From: INPUTSNET@... Date sent: Tue, 16 Sep 2003 16:53:29 EDT "Why is God Such a 'Cliff-Hanger'?" -Copyright © 2003 Kenneth W. Talbott. In my more myopic moments, I've often told God that I only have one bone to pick with Him: "Why is it that You're such a cliff-hanger? In each of life's adventures, You leave me hanging out there in suspense until after what appears to be the drop-dead deadline. Then, you pull me back from the brink just in time!" (Because of His infinite love for me, He appears to humor me by enduring such questions, as I haven't been struck with lightning yet!) Perhaps I am different from you. I like to pioneer things. I like change. I must confess that, particularly in my younger years, it was easier for me to "jump on my horse and ride off madly in all directions" than to sit still and master one thing. I have always, for example, gravitated toward setting up pilot programs -- quite happy for others to carry them on into fruition. A member of Brother Andrew's team characterized my life with the words: "adventure and abandon." But the cliff-hanging I am speaking of here is not where we hang ourselves out on a cliff and then blame God for the predicaments we get into. It is the normal, cliff-hanging process involved when it comes to getting God's guidance and provision in life. YE OLDE' "PUSH-PULL" I suspect that you, too, may have noticed that there often appears to be a perplexing, cliff-hanging process involved when it comes to getting God's guidance and provision for a major move. I call it the "Push, Pull, Crisis, Breakthrough Process." It is a process that often does not mesh well with my human expectations and timeline, and it certainly often makes God look like He is disinterested until the last minute. It starts out with "ye olde' push-pull." Most times, for me, "the pull" comes first. Somehow the Holy Spirit starts tugging on my heart, pulling me toward a big change of some sort. Yet, I am often numb or preoccupied enough to miss or ignore this tug until the arrival of The Push. I am not only being drawn to a new place by the Spirit, God is working through others to push me out of the old "comfort zone." Then comes a crisis. Eventually The Crisis is followed by The Breakthrough -- what Nee calls that "exquisite dovetailing of circumstances" leading to that "perfect correspondence between our need and the supply." I could most certainly illustrate with the Children of Israel or any number of Biblical stories, but since our family just made a major move, let me illustrate closer to home -- our home. First, Robin and I felt "pulled" to downsize to a permanent home of our own after leasing for some time. Over time we prayerfully formulated a list of the things we desired in a new home: that it be a place of light (lots of windows, skylights and sunlight exposure), with quality construction, low maintenance, adaptable to our ministry patterns and closer to New Heart. If all possible, we also asked that it have a frig/freezer, washer and dryer (because ours had previously either been given away or broken while in storage). Then, we concluded our list with the prayer that the Lord give us a "seal" in our spirits that this was, indeed, His place for us. Then came The Push. Our landlords unexpectedly gave us thirty days' notice, announcing that they had just received an offer on the house they lived in and wanted to move into the rental that we occupied. The Push was quite strong, as the landlords themselves were squeezed by their own closing date, their buyers also having sold their previous home and needing to move fast. I would observe, reflecting on these kind of moments, that I have learned to take some comfort in The Push because it confirms what we have been suspecting in our hearts and "inspires" us to move ahead on our sense of guidance. Then, however, comes The Crisis! THE CRISIS The Crisis is when it feels like you are entering that "meaningless maze" where none of the parts seem to be fitting together. For example, house sales in our region had increased by 40% in the previous month, driving prices up by 8% in one month's time! In our first several days of Robin's looking full time for a house (dragging along with her our two-year-old grandson, Jay Jay), four houses had been snapped out from underneath our noses. People were making full-price offers within as little as two hours of the listings! Bidding wars were driving some houses way above their asking prices. As the banks started charging more for the moneys they were paying less for, there was a buying panic. Late one afternoon, after ten days of searching, Robin arrived home discouraged and defeated. She said, "I give up! We have no time left. We're just going to have to rent another place or put our stuff in storage and keep looking." Because I had not been out pounding the pavement with her, I was able to muster these words of comfort, "Well, Honey, maybe that's just where the Lord wants us -- for our extremity is usually His starting point." With a great sense of weakness, we prayed our usual prayer in such predicaments: "Help!" THE BREAKTHROUGH Within minutes we received a tip off from our Realtor that a listing agent in her office was in the process of listing a promising house in Auburn, Washington. If we dropped everything and came at once, we could see it before anyone else got a chance -- even the other agents! Driving straight there, we found it to be the first house we had seen that matched all of our criteria -- including being close to New Heart. As we walked in, both of us exclaimed, "This is it! The skylights! The windows! The open, spacious feeling even though it's smaller! Quality construction, immaculate condition and low maintenance!" Yet, when I viewed all of the beautiful living room and dining room furniture, a spontaneous prayer welled up inside of me: "Lord, you know we don't have furniture like this to match the décor of these beautiful rooms! In addition to buying the house, am I going to have to find the money for new furniture to match?" Emerging from what Nee calls "the meaningless maze" of the crisis, we began proceeding swiftly into the succession of intricately coordinated "suddenlies" prepared for us by the Father. We left the house agreeing that it was everything on our prayer list, plus more! Less than five minutes later our agent, in our car with us, announced she had forgotten her purse at the house! Upon our return, we had a surprise meeting with the sellers, who had just returned after having "stayed away" during the showing. Breaking the unwritten rule about buyers and sellers not even meeting during a house sale, we were invited into the home while our Realtor babysat our grandson in the car. Within fifteen minutes we had worked out a deal, concluding with the sellers asking us for a special favor: "The house comes with the side-by-side frig/freezer and the washer and dryer. But, since we are downsizing, would it be all right with you if we left behind all of our living and dining-room furniture and decorations, as well?" Amazed, Robin and I caught each other's eye, smiled, and then voiced our acceptance, both knowing and rejoicing in our spirits that this was the "seal" for which we had prayed--a witness that the Lord was in the deal. We are now unpacking in our new home. Robin says she has to periodically pinch herself to make sure this is not a dream, as we both have a most difficult time tracing all the miracles that it took to get us to this wonderful place of provision. Praise His holy name! Are you being pulled, pushed, or in "the meaningless maze" of a bewildering crisis? When our Lord guides and provides for us, he covers all of the bases -- even the ones we are not knowledgeable enough to pray about intelligently. Yet, He has His reasons for bringing us to His provision through a "Push, Pull, Crisis, Breakthrough" Process. This is much like the Children of Israel experienced when passing from Egypt through the desert and into the Promised Land. As we move into our own Promised Land [It's in Auburn, isn't it?], there are many giants to face and fight -- most of them in us. Let's allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, as we are pushed and pulled through one crisis after another toward the breakthroughs. In time, we shall discover the value in serving a God who uses cliff-hanging so effectively to accomplish His work both in and through us.