Waiting

I’m waiting on my retro Nolan Ryan jersey to arrive in the mail. If it’s anything close to the picture on the ebay listing, then I will be thrilled.

I feel like I spend a lot of my life waiting. It’s exhausting at times and scary at times but always worth whatever time it takes.

I remember when I found out that Mafiaoza’s was coming to The Factory in Franklin. It felt like forever. I drove by several times and it seemed like nothing was happening. Then boom, one day there it was, all filled with customers and glorious pizza.

Most of us will spend most of our lives waiting on one thing or another, whether that be a spouse or a career or a place to live.

I still don’t believe that waiting is sitting idly by, like waiting for the phone to ring.

I believe waiting involves action.

That action is mainly preparing yourself to receive what it is that you’re waiting for.

The Bible says that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. Again, it’s not an idle and passive kind of waiting, but one that involves surrender and constantly being vigilant to the voice of God.

As my pastor has said more than once, when God calls you, you won’t have time to get ready. You’ll have to be ready. And waiting is the process of being made ready to answer God’s call when it comes.

Waiting is hard. The temptation is always there to give up or to take matters into your own hands to achieve your own desired outcome. Sometimes, the bravest part of waiting is simply showing up and not giving up for one more day, one more hour, one more minute.

Good things come to those who wait, not passively and idly, but with expectation and readiness.

 

A Song of Hope for Those Who Wait with Heartache

“Walking around these walls
I thought by now they’d fall
But You have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle’s won
For You have never failed me yet

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet

I know the night won’t last
Your Word will come to pass
My heart will sing Your praise again
Jesus You’re still enough
Keep me within Your love
My heart will sing Your praise again

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed me yet

I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again

[x3]
I’ll see You do it again

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed me yet

And You never failed me yet
I never will forget
You never failed me yet
I never will forget” (Do It Again, Elevation Worship).

Very rarely does a worship song bowl me over anymore, but this one just about did. I’ve never resonated with a praise song’s lyrics like I did this one.
Granted, I’m not there now, but there have been times in the past when I would have seriously questioned whether the writer of this song had been reading my private journal. And I don’t even have one.
My prayer is that the words to this song wash over you and that God speaks though this song as powerfully to you as He did to me earlier today.

Still Waiting on God

“I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you’re able to be more patient. Patience is not just about waiting for something… it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting” (Joyce Meyer).

Today, Pastor Aaron preached from Psalm 130 on how to wait on God. Waiting is one of the hardest disciplines of the faith but well worth it in the end.

I supposed I should say waiting well is hard. Waiting by itself takes no effort. You don’t need any special skills to sit with hands folded in your lap, or in front of the TV binge-watching the latest Netflix craze.

Waiting well is different. Waiting well means that you learn to tune your heartbeat to God’s. You learn to discern God’s voice out of the myriad of other voices that are constantly calling to you all the time.

Waiting well means that you let God have His way in you so that you are ready whenever God chooses to end the wait and give you whatever it is you’ve been waiting for.

I’ve come to learn to be thankful that God didn’t give me many of the things I asked for when I asked for them. I probably would have ruined it and ruined myself in the process, especially where relationships are concerned.

Waiting involves open-ended hope. You go from waiting with expectations for a certain outcome to waiting with the sole expectation that God will do what God sees fit, which is always for His highest glory and your best possible outcome.

Lord, help all of us to learn to wait well and not focus on the outcome but who we are becoming in the process. Help us to remember that ultimately who we are as defined by You is far more important than what we have, what we do, or where we are.

 

Rest in the Lord

“To wait upon God is not to sit with folded hands and do nothing, but to wait as men who wait for the harvest. The farmer does not wait idly but with intense activity; he keeps industriously ‘at it’ until the harvest. To wait upon God is the perfection of activity. We are told to ‘rest in the Lord,’ not to rust” (Oswald Chambers, The Place of Help).

I think that says it all.

May all of us learn daily how to wait well as we rest (but not rust) in the Lord.

