Scarlett O’Hara said, in the movie Gone with the Wind, “I’ll think about that tomorrow“. I must say I have always quite liked that quote. There is definitely some wisdom in thinking about some things tomorrow. Wisdom to not worry today about what is happening tomorrow. That hopsital appointment, that meeting, that pressure ahead. All our worrying does is rob today of its joy. Corrie Ten Boom wrote “worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” So postponing thinking to the next day is good advice.
On the other hand fully embracing an O’Hara ethos to life also has its downsides. It’s when we postpone the good actions and decisions to tomorrow. Like when we decide today I will feast, tomorrow I will fast. Tomorrow I will get my finances in order, but today….Tomorrow I’ll say yes to God, today is one more day living for me. The problem is that tomorrow is another word for later.
Pharoah was rather like that too. The mightiness of God was being powerfully demonstrated. His kingdom overcome with frogs. Frogs everywhere, in their houses, in their beds. Yet he chose to deal with it tomorrow. It was a straightforward question by Moses to Pharoah – when would he like the frogs that plagued his kingdom gone? Tomorrow though was soon enough.
Christine Caine said “if God is willing to do it today then why would you wait until tomorrow?” Why wait to involve God in your circumstances, in your life? He is ready and able to enter your circumstances with power, grace and love. Why wait to take that concern to God in prayer? To start today on the dream that God has placed on your heart.
To say yes today.
A mountain of washing to sort and fold was before me. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed, I decided to watch something on TV at the same time as a distraction. A Nature programme is not normally something I’d choose. If I am going to watch any nature related programme. it better have Bear Grylls in it. Nonetheless, it was only thing that grabbed me and which I subsequently enjoyed. I think it might have had something to do with the calm, serene voice of the narrator, which I probably needed! It seems no matter what is going on in the show, the Narrator calmly explains what is happening, without sense of panic as to what is taking place. He was I thought, rather detached as he described the little hermit crab frantically scrambling for cover from the Octopus chasing it.
The Nature programme was all about how the plants, fish and other sea creatures cope with the changing tides. He described what goes on the floor of the ocean as the tide changes and my folding of the washing slowed. I began to see lessons that I can apply to my life. When the tide changes, the creatures on the sea floor are faced with a strong and overwhelming current. Rather like us being caught in a tropical storm. But the creatures have adapted to survive in the strong pull of the tide. From knowing it’s warning signs and burrowing down for safety, or like the seeds, allowing the current to take it further afield. The life on the seabed is very aware of the rhythm of the tide and adapts accordingly. Even the Orcas and Stingrays who use the tides as a tool to hunt for food must stay aware, for if they ignore the tide they will risk being stranded.
As much as the Orcas pay attention to the tide changing, we need to be aware of the season of life that we are in. When we realise the power of being comfortable in the season that we are in, we will be the most effective for God. Better to stay with the tide than end up beached on the shore. Christine Caine once wrote “every season that God takes us through has purpose.” And just as God has been meticulous in the design of the creatures on the sea bed and given them ways of coping with the strong tide turn, so too does He equips us for when the tide / season change in our lives.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
By the way, the crab did make it!
“Destiny is not an instant click and upload” (Christine Caine)
Back in the day (and I might add, days I was a part of!), before photos could be taken and instantly circulated around the world, developing photos was a careful and detailed process. Photos were treasured and even shot with care as each film was restricted to the number of photos that could be taken. In Dark Rooms under a special red light, the development process was undertaken. No natural light was allowed in, which would destroy the fragile film. The film was transferred onto photography paper, immersed in various solutions and left to develop. Time and darkness were key, paramount to the successful development of a photo.
The times of obscurity, the times of seemingly little progress towards our dreams, are like this. Our own darkroom. It is our preparation time. Just like in Winter when the bareness of the branches suggest little growth and life, yet beneath the earth, the tree is using the time for its roots to go deeper. To grow stronger.
Joseph experienced this. He had the promise but he underwent time in his darkroom – in the pit and then the prison, before he emerged ready to lead Egypt. King David had to learn it. He was anointed King, but then went back to tending the sheep, serving his brothers lunch and later serving King Saul. He spent 20 years in obscurity, of being a King-in-waiting as God prepared him for kingship.
It’s hard not to want to burst out of the dark room prematurely. But rushing the process or trying to pre-empt the finish diminishes the quality of the photo. Abraham and Sarah did this and ended up with Ishmael. In these hidden times, where it seems to be just you and God, our character is developed, our spirit is strengthened. It is in these times, God prepares us for our destiny.
The quality of a developed photo is attributable to the time and care taken in the dark room. Those hidden times with God are valuable. Don’t despise your time in the dark room – God is preparing and perfecting you for what is ahead. Hang in there – soon enough the door will open.
And Remember – what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.
(Inspiration for this blog from Christine Caine’s book “Unstoppable” where she talks about the Dark Room and how God uses it to burn the light of Christ onto our lives. The book is an inspirational and challenging read!)
Growing up, I loved the story “A Fish out of water”, where the fish would keep out growing the containers it was put in – from a fish bowl to a vase, to a bath tub to a pond. It’s a great analogy I think of how we think that we can contain God in our lives, but that He, like the fish, is uncontainable and His plans for us are just as uncontainable. His plans for us embrace our whole life not segments of it.
Christine Caine has recently launched a magazine for women called “Propel”. It aims to encourage women to “see themselves as an intricate part of God’s plan in all spheres of life.” I love what she wrote about it – “Propel exists to help create an interconnected life in Christ, who affirms and acknowledges every woman’s gifts, passions and leadership potential for glory of His Kingdom.”
God is part of my every minute, everyday life! He’s there as I mother my boys, there as I manage my container fleet, there as I pursue my hobbies, there as I serve in church. God does not view our lives in compartments of sacred versus secular. He sees our lives as a whole, and He has a plan for our whole lives, not just our spiritual life. He has as much interest in our work life, family life, hobbies and dreams as He does in our “sacred” life. He has called us into many of these and has plans for us in them. Eric Liddell, Olympic runner who was the inspiration for the movie the Chariots of Fire, said this “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. “Eric was called to the Olympic Field and not the missionary field. And it was on the Olympic Track he found his mission.
God is in all aspects of our lives and is ready to encounter us outside of Sunday and our quiet times. When one is at work God is there, at play – God is there. Our faith is to be found interwoven in all aspects of our lives.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7)
“May the favour of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17).