I dedicate this post to little Michael and his dear family. I’m excited to meet you after such a looooooong wait! =)
Right now, I’m waiting…
I’m waiting on a great many things in my life, but chiefly I am waiting on God in each situation. At present, I am waiting for a child to be born, a son to be delivered as one of two pregnant friends are in labor. This particular friend is in a hospital halfway across the country from me, but my heart is ever present with her. I find it’s difficult to go about my day without my mind coming back to her, wondering what she must be experiencing, waiting to hear more news to follow her text about her water breaking and receiving inducing meds since she is well past her due date.
As the day wears on, my mind gets distracted from the joyful news I am awaiting, to hear he has been born and her travail is through. When I remember, my mind immediately is transfixed by the blessed event, longing for its fulfillment, aching at my inability to do anything to bring it along, praying fervently for God to help her at every point along the way (including through the intense pain of birthing a new life naturally), and thanking Him for His above-our-understanding peace to her, her son, her husband, and their family.
I find I cannot help but draw parallels between my friend’s experience and what it means to wait in general. It’s strange because although I know there will be a definite end to this wait, for their son to be born, it doesn’t mean the wait is any less uncomfortable for me (I can only imagine how nerve wracking it must be for her husband!). I have to accept that I am not in control and have to wait for circumstances beyond my control to carry themselves out. In a similar sense, when it comes to the desires and dreams God has placed in my heart, I wait as well, completely without control of the outcome and little to do but, well, wait. True, in my wait, there is not a physical new life being brought into the world, but there is a new life of spiritual proportions that will have a definite impact on my present reality.
Though largely unknown apart from some assurances from the Lord, targeted words roughly shaping what to expect and stirring of hopes that leaves little doubt as to what this wait tends, I wait in faith that God will do what He says He will do. And though I know He is faithful and have seen His work time and time again in my life, the lives of those around me, and in the lives of those in Scripture, I still find it difficult to wait, to rest in anticipation.
(Mmmm… why does that last phrase seem like an oxymoron? 😉 )
I guess as I wax philosophical with you, my dear reader, I’m uncovering for myself something that only my best reading on and listening about waiting has addressed:
Waiting can really only be enjoyed inasmuch as we wait…
- and anchored deep in God’s promises.
When I think of my dear friend suffering labor pains, I see my own sense of travail in my current reality. It can be SO hard to wait, and yet, we must encounter waiting so often. Even further still, we have examples from our Great Cloud of Witnesses past and present that betray a waiting that is filled with peace, with joy, and with hope despite the many days, weeks, months, and (more often than not) years of delay.
What could possibly be the source of such happy strength?
I believe this strength comes as a result of the time spent during our wait. Our wait is a priceless opportunity to know God and His utmost sufficiency, love, power, and mercy in a way we would not begin to realize without the suffering, purification, and growth that only purposeful waiting brings.
The catch-22 is that though we may not like to wait, without waiting we’d never get the chance to know the Lord in ways that only “waiters” can.
“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
Another promise waiters have…
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in His way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it only leads to evildoing [ain’t that the truth!], but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” –Psalm 37:7-9
And a favorite of mine…
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” –Proverbs 13:12
And there are many, many more promises just like these are given especially to those who wait. Hundreds even! It seems that tireless new strength and inheriting what we hope for are graces inextricably tied with giving up our desire to control and “make things happen” in favor of waiting on God to instruct, to guide, and to act in His perfect, good timing. There simply is no shortcut.
Right now, my friend is experiencing a pain that I’ve never known in life and a process that I can only sketch from a recollection of long-ago biology lessons; hair-raising, honest accounts unblushingly offered during baby showers; and the less reliable dramatics of oh-so-realistic television. But she is undergoing the real thing and only by doing so will she experience the real grace that Jesus will provide to meet her and see her safely through to the fulfillment of all our hopes. And I, in my waiting, have an opportunity to experience real grace here and now. This is not the grace that comes to those who have already “inherited the land” or a cynical numbness for those who never dared to hope in the first place, but a grace that only comes with the process of waiting on God.
Oh when it is for something we deeply hope for with all our hearts, the wait can be excruciating! How many long for a child but find their dream elusive? How many women a God-fearing husband? Or men a wise Godly wife? How many just want a job or to get out from under staggering debt? How many pray for years for a loved one to know Jesus or to be healed of a debilitating physical disease? How many are in held in prisons or slavery and simply long to be safe, whole, and free?
But God is gracious and hears the cry of those who fear Him. He promises to be all that we need as we place our hope not in our desired outcome but fully in Him.
So again with the Psalmist, I align my heart with God’s Word of truth and say:
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” –Psalm 27:13-14
My fellow waiters, keep on waiting. God will surely answer you with more than you could ask or think.