Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Joy in Waiting.

Right now, so much of my life is waiting....waiting to find the right job, waiting to know where I will live, waiting on a spouse, waiting on kids-- and I am not going to lie or try to cover this fact up, it is hard. Life is full of ups and downs- but some times, like now, aren't necessarily downs, they are just periods of waiting. And though the downs are rough, there is a unique challenge that comes in waiting, unique pain and trials, and also unique joy found during this period.

Most people seek a Yes or No answer from God (and from others). And though they may not like the answer "No", atleast it provides certainty. It is something to come to terms with, to accept, and to build your life around. "No this is not the path to take. No this is not your spouse. No this is not the job I have for you." No may not be the answer we want, but atleast it is an answer. Sometimes NO clearly points you in the direction you should go and sometimes it atleast narrows things down. Waiting does not give you the same luxury...no clarity, no direction.

Waiting is sometimes a feeling of being lost. You may earnestly want to seek the Lord's will and do what He directs, but how can you? You are still waiting for an answer. Still no clear path. You cant joyfully delight in God's provision of your request. You can't humbly accept His no and see the benefits of following His will. You just blindly move forward seeing only the step in front of you, glorifying the Lord in your small decisions and daily life, not knowing where the path leads...

As I said earlier, I know a thing or two about waiting...sometimes I accept this stage of my life, sometimes I fight it, sometimes I just feel lost. But Waiting provides the Christian with a few opportunities and lessons:

1. Waiting is not just an ends to a means, sometimes its the means itself. Currently I am waiting for a husband, a family, and a job I enjoy. Waiting will most likely lead to those things -- in God's timing. But waiting serves as a time of growth in and of itself. Waiting has taught me a lot about myself. In my job, it has taught me how to find Joy in daily tasks, how to choose Joy when there is very little to be joyful about. I have learned contentment while still grasping on to hope. All of these will make me a better worker when I find a job I would rather be at, but for now, this job is growing patience, contentment, Joy, the ability to confess my sins (for the many times I do lack Joy in my job). These are qualities I would not be developing had life worked out the way I wanted with a job immediately after graduation in the city I wanted to live in

2. There is oftentimes a greater level of Joy for those who wait. Waiting has its share of agony, of choosing patience and obviously, in failing to be joyful and having to seek the Lord's forgiveness. But, for those who wait and fight for hope and Joy, I do believe they one day know greater Joy. Just ask the mother who had several miscarriages or years of infertility as she longed for a child. How special that moment must be when she finally delivers (or adopts) and holds that baby!! Not that holding a baby for the first time is not special for everyone, but it must be so special for the mother who waited, longed, and prayed. Why? because she knows the pain and loss of waiting. She knows the blessing and miracle that baby is because she has been without it.

3. Waiting refines our desires. I am 26 and not married. Definitely not my plan, definitely an embarressment I carry daily. I had expectations of the man I would marry. But, as I long and pray for a spouse, my desires about what marriage will be like and what I want in a husband has changed. Some things have become more important, some have become less. My views are (hopefully) aligning more with the Lord's desires.

4. Waiting refines us. Waiting for a spouse and better job has given me a chance to grow. I needed more patience, more contentment, more courage to hold on to hope. I needed more trust. And I have the chance to work on these things.

5. Waiting in a way that glorifies the Lord requires hope. This is both a blessing and a struggle. I am practical and I also want to glorify the Lord. If that means accepting my life in its current state and learning to be happy now, never wanting more, then despite the struggle, I want to do that. But sometimes the most courageous thing to do is HOPE for more, to believe that God can heal the sick, bring companionship, bring a family, change a heart, etc. But the practical part of me wants to scream, "no I can't be tricked. I won't let my heart hope for more because it could be hurt. I am going to be tough and learn to cope." Isn't that true? Christians often talk about surviving, being strong. But being strong doesn't just require buckling down for the long road ahead, being strong is protecting your heart from bitterness and becoming hard. When you read about waiting on the Lord in the bible, I am always amazed about how the words seems so hopeful, some verses even mention hope.. see the following verses

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Psalm 130: 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Micah 7:7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 33:20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Waiting has taught me to hold on to hope for the Lord to redeem, restore, heal --even when others doubt and criticize, even when it seems foolish. Scripture reveals that waiting and hope/expectation go hand in hand.

6. Waiting points to Christ in a unique way. As I have struggled with waiting over the past couple years of my life, I have been blessed with side effect I did not expect....ANTICIPATION. Moses Ceasar said, “God created you. He loves you very much. And when you put your life in his hands and you surrender unconditionally…your waiting experience doesn’t become agony, it becomes anticipation.” I have learned to hope in the Lord in a special way and as I come daily to the Lord with my doubts and struggles, I find that it reveals an even greater longing --for eternity, for His presence. This has caused me to cling to cross and the promise of heaven in a way I cannot even describe. Waiting for ______ (insert whatever you are waiting for) can reveal an even greater Wait we all have. Although there is more certainty in our Christian walk (heaven, eternity is a known end to our wait), there still is a wait which requires hope and anticipation to make it through the long days before the end result. Waiting for the small stuff has become a compass towards

7. Finally, waiting gives you a chance to rely on God to meet your needs.
This is especially noticable in the marriage department. I lack some of the emotional and spiritual intimacy and encouragement that comes with a spouse. Lacking that sometimes is very hard, but I have been striving to go to the Lord. I find that where others don't understand that, the Lord has been able to meet those needs. And that is a unique blessing I did not know until the past couple years...to have the Creator of the universe meet my needs so personally while I wait for His provision.

Waiting has not been my favorite phase of life, and honestly, its not a phase I hope to remain in. It hurts, its challenging, it is stripping me of my sin and doubts and that process is painful. Sometimes waiting is silent lonely times with lots of prayers and searching and very few answers But it has had its moments- moments I would not trade - moments where I saw the Lord's goodness and moments where I was changed. I eagerly wait for the day where i look back and say, "oh I see what that waiting was for" but part of me suspects there are purposes to my waiting that I wont realize here on this earth. It is comforting to know that the Lord intends to use it all.

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