Posted tagged ‘waiting’

The Penalty For Ignorance…the DMV!

October 2, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      October 2, 2018

                           

Carol and I were driving to Simla on Sunday morning. I was scheduled to speak to the Simla Saints, as I do many Sundays. I was ready to tell them the story of Simon Peter, who, after a night of catching no fish, is told by Jesus to cast his nets one more time. I went through the message in my mind as we drove down the road.

And then the flashing lights appeared behind me.

“I wasn’t speeding was I?”

“I don’t think so,” encouraged Carol, as she reached for the car registration.

The law enforcement officer approached my vehicle. “Good morning! Sir, you’re driving with tags that have expired. I checked a couple of places and it came back the same result. 

I looked at him with bewilderment and a quick search in my mind for understanding. I went into the vault of my memory to find some evidence that I had taken care of the renewal that had expired at THE END OF MAY!…exactly four months in the rearview mirror!

Seriously, I did not remember getting the reminder card that they send you in the mail. Perhaps it got mixed in with the political ad recycle pile, or perhaps the U.S. Postal Service was to blame! Yes, that’s probably what it was!

Or perhaps I was just stupid and didn’t do it!

Innocent or ignorant, didn’t matter! It was time to pay the piper disguised as…the DMV!

My personal list of dislikes is not that long…arrogant athletes, itching hemorrhoids, speeding BMW’s, seventh graders who think they are entitled, and…going to the DMV! It’s the adult equivalent of after-school detention!

It is my penance for negligence, for being totally clueless to the fact that I hadn’t noticed something I should have for 120 days!

The DMV looks like a crowded airport terminal where several flights have been delayed. An expressionless lady greets me…kinda’…at the front counter and asks me why I have come to the DMV on the first day of October with the masses that have gotten there before me.

“To renew my tags, ma’am!” She gives me a number. I look to see if it says, “Come back tomorrow!” It doesn’t! Instead, it says that I’m number 658. I’m not quite sure what that means until I see the lit board on the wall that could double as a Bingo number board. They are now serving number 560. I’m only a hundred away!

But there are other numbers on the board as well! There’s 131, 322, and A8. It could be that I’m four hundred away, but they are trying to fool me into believing I’m close. It’s another part of the punishment strategy of the DMV. I’m convinced they have goal-planning retreats to dream up new ways to inflict pain on the mental and emotional state of those who enter its doors. In the backroom I’m envisioning their mission statement in bold script writing:

“Our mission: To test the patience of our customers who have no choice but to sit and wait!”

And so I wait! I find a seat wedged between a hefty guy wearing Old Spice and a young man focused on playing a game of some kind on his cell phone. I’m the traditionalist who has brought a book with him, Patterson and Clinton’s The President Is Missing. Ironic that I’m reading this book in the DMV, a place that is missing compassion and concern because I was missing that little sticky tag. 

Two hours later my number gets called by the automated Bingo caller and I make my way, number 658 in hand, to counter number 19 where a middle-aged woman gives me a suspicious look. She reminds me of my third grade teacher who was suspicious of anything any boy in her class ever did. The memory makes me shrink into a moment of confession.

“My tags are expired. I don’t remember ever getting a card in the mail!” I plead in a pitiful way. She looks at me with disdain. I have a memory of being sent to the principal’s office and wonder if there is also such a place in the DMV. Perhaps it’s another room where you take another number and are told you can’t eat lunch that day. (I’ve noticed a sign with big bold letters as you enter that tells people that no food or drink is permitted in the DMV! People leave the place dehydrated and nutritionally depleted!)

She takes my information and tells me the total. I repeat the total to her as I begin to write my check.

“$160.43?” That’s not bad I tell myself.

“No.” She repeats the figure again. I’m $300 off! “$460.43!”

“Oh!” 

I swear I hear a chuckle resonating from her. I think I see her lips whisper the words, “Sucks to be you!”

The total includes a fine for being ignorant and negligent, and to make sure you never come back to the DMV ever again!

And, you won’t believe this!…in the mail that afternoon is the renewal notice for our other vehicle. It needs to be renewed by the end of October.

I immediately renew it on line! The DMV has taught me my lesson!

Waiting For Three

March 9, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                         March 9, 2015

                                               

“You didn’t take any of your cough medicine yet, did you?” asked Carol, my wife.

“Yes…it’s 9:30. Why do you ask?” I had been to see my physician last week with a respiratory condition. The “happy medicine” was my compensation for housing a cold and ear infection. The “happy medicine” has codeine in it and makes rabbits appear on the ceiling in the middle of the night.

“Kecia could be going to the hospital tonight. She was having contractions pretty frequently.”

Our oldest daughter is about to deliver number three. “If she goes into labor you need to go and say with Jesse and Reagan.” (Numbers #1 and #2)

“Oh!” Profound comeback!

