My Least Favorite Word

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“Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand later.’ “
– John 13:7, CEB –

I get along quite well with most words, but there is one word I intensely dislike.

Waiting.

Not because I’m impatient (well, maybe a little…), but the word waiting is just so…dull. Lifeless. Boring. Blah.

When we talk about waiting–waiting to hear about a job, waiting for that scholarship board to make a decision, waiting for the right guy to come along, waiting for high school to end and college to begin–something settles over us.

When thoughts of waiting creep up on me, I think that I’m becoming discontent. Sometimes that is true, yes. But lots of times, I don’t think that is my problem. So, this is not a post about contentment. Sorry.

The word waiting seems so terrible because it takes my mind off the things God has me doing now, and puts my attention on the things God will do in the future.

The waiting isn’t the problem, actually. It’s not the poor word’s fault. The problem is ME. Even when I’m altogether happy with what God has given me to do in this season of my life, I can get wrapped up in the idea of waiting.

Waiting is not a bad word. The Bible talks about waiting on the Lord a lot. What I am talking about is the frequent use of “I’m just in a season of waiting,” as if we are not ALL in seasons of waiting. We’re always waiting on something, really. It’s not just a word for single girls to pull out to explain the lack of a significant other. In a constantly-changing world, there’s always going to be something coming up for us to dwell on. But that’s my point.

I would never tell you to stop thinking about the future. Single ladies, I would never tell you to completely stop thinking about getting married. Job seekers, I would never advocate ditching your career goals and living entirely for the moment. Mothers and wives, I would never tell you to stop thinking about when the kids will be grown-up, or when your husband will retire. That’s silly–the Bible commends wise planning and encourages us to look in hope to the future because God is in control (Proverbs 31:25; Romans 8:25; Romans 15:13).

However, I think the word waiting and I got off to a bad start because when I’m always thinking about what I’m waiting for, I lose the potency of the present moment. It’s good for me to smile at the happy things to come and to wonder what new bends in the road I’ll discover, but not at the cost of the Present.

You see, if I’m always focused on the waiting, I’ll never be able to concentrate on what God has given to me right now.

The concept of waiting has been rolling around in my mind for a while, and yesterday a novel I was reading helped me find the key. The book quoted from 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

“Give thanks in all things.”

Plenty of books have been written about giving thanks, but between a busy schedule and a large dose of forward thinking, it’s something I aspire to, but rarely do.

Do you know what else I’ve discovered?

Thanking is about trusting.

When I stop dwelling in the future and instead thank God for this moment (yes, even the hard moments), that is an act of faith. Deep down, I am declaring more than simple contentment. I am saying, “Lord, I have no idea what you will bring into my life tomorrow, but I trust you. I am not guaranteed one more moment than this moment, so in this moment, I praise you. In this moment, I choose to believe that You are good and faithful. With this moment, and every moment to come, I trust You.”

So…

Waiting is not really my enemy–but I refuse to make it my full-time job. Tomorrow holds adventure, it’s true. But I am not living in Tomorrow, I’m living Today. I will praise Him today.

God took good care of yesterday. I trust Him with today.

Tomorrow is in good hands.


“I do not know what next may come
Across my pilgrim way;
I do not know tomorrow’s road,
Nor see beyond today.
But this I know — my Saviour knows
The path I cannot see;
And I can trust His wounded hand
To guide and care for me.

I do not know what may befall,
Of sunshine or of rain;
I do not know what may be mine,
Of pleasure and of pain;
But this I know — my Saviour knows
And whatsoe’er it be,
Still I can trust His love to give
What will be best for me.

I do not know what may await,
Or what the morrow brings;
But with the glad salute of faith,
I hail its opening wings;
For this I know — that my Lord
Shall all my needs be met;
And I can trust the heart of Him,
Who has not failed me yet.”

– E. Margaret Clarkson –

 

The Wall that Crumbled

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“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

– 1 John 1:9, NKJV, emphasis mine –

It’s not often that a verse that I’ve read a million times,  heard all my life, comes out at me in a new light.

But today it did.

I was listening to the Word of Promise Bible on my computer, following along in my own Bible. 1 John began and the words flowed along quickly, chapters filling my ears.

And somewhere in the second or third chapter, I was still scribbling in my journal about 1 John 1:9.

So familiar it’s almost trite. It’s the verse of assurance, an appendix to the Romans Road.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them.

Simple as that.

Confess and He will forgive.

But those two adjectives that describe Him—why haven’t I stopped to see before?

Faithful. Well, that’s not surprising. If there’s anything I rest my life on, it’s my God’s faithfulness.

But the other trait—justice.

Not only is He faithful, but also just to forgive our sins. Yes, merciful, but the very noble, unswerving justice of His nature means He cannot do other than forgive our sin.

He cannot, will not deviate from the path of overwhelming grace—Jesus came down, stepped right into abominable, writhing humanity.

If He pressed on in joy to His cross, will not God also give us all in Him?

The King of heaven bowed His bloodied head and then with the greatest outpouring of grace-power cried,

“It is finished!”

Yes, gone. Done. Accomplished. Finished.

So it’s not just a merciful impulse or a split personality idiosyncrasy that insists on forgiving desolate sinners in spite of stern justice.

But here, His justice forgives.

In Christ, there is no wall between justice and mercy.

That wall crumbled in that earth-quaking noon darkness, when God bowed and the universe’s Ruler subjected Himself to death. When the last breath rushed from bruised lungs, even the rocks cried out and trembled at the dying breath of their Creator.

And that justice-mercy barrier shattered to pieces.

And there’s nothing else that will satisfy God’s justice than to look on me with favor.

To do less, when Christ has offered so great a ransom price, would be to deny His own justice.

Nothing else will be true to His character, nothing else in line with both bottomless grace and flawless integrity.

This sin-laden girl will live, and live abundantly, because God laid Himself down and died.

I will rejoice, because Jesus swallowed up my oh-so-deserved sorrow.

Mercy looks on me and smiles.

But Justice—what will it declare to this trespasser who dares run into the throne room?

Unlike Esther, not uninvited.

What response, to a trembling soul on its knees? The King on His throne rises, looks on with love.

And the soul that dared throw itself on this Ruler’s mercy, who knew like that Persian queen of old that this was the only chance for life—to throw herself on the mercy of that great One on the throne.

And Justice holds out the scepter of welcome and declares life to the suppliant.

Live! Live!

And on my knees, I lift up trembling fingers and touch the extended hand, the hand of a King bearing the eternal scars of a criminal.

A sinner’s hand touches that of the Sinless King.

Justice and Mercy meet there, in a faith-touch that takes power right from Him. But He does not ask who touched Him, not this time. He looks down with eyes I can’t fathom, love I can’t measure. By His touch, sees all of me.

Yet I am forgiven, invited into His fellowship.

Made joyfully alive, unconditionally accepted, completely whole.

At His feet.

Thanks to Consuelo Suarez for a great photo from Public Domain Pictures.