, it was within that scary moment the divine whisper directed me to the final answer.

As God so often does with me, he confirmed it in a unique way – this time in a dream. I was at an amusement park, already buckled into the metal car of the roller coaster. Just as it was about to begin its cranking ascent, the divine voice urged, “Get off the roller coaster.” So I unbuckled and left the amusement park.

When I woke up and journaled through the dream, I saw the confirmation. My search had led me to highs and lows, to spiritual discovery through the valley of grief, to stops and starts. The roller coaster search needed to come to an end, and I had to make the decision to unbuckle and walk confidently in a new direction.

So I learned a great deal, and I am grateful for the learning which involved more than a year of prayer, visits, leavings and yearnings.

I am finally off the roller coaster, stepping carefully because belonging precipitates the possibility of another hurt and my heart does not want to risk it. But for now, I have found a home and I believe God is smiling as together, we walk through the door.

©2016 RJ Thesman  ̶  Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

 

 

Hope Recovers from Pain

No pain – No gain.

heart - sunsetWe repeat this cliché and although we may believe in the truth of its principle, we would rather not experience it.

The reality is – we hate pain. We pray for healing as soon as we discover a lump, an asymmetrical mole or a rash that looks like shingles.

We scream, “It’s unfair, unjust,” when our identities are stolen or when our hearts are broken.

We hate pain. Yet it is also reality that the sharp bite of a vaccination may protect us from disease. The consequences of a broken commandment may drive us to repentance.


We often gain the most through pain.


As we have searched for answers about my son’s mysterious illness, we have considered the role of pain. Certainly, we asked for healing prayer. Many of you responded. Thank you!

Yet even within the uncertainty, I wondered – oh God – are you trying to teach us more about trust? Is there a higher purpose for these questions about my son’s health? How connected are his physical issues with the spiritual?

Last week, Caleb lay on a table while the doctor used acupuncture to relieve the pressure in my son’s brain.

One of the needles hit a painful place and what had been a comfortable treatment suddenly changed into a definite, “Ouch!”

Caleb bravely endured, then later that night, began to experience relief. The next day, he was 75% better and the following day – 100%.

The pain of that one needle insertion evidently made a different. The pain brought gain.

Treatments continue because we want total and lasting relief. We still don’t know the cause and maybe with further treatment, the answer will come.

But we’re moving beyond the uncertainty and into relief.

What have we learned? Again – the value and treasure of prayer. The prayers of you righteous ones who responded have made a difference.

The expertise of a doctor who specializes in natural treatments and listens to how the body works. If you want the name of a doctor who knows his stuff, email me: Rebecca@RJThesman.net.

We have also learned – again – to trust when we see no way out, when we beat our heads against blank walls and puzzled looks from medical professionals who have no answers. We trust in Yahweh Rophe – the divine Healer.

We have been reminded – again – to keep searching but simultaneously keep trusting that God may heal or he may direct us to those who can help. He may let us walk awhile in the pain and the uncertainty so that we will be grateful, trust wholeheartedly and learn patience.

Pain has become gain. Thank you, God.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Finding Hope When Healing Delays

When healing doesn’t happen, we tend to ask, “Why?”caleb on the beach

Does God have a greater purpose in the process? Have we prayed correctly, cried out to God fervently enough? Have we sinned, somehow preventing God’s awesome power at work?

Everything within me screams, “No! God is so much bigger than my attempts to justify his silence.”

Yet as the days and nights pass and we struggle through the question of “What is wrong with Caleb?” we have to wonder at the delay of answers.

Since God is omniscient and omnipotent and all the other omni’s – he knows exactly what has happened to cause this distress.

He knows every hair on my son’s head as well as every nuclei in his millions of cells. God’s heart beats in sync with my son’s as they are united by blood – the redemptive blood of Christ. I know God loves my son.

Since God knows what’s wrong, then why won’t he tell us? We are searching everywhere for answers – reading internet articles by experts who list the symptoms of a myriad of causes:

Allergies, gluten, mold, diabetes, stroke, brain tumors, carbon monoxide poisoning, Alzheimer’s – really? Alzheimer’s at age 29?

