Sunday, April 27, 2008

HAVE THINE OWN WAY, LORD – Part 4: A Lull in the Process - April 19, 2008

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”
Psalm 37:7


I’ve been exercising my “waiting” muscle quite a bit lately. On a recent mission trip to Guatemala, I waited in a long line at the ticketing counter at Indianapolis International Airport while members of our People Helping People mission group were methodically checked in – at 4:15 a.m., no less. I waited to go through security; I waited for the plane and waited to board the plane—and then waited some more. In Guatemala City, there was customs and immigration and waiting on luggage, my mind spinning with the conveyor, as I hoped and prayed my suitcase arrived safely. I waited for the bus to arrive and load up passengers and luggage for the six hour trip to San Marcos, and then waited to check in at the hotel. And that was just the first day of the trip.

The waiting wasn’t all that difficult at first. I was excited to see old friends and meet new people, to hear mission stories, to experience a new country and culture. But as the day wore on, and I wore out, my tolerance for waiting waned. “Just feed me and put me to bed, please,” I wanted to whine, “enough with all this waiting.”

Most journeys entail periods of idleness; some we enjoy and others we detest. However, not all waiting is wasted time or useless inactivity. Waiting can be purposeful and necessary. As we visit the pottery studio this week, we’ll notice that the pots have been removed from the wheel and lined up on shelves. They’ve been set aside to air dry prior to firing.

We’re eager to move along, get glazed and gorgeous so we can be admired and appreciated for the beautiful vessels that we are. But why rush? There’s a trial by fire coming up soon, so let’s dawdle awhile, shall we? Just as all the previous steps in the process have proven essential to a positive outcome, this waiting game has its merit as well. If you’ve ever made a loaf of bread, you know that the dough must be set aside to rise. Rushing the process and baking the loaf before the yeast has done its job results in an inferior loaf of bread (I can personally vouch for this). Similarly, if a woman has “a bun in the oven,” it’s not advisable to rush the process. (Go ahead and groan—I deserve it.)

So here we sit, waiting. We’re bored. We’re anxious. We’re frustrated and feeling useless. Finally, the conveyor belt cranks into service and we’re on the move. If you’ve ever witnessed a makeover on the popular show, “What Not to Wear,” the application of makeup is the final step in a total makeover overseen by fashion gurus Stacy and Clinton. The objective is to transform a clueless-about-her-looks woman into a sophisticated, eye catching “gee, I wish I looked like her,” model of potential for all other women who have let themselves go.

Likewise, it’s time for the blah clay vessels to get their crowning touches of glaze. The process is a lot like getting one’s hair tinted. When the dye is applied to the hair, the recipient is going to look worse than ever. The dull, colorless appearance of both dye and glaze bear no resemblance to the hues and luster of the final products.

But be patient. For once the dye is rinsed out and the hair shampooed, gelled, curled, teased, scrunched, carefully arranged to look natural, and finally sprayed to preserve the work of art, then the stylist will swing the chair around and let you gaze upon your more youthful image.

My analogy fails at this point, for while the person enduring the tinting process may spend a few minutes under a warm hair dryer, a clay pot is about to serve a lengthy stint in a hot kiln.

I’ll join you next Saturday on the hot seat. In the meantime, ponder these words of John Milton:

“They also serve who only stand and wait."

How might you be a servant in waiting this week?

1 comment:

Uncle Phatato said...

I love the waiting aspect! It's very true... My doctor who I see about my anxiety disorder is always telling me to just "live in the moment" and "be in the now" and since I don't think he suffers from anxiety, it's easier said then done, but it does happen...that waiting...that stillness. And when it does, it's a like a lightbulb goes off. It's a good thing.

I also loved your Stacy and Clinton mention. I'm a big fan of that show...not sure why...just am.

I am really enjoying the pottery anaology. Especially this piece. It was very strong, and even though it was just about waiting, it had a good push to it, a sense of urgency, even though you're trying to be still...