The Strength of Waiting

Sometimes our very inactivity shows the greatest amount of strength.

Soul-pierced.

Distanced from our dreams by disappointment. Held hostage by this seeming hopelessness. Parted from our purpose by this present pain.

Frustrated by this restlessness for something when we feel called to nothing.

Waiting is hard.

Resting can be the most challenging of work-outs when we are used to filling our time with activity and service.

If you are currently in or have ever been in a time of “waiting,” you well know how difficult a task it can be. It’s hard to stop a forward thrust of motion and refrain from filling our time with the simple act of doing something. Even when we know God is the One calling us to this time of rest – to this time of waiting.

We wait for His glory to appear — here — in this mess of confusion and doubt. Are we really called to content ourselves “outside the loop” of ministry? Has God really brought us to this season of rest, or are we missing His voice? What can possibly be the benefit of doing nothing when it’s obvious there are so many things needing to be done? So many opportunities for us to use the gifts He has given? The wrestling ensues as we try to make sense of it all.

But waiting is meant to be so much more than simply wasting away our days. Waiting on God can be a time of building our confidence in His character — leaning forward toward His presence in order to readily grasp what is being offered. Waiting is a call to stand in covenant with the promises we believe, the things we know to be true. Tarrying in trust. Lingering in love. Abiding in His rest while waiting for His words to either move on or nestle within our hearts.

Waiting calls us to be present in this moment, even when we may be wishing for another.

Consider the company of the following saints who were found waiting:

– Moses waited forty years before returning to Egypt as the deliverer of God’s people.

 Joshua lingered his way into leadership by staying near the tabernacle long after the rest had departed.

– Caleb waited with a warrior’s heart for forty years before taking possession of the land he had been promised.

 Simeon was waiting for the Consolation of Israel, filled with the Holy Spirit long before his arms were filled with the Savior’s earthly form.

– Widowed and worshiping, Anna waited in the temple. Praying and prophesying, she looked Redemption full in the face and spoke to all of the Deliverer.

The disciples waited according to the Lord’s directives and were met by Holy Ghost fire sweeping through the upper room and their lives, carrying the Good News into the streets of Jerusalem, to Judea, into the borders of Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

If you are presently in a God-induced holding pattern, consider yourself in good company. Press into this time of rest instead of warring against it. Listen for His words, yes, but continue to trust in His character even when your ears meet silence.

And remember, as you wait for Him… He waits for you.

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Love is…

Love is patient.

Love suffers long.

Why is that the first definitive entry in the famed “Love Chapter” of Scripture?

Perhaps because, above all, love must be willing to wait on others.

But not just wait as one would while standing in line at the grocery checkout. True, loving patience is willing to suffer as it waits to have its own needs met, even when they seem so very long in coming. If, indeed, they ever do come. Because the reality is, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes our expectations go unmet. Sometimes our needs remain. Sometimes the hurts linger and the trials persist.

It’s with these thoughts that I ponder the many facets of “patience,” a word which, by the way, is slow in coming (no pun intended) to yours truly. As much as I wish it were different, patience is a virtue that has been disinclined to cultivate itself quickly in my life. Much to my dismay, I generally do not bear up under interruptions or delays without annoyance or frustration. Nor do I naturally exude forbearance when trials come my way.

And yet, I can’t help but want to be a person of patience, so today I am setting my mind upon what I believe it means to fulfill this first definition of a perfect love. And perhaps, as I ponder, I will grasp a bit more of God’s love in my life – pulling me toward and anchoring me more firmly in a patient love that waits in the now with the hope of eternity.

Patient love…

Lives the moment of less than as if it were more than, consistently trusting God for the enough.

Exists in this perfectly imperfect moment of life.

Welcomes the wonder in the place where it seems lacking, resolved to find the awe in the awful.

Seeks the Giver in the gift it never chose.

Embraces life beyond the shadow of the cross while firmly seated in the darkness of the ninth hour.