Hope Is a Revolutionary Patience

“I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up” (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life).

Whatever it is that you’re waiting for, never lose hope. Don’t quit now.

Remember that in hope, what matter isn’t just what you get at the end, but what you become in the process of waiting. Sometimes, the enduring is what makes you ready to receive what it is that you’ve been hoping and waiting for.

So my word to you is this: keep waiting and hoping.

God will either grant you what you desire or give you something much bigger and better than your mind can yet conceive or comprehend.

I’ve learned in all my years of waiting that the best outcome is that you find that God Himself is enough, with or without whatever you hope to get in the waiting process. God is enough.

So don’t give up. Let God have His way in you and let hope flourish in you during the waiting. It will be worth it in the end.

“Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodnessAnd hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love” (Romans 5:2-5, The Voice).

Keeping Vigil

“There is a difference between waiting and keeping vigil. Anxious, fretful, impatient waiting is nothing more than waiting. Waiting with purpose, patience, hope, and love is vigilant waiting. Would that all of our waiting could be a vigil–a watch in the night or in the day hours. So by all means, find a way to make your vigils sacred. Learn the art of holy waiting. Whether you choose, on occasion, to get up in the middle of night, or whether you make an effort to turn your everyday moments of waiting in sacred vigils rather than impatient pacing, you will be blessed through this spiritual practice” (Macrina  Wiederkehr, Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day).

The difference between waiting and keeping vigil is expectation. Simply waiting is assuming the worst, while keeping vigil is holding out hope for God’s best. Waiting fixates on hoping the circumstance will change, while keeping vigil is knowing that you will be the one to change (and trusting that God will do the changing).

Keeping vigil is waiting intentionally. Instead of being idle or unfocused, we are using the time to pray about the matter and create spaces in which God can move and speak.

I’ve learned through time spent waiting that it’s better not to pin my hopes on a certain desired outcome (that job offer or that certain someone to like you or that package in the mail), but rather to put my confidence in God who sees a much bigger picture than I do and has a much more vast plan in mind than I can currently conceive.

“Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is ‘timing’
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way” (Fulton J. Sheen).

 

 

Waiting Patiently

“While fulfilling these sacred obligations at the temple, they encountered a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was a just and pious man, anticipating the liberation of Israel from her troubles. He was a man in touch with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Anointed One.  The Spirit had led him to the temple that day, and there he saw the child Jesus in the arms of His parents, who were fulfilling their sacred obligations.  Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God.

Simeon: Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace.
    You promised me that I would see with my own eyes
        what I’m seeing now: Your freedom,
     Raised up in the presence of all peoples.
    He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations,
        and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.

 His father and mother were stunned to hear Simeon say these things. Simeon went on to bless them both, and to Mary in particular he gave predictions.

Simeon: Listen, this child will make many in Israel rise and fall. He will be a significant person whom many will oppose.  In the end, He will lay bare the secret thoughts of many hearts. And a sword will pierce even your own soul, Mary” (Luke 2: 25-35).

Picture Simeon. He’s an old man, nearing the end of his days. He’s been waiting for the promised Messiah for as long as he can remember. In fact, the prophecies of that coming Anointed One date back to hundreds and thousands of years before he was born.

Simeon waited almost his entire life to see a promise of God fulfilled.

How long are you willing to wait?

Every advertisement tells us that we are due to get what’s ours right now. No waiting. We live in a world of instant gratification where waiting isn’t looked upon in a good light.

Are you willing to wait as long as it takes? Simeon was, and the payoff made it so much more than worth it.

Wait for the Lord. His promises are sure and true. They are coming, even if they don’t arrive on your timetable. They will come.

Don’t give up.

Waiting Expectantly

“Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert – yes, joyful – waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes” (Henri Nouwen).

And so we wait.

Not in a passive sort of way, like a junior high girl waiting by the phone for her crush to call or a job-seeker waiting for a call from one of the places to which he’s applied.

