Waiting

Waiting rooms aren’t much fun. I know. I’m in one right now. There are few seats left in this one and yet more and more arrivals.

I hear the sounds of lots of cheerful conversation going on around me as I type.

A quick scanning of the faces tells me that not everyone is cheerful. Some of these faces are worried. Some are thoughtful or introspective in appearance. There are a lot of cell phones out for updates and games, emails, work…but mainly, they’re out for distraction.

No one likes to wait. Even when you’re used to it. No one.

My own odd entertainment comes as I type this and receive a text from a friend in another state–and another hospital!–to me know that they are prepped…and waiting. (Insert a very small wry grin here!) God is funny that way sometimes​.

We’re all waiting for something. Whether you’re in a hospital or not doesn’t make much of a difference in that. Answers to emails, phone calls, or prayers; waiting for the weekend, the vacation, or just for the coffee to make or the microwave ding, waiting happens to all of us.

So, what do we do with that? What can we learn and share? What can we accomplish while we wait? The answers are as varied as the individual.

I choose to pray and be reminded of this:

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Grace and Peace while you wait today!

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Waiting…

Potential“but when the fullness of time had come…”  Galatians 4:4 (KJV)

“But when the set time had fully come…” Galatians 4:4 (NIV)

“But when the right time finally came…” Galatians 4:4 (GNT)

No matter what translation of Scripture I’m reading, I love those words written by the Apostle Paul about the timing of the birth of Jesus…the One I call Savior. That makes them special. They were written after about 400 years of silence from God…yes, that’s right! That deliberate silence from God meant 400 years of waiting time for God’s people. It can’t have been easy. People came and went on this planet. They lived whole lives never knowing what we know now. They had no other choice but to wait. That sounds really harsh, doesn’t it? (Don’t worry about my offending God with that statement…He knows.)

Those words tell me that everything was finally in place for every single prophecy (over 300 of them!) about the Promised Messiah to finally begin to come true. They also tell me that

  • God was in charge back then just like He is now.
  • He has a plan and it is for my good–and yours!
  • He was particular about the details of the plan on purpose.
  • There were people who needed to be in the right places and in the right positions before the plan would work like it was supposed to work.

Those words carry hope. They cradle the thought that God had been busy on our behalf and was finally through preparing our Best Blessing ever…and that timing was EVERYTHING in order for it to actually BE the best blessing ever. Important words. Instructive words…

Those words also make me crazy sometimes–especially when they apply to MY life today because I’m not always the world’s best wait-er! (Who is?!) As an adult, I totally understand the need for waiting…I just don’t always fully embrace the concept personally! (You, either?! ha! Imagine that!)

What I do know, however, is that the same list of statements under my first paragraph are just as true today for MY life as they were when God was waiting to bring His Son into the world to save us…and those details that we’re all waiting to fall into place in our individual lives today? Well, once He has those in place in a way that will bless us best or teach us most, our wait will be over about whatever we’re praying over or holding our breath on now, as well.

Whether His answer is a “Yes!” or a “No!” or a comically rhetorical”What were you thinking when you asked Me that?! (because, YES, God has a sense of humor and sometimes I think we’re allowed to see the possibilities without the pain as a way to grow us up a bit!)…whatever it is that He’s chosen for your answers and my answers, it will be just what we’ve needed all along.

Welcome to the Advent Adventures!

 

 

Surprise?

Several years ago I was talking with friends and sharing some of the details of my life.  Apparently, I made the following statement as I did so:  “You can’t surprise God.”

Several weeks later, I received a call from one of the friends.  She told me that she’d been thinking about something I’d shared and she had a really big problem with it.  I asked her to continue.  Her response:  “You said that we can’t surprise God!  I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that!  I like the idea that I am free to make up my own mind and my own decisions on the spur of the moment.  I’m not sure I like the idea of a God who already knows how I’m going to think/decide/respond to things that I haven’t even had happen yet.”

I laughed.  (Yes, I know.  It probably wasn’t really nice of me to do that.)

I laughed because I knew just how she felt, but it didn’t change anything—and I told her that.  God DOES know…and frankly, that’s one of the things I find most comforting about Him.

I don’t serve a God who has to run through multiple options to help me choose the right thing at any given time.  I have a God who KNOWS.  I have a God who is already prepared for me and my questions, my concerns and my mis-steps.  Since He already knows the back story details and all of the future options I will face in addition to the current jumble of questions running through my mind, He doesn’t have to be delayed in His responses to me.  He can guide me in the way that He has chosen as best for me.

Oh, trust me, I’ve taken the other road often enough to know that He didn’t create automatons who are here to simply follow Him blindly.  I’ve also taken the right ones…even the uncomfortable right ones…enough to trust that He always has my best interest at heart.

