I was not quite sure how to name this article. I thought about titling it “Priestly Garments,” or “Valuable Attire.” Actually, what was on my mind was something called “a robe of righteousness.”
When I watch shows on TV about people bringing in treasure form their attic or wooden chest occasionally they will bring in an old military uniform that ends up having some monetary value. I’m sure some of the old wardrobes of past kings, queens, and emperors would be quite valuable, but let me take a different angle here.
You and I may not have worn something extremely costly although some wedding outfits can be pricey, but probably nothing outlandish, if you know what I mean. However, that wedding garment may have almost a priceless value to you, something indeed very valuable to you. For individuals that wear a fireman, policeman, military uniform, or nurse’s attire, those obviously have tremendous value to the person although the actual uniform may not be worth much money. Let me move on to my point.
I recently attended a retirement ceremony on a military installation for a friend of mine named Dee that have served for 45 years with the military. Yes, she served 45 years with the military but she was never in uniform. She was with the civil service. You see, she served on base in a civilian capacity, most of those years as a secretary. When I was invited to the ceremony some weeks previously I was very much looking forward to attending. Dee was someone I had known for a number of years. Not real close but had needed her help with paperwork off and on for about 25 years. She was always gracious with me as she was with everyone. I knew there would be a lot of people in attendance and perhaps a number of higher ranking officers since she had worked for many commanders. I figured I would be well back in the seating since there could be many high ranking guests coming.
When I arrived and signed in I was escorted to the front which surprised me, but I always appreciative it when someone shows me that kind of respect. Several people spoke on her behalf and tried to keep it fairly light to prevent any tears. All of her accolades were deserved as well as any awards given. I was glad I had attended. I had not prepared to say anything because I assumed there would be a number of others wanting to express their appreciation for her service, help to them personally, and her friendship. There was a pause for a moment when the host speaker asked if anyone else wanted to say anything. I choked. I just sat there. The moment passed and the ceremony progressed. Yes I wanted to say something but just had not prepared to do so. Here is what I wish I would have said.
“Dee, you sit here with a room full of many folks in uniform. Yet they cannot give you rank, or a higher position of authority, and they cannot give you a medal to put on your chest. The land we live in, this America is filled with many quite servers such as yourself. Many, many will never receive even an accolade much less a retirement ceremony. Yet they pray for this nation and they have honored their work, their families, their God in their daily lives of honoring others.
You may not have on a military uniform, but I do see something you wear, something the commander sitting next to you cannot give you, nor can anyone else in the room. I call it a ‘robe of righteousness,’ and it only comes from your walk with the Lord. I too have that ‘robe of righteousness,’ as do a number of others in the room that chose to walk with the Lord. Those are the individuals that bless this land, this nation, this America. Yours is not any cleaner or brighter than others, it just that you wear it very well. My gift to you Dee is a prayer that the Lord bless you and keep you, may he let he face shine upon you. Dee, you have loved us and we love you.”
The following verse from Isaiah 61:10 sums up very well what I am trying to say:
“I am overwhelmed with my joy in the Lord my God. For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and a robe righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.”
I did write Dee a card and tried to express on paper what I failed to do at the ceremony. Perhaps all worked as it was supposed to, I don’t know. Let me close by saying robes are not worth much money per say, but the price that our Lord and Savior Jesus paid for each of us to be able to wear a “robe of righteousness,’ was a sacrifice beyond measurable value. As to how that robe would look, I leave that up to your imagination. No pictures today.
The glass window of the receptionist slides back in order to greet you; you then hear in a polite voice, “We will be with you shortly, please have a seat in the waiting room.” A voice whispers in my mind, “You’re going to be here a while, so chill out.” But another voice in my head responds, “I have better things to do than sit here for what will probably be two hours.” Have you ever had that conversation with yourself, probably more times than you would like to recall. Who of us does actually like to wait?
If I were to ask you, the reader, to define the word “wait,” how would you do so? If you asked a young child to wait a moment until you came back and they asked you what does that mean? How would you respond? How would you define “wait” to a child? We all know what it means but it is one of those words that is difficult to define. It would probably be easier to describe than to define it. It is also one of those words that for the most part we know entails doing something we would rather not do, and that is: wait. Most of us would readily admit we don’t like waiting.
As Americans we are not taught to be patient much less wait. We all know about the fast food and rush of our work schedules. We are on the clock basically most of the day, lots of errands, tasks, appointments, etc. We train ourselves to try and not only manage our time wisely but above all to avoid wasting any precious time. I know; I have lived my whole life this way. In large measure I take pride in how well I perceive I have managed my time. Up early, hit the gym, back home to shower, have short devotional time with the Lord, eat a good breakfast, and off to work with time to drive safely. Honor my work, home in time to enjoy dinner with wife, a little quiet time to unwind, back to wife for some meaningful sharing time, and about one or two hours of reading or TV. I’m basically a disciplined individual. I have even convinced myself that I have been a good steward of my time that the Lord has given me. However, whenever my routine is disrupted I often find myself becoming impatient.
I think Americans are considerate while waiting in lines. We have a strong sense of being fair and don’t usually blatantly cut the other guy out. On the other hand, I don’t believe our culture has taught us, including myself, to wait. Of more importance I am now wondering if I know how to wait on the Lord. By the way, what does it mean to wait on the Lord?
“Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:31
A story in the bible that has always concerned me was the time when King Saul (the first King of Israel) was with his troops waiting to go into battle (I Samuel chapter 13). He had been told to wait for the prophet and high priest Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice prior to the battle. Saul waited seven days and Samuel still had not come. Some of his men began to leave for home. Saul became anxious and decided to take matters into his own hands. He decided to build an altar and offer the sacrifice himself. That duty had been assigned by God directly to and only to Samuel, the high priest. Samuel arrived shortly thereafter and was livid.
He was not only angry at Saul’s impatience, but also sad for King Saul. He told Saul that God has decided to remove the Kingdom from him and give it to someone else. That would be King David, a man whose heart was right with God.
I find myself relating to King Saul more than I would like to admit. When dealing with health problems, financial debt, issues at work, and so forth I want answers; the sooner, the better. I find it difficult to wait and listen for discernment from the Lord. I can look back on my life and see many times I wish I would have listened in the stillness of the morning for God to speak to me. I’m not implying it is easy to do, or that wisdom will come to me on a routine basis. But I do believe if I can discipline myself to try and take the time to listen more for God that in time I will be able to discern His speaking to me. That may come from a scripture I read that day, a devotional book, my wife’s prayers over me, or a friend’s encouraging remarks. With God’s grace I hope to become more like David than Saul. It starts with being obedient in trying to wait and listen for the Lord’s guidance. The times I have discerned God’s guidance have been invaluable experiences. Something to be treasured.
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