We prepare as we wait. We anticipate as we wait. We hope as we wait. And we love God and each other well as we wait.

Waiting never gets any easier, but it’s always worth it. Taking shortcuts almost never is. Just ask Abraham and Sarah.

Waiting in faith and expectancy is a way of saying that God’s timing is better than mine and the gain in the end is better than any immediate gratification I’m giving up in the present.

I’m not saying anything new. In fact, this almost feels like a re-run of sorts.

Whatever you’re waiting for from God is worth whatever time it takes. Trust the heart of your Father who knows best what to give and when to give it. Trust that the best is still yet to come and that  it is still coming.

Just as surely as Advent follows into Christmas, so will faithful waiting follow into joy.

 

 

Trusting in True Love

charliebrownisokay

“But for my part I trust in thy true love.
My heart shall rejoice, for thou hast set me free.
I will sing to the Lord, who has granted all my desire” (Psalm 13:5-6).

That’s where I am, folks. My life hasn’t turned out like I thought it would, and that truly is okay. It only means something better’s coming.

I still believe that with all my being. I still believe that God has taken me by a unique path because He has unique blessings in store for me.

Maybe that’s you. Maybe your life hasn’t turned out nearly to be what you’d thought it be at this point. Maybe you haven’t hit those all-important societal markers that tell you that you’ve arrived.

Maybe you don’t have kids. Maybe you’re not married. Maybe you’re (gasp) still living with mom and dad, It’s easy to feel like you’re the world’s biggest failure.

But maybe, just maybe, that’s where God has you for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve got something special coming and you’re just not ready to receive what God has in store for you right now.

I know that the Bible is replete with stories of people who had to wait for their promise from God. Joseph, Moses, Abraham, and David are just a few out of many. So if you’re waiting, you’re in good company.

The point is that what God has promised to you is truer than your present circumstances. In fact, He is so true to His word that whatever He’s promised is as good as done and you can truthfully say right now that God has “granted all my desire.”

That’s not an easy place to be, waiting on God’s promises. Waiting is never easy. But it is a good place. And always, always worth it.

 

 

 

That Great Pumpkin and Faith

great pumpkin

 

Every year around this time, Linus Van Pelt takes his favorite blanket and heads out to the pumpkin patch, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. For those unversed in the lore of all things Charlie Brown, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch and showers gifts upon those faithfully awaiting and believing in said pumpkin.

Every year, Linus waits and every year Linus goes away disappointed. But you know the next year he’ll be back.

gotarock

Charlie Brown goes trick-or-treating every year and every year he ends up with a bag of rocks. And on a side note, who gives rocks to kids on Halloween? I mean, really?

But you know full well that Charlie Brown will be back at it next year with hopes set high on candy corn or Snickers. Something besides rocks.

Don’t you feel the same way?

You’re 30-something and still single, yet you keep showing up at God’s door asking for a spouse.

Your prodigal child hasn’t come home in years yet you keep pleading to God to find him and bring him home.

A relationship has gone south and you feel like there’s no way it can ever be mended, but yet you pray for the person one more time.

You feel like you will never break free of your addiction or your stronghold, yet you keep asking and believing for a day of freedom.

I’m reminded of a character almost as foolish as those Peanuts folks.

This widow kept badgering the unjust judge in Luke 18. She probably shouldn’t have even been bothering him, as it was customary for people to wait until their appointed court date to appeal. But she was desperate to get her wrong made right. She kept pestering that judge after being told “No!” at least a thousand times.

She simply would not give up.

That’s my takeaway for this Halloween night: don’t ever give up on your dream. Don’t quit on your goal. Don’t stop believing (as that old theologian Steve Perry used to sing).

Persistence in prayer always pays off. I’m not saying everyone gets everything they ask for if they say the magic words and believe hard enough. I am saying that God will change you in the process. He might not give you what you ask for, but what you end up with will always be a thousand times better.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find me out in a pumpkin patch one fine Halloween night.