Shows up haggard and lame at the temple gates, begging for release, yet content to listen to the praise songs of others.

Stays put. Lingering and longing, yet still there – prepared for the miracle of release that comes in unexpected ways.

Looks for the hidden, straining to see beyond the veneer of a shiny surface to note the nitty-gritty of an aching heart beneath the facade of an altogether all-together.

Sees the world as soul-weary and lost despite the fluidity of motion that tempts us to believe otherwise.

Embraces the thorns with the flowers and bleeds alongside the beauty of its fragrant bouquet.

Is willing to camp out in the wilderness, determined to endure the stillness of a moment and not wish it away.

Finds the gift hidden in the now and trusts the Giver who extends within and beyond.

Does not begrudge the good fortune of others, but looks to add to it.

Bestows blessings upon those whom it encounters in this very moment of living the moments with gratitude for it all.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (I Corinthians 13:4-8a)

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Soul-Weary

You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land. There Your people finally settled, and with a bountiful harvest, O God, You provided for Your needy people.  – Psalm 68:9-10

O Lord,

I am weary.

I am weary of all the hurt.

I am weary of the phone calls bearing bad news.

I am weary of the relational stress with others.

I am weary of the many needs surrounding me.

I am weary of being weary.

This present heaviness goes beyond a sense of tiredness and settles in the depths of my soul, causing it to sigh with exhaustion.

Yet, You promise to reign Your presence in me. Here in my tiredness. To refresh the weary places of my heart. To bring new strength when I am spent. To revitalize my spirit with a fresh breath of Your own.

How I need Your God-breath to sweep in with its gentle breeze and whisper, “All is well.”

Here in my weariness, I will look for You.

And I will wait.

In this parched land, I will settle my soul and listen for Your whispers.

Looking for the clouds of rain in the distance, I will hide my hope in You until the mist of Your Kingdom springs up in this wasteland. I will flee to the refuge of Your salvation – to the calming springs of Your presence. And there I will stake my dwelling. I will stretch out the ropes of my tent and lay claims to my inheritance as Your beloved.

When the dust of “too much” kicks up its storms, I will hide beneath Your covering, entrusting myself fully to Your care.

And here I will stay until this storm passes.

Until the weary turns to wonder at the sound of Your great name.

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Please Hold

“I’m sorry, all of our customer service representatives are busy assisting others at the moment. Please hold, and your call will be answered in the order it was received…”

Seriously, are there any words more frustrating when you are needing assistance than those offensive words of, “Please hold”? While I have been placed “on hold” several times throughout the years, I do believe my run-in yesterday tops the list for longest-phone-hold-to-date. It literally took me more than 4 1/2 straight hours before the issue was resolved and the coveted airline tickets were purchased with a savings voucher my husband earned a few weeks back when he volunteered to take a flight bump. (I now understand why folks are so hesitant to surrender their seats. It’s not the inconvenience of the delayed flight so much as it is the frustration of later trying to redeem the “special deal” you were promised.)

The only thing more frustrating than being placed on hold while on the telephone is when that same scenario plays itself out in life. Things are going along just fine; you’re comfortable in your job; settled in your ministry; family life is a daily routine of activities and events. Then suddenly, for no obvious reason, things change. Life is interrupted with a “holding pattern,” and much like a plane caught in the currents of an unexpected storm, you are left “circling” above the runway. Holding… holding… and holding for the next break in the storm so you can comfortably land and go back to life as usual. And perhaps that is the very reason God likes to shake us up with a “hold.” He doesn’t want for us to become too comfortable in this life.

Becoming too comfortable in this life means we may have lost sight of the life that is to come. Becoming too comfortable in ministry may suggest we are precariously close to forgetting that it is God who ministers through us, and not we ourselves. Becoming too comfortable with our family routine may indicate that we are taking each other for granted. So God steps in to shake things up by placing our comfortable life “on hold.” Suddenly, what made perfect sense to us just yesterday no longer seems as clear. The ministry that was previously so fulfilling no longer seems to offer the same sense of satisfaction as it once did. In short, God pulls us to the sidelines and asks for us to wait on Him to do something “other.”

