**To everyone who visited this post before it had anything to say, my apologies. Apparently my mobile application and I were not communicating properly. Read on you 22 avid fans – or one fan who attempted 22 times. Bless you for encouraging me!**
This past Friday was our elementary school’s spring carnival. Now you know I was not on the carnival committee because there was a game exactly like that ping-pong goldfish game at “real” carnivals. In other words, the children were given an opportunity to win a live goldfish. Every parent saw that little awning and hightailed it in the opposite direction. Every child staked out the line and used every ticket they had until they had a friend to take home. I was on the clean up crew and I learned that the organizers actually had to go to the local pet store mid way through the evening to restock the goldfish!! Since our lovely abode has three elementary students, guess how many goldfish we brought home. You got it!
I was assured that there was no way the fish would make it through the weekend. They were little. They had been carted all over a hot field for three hours in the bottom of the stroller. There was no chance. Big Kid and Bottom Middle have Specs and Gills both of whom are not only surviving but thriving. Then there is Top Middle’s fish, Jim. Now we aren’t sure about Jim. At first he was active. He couldn’t seem to see the food when we fed him and he acted a little strange when he was searching for it. Then he went to the bottom of his tank and he laid down. I kid you not! The fish laid down on the bottom of the tank. And before you tell me “You mean, he died” let me inform you that there was a four hour death watch going on until I told Big Kid to back off because she was depressing her brother. The fish is still alive. His mouth is moving and every now and then he swims to a different spot on the gravel and lays down again. I have never seen anything like it. It almost seems like he is depressed. Maybe he doesn’t like his rocks. Maybe he misses the other fish. Maybe he preferred the stroller. I could only think of one word for his behavior – he is languishing.
I love that word but I wanted to make sure I was using it properly so I looked it up on dictionary.com
1.to be or become weak or feeble; droop; fade. (Give me a J!)
2.to lose vigor and vitality. (Give me an I!)
3.to undergo neglect or experience prolonged inactivity; suffer hardship and distress (Give me an M!)
4. to be subjected to delay or disregard; be ignored (What’s that spell?)
5. to pine with desire or longing. (JIM!!!)
That is exactly Jim! This evening as I was leaving Top Middle’s room after tuck in’s I checked on Jim one more time and he was still languishing on the rocks beside the army man. I wanted to shake the tank and yell at him, “Languish or live Jim!”
Isn’t that what we do with our faith sometimes? Someone or something about church or our small group hits us wrong and we draw away to a corner and just languish. Or maybe no single event happens but we just stop growing. Worship loses its meaning. Bible study becomes dry and meaningless. Whatever it is we just come to a stop and our faith pulls a #2 (from above – potty brains!) – we lose our vigor and vitality. Now I’m sure no one WANTS to languish like that which is why #5 comes into play – we pine with desire and longing for that refreshment and renewal.
Imagine my amusement when God brought this verse from…wait for it…James! to my mind.
James 5:7 & 8
Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
We crave God’s presence in our lives. We want to feel the quickening in our spirit and feel that drive to honor and serve Him. But we sit in stillness and silence and wait. I grew up in an agriculture community and I remember farmers in our area waiting for the spring rains. You didn’t want to plant too early or the seeds would get washed away. You didn’t want to plant too late or the seed would dry out before it even had a chance. And then it was up to God. You wanted rain over the summer to nourish the growing plant. You wanted rain in the late summer to make the produce rich and healthy. It took all season and you needed both kinds of rain to have a good crop or as the verses say – the “precious produce.”
The same is true of our faith. We need both rains – the rain of new salvation and the rain of discipleship to grow a produce in our lives. In the middle sometimes we languish on the bottom. Maybe we languish in bitterness, anger, resentment, disappointment, busyness (and yes that IS possible), heartache, boredom (also very possible!), selfishness, short sightedness or any one of a million other reasons. Maybe we just languish in the dark with no idea what is at the root. Maybe we languish out of laziness – it’s too hard to read my Bible and pray EVERY day. Maybe we languish out of ignorance – we don’t know how to even start.
I just popped by to check on Jim and he’s still doing his thing on the bottom of the tank. But he tried a little turn around for me. I guess he’s just waiting to get stronger? Maybe that’s what we have to do in our faith. We have to continue to pray. We have to continue to study. We have to continue to make ourselves open to worship and service (maybe service we aren’t familiar or even terribly comfortable with). We have to strengthen our hearts for the coming of the Lord is near.
Time to make a choice – languish? Or live?