Well, writing this second blog seems even harder than the first. The screen is dauntingly white and my mind has gone a complete shade of nothing!
However, last September I began to scribble the beginnings of a blog entitled ‘In the waiting’, which I feel prompted to finish. So, here goes…
Let me first say, so we’re all on the same page here, waiting is hard. From simple things like a kettle boiling or a late train arriving (frustratingly), to holding for important news or prayer, fundamentally waiting does not come naturally (or at least not to me). Life is complicated isn’t it? We can be juggling various aspects of life, whilst waiting on something(s), trying to stop our minds being consumed with that thing(s) we are waiting on. I remember being pregnant with my son. The 9 expected months went ‘relatively’ quickly. But, those last 10 overdue days felt like an eternity!
Waiting for events to unfold, circumstances to change, answers to come (or not) or even a heart to alter. It can require grit, determination, trust, hope and faith. Thankfully, Jesus himself knew what it was to wait, taking 30 years before beginning His own ministry on earth (John 2). Isn’t that comforting? He knows.
Waiting can feel like the unanswerable difference between what is seen now, and what is yet to be seen. The space between the unknown and seemingly known. It can be the place where your breath holds and clings to hope. But where worry, fear, anxiety and frustration circle roundabout like hungry vultures.
There have been many times over the past 8 years I have found myself ‘in the waiting’. The kind of waiting where you know things are going to change, and yet you’re not sure what the various overlaps of life will look like when everything has settled. Some things I still don’t know.
I have spent more time at hospital and doctor appointments than I want to recall. Waiting. Holding hands. Bracing myself. Searching inwardly for the still small voice of The One who does know all. I’ve lost count of the number of houses I saw searching for a home, and those we have lost when we thought they were secure. 5 years on, we moved in.
Approaching the wait
We all know that a journey has a starting point and an end. A few years ago we decided to go to Holland for our family holiday and drive there (yes, slightly crazy I know). It was to be a big adventure! At the time, David wasn’t able to do much driving, but I was up for the challenge. So, 4 adults, a tween, a teen, mounds of luggage and a jam packed Dodge Journey, we left our home in anticipation of the 10 hour journey ahead.
At 4 hours the cramping set in, so we stopped, stretched, had a break in France; buying some delicious treats. 8 hours in, traffic backing up, we were stuck. Not fun. We plotted a detour, convincing ourselves we had saved time! After 12 hours in the car, torrential rain pouring, and still 2 hours to go, the adventure was starting to wear thin. It was then I felt a nudging, a sense of God speaking, telling me that a journey is a process. You would miss so much by simply jumping from start to finish. The journey is full of new experiences, some good and others particularly uncomfortable, but we have a choice on how we approach it. Do we grab hold and learn from what we walk through, trusting The One who knows, or do we grind our teeth, begrudging every moment. How do we approach the wait, as waiting always involves patience?
Over the years I’ve heard people say ‘dig deeper and keep digging until you come through this’. It was about 8 years ago when this simply didn’t work. The mantra didn’t hold true. I had dug deeper, used up all my strength and had nothing left. In a nut shell, I had come to the end of myself, my own abilities, talents, gifting, stubbornness! I couldn’t solve or change what was happening. In those moments, I have had to surrender, completely yielding to His will be done, and it is there that I have found rest. God in His kindness, showed me a greater measure of what it is to dwell and rest in Him. That He would tell me when to stand, speak, fight, and when I simply needed to be still, in the waiting.
Calculating the Waiting
But, I get impatient. Anyone else? I have been know to desperately try to solve things myself. To calculate how to solve the unsolvable. I go to Google, the font of all knowledge, and try to work things out, in my time. The waiting can zap you of strength, leaving you depleted and vulnerable. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use our resources, but I’m talking about the exhausting ‘trying’ of ‘figuring things out’, which at the end of all the figuring, leaves you none the wiser.
He sees in the waiting
At a recent Come Closer, Birgitte Grace spoke on EL ROI, the God who sees. She spoke on Abraham and Sarah and that in their desperation for the Promise of God to be fulfilled, they took matters into their own hands as Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. Scripture describes God rescues Hagar and Ishmael not just once, but twice (Genesis 16 & 21). He saw them in their distress, and His timing was perfect. EL ROI also saw Hannah waiting for a child (1 Samuel 1), vastly provoked by Peniah. Hannah was real; she wept, lived in anguish and torment, but then one day, she surrendered.
When the answers we pray for don’t come, we can try to step in. But, God’s ways are not our ways. Keep praying and then pray some more. Be faithful in prayer and trust in the The One who sees, who knows, who is and whose promises are sure. Psalm 84 says that God is your sun and your shield. Picture that. Consider that. God is both the warm life giving sun, and your protector.
Today in the wait
In the waiting I’ve felt my heart fracture as conversations and events unfold. Where things become clearer, and yet, so much remains unseen and uncertain. Matthew 6:24-34 are verses I have sat with and held to. “Do not worry… Seek Him first. They are verses that can runs off the tongue, and yet are so hard to live by. It’s Jesus’ commandment to us, which comes with an incredible promise of God’s great care in the mist of the unknown and waiting. A promise given by the Promise Giver – God Himself. It is a choice to stay in today, to see today and live it now, leaving all else with God, who is incredibly patient, compassionate and faithful; working out the very details with precision timing. Opposite is a personal declaration of the Matthew 5 passage. A personal reminder of what Jesus commanded.
Believing in the wait
A question I am consistently challenged with is – Do I believe in God, or Do I believe God? Do I believe He is who He says He is, that His word is true, that I am His. Do I believe God? One thing I have realised is, I know who the great Prince of Peace is, because I have so needed to know that HE IS who He says He is. To know God more and more. The more we know him, the more we know who he created us to be. For Almighty God formed us! (Psalm 139). Each day increase steadily in your knowledge of Him. Thankfully we are changed progressively, as we know him more.
Connection in the wait
One thing I have learned is God has given me others in my world who will stand with me and pray. Who will lift their shield of faith, hold me up and be faithful in prayer. The waiting can be such a vulnerable place. Don’t allow the enemy to isolate you. Join with other Christians who will support you, and who you in turn can support. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom as you wait. Share with a trusted someone what you are waiting for and ask for prayer.
Changed in the wait
God never wastes time in the waiting. I have indeed changed.
He has held me, protected me, stepped in, smoothed the way and brought victory out of what was seemingly nowhere. Prayers have been answered (not always the way I wanted). In the waiting I have become honest with God and honest with myself. It’s within that I have learned a greater measure of resting in Him. That he is indeed my home. Safe. Secure. Never changing, even when all things change around.
Waiting isn’t straight forward. It can include searing loss, new life, clearer direction or present a surprise. Nevertheless, the waiting can be a powerful time of surrender. A time to stop running and humble yourself. A time where you can allow God to work on those areas of your soul that you have kept shielded, locked away, and hardened.
I listened to something that Beth Moore said which helped change my perspective. When we wait on the Lord, we don’t wait on the circumstances. Waiting on circumstances is exhausting. Instead, we wait on God. Never in the wait is God inactive. We wait knowing he is at work and He renews our strength in that secret place.
If you find yourself in the waiting, my prayer is that throughout this coming time, you would know Him more deeply and intimately. For He is your Saviour, your friend and His love will hold you and His presence strengthen, as you draw near to Him. There is no substitute for His presence. The One who knows all and sees all.
As for me, I continue to keep learning (I’m not always a quick learner)… in the waiting.
Be encouraged today.