As we talked I was reminded of all the times God had allowed me the time to process things that He already knew so that I would become more adept at reading His will.  I was reminded of all the ways I could see Him more clearly because I’ve had experience recognizing His fingerprints in my world and the almost neon-like road posts He places to guide us in the right directions.

I find that I am especially grateful for that today.  I need His answers and I love that He not only knows that, but that He’s prepared the very questions that I’m asking!  He’s molding my thought processes and He’s working to make me more like His Son.  He’s in control…and the best part of it all:  He does all of this because He loves me!

No, we can’t surprise God, but He’s in the business of surprising us all the time.  The next time you’re unsure of what you should do, ask Him to open your eyes to see all the ways He’s already prepared the right path ahead of you in order to make it easier in your future.  You just might be surprised at what YOU see!

Waiting…

God is truly entertaining!  Over the past 48 hours, I’ve had 5 different conversations about waiting.  It seems that everyone I know is waiting on something:  people, events, opportunities, ideas, answers…God.

Yes, that’s what it all boils down to:  we’re waiting on God.

Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) has this to say about how we should wait:

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Several other translations have in the words “be strong and take heart” in them.  The concept is the same regardless of which words are used…and just as difficult to live out.

I also made the shocking discovery in each of the 5 conversations that we are universally bad “wait-ers”–and most of us are not that interested in getting better at it!  You know it is true!  The thing that makes me laugh and love Him even more, however, is that God has surrounded us with people who are having the same struggle and we have the opportunity to support each other, pray for each other…and yes, commiserate with each other while we wait!  Once again, He proves that He is a God of grace by not only providing us with His Spirit to comfort us, but by actually giving us people who can relate to our struggle while we wait.  We are not alone!

I think that’s a most gracious gift, because the only thing worse than having to wait is waiting by yourself.  No matter what YOU are waiting on today, know that you are in good company, that you are loved by God and that He really does have all the answers–the right ones!–and those are always worth the wait!

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Are you ready for something really shocking?  My life isn’t all about me after all!  Yes!  You read that right!

Guess what else?  Your life isn’t all about you, either.

I’ve had this little reminder handed to me up close and personal over the past couple of weeks as I sat and shared life with some people who are dealing with some pretty hefty issues.

I could listen with empathy because I’VE BEEN THERE!  I know what some of that stuff feels like and, truthfully, sometimes it just stinks.  There’s no other way to put it.  Sometimes God chooses to do things in ways that we would never choose for ourselves.  When that happens we actually do get a choice about part of it.  We get to choose our response.  We can choose to learn or we can choose to leave.

Now, don’t get me wrong…once you belong to God, you can’t ever get away from Him, but you can definitely choose to leave the situation you find yourself in and just run away.  The problem with that is that God’s still going to be right there and since He’s still determined to teach you the things that will make you more like His Son, chances are pretty good that you’ll just find yourself in a similar situation wherever you land.  Not sure I’m right about that?  Think:  Jonah and a very big fish.  (grin) You can’t ever outrun God; so really, if you run, you’re just choosing to delay the lesson.  That, too, is a choice.

Our other choice is that we can choose to learn.  Sometimes that means taking action.  Sometimes that means just sitting still until we’re certain that God is moving us.  Sometimes it means we just need to listen to others who have been there before us and come out on the other side…or at least are a little further along in dealing with it all.

Personally, I’m one of those who usually learns by doing things myself… the hard way.  That means listening isn’t generally my strong suit, but that doesn’t mean I’m not called to do just that occasionally.  When I’m smart enough to do things His way, I have found that there really was a purpose behind it all.  Sometimes, however, we may not see the purpose for a long, long time.

That’s just one of the things I realized during those conversations with my friends.  I realized that sometimes we may go through things just so we’ll understand what it is like when others go through them.  People need to have a safe place to be real.  They need an open heart and a person on the other end who can help them realize that (a) they’re not crazy–it really is that hard and (b) they’re not alone.  They also need to know that it is possible to get to the other side of an issue and even when that’s not possible…or at least takes a very long time…it is possible to survive it, anyway.

I realized something else this week, as well.  I know that I went through those hard situations that my friends now face for more than one reason, but if being able to share our common bond and let them know they aren’t alone was the only reason for my own difficulty, then it would still be worth it.  God loves us all enough to provide the what and the who we need as we need them.  It is always worth it to be used by Him.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a litle while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 1:6-7

Get ready to put your hard lessons to use for the Kingdom!  It’s time to be Jesus with skin on for someone around you today!  Someone out there needs what you already know…and they need to know WHO you know, as well.

