Tag Archives: waiting

On Periods of Waiting

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On Periods of Waiting

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:

I put all my hope in the truth of Your promise
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.

Remembering Him

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Remembering Him

It’s a post for grown-ups!

Time for honesty: my family is having a hard time right now. On January 1, my husband’s company was bought out by a new company. He’s in sales, and the new company does commission differently than the old company, which has resulted in our income dropping in almost half. Needless to say, this has been very frustrating. We’re living off his income while I’m home this year, so when it dropped in half, it is not quite covering our mortgage and food and bills and that is literally it.

These kinds of situations happen a lot. And I’m sure they happen to a lot of people. On top of this, we have a major wasp problem (they keep getting into the house!), we need to fix all the screens over the windows in our house, and there is a place at the corner of our basement (toward the outside wall – it’s a walk-out – this isn’t even the part of the basement where water should be a problem! It goes downhill away from this place!!!) where water is getting in. The carpet is wet and there is black mold on the walls. We don’t know where the water is coming in, and we know we’re going to have to replace the wall piece, the carpet (because of microbes, how fun!), and possibly the studs that are probably ruined from it. Sometimes, I look at the wasps’ nest, too high for me to reach, and I see dollar signs instead of wasps. Sometimes, I look at that corner of the basement and I see dollar signs instead of water damage. But there are no dollars. Just none.

I want a beach. I want a cruise. I want to buy brand name groceries sometimes. I want to eat out for dinner like more than once a month. I want to buy my kids those adorable outfits and 85 Thirty-One bags and go on a nice trip to St. Louis and do fun things! I want to take my kids to the local kid play place that is $10 per visit per kid! I want new carpet in the living room and bedrooms instead of 25 year old hopelessly stained. I want the do the backsplash in the kitchen. I want to paint the double-ceilinged walls. I know I’m whining. I feel like it just isn’t so much to ask to have enough money to, like, fix things and buy stuff and do things.

These are the kinds of hard times I am having, and I think these are the most normal hard times. The kind where everything is actually fine and you are totally okay when you step back and look at the big picture, but you are in a waiting period for something better and/or different. These times are when God closes all the doors and all the windows and you are waiting somewhere uncomfortable and a little claustrophobic just waiting to get out. It’s totally possible to live off this minuscule dollar amount that my husband is working his butt off for 45 hours a week for. We don’t need any more stuff. We have overstuffed our basement until it is bursting, we have 10 times as much clothing as anyone could dream of, we have food that goes bad regularly because we never get around to eating it, our freezer and fridges are completely stuffed, its nice and warm (or nice and cool depending on the day) in our home, we have internet access and Netflix and Amazon Prime and a giant mac desktop that I’m currently typing on. I paused this writing to check my iPhone 6 earlier and then played a Solitaire golf game for a bit. These things are super, totally, completely normal, and they are total luxuries. I don’t need any of this.

Somehow, in all this totally normal luxury, I feel like I’m less. I feel unworthy of my friends when they have more than me. I always feel like I have to defend my ugly, stained carpet, and they don’t even notice it until I point it out! I don’t even profess to be materialistic! I cloth diaper and recycle and compost, for goodness’ sake. I want chickens and goats. I think my house is too big and we’re seriously considering downsizing. But all I want is new living room carpet and the back fence to be finished and pretty furniture and a maid and Joanna Gaines to be my personal designer.

So, here I sit, knowing that I’m a total hypocrite. I know that God has blessed us so much, and I see His blessing and remarkable provision every day. I forgot to “count my blessings, name them one by one. Count my blessings, see what God has done, count my many blessings, name them one by one, count my many blessings see what God has done.” So trivial. So obvious. And yet I so often forget. Like every day.

You know, Christ told us to get together often and take the bread and cup in remembrance of Him. I think we’re supposed to do it often because we forget Him.

I think it is important to remember this specific thing: I don’t deserve cruises  or beaches or brand-name groceries or restaurants or day trips to St. Louis. I don’t deserve my too-big house or my iPhone or my mac desktop or my internet access or my Netflix or my Amazon Prime account. I don’t deserve my car, even with 200,000 miles on it. I don’t deserve a wonderful husband who works so diligently regardless of his pay. I don’t deserve the giggles and smiles of two precious offspring. Nor do I deserve the food in my fridge stuffed full, or my health that I’ve never once been consciously thankful for. I don’t deserve friendships.

I deserve death. I know it sounds over-the-top and a little ridiculous, but it is the cold, hard truth. I deserve nothing but death.

For my idolization of earthly things.
For my coveting and jealousy.
For setting other Gods above Him.
For lying.
For stealing.
For my subtle slander of those I don’t like.
For hoarding blessings from those who are truly in need by buying myself another _________ instead of giving to ___________.
For angry retaliation, for instinctual negative reactions, for snapping instead of giving grace.

My ugly, dirty heart deserves death. All of my regular, everyday sin should separate me from God. I should be His enemy. But I’m not.

Oh blessed Jesus, I don’t deserve You. You gave Your life for me, You gave Your death for me, You gave eternity to me.

I must take the bread and cup, and I must remember You. I need to commune with You every minute, or else I’ll be sure to forget that a small salary and penny-pinching times are not the same as lack of blessing.

We are incredibly, extremely, astronomically blessed. In fact, I paused from writing this post for a few hours, during which I spun my 2.5 year old in circles singing “the enemy is under Your feet, we are free, we are free, death has been defeated by Love, You overcome, You overcome.” It hit me while I was mindlessly singing: I am feeling stuck and jailed and burdened by our money issues, and yet I am more free than I could ever imagine.

