It's Labor Day- so I figured I should break a sweat and do something laborious. I went and played tennis with my father, brother, and sister. They were very patient with me having to stop and take some deep breaths. I really haven't exercised since I got sick in April with Mono and then had some minor heart problems. But the doctor said I can begin exercising now...moderately.
So there I was, whacking the tennis ball, serving up some decent serves once in a while, and trying to keep up with my father, who intelligently plays using his head more than he does his legs. He offered lots of pointers to me and some words of encouragement (like, "please don't die till you get off the court, Lauren". Just kidding!)
Then he offered the mother of all pearls of wisdom, and I heard it loud and clear. I had missed a ball that I should have gotten to. He stated simply, "That's because you were in No Man's Land. Either you go forward, or you step back- but you can't stay where you are."
I heard it loud and clear, and it had to do with more than just tennis. No Man's Land is a zone where I don't want to be. It's a place of indecision- but not because you can't make up your mind. Rather, it's indecision because you don't see what's really at stake, so you think you have time to vacillate, time to develop more courage before you decide to take a step, time to ....take more time. But you don't, really. Because the ball is coming toward you-fast- and you've got to decide where you'll place yourself for optimum contact with the ball.
The ball coming toward all of us is Opportunity. Opportunity can be a ball coming fast at you, a door suddenly opening that you've prayed for, or fruit on the vine- at last- that needs to be harvested,...NOW.
Carpe diem is a phrase from a Latin poem by Horace (Odes 1.11). It is popularly translated as seize the day, although a more literal translation of "carpe" would be "pluck" (pluck the day), as in the picking or plucking of fruit. (Wikipedia)
If I stand in No Man's Land, I can't really accomplish much. I'm in between going forward and stepping back- but I haven't decided which one. Often, as Christians, we stand in this No Man's Land because we think that to wait on the Lord means waiting, and waiting without any accompanying action or planning. We think waiting on Him is accompanied by sighing and looking at the clock- as if there is no other fruitful labor we could do while we wait on that one thing we long for and pray for.
I look back on my life and try to see where I have stayed in the No Man's Land, unknowingly. I can see times where it was just plain convenient for me to think I was waiting on God to move in my life- rather than to see that I had mountains to speak to, fruit that was ready to be harvested for Him, actions of faith that I had to take that would require me to step out, heart beating fast, ...in faith.
Now that my Dad called it like it was in today's game, I've got to go a step further and examine the rest of my life. To a degree, this is the essence of Jesus' rebuke to one church in the book of Revelation:
14"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
.... 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne."
I hear the Lord's tough love in this passage, and He's calling a spade a spade. It's interesting that He says "I know YOUR DEEDS, that you are neither cold nor hot." He didn't refer to the condition of the heart, but rather their actions, their deeds, as being reflective of their position of false -security. Maybe their deeds were meager or done half heartedly or with an attitude that they had all the time in the world to accomplish great things done in God's Great Name.
Could I be that way? I can think I am waiting on the Lord, basking in the lovely land of...waiting, of wasting opportunities to "overcome", but God calls it No Man's Land.
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
Please understand my heart- I know we need to wait upon the Lord, tarry in His presence, gain perspective, leave behind our hurried schedules of action, action, action. But I've spent a lot of time in my life doing something that I thought was "waiting on God" and now realize that some of those times I was just excusing my weariness and deciding not to run anymore, deciding I didn't need wings like an eagle because I was not going to fly. I found it easier to bathe something in continual prayer and waiting on God but not expecting to mount up with wings in preparation of the upcoming flight.
I have played it too safely at times, ....but not anymore. It has been pointed out to me that I could be standing in No Man's Land, and I have a choice to make. My faith needs fueling- and I need to make it hot or cold. I take a deep breath. I look upward at Him, and see His eyes of love looking at me, infusing my spirit with fiery faith that enables me to overcome.
I step forward into the Faith Zone.