The Obedience of Standing Still

Posted by admin in January 26th, 2018
Published in Uncategorized

When we got our pup Mindy two years ago, our lives changed. Yes. For the better. Mindy brings us a lot of joy and laughter. She is a funny dog. Because of my previous experience of dog ownership, training of little Mindy is primarily my job. Potty training, leash training, stop licking training (haven’t got that one down yet), taking treats like a lady training and the all-important command of “stay.”

Hand out flat, voice firm and low, eye contact and then the command, “Stay!” pause, “Stay Mindy! Stay!” And I am very proud to say that she obeys. In fact, on those occasions when she is dying to go with us (she LOVES car rides), or we have the grandkids with us, or when we are leaving for church, I turn around with my back to the door facing our eager little puppy whose tail is wagging, whose tongue is flapping and ears all perked up ready to go and I say, “No Mindy. Stay. Stay.” And she sits down very disappointed, but compliant. Even though every fiber of her being wants to go with us and she longs to be with us and she hates being left out – she stays. She sits and she watches and she obeys. Honestly, it breaks my heart every time as I watch this little creature controlling herself because she longs to obey me–to please me. Even when she doesn’t understand why, she stays.

Yes. There is a spiritual lesson here.

When Daryl and I returned to the U.S. from Lithuania, we had no idea what we’d be facing. Several things hit us hard – deaths, broken relationships, being erased from our organization (that we’d given our lives to). We agreed the first semester back I wouldn’t apply to any jobs, but I’d work on getting our house back in order, spending time with family, and readjusting. But then I did start looking for work.

Then came the second semester. The first year. Second year. Now it’s going on the third year…July of 2018 it will be our third year back in the U.S.

In all my years of walking with God I have never experienced anything like this. Waiting. Stay. Staying. It feels as if God has put me out to pasture and forgotten me. I told a friend it’s like my file folder slipped behind Heaven’s filing cabinet and got lost. Is God mad at me?!? Did He forget about me?

Teri, have you applied to any jobs? Yep! 25. How about volunteering? Yep. Got turned down for that too. Not kidding.

Is this a testing of my faith? It is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I heard a sermon recently, “God doesn’t serve our purposes.” Okay. I agree. But I’d like to serve God’s purposes. I’m a doer! I’m a get-‘er-done kind of person. When God asks, “Whom shall I send?” My hand is the first raised and I jump up and down, “Here! Here I am! Send me!! I’ll go!”

So, is there such a thing as an “obedience of standing still?” Is there a time in our lives when God says, “Stay!” I believe that obedience is better than life. I believe that God alone holds my future in His hands. But the sense of being forgotten and lost to Him is oftentimes unbearable. And yet, where else can I go? Jesus alone holds the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

The bottom line is, do I trust the heart of God? Do I trust the God I read about in Scripture? Do I trust the God who led me to China, across the Soviet Union and into the classrooms of Afghanistan? Is God the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)? YES! He is. And I do believe. Even when the mountains fall down and the seas roar and all life is different than I ever imagined it would be, I declare, I shout, I cry out, “My God is faithful!! My God is trustworthy!! My God is good!!” And not to be overly dramatic, I have to join with Job and say, “Even if He slays me, yet will I trust Him.” ‘Cause I do. I trust God – this God that has seen me through peril and sword.

But waiting is hard and staying is difficult. Doing nothing is very hard work and takes more faith than those times when I have strongly sensed God’s good pleasure (Eric Liddell’s reference here).

Henri Nouwen writes on this topic in his book, Reaching Out, “God’s absence is so deeply felt that it leads to a new sense of His presence”(p. 127). Nouwen explains Jesus’ words on the Cross, “My God why have You forsaken me?” in this way, “Where God’s absence was most loudly expressed, His presence was most profoundly revealed.” God’s presence is profoundly revealed in His absence. (Thanks Anna Rice for sharing this with me at the precise time I needed it – another sign of God’s presence).

Nouwen encourages those who feel God’s absence, “In the patient waiting for the loved one, we discover how much He has filled our lives already.” And that He has done.

In my so-called captivity, I have seen many blessings. Our church is such a tremendous blessing. Each week I hear God’s Word preached with an anointing and with passion. I am so grateful. Our home is warm and comfortable and I am blessed each day in this house that God has given us. My stepdaughter and her family have brought me so much joy and comfort. Her two children, August and Lydia, fill me with a powerful love that sometimes I think my heart will burst! I have good health and good friends. I get to live my life vicariously through Daryl’s excellent work and ministry with ELF. I know God is near; I just don’t want to be put out to pasture! Not yet! There is still so much more I want to do. “In the patient waiting for the loved one, we discover how much He has filled our lives already.” Yes Henri, I agree. My walk with God has been an incredible journey. I am grateful. Big sigh.

And so, I wait. And if Jesus never does another thing for me or with me or through me, I rejoice because up to now, it has been an amazing walk with God full of miracles, His provision, and fulfilling joy. God has allowed me the privilege of seeing Him work in mighty and wonder-filled ways. It has been an honor to serve Him. And it is an honor to wait. Peace.

6 users Responded In This Post

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35527. Anna Jane said,
January 26th, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Amen!! Powerful words of honesty & wisdom Aunt T. Thank you.

35530. lana E said,
January 27th, 2018 at 8:43 am

We’re grateful for you and blessed by you and can’t wait to see what God does next in your life. Waiting is so hard.

35531. said,
January 27th, 2018 at 12:36 pm

You bless us Teri. I remember a long while back you were telling me about
A time when Daryl broke his wrist and even though it was awful, you felt blessed that you were able to take care of him during that ordeal. I don’t know if this will come out right but I often feel like God allows for what we see as “waiting” for Him as a gift of time he is offering us. Time to be present without distraction, time to just be beautiful you and restore you in ways you can’t know. He has not left you, I feel confident. But, I do understand the loneliness and the eagerness to please but not “feeling” like I am certain I am doing what I’m suppose too since I may not have a clear spiritual gps confirming my direction and helping me see what lies ahead.
We love you, Teri. Thanks for sharing.

35565. admin said,
February 1st, 2018 at 7:58 am
35566. Barbie said,
February 1st, 2018 at 2:59 pm

This so resonates with me. Thank you for sharing!

36014. Barry said,
March 6th, 2018 at 5:52 am

Teri, thanks for your willingness to be a work in progress in God’s Kingdom. Ultimately we all are if we trust and obey. A very smart, wonderful guy I’ve known for years retired from his work and was looking for a ministry in which to apply his gifts. Doug asked for my advice, and the words the Lord gave me surprised even me. “This is about the Lord, not you, Doug. Think small. Think next person you meet. Think building relationships. The big picture-big ministry is God’s deal, not yours. Just be available and build godly relationships.” Teri, your walk brings that wisdom from God to life. Remember the words you gave me a couple of years ago about Reepicheep in the Narnia tales? I sure do. Right now my focus is on the enormity of what Christ did for me on the Cross, and living out my thankfulness one person at a time – in word and deed – especially among the “least of these.”


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