What is your heart’s desire? You don’t have to answer out loud but think about it: what do you really want?
Now: how bad do you want it?
If you answered that you want it more than the sun, moon, stars, and planets, consider how hard you are willing to work for it. More importantly: how long are you willing to wait for it.
Our pastor talked about the man who Jesus told to take up his mat and walk — this man had been next to a certain pool for 38 years, expecting a healing. See, at certain times, an angel came and stirred the waters; whoever got in the pool first was healed from whatever ailment they had. Cancer, leprosy, depression, chronic fatigue, drug addiction, you name it. Gone, if they were the first to get in that stirred water. The man was lame and every time he made it close, someone faster, more sure-footed, got in first. But he hadn’t given up on getting his healing and there he stayed. Once he explained that to Jesus, he got a double portion. He was healed and he had an encounter with the Creator without even realizing it.
Pastor shared something from the now: at the end of services, they do a prayer call. If anyone wants prayer, they can go up and get it individually; they can share whatever burden they have with a sister or brother in faith and together they carry that burden. In this one instance, several folks wanted to talk with the pastor. A woman was next in line, but before she could step up there, the pastor went to a man on the side who was in a wheelchair to pray with him first. The woman got angry and felt that the pastor had denied her so she left. As he put it, she left with her burden because she wasn’t willing to stay and share it.
How bad do you want it? Bad enough to wait, to persevere through what may be the hardest times of your life? Bad enough to stay on the fringe for 38 years?
There’s a story about the woman with the issue of blood, who suffered this malady for 12 years. I had uterine fibroids for about 20 years and early on I once bled for a year straight. Every. Single. Day. The only way I knew I was on my natural cycle was that the bleeding was heavier, more painful, and I often passed out from the loss. I thought I was going to just drain out. I was ready to give up because nothing the doctors did was helping. It took a partial hysterectomy to stop it. Not a miracle but yeah, a miracle. But 12 years of bleeding? Nah, can’t imagine, but actually I can.
The woman fought through for 12 years, the man at the water for 38.
I get irritated when I don’t get a call-back about a job application after a week.
I am ready to stop eating right when I haven’t turned into a svelte vixen in a month.
I panic when that bill I wanted out of my life is still requiring payment after several years.
How bad do I want it?
Last year I went to service the Sunday after women’s conference and heard Beckah Shae sing for the first time. I was sad because I had not been able to go to the conference (cash monies were very funny and transportation was as well), but I determined that I was going this year. I paid my deposit the second week they opened registration and paid it off a couple weeks later. Amazing how much $75 seems at certain times … I can spend more than that in the blink of an eye on some technology (I won’t tell you how much the 2-in-1 tablet/pc I am waiting on was …) but for a conference? Sure. I proudly took my receipts home and awaited the day.
Those who know me know that I don’t do people in large quantities. Being in a room with 500+ women is not in my comfort zone, but there I was on Friday evening. A woman in front of me in line introduced herself and we chatted amicably until we were able to go in and take our seats. We sat together both days. On Saturday, another woman introduced herself and invited me to sit with her and her friends. It turned out that she is in a master’s program at one of the schools where I teach doctoral students. That day, I got my photo taken with Beckah and with Sheila Walsh, who spoke both on Friday night and Saturday morning. A couple days before the conference, I got a text from a young woman I had met at a local restaurant about two weeks earlier; she worked there and she commented on the t-shirt I was wearing that day, which happened to be from my church. I gave her a copy of our worship team’s CD and my card, inviting her to come and visit. She texted me to say she wanted to attend service with me on Sunday. We met for the 1 pm service yesterday and she enjoyed it. During meet and greet time, I saw the woman I had met at the conference on Friday night; she introduced me to her daughter and son-in-law. I came home and did some reimaging work on one of my devices; I was watching television after getting it going pretty well and the phone rang — it was my friend whose husband, the Korean Presbyterian pastor, does the food ministry in the park where I volunteer on Saturdays. She called to ask how the conference was and to tell me that they are still, for now, going to the park on Saturday mornings; the church members did not want to do the ministry at the church so they are slipping in early, handing things out quickly, and leaving.
How bad I wanted to hear that. I love going to the park to see my friends — yes, I count the people there as friends, just as much as I count my friend, her husband, and their church members as friends (between you and I, even more so sometimes, even though I’ve known her and her family for eight years). How bad I wanted to be part of something bigger than I and both ministries are certainly that. For me, it has taken lots of stepping out of my comfort zone. It has taken talking to strangers, being in crowds, being open to random conversations (like for real, in actual time, and not on paper) more than ever in my entire existence.
There are other things I want in life. How bad do I want them?
I got grit. I’ll get them. Because I have staying power.
The other lesson side of the lesson is that if we aren’t willing to wait for it, to persevere, we didn’t want it bad enough. Not this week, not next year, but one day.
Will you wait for it? How bad do you want it, really?
Only time will tell.