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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

And your appointment time is....

We all have appointments we have to keep, right?  This last week, I took a day off to run my mom to several appointments - dentist and eye doctor.  The dental appointment at least allowed me to shop a little for a few things we needed as there was a store nearby.  The eye doctor - what a wait!  To me, the 4 hour wait almost made it appear as though there was no appointment at all!  I have been "squeezed in" to see the doctor in times past, so this was cruel and unusual punishment just sitting in the huge waiting room with other disgruntled patients "in waiting".  Appointments are "planned events", right? There is a specific time and place - the parties agree to the meeting.  So, why the wait?  The appointment allows both parties to be ready for the purpose of the meeting.  So, why is it we are sometimes "ill-prepared" for some of the most significant appointments of a "divine" nature which have been arranged for our lives?

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.”  (John 4:13-14 CEB)

God makes "divine appointments" with the ones he loves.  In the Old Testament days, God made special days and seasons where he'd have special "appointments" with is people.  We sometimes here these called feasts, festivals, or holy days.  Today, a few churches still carry on this "tradition" of specials seasons or days - such as Lent or Good Friday.  These times of gathering together were big news for Israel - for these were times when God would often speak to his people, renewing them for the next journey they'd take, helping them to remember his faithfulness, and revealing to them the power and resources of the one they served.  Today, when we gather together in our churches, we don't usually see this same "focus" as the Old Testament believers possessed - because our "gathering days" are just that - gatherings. The divine appointment God intended by our gathering together is just not the same because the focus has drifted.

If you haven't come to realize it, God also has some "unscheduled appointments" in your life.  Now, that may seem a little bit like an oxymoron to you - "unscheduled" and "appointment" don't actually bespeak the same thing, do they?  Yet, in God's "appointment book", they are scheduled.  We just didn't get an "appointment card"!  These are the special times when God somehow slows us down just long enough to actually speak into our lives - bringing much needed direction, challenging us in some arena where we have become complacent, or just refilling us in such a way that our "battery" gets recharged for the next phase of our journey.

As we sat waiting for the doctor, mom and I kept our eyes peeled for the tall man with the dark hair, wearing blue scrubs.  Why?  He was the one we had the appointment with - a glimpse of him would give us hope we were not waiting in vain.  It is kind of like that with God's appointments - if you are diligent in looking for him, you will catch a glimpse of him as he begins to move.  That one glimpse does something within you - it bolsters your enthusiasm, gives you hope for the "next step", and lets you know the long wait has not been without purpose.  The woman at the well is a story many will remember from their Sunday School days.  If you haven't been exposed to it, here it is in a nutshell.  

She is a Samaritan - one who has been rejected by the more traditional Jewish believers because the form of worship the Samaritan's engaged in differed from that of the traditionalists.  Now, lest you think they were a little bit like a cult, they were not exactly, but they were a little misled.  In fact, they were looking for the Messiah - they just didn't have the same religious beliefs as the traditional Jews - because they had intermarried with men/women of differing beliefs.  The beliefs got a little intertwined with those of the lands they were living in and before long, they veered from what the traditional Jews believed, bringing a riff between the two parties.  As she comes to the well to draw water in the heat of the day, Jesus is there.  No disciples, as they have gone off to do some other business, just Jesus.  She is also alone, because she is a woman with a reputation.  She has married a good many men and the one she lives with now is not even her husband.  Could you just see the bylines in the local Jewish newspaper if they had paparazzi in those times? 

She wanted water - nothing more really is revealed in her actions.  She is about her daily duties, not really aware of this appointment.  I think she may have been thirsty for a little more than water - perhaps she was thirsty for love.  I think this is important to recognize, for God's divine appointments are seldom without the purpose of meeting us exactly where our real need is.  We always have a "proclaimed" need - but we also have an "unspoken" need which we cleverly try to conceal.  Jesus is all about meeting us in the "unspoken" - for in getting us to reveal this, he can finally begin to heal us right where we need it the most.  There is something I don't want us to miss about this encounter - and all others of the divine kind.  Jesus is blunt and honest about our sin - because he knows all about it already.  The only difference between his bluntness and honesty than that of others around us is his ability to be blunt and honest without any condemnation attached.

Truth is, if we aren't gonna get real with God, he will make one of these divine appointments with us so that we are forced to strip ourselves of all we hide behind.  It isn't so we can stand there naked and ashamed - it is so he can restore us to a "whole" state.  Just as Jesus looked past her sin and faults, he looks past ours to see what he values the most about each of us - our hearts.  In touching our hearts, he is quenching our real thirst.  In so doing, he is not intending to bring any shame, just restored hope, purpose, and joy.  This is grace in action.  God only opens our understanding of the awfulness of our actions in order to help us recognize where we need his touch the most.  God always views each of us through the eyes of potential, not judgment.  In his divine appointments with us, he is changing our life's course - changing our direction.  

Many of us feel like we are we are because of our mistakes in life.  It may be true - but when God makes a divine appointment with us, his grace moves us from this place of missed opportunities into the realm of fresh opportunities. We don't need to fear the appointment he makes with us.  They are never by accident.  Just sayin!