And while a needed rest is always refreshing, an enforced nap can be quite unsettling. Or at least disappointing. No one wants to be banished to the sidelines when the game is being played on the field. After all, where’s the productivity in that? And once again, we find our focus has honed in on producing in attempts to attain a soul satisfaction that is found only in being with the Master. While it is unsettling to be unsettled, sometimes it is exactly what our Father knows we need. For in the “holding,” we take the time to look at things with greater clarity. We pause to more closely observe the people and happenings around us than when we are caught up in a blur of activity.

If you are finding your life “on hold” at the moment, I encourage you to stop fighting against it. Stop attempting to fill the void with activity. Stop sitting on the edge of your seat anxiously tapping your foot in anticipation of putting down the landing gears. Simply stop. Instead, I urge you to do as my friendly airline representative encouraged me while I was waiting on his computer to process my request: “Place your phone on speaker mode and go make a cup of coffee to enjoy while I work through this.”

Don’t try to rush the process, simply allow God to work through this.

All those plans He has in store for you? They are on the way. But until they arrive, enjoy the rest. Right now, that is the plan. Because when it’s your turn to get into the game again, you’ll need to hit the ground running for all you’re worth. In the meantime, hang tight with your heavenly coach and allow Him to pilot your course. You’re in for an awesome destination… it’s guaranteed.

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Thanking You in Advance

Years ago, I worked as an office manager for an insurance agent. One of my responsibilities included sending out letters with enclosed forms that needed to be signed and returned by the policyholder. Along with the items sent was a self-addressed, stamped envelope in which the insured could place the necessary forms and return them at his convenience. Without fail, the closing on each informative letter ended with the words:
Thanking you in advance.

I was thanking the policyholders for fulfilling the request, even before they had determined to respond. I was not simply wishing they would complete and return the required forms, I was fully expecting them to do so. And I was even willing to stake a stamp on it. In short, I was applying faith in the customer to do what was needed.

In similar fashion (only on a much larger scale), we are called to place our hope in God. In Hebrew, a definition for hope is tiqvah: hope; expectation; something yearned for and anticipated eagerly; something for which one waits.

Having hope is not just yearning for something, it is yearning with the expectancy of seeing the fulfillment of that for which you are hoping. It includes a built-in anticipation of results, even though there may be a season of waiting before said results are seen or experienced.

Hoping in God’s intervention includes a thanking Him in advance mindset. Cultivating a heart of gratitude while the storm is still raging, praising Him in the midst of the problem, and trusting that the envelope containing the signature of God’s deliverance is on its way to you.

Regardless of the need, setting our hopes on God is always the answer. Believing that He will respond to each circumstance with just the right remedy is a surefire bet. Even when there appears to be no possible way for anything good to come out of your present situation. God is not beyond creating a way of escape, nor is He powerless to produce the means to bring forth His glory in the most disheartening of times.

So go ahead and pour out your heart to God. Write those letters with the petitions that you long to see fulfilled. Tell God of your brokenness, your dreams, your heartaches, your desires. Ask for His intervention. And above all, be certain to thank Him in advance for His response. Then place it all in one, big burden and forward to heaven’s communication center (See 1 Peter 5:7 and Hebrews 7:25).

And while you are waiting, remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in not only meeting your needs, but exceeding them in ways that are sure to bring about cause for thanksgiving as you see His glory revealed. Hold onto hope, dear one, even as you wait with anticipation for God’s will to be done. Here in your life, even as it is in heaven.

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For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. ~ Romans 8:25

Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you. ~Zechariah 9:12

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  ~ Romans 15:13

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.  ~ Hebrews 4:19

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
~ Psalm 31:24

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18