People sometimes tell me how strong I am. But I don't feel strong. Whatever strength is there, it surely isn't mine. I guess that would be scriptural:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25-27
I have been called. Called to live my life in love and joy and peace and patience and faith and kindness and obedience. Called to devote my energies and thoughts and words and actions as a living sacrifice of adoration to the one true God. Called to a steadfast surrender to the astounding Grace that makes it at all possible.
Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. ~ Psalm 119:35
All well and good to be willing to obey, but what if we are unsure of the path to take? What constitutes obedience in a particular instance? It is said that the devil is in the details. Perhaps, but my God is Lord over both the details and the bigger picture, so I'm in the best of hands.
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out. ~ Isaiah 48:17, 21
He will teach me, direct me, lead me in the way I should go. But so often I'm like a little kid: "Are we there yet?" and five minutes later "How much LONGer?!!"
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
~ Psalm 5:3
As I was growing up my family would sometimes take an entire summer and visit friends and family all across the States. I grew used to lengthy drives and learned to use the time spent in the van productively. Those who were able might decide to nap some in order to arrive with more energy. Reading, studying, talking with parents and siblings, singing songs, playing travel games, folding origami, tatting, crocheting, solving puzzles—there were countless activities available to occupy us (besides the ever-tempting snack-box). Have I so quickly forgotten how to be content as a passenger?
Humph. But at least on THOSE trips I knew what to expect! Oh, really? What about traffic delays, adverse weather conditions, construction detours—and my still developing sense of time passage itself? Is this really so different? Many of us are still children with respect to interacting with heaven's timetable.
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, more than watchmen wait for the morning. ~ Psalm 130:5-6
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
~ Lamentations 3:22-26
A dear friend reminded me yesterday that I am not the only one having to employ patience here. God is being patient, too. Not just patient with me (which he is, and I am SO thankful!), but everything else going on that makes things take longer than they might otherwise. God is excited for me to glimpse the next adventure, thrilled to take me there and share my delight in what he has so graciously prepared.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10
He is infinitely more eager than I, and infinitely more patient. Anticipation is helpful. Impatience and anger over unmet expectations are not. Do we joyfully trust our Father that the good things he has prepared for us will also come in his beautiful time?
I confess that after publishing my last post all about waiting, part of me indulged in the thought that the package I was waiting for (speaking figuratively) would now "magically" appear. Another part of me suspected that there was still much to learn about this fascinating facet of life called "waiting." The former part hoped that the latter part was being unnecessarily pessimistic. I chuckle inside now at my psychological game. Who was I kidding? It is when our own strength runs out that we discover the true strength that comes from depending on God alone.
God enjoys spending time with me—me spending time with him. Yes, he will be with me, holding my hand as I walk through the door when that time comes. I even think I know which door that is, though not fully what lies behind it. It hasn't opened yet, though I have knocked several times. Well, that doesn't mean I can't praise God in the hallway!
Let's break out the car songs . . . . ;-)
Which of these answers would be the hardest for you to hear? If you're like me, you would say the third. The why of a yes or no isn't as tough to deal with as the "how long?!" of a wait. But so often that's exactly where I find myself: waiting. And it's easy to get discouraged if I keep staring into the dense fog obscuring what's ahead.
I like how Corrie Ten Boom expressed the futility of it. She said: "Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear....Never fear to trust an unknown future to a known God."
We are exhorted in scripture to live by faith (2 Cor. 5:7) in light of a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). This is not an empty suggestion, but a vital expression of a life surrendered to Christ. In a culture drowning in the "easier and faster is better" philosophy it can be a constant struggle to maintain joy and peace in the waiting seasons. Yet I am convinced that being patient is not sitting around moping, wishing, sighing for something I'm not sure of.
Patience is faith that endures.
It endures the difficulty of known obstacles, the uncertainty of fluctuating variables, the frustration of invisible progress, and the temptation to get depressed with the slow, lingering passage of Time.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
~ Hebrews 6:11-12
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. ~ Psalm 27:14
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. ~ Isaiah 40:31
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. ~ Romans 8:25
When I find myself growing restless or impatient, here is how I take stock:
Let's take a brief example. If I am expecting a call that would mean a trip somewhere, I can already start packing my bag. But what if the call doesn't come, or it turns out the trip is unnecessary? Well, then I unpack the bag! That wasn't so hard, now, was it? And yes, I have "been there, done that." :)
Keeping busy by being productive while I'm waiting helps me to maintain a proper perspective even as I prepare for when the season of waiting comes to an end. And it does! When the answer is "Wait" it is not for an indefinite period of dangling in limbo. Remember, God is always faithful to his promises:
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay. ~ Habakkuk 2:3
So for all you fellow "waiters" out there, my prayer for you is that:
...you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. ~ Colossians 1:9b-12