Take Heart

Old alarm clock

Have you ever felt….

Like you’ve held your breath for months, years?

That you’re waiting for something that just won’t seem to hurry up? That the watched pot just sits around and simmers and those bead-bubbles don’t boil even when you crank up the heat?

High school or college graduation, that longed-for job, that latest book, that moment of saying “I do,” the day you drive home a car bought with your own savings, that day you cradle a child that’s yours, that day you finally figure out how to fit 28 hours into 24, someday when the eternal stack of books by your bed will be read, that one day when you don’t mess up?

Patience sounds like an awfully nice virtue—until you have to have some.

Waiting sounds like a nice, feminine, quiet thing to do—until you have to sit around and actually attempt it.

What is it about waiting that makes our skin crawl with angst?

I think I know.

That nasty little word.

Control.

I ache with frustration because—while I don’t usually admit it to myself—sometimes my emotions take over and want to shove God right out of the driver’s seat. Because I can’t see what’s coming up and I’d sure appreciate a chance to steer my life in the “right” direction.

But—do you ever find yourself here?—when I nudge my Savior out of the driver’s seat, I grasp the steering wheel between too-small, sweaty fists and look up to see what’s ahead….

And I’m too short to see the road. All I can see is the big, fat roundness of the steering wheel. My head doesn’t even clear the dashboard of this ride called life.

So what happens when you wrestle for the wheel only to find out that you can’t control the universe after all?

See, the reasoning is that if we control it all, it will be fine.

All the cards will stack up.

All the pieces of the puzzle will click into place.

The jobs will line up.

Happiness will be around every corner.

Everything will be just right, Pollyanna–style.

But that’s just not how life works.

And–you want the truth? If we could truly control it all, we’d mess this world up big time.

Tired of traffic–ah, clear it away with a flick of a finger. And while the economy fails because thousands of workers aren’t getting to their jobs, you can sip your Starbucks and get to your office on time.

Wish you could stop waiting for that new car–why not get it now? Of course, then that lesson in God’s goodness won’t be of any use. Then, of course, your pride might just swell out of proportion. Then, of course, you might miss something even better.

See what I mean? We’d mess this world up royally if we could make everything go our way.

So here’s the thing: My way is not the best way. Not for me. Not for you. Not for anyone.

I have a confession. I’m selfish. I don’t like waiting. I like to have everything laid out, listed neatly in my best cursive on a floral day planner, perfectly categorized. I don’t like interruptions. I don’t like changes in the plans. I’m not so thrilled with the curve balls that God likes to throw. I like to see nice, neat checkmarks that tell me my life is counting for something.

Know why I’m okay with telling you this? Because you’re just like me.

Because we all have this bent back to the self-seeking, this from-birth craving to fill ourselves up with something–anything, really–that will satisfy.

So–maybe–when we’re so tired of waiting, we’re really having trouble believing that God will really fill us up?

Perhaps, when we try to wrestle control from an all-loving Father, it’s because we don’t really believe He’s good? Down deep, where our actions spring up?

Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts, says this is Satan’s lie, the trap that our first parents fell into:

“I wake and put the feet to the plank floors, and I believe the Serpent’s hissing lie, the repeating refrain of his campaign through the ages: God isn’t good. It’s the cornerstone of his movement. that God withholds good from His children, that God does not genuinely, fully, love us.

Doubting God’s goodness, distrusting His intent, discontented with what He’s given, we desire…I have desired…more” (page 14).

When we get tired of waiting for God’s good things, we’re saying that we’re not so sure that He’s really good. We’re not so sure that He really gives us everything we need for today. We’re not so sure that He is enough.

Elisabeth Elliot writes:

“‘My people have committed two sins,’ says the Lord in Jeremiah 2:13. ‘They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.’

Discontent dries up the soul.” (Secure in the Everlasting Arms, pages 134-135)

In the waiting, is this not what parches us? This soul-drying that happens when we reject God’s gifts and abundance and go to hacking at the dirt with our own dented shovels, forming wells so broken that there’s no way to fill them?

This is how Satan fell–wanting more than the best there was, wanting to rip control right out from under his God.

This is how Adam and Eve fell–lusting for more than God with them.

This is how we every-day fall–rejecting the most glorious Gift, God with us again. No, we may not right-out reject Him. But in every-day living, we put on the brakes and jerk at the wheel and whine to God to let us take a spin at controlling this life.

So, now, we must fall again–only this time to our knees. Crying out for forgiveness, for grace for these hard hearts.

Again, Elisabeth Elliot says,

“And so it may be…God’s order is the reverse of what we expect. He is in each moment, in us , with us….Should we expect to see how things are working together for our good? No, not yet. We see not yet. We only know.

….In the barren places of my life I can be assured that God is there as He is when life is fruitful, and that the time is coming (give me patience, Lord, to wait!) when He will fulfill His word: ‘I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this’ (Isaiah 41:19-20).

Like little children on Christmas Eve, we know that lovely surprises are in the making. We can’t see them. We have simply been told, and we believe. Tomorrow we shall see. (from Secure in the Everlasting Arms, pages 176-177)

So, waiting isn’t just hard. It’s necessary.

It’s not just necessary. It’s what is best for us right now.

Absolutely best.

Don’t chafe against His call to wait. Some of the best things are coming up. But if you don’t wait, you might miss even better things now.

Waiting doesn’t mean standing still.

Sisters, let’s embrace our times of waiting–whatever we may be waiting for–as times to pour ourselves into knowing our Savior.

Because He is always enough.

And that Psalm 84:11 promise–that He will withhold no good thing from His upright ones?

That Isaiah 40:28-31 promise–that He will make us run without weariness if only we wait?

These God-breathed vows are rocks to build a life upon.

So, wait.

So, rest.

Today is given to us to live, not to pass the time until the next thing comes.

Let’s rejoice in His gifts for today–they are the best ones we could have at this time.

Lift up your chin and smile at the day–God’s made it just this way, crafted it just so, just for our good and His glory.

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord  in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
  be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

– Psalm 27:13-14, NIV, emphasis mine –

In the movie Fireproof, John Waller’s lyrics come through strong:

“I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait.”

We worship here, girls. While we wait. We serve, here. We give all, here.

Our Jesus, precious Savior–give us grace. Grace for this day.

Thanks to Elbambolo Bambolina and Public Domain Pictures for the lovely photo!

Wishing for more encouragement to be content in this God-given time? Check out Ann Voskamp’s post about the only true happiness we can have!

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