Friday, October 5, 2012

Come "Cham" With Me

            Feeling on the cusp. You know the feeling I’m talking about? When you’re on the verge of discovering or understanding or reaching something new, but you don’t know quite what? God is there, so very real, right beside you, above you, inside you. He’s speaking, or about to speak, as he struggles to unplug your ears. He has his arms wrapped around you in a protective shield, which is also a disciplining constraint…which is also a loving embrace. You don’t know whether to squirm your way out or to dive deeper in. You’re afraid to unplug your ears, because you know He might ask you to do something you can’t, or don’t want to do, or don’t fully understand.
What if He requires you to be vulnerable and submissive? Or worse: What if He requires you to be powerful and authoritative and maybe even disliked by others? Have I surrendered everything to Him? No. Deep down inside, do I even want to? Have I given the kind of offering that is pleasing to God, or just the runts of my flock, the scraps at my table, and the spare minutes before I drift off to sleep?
Questions fill my mind lately. I know He is with me no matter which direction I walk in, but I can’t help but worry that I’m hopping on a boat bound for Tarshish and kissing Ninevah goodbye with a sheepish smile and some earplugs. As I find myself falling more and more in love with Jesus here, I think I'm in the right place. But what's next? I don’t know where to step yet, so the only thing I can do is wait on the Lord. Cham. The khmer word “cham” means both wait and remember. I think this is just a coincidental language thing. Nevertheless, the connection is interesting to me.
When I think of a period of waiting, one of the first things that comes to my mind are airport layovers and flights--full of motion, yet overwhelmingly still. The stillness isn’t stagnant, however, but very purposeful. Generally, the first half of my journeys across the pacific are spent thinking about what I’m leaving behind, and the second half is dedicated to excitement for what lies ahead. I LOVE traveling, but airplanes are one of my least favorite places to be in the whole world, especially if it means sitting next to a flirtatious, sweaty, tank-of-a-guy, or convincing my ADD mind to stay put for 12 hours. Waiting is hard. But it can also be a time off strange clarity and reflection.   
When the Old Testament says things like “Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14), it’s talking about more than becoming a spiritual bean-bag chair. It means looking hopefully and expectantly towards the future. Humans are such impatient creatures. I always think I have a shortcut, or better things to do. I want to mess around in the cockpit or parachute to the ground before reaching the destination, or else just not get on the plane at all. Waiting requires confidence, faith that we are going somewhere and that destination is better than any country delta airlines flies to. 
Waiting involves action and engagement in the process of change and renewal. This aspect actually reminds me of when I was a camp counselor and would take a group of middle-school girls river rafting. I would tell them all to help paddle, but for the most part, I had to sit in the back controlling the raft the whole time, as their paddles swung around flinging water into the raft and tipping us towards rocks. I think sometimes God lets us paddle, not because He is unable, but in order to give us the opportunity. However, it’s comforting to know that when the boat starts careening through the rapids, we can look back and see that He has been sovereign the whole time.
            I think waiting on the Lord might also involve remembering. Cham. We know we can trust in Him to be faithful, because He always has been. We know His timing is perfect, because when we look back on our lives, the pieces start to come together under His plan. Reading through the narrative of Israel, followed by multiple stages of Judgment and prophets, is one big story of how God continuously does great things for His people, but gets freaking outraged at them, because they keep. On. Forgetting. But He is faithful time and time again. A lot of the problems in the Biblical times, as well as now, are related to forgetting what God has done in the past, or doubting what He can do in the future. We don’t cham. We don't remember God's faithfulness and we don't wait for his reconciliation. 
Hosea 12:6 says to wait on the Lord continually. Could it be that we should always be living our lives on the cusp? After all, what is this life if not a taste, a foreshadowing, the previews before true greatness? We don’t have to be moving somewhere or changing our life trajectory to live in this mindset of thankful remembrance, and expectant hope, patiently reaching on and on and on, listening for His messages to us.
            Step out onto the cusp with me. Join me in the wait. Waiting on the Lord is no 747 economy ride. It’s not a boring stagnancy or a nerve-wracking plummet. It is leaning on Him and openly listening to His call. It means entering into the turmoil of human experience, but remembering God’s faithfulness, and waiting in hope for His justice. Come Cham with me.

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