Thursday, April 24, 2008

What have you done for me TODAY?

My husband put himself through college with an athletic scholarship as an offensive lineman for the SMU Mustangs ever so many years ago. He often uses football analogies to describe life and growth and the human condition and our relationship with God.

One of his favorite phrases is this one, “You are only as good as your last play.” By which he means, of course, that one can have played a powerful game two or three weeks before, or even earlier in the game, but the only thing on the minds of the fans is how good was he on the last play. Past glory really means very little compared to the present need to win the game going on.

How true: it is not particularly helpful to “rest on our laurels,” to use a very old-fashioned phrase. So what if five or ten or fifteen years ago, such and such was accomplished or some award received? What are you doing now? Such an understanding helps to keep us in the present, working on keeping skills sharp, and integrity intact.

However, in case you hadn't noticed, there is also a downside to this. It means a lot of pressure to perform, and perform NOW. And everyone has an off day, or off week, or off month, or off season, or even an off year. Does that mean such people should be written off? What if God doesn't jump to our insistence on immediate response? Do we write God off?

Since my husband and I are both clergy, we find this is true in church life. Many people come to God and demand, “What have you done for me TODAY?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that yesterday there was unusual blessing and the day before I became especially aware of the glory of the Presence of God, and last year I began to really understand the gift of reconciliation but . . . what have you done TODAY?”
When this happens, demandingness replaces gratefulness. Demandingness is that part of us that says, “I want what I want and I want it now and I don't care if you are inconvenienced or have to compromise yourself or leave someone else behind, get it NOW.”

Oh, this one hurts. I wonder how many times I've prayed to God and implored, “C'mon God—I need this NOW. Don't make me wait.” How many times have I pushed someone to get what I want on my time frame, no matter what the cost to them. But in waiting, much of our character gets formed. In waiting, I learn real patience—the openhanded stance that no longer insists on my own way but watches grace move in. In waiting, I learn not to take vengeance on others because I stop long enough to see how destructive this is to my soul. In waiting, I give others a chance to grow, to learn new skills, to bloom at their own pace. In waiting, I see how lovely it is to think of others as more important than myself. In waiting, I sit still long enough to see the power of the moment. In waiting, I have time to remember past blessings and prepare myself for the future ones. So God, what have you done for me NOW? You've taught me to wait.

Now, that's worth waiting for!

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