Planner

I’m one of those people who like to have a plan.  I’m a planner.  I can generally process information pretty quickly, see several different angles, choose a direction based on the information and formulate a workable plan with minimal delay.

That all works pretty well right up until you get a glitch in THAT plan….the planning plan.

The glitch is especially monumental if it happens right in the first step.  Getting accurate information is absolutely crucial to planning.  It’s what you base everything else on, so you’ve got to start there…and that’s where my problem lies.

My posts have been sporadic over the last two weeks because we’ve been dealing with some health issues here.  They are “serious, but manageable” according to those we’ve seen.  They have a plan.  WE are not entirely sure what it is yet.  That makes it tougher to follow.

Oh, we know some of the basics and we’ve been doing the things we know, but my “planning brain” is more than a bit frustrated by the relative slowness of the necessary information as it trickles in to us.  Others who have traveled this same path say we’re “right on schedule” and that we should “relax.”

Ever notice how hard it is to “relax” when you have people telling you to do so?

This isn’t worry.  I know what that looks like.  This a processing issue that makes my brain feel like someone keeps pressing the pause button…kind of like what would happen when we watched our movies on tapes that still made the picture jump a bit even after you hit the pause button…it wants to go forward but something keeps holding it back so the picture looks wonky onscreen.  I’m feeling a bit of sympathy for those old tapes now.

Realistically, I’m aware that the ones who DO have the information are not holding back on purpose just to frustrate me.  I’m aware that the calendar…the very number of hours in a day…are limited and that is simply isn’t possible for us to see all of the ones we’ll need to see, have them review the information of their various areas of expertise and make a plan specifically for us based on that information before getting back to us with their part of it.  I’m aware that there are more of them than there are of us…and I’m extremely aware that we’re not their only concern.  There are others waiting and depending on their plan, as well.

I’m aware of all those things…and it doesn’t do a thing to help me process and proceed with a plan for us.  I’m going to have to wait.  Waiting isn’t my forte.  In fact, I have never excelled at waiting and I really have no desire to get better at it!  I want to know NOW.  (Anyone else out there recognize themselves here, too?)

Times like this require me to look at the larger plan…the one that I already DO know about…the one my God has had in place since time began:

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (ISV, 2012)

THAT is what lets me not worry.  That is what helps me relax (even if it only feels like just a little bit, right now).  I know the One with the ultimate plan.  I guess I can wait on the rest for now.

While you’re waiting…

“The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.” ~ Phillips Brooks

 If ever there was a truth written down, this is it!  I’m not the only one, either.  It happens in your house, too, and at your work…and at your church, as well.

 There are some things that we’re content to wait for, to work toward or live in expectation of fulfillment.  I think that list is a lot shorter than the one containing the things about which we are impatient.  I’ve noticed, however, that my impatience doesn’t seem to hurry God along at all.

 For example, I’m really tired of being ill.  I realize that this illness won’t require hospitalization.  It isn’t a monumental catastrophe and it isn’t fatal.  I’m just tired of it.  I further realize that there are lots of people out there who are facing illnesses that are all those things and more.  I’ll bet they’re tired of them, too.

 We’ve been there, actually, and I found out something really interesting.  The seriously ill people don’t complain.  They’re grateful for any assistance they receive.  They’re patient in waiting rooms because they know their turn is coming and they may need some extra time in there, too.  They make the most of the time they have and, although they may be grumpy from pain, it is really rare for them to just be in a foul mood about their illness.  I think it’s because they realize that there’s really no point to wasting what time is available to them.

It’s a lesson we could all use.  It’s one I’ve reminded my husband of many times in waiting rooms over the past 15 years as he fumed about missing work and having to sit and wait.  I’ve generally just laughed and told him that this was further proof that he was really well—he had the energy to complain.  He hasn’t always been appreciative of my humor in those situations even though I know he has recognized the truth of them.

 I guess it’s a lesson I’ve needed for myself this week.  I’ve been trying to hurry my recovery along using everything I can.  I’m taking it slow and eating well, doing what I can and then resting.  My part’s done.  I’ve done everything I can.  I’m waiting on God now.  Whether He chooses to hurry this along or not, I’ve begun to ask Him what He’s trying to teach me in this time of waiting.  I also realize that I am still the most blessed person I know. 

I guess it’s time I started reminding myself of that more often, make the most of the day I have and tell God “THANK YOU!” for all the grace He’s sent in my direction. 

No matter what it is that you’re waiting on, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you sure that your plan is also God’s plan?
  • Have you prayed about it? (and listened, not just told God what you wanted?)
  • Have you done all YOU can do to make it happen?
  • Have you looked for additional lessons God may be trying to teach you in the wait?
  • Is there something you need to thank God for while you wait, as well?