I seriously think we can figure it out. I can’t let my American Dream replace God’s dreams for me. They are simpler in so many ways, but a million times more rewarding.

So the question is this: in these tough times, while I’m waiting to feel a little more secure, who will my security rest in?

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul has these amazing revelations about heaven. During the time, God gives him a thorn in his flesh which torments him. I’m not sure if this was a physical thorn or not, but it was definitely a spiritual one. Paul says that the thorn was given to him that he may not become conceited. I like to think that Paul was battling with himself about how great he was (in addition to a possibly literal thorn). This was torment for him, constantly trying to overcome his sinful nature, knowing that he was awesome but desiring to take the credit for his awesomeness and specialness instead of giving that credit to God. He pleaded with the Lord three times to remove it from him, but the Holy Spirit’s response was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And then Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I think the key here is that God didn’t take the thorn away right then. He said that the thorn isn’t what matters – His power is. His grace is. He’s like, “I get it. The thorn hurts. But I’m more than that. I’m enough, even when the thorn is still there. Abide with me while the thorn is still there.”

We totally know this, but it is truly profound to dwell in it. When I’m put in hard situations like that, I have no other choice but to lean on God, and He comes through EVERY TIME. He comes through EVERY TIME. HE. COMES. THROUGH. EVERY. TIME. He doesn’t always take it away, but His power comes through in my weakness. He is strong when I am weak.

So here’s the thing: if everything sucks forever, and everything is taken away from me to the very (brand-name) shirt on my back, He is enough.
If I die right this minute, He is enough.
If I live for a long time with very little, in a daily struggle to survive, with physical pain and sickness and my family is gone and I’m completely alone, He is enough.
And the more likely scenario – if I’m blessed beyond measure with basic needs, a beautiful and wonderful family, an incredible church home, a too-big house with too much stuff in it, an Instagram post from my iPhone that says #blessed after every adorably filtered photo of my privileged life, He is enough.

Or when I’m feeling very overwhelmed as I penny pinch,
another doctor bill comes as a surprise or something else expensive in the house breaks,
or as I compare how little I have to some of my pals who, it seems, have everything,
or when I think I’m just not as good of a parent as my friend,
or I wonder if I’ll ever know comfortable comfort,
and I know that I am just not enough,

He is enough.

Now, Lord, let me remember to commune with you. With every bit of bread and every sip of cup, let me remember who You are to me and what You have done.

“Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.”

Your grace is enough.

James 5 (For Kids)

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James 5 (For Kids)

The last chapter of James for the Matthew 19:14 Project.

James

There are rich people in the world who treat their workers badly. Are you one of those? If you are, you should be sad and upset about the wrong things you’ve done, because you are about to see the consequences. (A consequence is something that happens because of something else.) For you, the consequence is that you won’t be rich anymore, and even your money won’t be worth anything anymore. If your money could come to life, it would say it is rotten because you are rotten. You had plenty of money, but you selfishly kept it all for yourself. Even worse, you gave people jobs to work for you, but then you didn’t pay them for the job they did. They cried to God about how it was unfair, and He heard them. You’ve bought all the best things for yourself and only yourself instead of being generous (that means sharing with kindness). You fattened yourself up by keeping everything for yourself, just like a pig gets fattened up before the farmer turns him into bacon. You should be turned into bacon, too, to be gobbled up. You wronged people who weren’t even against you!

Be patient – that means wait calmly. Farmers plant their crops and then wait and hope for the rain to nourish them before finally reaching the harvest season. Just like they patiently wait through the seasons, you should wait, too, and you should stand up for what you know is right in the meantime. You are waiting for Jesus to come back and make everything right again. Don’t argue and complain with each other while you wait, or God will give you what you deserve. God is right there paying attention! It’s like He’s at your front door, and He can hear you through the walls!

If you are having an especially hard time waiting because things just keep going wrong and it is hard to deal with life, think about some of the bible stories you know and how those people did a good job waiting. We look at them as heroes because they kept going and never gave up. What’s that called again? Oh yeah, perseverance. You’ve heard of Job – he lost everything and waiting for God, always trusting Him, and then God brought Him so many good things in the end. God knows what you’re going through, and it makes His heart hurt when you are hurting. He takes away our punishments in the end if we trust Him, even though we deserve them. He is a good God.

And most importantly, there is no reason to swear to anything – don’t swear to God or swear to Satan or swear to the trees or waters. Be honest enough that there is plenty of power in simply saying, “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise, you will get the punishment that you deserve.

Praying can make a huge difference when you really believe. It can be powerful. Are you in trouble? Then pray. Are you happy? Then sing a prayer of praise. Are you sick? Call everyone to you to pray for you and give you holy medicine in the name of the Lord. If you honestly believe, your prayer has power to heal the sick person, because God will. The sick person’s sins can be forgiven, too. So tell each other what you’ve done wrong and pray for each other, because that’ll help you get better. If you try to do what is good and right, your prayers are powerful and they make a difference.

Elijah’s did. He prayed for no rain, and there was no rain for 3.5 years. As soon as he prayed for rain, it rained again.

If you see your fellow Christian family starting to turn away from God, stop them and bring them back. Every person you bring back to Christ is being saved from eternal separation from God and all of his/her sins will be covered because he/she was brought back!

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James 1           James 2           James 3           James 4