We’ve been waiting for Mystery Child #3 for a while. Kecia doesn’t complain much about carrying a watermelon in her tummy, but you can tell that she is at that point where there is no comfortable position. Waiting for #3 has rearranged schedules, reordered priorities, remodeled the home. #1 and #2 went to Big Sibling Class last week. They learned what it means to be a Big Brother and Big Sister. It was a refresher course for Jesse. Reagan, however, got new schooling. It hasn’t hit her yet that she will be sharing the spotlight in the coming…years. When she was two she blurted out to me one night as we were having a treat at the ice cream yogurt shop, “No, Granddad! You’re Snow White! I’m the princess!” 

Waiting for number three is a time of the family being redefined.

And we wait! As 1 Thessalonians 5 talks about the coming of the Lord will be like labor pains on a pregnant woman, they come unexpected and everything changes.

We’re not good at waiting these days. A pregnancy is a good thing for a family to go through because it lets us know that the world does not revolve around our agendas and “honey-do” lists. In this case, it revolves around someone we can’t even see yet, someone we haven’t even shared a meal with…the unseen that changes everything.

Tonight might be a short night of sleep. I’ll be tempted to take a nip of the “Baptist whiskey”, my cough medicine, but I’ll try to abstain. I may hack myself awake all night, but I’ll be ready…as I wait.

We Don’t Know!

December 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    December 30, 2014

                                                     

        Nothing quite causes unrest and frustration more than three words: We don’t know!

People who are looking for the answer or final solution find it hard to truly hear those words. You can blame it on the times we live in…and the devices of our time.

For example, I can look at a device wrapped around my wrist and instantly discover how many calories I’ve burned off during my workout.

I can look at the side of a box to find out how many grams of sugar are in the bowl of cereal I’m munching on.

I can go to the Channel Guide on my TV to find out what is playing at 9:00 tonight on the Sci Fi Channel.

I can go on-line to see the balance in my checking account.

But there are some things in life that have a grayness to them, that aren’t instant answers. Those three words…”We don’t know!”, cause eyebrows to be raised and fears to be heightened. They are three words that have become like a foreign language to our culture.

“We must know! We have to know!”

I recently was sitting with a family in a hospital waiting room waiting to hear from the surgeon about the difficult procedure the loved one had undergone. As we waited the text messages kept bombarding family members.

       “How did it go?”

       “Is he in recovery?”

       “What did they find out?”

       “How long will he be there?”

The spouse patiently responded to each one “We don’t know!” The waiting for word and the pressure from those who weren’t there to know was raising her own level of concern. Patience quite often takes a detour around hospital waiting rooms.

Last week my wife and I were inquiring about the purchase of a hot new product that we were looking to buy. The store was out of them. I found myself getting a little agitated when the salesperson’s respond to when they would get some more in was “We don’t know! Maybe next week…maybe a couple of weeks!”

The answer wasn’t immediate…and so I was up against a brick wall. The bricks did not feel good against my desire to move forward.

I often get spiritual questions that I can’t answer. The questioner looks at my response of “I don’t know!” and is taken back. I’m a pastor. I’m suppose to know.

But I have no idea how God created angels, or what kind of fish it was that swallowed Jonah? Why do good things happen to bad people…and bad things happen to good people? Why does one person get cured of cancer, and another die a slow painful death?

Life is filled with questions that I am clueless about answering.

Most of my day is spent in “the immediate.” That is, I can immediately know without wondering. It’s the moments of wondering that are uncomfortable, and yet they are also the moments that are usually tinted with the presence of God.

 

Waiting For A Word

January 23, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   January 22, 2014

 

     I wrote a couple of days ago about Tom Randall’s being held in a Philippino jail. Evidently, this is not a cell like the one Marshall Dillon watched over in Gunsmoke. This is a cell with about 40 men in it, all of them…waiting.

Waiting is an active part of our lives. Waiting in traffic, waiting in the dentist office, waiting for a parent-teacher conference, waiting in an airport terminal, waiting for an answer. Waiting halts us and frustrates us, because we don’t know when the next step will occur…or what the next decision will be.

For those of us here in the U.S. we’re waiting for a word as we go about our routines and conquer our “To Do” list. For Tom and Karen, and their friends Toto and Jake, the waiting is taking on another form. How do you wait in a cell with forty other guys?

You pray, try to remember moments from your past, battle through discouragement and delays. What I’m praying for is that Tom and Karen would be encouraged, stay encouraged, and hope would be a flame that grows brighter within them.

From reports I’m seeing on the “Free Tom Randall” Facebook page, he’s battling an illness that is weakening his physical condition. The danger sometimes in waiting is that things digress. For Tom that’s physically, for others it’s is emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. For many it is the slipping away of all four areas.

If prayer is all we can do on this side of the ocean let us do it with perseverance and power. Although it’s hard to believe, I believe that God, first of all, hears our prayers and, secondly, knows when the optimal time is for them to be answered. Waiting is part of the road leading to the resolution.

And it’s hard!

