Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. -Proverbs 3:5-6
Have you heard that phrase – that obnoxious phrase – oh I hate it – “When God closes a door, he opens a window?” Man, I hate it.
I hate it because it is untrue and intended to comfort people. Don’t be comforted by stuff that isn’t true!!! That’s false comfort, and it doesn’t come from God. We are comforted by God, but if it is from Him, it has to be true. So here’s the truth:
“Sometimes God closes the doors. And He closes the windows. And you have to wait. And He’s still good.”
This whole concept of waiting is not new to me, and I bet it isn’t new to you either. We’re always waiting for something. One of my best friends has been waiting for almost a whole year for her house to finish being built. She’s made decision after decision after decision, dreaming and hoping and waiting and waiting for them to finish. She was finally able to move in, but they still aren’t done, so she’s still waiting a bit for those finishing touches. I have a very close friend who hasn’t been able to have any children, and she aches for that greatly. She is hoping and dreaming and waiting and waiting. My sister would love the chance to purchase a bigger home so that there is ample room for visitors, but it isn’t time yet, so she’s waiting. I am waiting for something, too, and I honestly just don’t get why it hasn’t happened for me yet. It makes totally logical sense for it to happen, and only good can come of it happening. So why hasn’t it happened yet? Will it ever happen?
This is what trusting God is.
It’s waiting and waiting forever for something you hope for, something exciting, something wonderful, depending on God to give it to you, and being content even though you don’t have it yet.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. -Psalm 13
I think one of the funniest things about the Christian life is patience. It’s this odd thing that we are so good at in some ways and so bad at in others. Like for example, I am so patient with kids, especially obnoxious ones. I can deal with them all day without ever losing it. I’ve had a lot of practice doing this, so I’ve gotten pretty good at it. And also, God has taught me that it is imperative to be patient with those kids, because they learn so much from my example of patience. But then I turn around in the very same day, and I get so frustrated that I don’t have the extra money to get new carpet in my living room right now. I mean, it is horrible, horrible carpet. Anyone will tell you how stained and gross it is. I bet my friends are grossed out to walk on it. It is just the worst. But we don’t have the extra money for it right now, so the answer is no. And I start to act like a baby toward God, like all whiny and obnoxious, and I go, “God! Why? Why can’t I just have new carpet? Why can’t I just have nice things? WHYYYYYYY? GRRRRRR.” This is a silly example, but a totally realistic one. Why is it so easy for me to trust God that my students need my patience but I can’t trust God to provide for me?
Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.” -Psalm 27:14
Being the ever-loving musician that I am, I always come up with song lyrics first in these situations. I think of “God is God and I am not, I can only see a part of the picture he’s painting, God is God and I am man, I will never understand it all, for only God is God” by Steven Curtis Chapman, “When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, when you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through, when you don’t give the answers when I cry out to you, I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you” by Lauren Daigle, “can’t imagine what the future holds, but I’ve already made my choice, and this is where I stand until He moves me on, and I will listen to His voice” by Twila Paris, “thy will be done, thy will be done, thy will be done” by Jesus in the bible and also Hillary Scott’s lyrics (this is an amazing song, oh my word).
I know what is true in these situations. I’m waiting for something because God’s timing is better than mine. He knows what He is doing, and I don’t. I can’t understand it, but I choose to wait for Him to tell me where to go. He has a better reason than I know. He sees the whole picture, but I only see part. So then I try to apply that knowledge, because I’m always the logical one. But God, it doesn’t make any sense that I’m not getting this thing that I want! Everything points to the fact that I should get it. Why isn’t it as clear to everyone else as it is to me? I mean, seriously, I’m a whiny baby. I’m like the two-year-old screaming over fruit snacks in the grocery store (is this anyone else’s normal life right now? Anyone?) because I can’t understand why I can’t immediately rip open all the boxes and have them right this minute!
So I think the key here is that I need to find some contentment. Trusting God is the same thing as contentment. We will never be content on our own, because we will always want more. We will always want to fill ourselves with something else. My heart is unsteady, always flitting and floating to whatever new thing brings it pleasure, always forgetting the greatest pleasure is complete and restful trust. And it seems that with trust comes the waiting. I live in this strange collision of waiting and living. I mean, after all, even Dumbledore knew, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” I’m waiting for these things that I’m hoping and praying for, but I’m trying to make sure I’m living the life Jesus wants to me to live at the same time.
I can’t help but think of Harry Potter in this. I mean, y’all know Harry Potter is my boy. But seriously, that Dumbledore quote above is from Philosopher’s Stone (that’s Sorcerer’s Stone for all you fake, half-hearted fan people)(okay, sorry, that was harsh) when Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised, which shows him his heart’s desire. The tragedy of Harry’s vision is that he seems himself surrounded by his family, all of whom have died. So Harry’s greatest dream, his absolute heart’s desire, is something that can never be. When I was like 11 and read this, I didn’t think anything of it really, except the normal 11-year-old “oh boy that’s sad, no wonder he wants to sit here and stare at this all the time.” But as an adult, this pierces my soul a whole new way. How many dreams are my heart’s desire than I can never have? Or, more importantly, from a faith standpoint, how many dreams are my heart’s desire that aren’t God’s heart’s desire for me? Am I sitting around waiting for something, staring into my own personal Mirror of Erised, wasting my life away because my dream isn’t something I can have? And then I next think of One Tree Hill (oh yeah, I’m a major fangirl), which doesn’t really teach Christian principles very much, but I remember this episode where Nathan decided to tell everyone that he point shaved in the playoffs even though it was going to cost him his basketball scholarship. He tells Haley something like, “The people I respect the most are those who got up and went on with their lives when their dreams were dead, and went out and found a new dream.” Nathan had accepted that he needed to do the right thing even if it resulted in losing his entire life’s dream. There is great strength in the willingness to do that.
I think about this for me and my life: what if I never get what I want? What if this perfectly logical thing that I greatly desire never happens for me? Will I be okay with that? Will I be able to trust God if He doesn’t move the mountain I want Him to move? Will I be okay if the answer to my fervent prayers is “no?”
My friend Ellie writes a blog, and she posted this meme on hers that said, “And if not, He is still good.” This is the key! While I’m waiting, I need to pray within God’s will.
“Your will be done, God. I want this very much, and it makes perfect sense that I should get it. But if not, You are still good. I trust you. I won’t waste my life hoping for a yes when I’ve gotten a clear no. I won’t harbor bitterness or resentment because of that no. You are good to me.”
I have this absolute favorite album. It’s “Fortunate Fall” by Audrey Assad. That chick can write some music, y’all. Seriously. This album gets me through my day. It is so full of subtle wisdom and amazing lines that I could meditate on all day long. So I’m going to close this gab-fest of semi-random thoughts with the lyrics to one of the songs:
And I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness
When I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joyBecause You are good to me, good to me
I lift up my eyes to the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night – raise my head up to hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me I will praise You, my God
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy
Because You are good to me, good to me
Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise
cause you’re good. Good to me.