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Everything is Not OkayEverything is Not Okay
by Michael Harbour

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    What do you want? You do want something, don’t you? You are not completely satisfied with the current state of affairs, are you?

    I confess: I want. I am not convinced that I have personally peaked. I can be better. I let one of my New Years resolutions slip out early. I told the congregation that I was resolved not allow any sermon to last for more than twenty-five minutes during 2003! The older folks could listen for eons, but the young families are hoping for hard-hitting meaningful and moving messages in a tighter time frame. I want them to hear! I can be a better preacher.

    I can be a better husband. I could be a better imitator of Jesus for Sandra. I want to be better. I want to write. I want to learn. I want to do better at being unselfish. I want to live from moment to moment in the presence of God, living in fellowship and sweet communion with the God who appears to seek that from me. I want to be successful with all that God has set before me to do. There is more, too. I want.

    When I was writing a funeral for the weekend, I looked again at Psalm 23. You know the famous line: “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” I want to propose that there is a difference between “I shall not want” in Psalm 23 and “I do not in fact want to be more for God.” One of these days, “I shall not want” in any way. However, I must wait until that day comes. I am convinced that we need to want some things.

    What if we had no spiritual passion or ambition to be more of what God wants in us? What if we did not want? If we were satisfied with how things are, or if we were so sure that nothing could get better, or if we just didn’t care? That would not be a good thing. John Steinbeck has said, “A dying people tolerates the present, rejects the future, and finds its satisfactions in past greatness and half-remembered glory” (American and Americans, 1966).

    The responsible thing to do is to want, and to upset the status quo in our wanting. Obviously we will not get everything we want. My wanting is inevitably flawed. I want pumpkin pie with whipped cream! I want to be comfortable and for all of my problems to work out with a minimum of effort. I don’t want pain, even when that pain shows me where the boundaries are — boundaries that I need. My wanting will have to be tempered by waiting well. If we have confidence in God, if we have a real hope for the future, we will have to be somewhat satisfied in our waiting, trusting confidently that God is still providing and guiding us as well as still forming us through our experiences.

My wanting is inevitably flawed.
    There is good waiting and bad waiting. When you call some customer service telephone number, don’t you just love being put on hold? Waiting can be a passive and irritating experience. I get frustrated when service is poor in restaurants. When it takes too long for them to bring out the food, even when we are enjoying one another’s company in the waiting. That is the bad kind of waiting. When I was young, I had gone out on a date with a great gal and we needed to drop by her house for some reason. She ran inside and left me waiting in the car. I waited for an hour — boy was I steamed! When she finally came back out, she told me that one of her roommates was having a crisis that she needed to help with and that she was sorry for making me wait. I didn’t like it, but I understood it. We married anyway!

    There is another kind of waiting that is not so passive. When I lived in South Texas, Luther Archibald invited me to go fishing in the Laguna Madre for speckled trout. He had a fishing shack out in the inter-coastal waterway. We went out before sundown and settled in the shack. We set up the lights that after dark would draw in the shrimp, which would draw in the trout. From 10 pm to midnight, we waited, deliciously. We laughed and talked and waited for the fun to begin. This was more like harvesting than fishing. We must have hooked fifty fish between 1 and 3 in the morning. That was fun! There is waiting involved but it is so filled with anticipation that there is no burden. Is something worth waiting for, something worth wanting, on the other side of the wait?

    It is good to want and to eagerly wait. The Psalmist writes, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5-6)

    I wait because I want. One of these days, “I shall not want” because there will be no more waiting. Until that I day, by God’s grace, I will continue to want our Father to have more of His way in with me and for my character to be more like that of Jesus. Until the day of no waiting, I will want!

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      © 2002, Michael Harbour. Used by permission.

      Title: "Everything is Not Okay"
      Author: Michael Harbour
      Publication Date: December 10, 2002


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Michael Harbour is the preaching minister at Southeast Church of Christ in Houston, Texas.


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