In Karen’s post today she said a group of pastors had come to the jail and prayed with the men. They were a huge encouragement.

We don’t see all the pieces until we get to the opening for that last piece to fit into and then it makes sense, or as much sense as it can to us. Perhaps a group of pastors from that area coming and praying with Tom is a seed of growth that will happen. Perhaps almost 25,000 Facebook likes is a beginning of a movement about helping not just Tom, but the people he has served and loved.

We must wait, but I pray that our waiting will not be without a celebration moment at the end.

Free Tom Randall!

Losing Power At Starbucks

April 25, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          April 26, 2013

 

I was at Starbucks yesterday!

Not a surprise, for those who know me. But what happened while I was there was…interesting!

Starbucks lost power! Not one of those little momentary hiccups that we have all experienced. No, this was the loss of power that kept staying lost!

Of course, it happened while I was in the men’s restroom. And, of course, this restroom had no windows…just a while lot of darkness! It allowed me to find out one more reason to have a cell phone. Not to call from the restroom, but rather to shed a little light on the situation.

I emerged from the restroom to a coffee shop that was quiet. If you have been in a Starbucks you know how unusual that is. There is usually the sound of blenders, expresso machines, oven doors opening and closing, music being played from the ceiling speakers, orders being taken. But this time it was quiet and still.

Power that is lost stills the presence. Customers who were about to order waited for a few moments, before giving up and exiting. No frappuccinos…no cappuccinos…no lattes. Donuts were visible, but since there was no power to operate the register they couldn’t be sold. Things came to a halt. Employees stood around not knowing what to do. Losing power was not a chapter in their employee training manuals.

I stay for another twenty minutes or so, long enough to finish my tall coffee, and then made my exit. Several other people had already gathered their belongings, laptops, and workbooks, and preceded my departure. Several stayed.

Losing power leaves people in a quandary. Will it come back? How long before it returns?

It was an object lesson for me about the church. What happens to a church that loses power? Who notices? Who quickly exits, and who waits in hopeful anticipation of its return? What do we do when the power of God is absent? Do we stand around trying to find something to busy ourselves? Do we walk around in confusion?

Hard questions for the church. Harder questions because there are times when we are much more comfortable operating under our own power than we are operating under the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit is suddenly absent how aware are we that the lights have gone off?

Perhaps another relevant question is how urgently do we pray for the moving and empowering of the Holy Spirit in our churches? Every church has its times of delight and periods of desperation, green pastures and dry deserts. Consistent praying gets us through the desert journeys. It gets us through those times when the darkness is evident and we’re not sure when the light will return.

I was back at Starbucks this afternoon…go figure! One of the employees who was here yesterday told me that the power came back on after about forty-five minutes. I told him that I had been in the restroom when it happened. We were able to laugh about it, but if it happens again I’m heading to McDonald’s. Their coffee is just a buck anyway…although their restrooms are more suspect!

New Year Stuck in the Same Place

January 1, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W. January 1, 2013

Airline carriers are teasers. Last night I sat on the plane that would take us back to Colorado Springs…except we were going to have to make a stop in Des Moines to refuel due to strong head winds. We sat on the plane, got settled, prepared for the safety instructions from the flight attendant, but right when hope raised her head the pilot came on to give us the news. Flight canceled! The new flight adjustments and delays would have meant that the flight crew would have been over their mandated flight hours limit. No go! It’s always a weird feeling to be sitting on a plane that you know you won’t be flying on.

Thus, New Year’s Eve was spent in the United’s customer service line. (Want to be around happy people? Stay away from any customer service line!)

I’ll be okay…probably! I’m scheduled to arrive New Year’s Day afternoon…probably…if things go okay…maybe! What occurs to me is how we react to plans that get changed or detoured? What happens when you set the course ahead and you blow a tire on a speed bump? What happens when your plan for life has to duck because of an unexpected illness, or a loss of job, or a traumatic experience? For example, what happens in the midst of all of the Newtown, Connecticut families that suddenly and cold heartedly had their lives thrown into a whirpool of grief and confusion? What happens to the whole community?

Everyone faces disruptions and tragedies differently…just like the reactions I witnessed from different people in the customer service line last night. Some went with the flow and blow. Others went ballistic! Others were just in shock. Still others looked for a solution that wasn’t there…until the next day. In every difficult situation those reactions…and more…will be encountered. And sometimes we just have to stay stuck for a while. Progressing may not be possible, like nothing has just happened.

Spiritually it seems that God sometimes says “Not Yet.” We must believe in his timing and ways. Our reactions to a “no” from God, or a “wait a while” from him, range from outrage to puzzle solving. We’re very much like Abraham, not in terms of faith, but in terms of trying to populate a generation through Hagar instead of Sarah. Abraham was just one part of the equation, but he thought he was the sum of all the parts.

Meanwhile, I got a food voucher from United and was able to get my Starbucks coffee free this morning. What a deal!

Happy New Year!