Some of these illnesses we are pursuing; some have been rabbit-trailed. The most dangerous ones met with a resounding, “No, that’s not it.”

Thank you, God.

Yet the giant question mark haunts and no one knows the answer.

Except One.

So why the delay?


I wonder if we are caught in a heavenly conflict – another God versus Satan moment where both sides hold their breath while the Jobs of the earth are tested.


Will we trust God? Will we be still and know that he is God?

Satan smirks but God smiles and sings over us. He knew the ending before the beginning ever germinated.

And when this Job falters, when I cannot sleep for the fear that beats against my mommy heart – the prayers of others sustain me.

Some of you – reading this post – are praying for us. Thank you.

Satan falls because prayers always push him down.

Will we trust God and persevere through to the other side?

We sing out that God Himself, who allows the test is also the One who keeps us from falling.

Yes, bless God. We will stand strong.

Because when healing waits, God has a purpose. And no matter what happens or how it plays out – in the end – God always wins.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

 

Hope Thrives Through the Aunties’ Prayers

woman prayingAs I closed my prayer journal, I thought once again about my nieces and nephews. These dear ones were the focus of my Sabbath prayers – the next generation that will love justice, show mercy and live as Kingdom-bearers in our world.

Years ago, I determined to pray them through school decisions, career changes and life-long relationships. Now I wonder how my prayers protected them or spurred them to consider a different path, a more focused decision. No matter. I will love them and root for them forever.

And what about the intercessions of my aunties? Judging from the fruit of their lives, I would bet they also kept prayer lists and on those lists, somewhere – my name appears.


It is because of their influence that I write and serve and minister. The glorious result of their example helped frame me as they modeled how to become strong and authentic women.


Most of them now live in eternal glory, yet the memories I carry of them are as distinct as my own reflection in the bedroom mirror.

Mary: the auntie who loved me even when I could not love myself. She never saw the zits, the perm-fried hair or the thunder thighs that mortified me throughout adolescence and high school. Mary just loved me and every time she saw me, I knew she was genuinely glad to see me. How I would love to feel her arms around me again!

Lynda: the teacher auntie who expressed interest in every one of my projects, supported my ministries and showed up, smiling, whenever I sang a solo or gave a speech. I felt important in her presence and knew she cared for me. I would bet, even now, she is checking with God about my activities.

Alma Dee: a busy mother of five, who still found time to spend hours with me, listening to my recitations of Bible verses and encouraging me to study the truth of God’s word. She helped me build a foundation that I later shared with my Bible students and then morphed into the personality of Reverend G.

Ethel: the gracious and kindly auntie who surpassed Martha Stewart in hospitality and the making of home. Her beautiful house was immaculate, her décor creative while her face always carried the shine of God’s love. Even now, this still-living auntie, reflects the presence of God and wears a forever smile, probably knowing she will see Him in person someday soon.

Adina: the widowed auntie who raised her children alone and achieved a master’s degree when it was unusual for women to pursue the higher levels of education. She challenged me to pursue my dreams. Because she persevered, I could, too.

Lucille: the glamourous auntie whose red lipstick shocked and amazed me. I wanted to try that shade – just once. It was at her memorial service that I learned about the depth of her faith and wondered if she, too, had prayed for me.

These aunties are just some of the relatives whom I respected and loved. They taught me the values I still espouse and shared their faith as generously as they gave kisses on the cheek.

Without these aunties and their prayers, I might have chosen another path. I have lived the results of my aunties’ prayers. So I now pass on that treasure for the younger ones who follow me.

Who prayed for you? What difference did those prayers make in your life?

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Hope Finds Holiness in Surprising Places

During a recent trip to Fort Scott, Kansas, my friend and I discovered a wonderful coffee shop. Our chai lattes tasted spicy yet mellow, and the missional atmosphere of this shop impressed us.Rev G quote on Ft Scott wall

Their bookshelves were filled with classics and some Christian fiction. I donated the Reverend G books and promised to bring the third book after its release in August.

