Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Struggle with Waiting

I've always struggled with waiting, which can make life hard because, as believers, we are living in season of waiting. There are all kinds of waits in this life. Some of my waits have been for exciting things--things like my graduation from college, my wedding day, the first day at my first post-college job, and the due dates of my children. Those waits were hard because of the excitement I felt about those upcoming events. Those waits were also hard because I tend to be a fearful person and I was afraid something might get in the way of those events happening. Those fears were exposed by the "what if's" running through my mind. What if I flunked one of my finals? What if my loved one died in an accident before we could marry or what if he changed his mind about marrying me? What if my new boss realized I wasn't good enough for the job he was offering me or what if he realized someone else was more qualified than I? What if I miscarried or one of the babies wasn't healthy?

Looking back, I wish I had known better how to live in the present moments during those waits instead of the land of "what if's." I see now that I could have done that by acknowledging my fears and relishing each day and each season of my life. I wouldn't have wanted to rush to the next thing. Instead, I would have lived each day cherishing each season. I would have enjoyed school more with all of its opportunities to learn, to interact with friends, and to grow as a person. I would have enjoyed more the seasons of dating and being engaged, drawing near to God as He prepared me to be a wife. I would have treasured more the enjoyment of each pregnancy with all of the flutters, kicks, wiggles, and overwhelming love growing in my heart, using the seasons of pregnancy to pray specifically for each child growing close to my heart.

There are some waits that are hard because they don't seem fair. I have hated sitting in a doctor's offices waiting for hours. Don't get me wrong, if it happens occasionally, I understand he or she has had an emergency and I am gracious, knowing I would want their full attention in an emergency. Many of my doctors have been timely and apologetic when they run behind. However, a couple kept patients waiting on a regular basis, I believed those docs overbook, not caring about my time. In those cases I found myself speculating that the doc wouldn't have time to listen to my concerns and began to what I would tell him. I grew resentful, knowing I would be charged for missed appointments and be required to reschedule if I were late. That kind of wait is really hard because it resurfaces an old core belief that I am unimportant and invisible or it triggers a strong sense of entitlement that shows itself in rude behaviors and messy "attitude."

I have learned that it is okay to use personal power to shop for respectful doctors. I have also learned that if it is a doctor I can't opt out of to go prepared so I can make use of the wait. I choose to be gracious and kind to the staff while praying for patients sharing the wait. I can enjoy that book I never get to at home, catch up on email, or practice simply relaxing. One night my son and I were stuck in an emergency room for hours. About the time my patience was grew thin a family came in who had several teenagers with them. I could tell things were serious for the family and without knowing them I felt burdened to pray for them. Later in the week I had coffee with a friend who asked me to pray for her daughter who had a close friend lose her mother to a stroke that week. As we talked about the details we realized it was the family I was praying for. Her daughter was comforted by the fact that it seemed like God had brought a prayer warrior into the emergency room to pray over their family that night.

There are some waits that are hard because the end of the wait results in sure pain. People in our community know they're losing jobs, but don't know when and its scary. Some have lost jobs and are waiting for houses to sale and waiting for upcoming moves not desired, knowing the pain of goodbyes looms big. The wait of lab tests to confirm cancer are unbearable, as one wonders if its possible to survive cancer or the cure. The wait of a major surgery is hard once the need of surgery is known. It would be easier to just get the pain over with. The end stages of illnesses are hard waits because we are conflicted with the desire to hold on to loved ones and the desire to see their suffering end. The long waits involved in early onset Alzheimer's are hard because bodies are strong, while minds fade. We anticipate the hard future, struggling with with desire for time to move slow to savor the person or to speed up to end the pain of a slow goodbye. These kinds of waits induce all kinds of fears--the fear of not being able to provide, the fear of being inadequate for the situations we find ourselves in, the fear of future losses, the fear of great emotional pain, and the fear of watching loved ones diminish and suffer.

For me, learning to navigate some of these waits has required I be willing to grow and  I get real with God, pouring my heart out to Him for the duration. They require I be open to anything and everything He might teach me about Him, myself, others, and about life in the wait. They require I choose to navigate one day at a time looking honestly both at what is hard and what is good about each day, giving thanks for both. It requires that we accept our limitations and grow humble, learning to trust God's sovereignty and redemptive plan.

There is still another kind of waiting to be acknowledged and that is waiting on God. As Paul Trip said in his devotional, New Morning Mercies, waiting on God is not meaningless waiting because he is not over booked. Nor has He lost sight of me as I live in His waiting room. Waiting on Him is not meant to be tortuous or stir up feeling of not being important.

In fact, one of His names is El Roi, which is the God who sees. He sees circumstances. He sees my heart. He sees me.

Another one of His names is Jehovah Shama which means the God who hears. The Scriptures say God has His ears turned toward those who are waiting on Him. That means that every wait is an invitation for me to pour my heart out to Him and to keep pouring it out until...

   ...all buried hurt is replaced with joy
      ...compassion and emotions shut down are resurrected
         ...lies believed are exposed and replaced with His truth
            ...areas of doubt surface and are replaced with confident faith
               ...I face my sin and cry out for His mercy to be fulfilled in me
                  ...the desire to know Him is bigger than my desire to experience His gifts
                     ...He fully has my heart.  

As a believer, I'm called to have confidence in God as I wait. The truth is the Christian life is a season of waiting. Jesus has come and bought me out of the slave market of sin, but I am still waiting for Him to fully remove remove sin from my life. Jesus has defeated the enemy, but I am waiting for the enemy to quit thrashing around like a snake with his head cut off, whispering His hideous lies. Even though Jesus has defeated sin the earth itself is groaning under the weight of it and I am waiting for it to be made new again. Jesus is preparing my future home, but I am waiting for Him to return for me. I've been given the Holy Spirit, but I'm waiting for Him to complete His work in me. I've been given grace, but am waiting to be living fully in its presence.

This waiting is hard, but it is good for me. I am learning to be courageous in the hard. I am learning to act on what is to come rather than what is right now. These waits I am learning to handle with confident also defeat the enemy bit because it silences his lies that cast doubt on God's goodness and grace. The struggle with waiting has developed Godly character in me, drawing me closer to the heart of the One for whom I will never tire waiting.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!