But we were most interested in the church service advertised for Sunday morning, so we put it on our calendars and showed up along with about 30 other folks of all ages.

I looked around the room and thought, what a wonderful way to attract those who might be curious about faith. A great way to think outside the box!

I was a bit disappointed when we were handed bulletins – not so outside the box – but even churchy habits are hard to break.

The video sermon was taken from Romans. Seriously? Romans? How can you attract seekers with one of Paul’s most verbose books, a treatise even seasoned believers find difficult to understand.

But it soon became apparent that everyone in attendance was a believer or a seasoned church-goer so we discussed righteousness, legalism and how to determine God’s will.

A lovely young woman sang and accompanied herself on an acoustic guitar. We relaxed and enjoyed her melodies, interspersed with whooshes from the espresso machine. It was fun to meet saints from another town who worship the same God and aren’t afraid to welcome strangers.

Then a wonderful surprise greeted us as we left the building. Across the street was a colorful wall with a unique wooden door – Tuscan colors and the rough textures I love. We each took pictures while my creative mind immediately jumped to the questions: What’s on the other side of that door? What kind of novel can I plot with this door and this wall as the main focus?

Hope finds believers in interesting and surprising places all over the world. We so often root ourselves in our comfortable church pews where it’s easy to snooze through our own spirituality.

But when we move outside our comfortable walls and experience church in different settings, we breathe a fresh invite into the family that makes us Christian.

I’m encouraged to find pockets of believers in various places, worshiping in unique ways and spreading the love of Jesus without the confines of traditional walls. The texture and color of different congregants provide a rich setting for the stories we are all writing within our spiritual selves.

I think God must be glad about these creative venues. He is always able to create a new plan even while His attributes remain the same.

And as one of those creative types who yearns for more spiritual experiences outside the norm, I, too, am glad and filled with hope.

©2015 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Hope Goes Undercover

Except for sports and the news, I watch little TV. But one show intrigues me, and I am beginning to become a fan.

Undercover Boss” creates a situation where the boss disguises himself or herself and goes undercover to discover how the business really works.

undercover bossUsually the boss realizes that working in the factory or in customer service is much more difficult than it looks. And in the process, the boss discovers who the best workers are, who has true passion for the work and which employees need some coaching to improve.

As the boss and the employees relate, personal stories are revealed which usually include some tragedies or hard luck experiences.

My favorite part of the show happens when the boss reveals herself and then rewards the employees with whatever they need – usually something life-changing: a mortgage paid off, a new car or a college education.

The employee cries, and so do I.

This show empathizes with those who work hard yet receive little incentive until the boss magically shows up and gifts them.

So many times in life, we do things that go unnoticed. We silently forgive someone who has wounded us without talking about the offense. We show up early for work and stay late, do someone else’s work and let them take the credit. We toil behind the scenes while someone else steals the show and the applause.

Many of us agonize in prayer, then rejoice when the answer comes while no one knows how long we persevered on our knees.

Yet there is a heavenly Boss who sees everything we do and knows the motivation behind our behavior. He knows about the man who works hard to provide for his family or the single mom who struggles to save pennies so her children will have a Christmas.

The heavenly Boss sees the perseverance, the weary warrior who continues to pray, the employee who remains honest even while others steal from the company.

Our holy God sees every tear, hears every prayer, feels every rejection and understands every heartache. He sometimes rewards us on earth when we get to see prayers answered and miracles performed.

But most of the rewards will surprise us in heaven when the curtain is pulled on our earthly lives and the Divine will bless us eternally with his resources.

It is that hope that keeps us working and persevering even when it’s hard and we seem to go unnoticed.

If we can just keep our focus on what is to come, we can live each day with the assurance that someday the Boss will reveal Himself and smile at our efforts.

I’m looking forward to that day. How about you?

©2015 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh