Hope for the Waiting

Are you in a season of waiting? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve been there a time or two. Sometimes the wait has been a considerable period of time, like years. Can I be honest? I grow tired and weary from the wait. At times, my heart grows numb and wonder how much longer?

The reality of this season, as I’ve learned, is for God to use this time to prepare my heart for what He has in store for me to do. I am reminded of this when I read, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which he prepared in advance for us to do.”

However, while I know the truth and I know fully that He intends to use this period of time, regardless of length, for His glory; I still grow weary. I grow weary from the emotional upheaval and of it all. I grow weary when I see others moving forward and I feel stuck and confined. And yet, I wait and hope and pray.

‘Hope has a thick skin and will endure many a blow,’ wrote John Bunyan (1628–1688). ‘It will endure all things if it be of the right kind, for the joy that is set before it… it is hope that makes the soul exercise patience and long-suffering under the cross, until the time comes to enjoy the crown.’

The hardest part for me is the “feeling stuck”. You’re paralyzed. To go back is not wise and there’s no way to move forward. You’re sitting in neutral and going nowhere. Have you ever been there?

I believe it’s in these times that God’s voice can be heard the loudest. If we’re willing to listen.

Why you ask?

Think about it like this, when my children were in the tweens and teens and I wanted to have good meaningful conversations with them, I would get them alone in the car with me. When they were alone with me there were not the usual distractions keeping us from conversing, except their own stubbornness. Also, they had no where to go. They were stuck with me. Now, they could choose to engage in conversation with me or not but most often they would. In these moments of engagement I truly began to understand the heart of my child. His/her wants and desires. Fears. Ambitions. Heartaches. During those moments, I could speak truth into them. I could speak blessings over them. I could give them wise counsel.

It’s the same idea when we’re at a standstill or stuck during the waiting period, God wants us to engage with Him. He wants us to pour our hearts out to him. He desires intimacy with us. More importantly, He wants to speak His truth into us. The only way this can happen is when we don’t look for other things to distract us and we look to Him. Or we don’t allow our stubbornness to ignore that He’s eager to hear us cry out to Him because He wants to speak wisdom, truth and blessing into us!

It is in these times that we are perfectly positioned to hear what David penned so beautifully in Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His namesake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

If you’re in a season of waiting, I have really good news for you. You are not alone. So hold on tightly to the truth of His Word and know that in due time He will lift you up and remember this, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Overwhelming Peace

Has there ever been a time when you know that God is asking you to do something really hard? It may not even make sense but you know you’ve got to do it. Yet, you’ll argue, hem and haw just to prolong the inevitable! Or maybe you’re just one of those really obedient folks who instantly jumps for joy and says, “Okay God, sign me up!” (If you are, good for you. I wish I could be that way)

I think we’ve already established, that’s not me! I’m going to ask and beg and plead before I submit. If I’m really being honest, it’s because I’m motivated by selfish desires and trust issues and that’s why I find it hard to yield. (And my Mom always thought my sister was the strong-willed one, Ha!)

Terry and I moved in February 2018 and I didn’t quite leave kicking and screaming but I may as well have. I agreed to move and clearly saw how God paved the way for us to move. There was no doubt that we were following God’s leading. However, my heart was not prepared to leave. In fact, I’d pretty much decided that things were going to fall apart and we would be unpacking and staying.

Guess what? That didn’t happen. We moved.

For the first few weeks, I felt as if I were in a drunken stupor. Half dazed. Probably pinched myself a time or fifty thinking I was sleepwalking! I wasn’t resting well and I was spending more than twelve hours a day in Hendersonville and not all by choice. My grandfather became very ill and was hospitalized. Rest finally found me and I began to feel more humanized but still not clearly processing the turmoil binding up inside.

Next came the anger. I had to literally talk myself into being nice. Man, it was hard. Thankfully I didn’t have to pretend in front of Terry but I probably should have spared him from some of my angry outbursts and crying spells. Emotionally and physically, I was spent and defeated.

I’m going to interject here and tell you why there was so much turmoil going on inside me. I’m not telling this for you to feel sorry for me, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I just think it puts a little more perspective on why I was so emotionally and physically spent.

In October of 2015, one of my dearest friends died and so did my Aunt. In December 2015 the business I worked for closed. In March 2016 Ned, my dad, received his cancer diagnosis. June 2016 Amy, our youngest and only daughter, graduates college and leaves the nest in August of 2016. In May 2017, Ned’s cancer returned and in October he died. Then we made the big move on February 2, 2018. So, there was one thing right after another, not to mention my two oldest boy were deployed during that time. To be honest, I think the move was like the tidal wave that broke me. By then, I was much to tired to stop it.

Honestly, I knew it would be hard to leave a place I loved, a place I called home for 26 years, I just wasn’t prepared at all for the emotional impact. Fortunately, I didn’t get so overwhelmed with grief and despair that I became caught up in the doldrums of depression. (It would’ve been easy to go there because it’s easy to get caught up in thinking ”I’m the only one.”)

And so, I began to take my problems to God. I prayed. I screamed. I cried. I just told him everything I was feeling. As I began to pour out my heart to Him; slowly, the dark cloud began to lift and a slight ray of light emerged. At that point, I was able to talk more freely, without anger and rage, to Terry and explain how I felt. I also felt more comfortable sharing my feelings and asking people to pray for me. But I had to understand why I was having such a hard time before I could ask for prayer.

As more light filtered in and the clouds began to dissipate, I embraced my new surroundings and peace began to fill my heart. Actually, it was an overwhelming peace. And you know what’s crazy? I actually wrote out a prayer more than a year beforehand: God either moves us back to Hendersonville or overwhelm me here with your peace. I kept praying that prayer over and over. And to be honest, I really thought God would move us back but instead, He overwhelmed me with peace.

There’s a powerful verse tucked in Isaiah 26:3 ”You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You”

The reality was that I had to get to a place where I absolutely trusted in the Sovereignty of God and then He poured within me His perfect and overwhelming peace.

So maybe God is asking you to trust in Him and do something that seems hard or difficult but you know deep down in your being that you’ve got to do it. Maybe it will cause some confusion and chaos for a while but can I tell you something? Trust Him. He knows what’s best.

No Words

Have you ever been without words? Believe it or not, I’ve been there a time or two. I mean you can’t even muster a thought and put words together? There’s nothing you can say because there’s really nothing to say.

At that moment do you try to say something cliche? Do you conjure up words in your mind that aren’t coming from the heart? To be honest, that’s what I try to do. I feel like I need to give them something.

But can I just tell you, I had absolutely no words? No words that were even cliche or soothing. The only words that spilled from my mouth were, “I don’t understand why but I know God is Sovereign and all I can do is pray. That’s literally all I can do.”

At that moment, what I realized is that my mouth didn’t overrun my heart. (It happens frequently). My heart was truly aching for my friend but I didn’t understand, nor did I pretend to understand, the depth of her feelings. If you haven’t walked through what another person is walking through you don’t understand and it’s simply not wise to say you do. Nor is it wise to give the pat and cliche phrases. It does not benefit either of you. Empty words without heart are purely meaningless.

Most people have really good intentions and they want to say words of comfort but sometimes the best comfort is no words at all.

What’s important to understand is that people’s response to hardships all differ. We must take into account that things from their past may affect how they feel about and react to current situations. And unless you are privy to that information there is no possible way for you to begin to get into their psyche and understand.

Why is it that we feel so compelled to say something?

I know for me, personally, I just want to be an encouragement. And so I try to find encouraging words, but when the words don’t come, I need to realize and recognize that words are sometimes not necessary. Sometimes it’s simply the act of being there, being available and giving a listening ear that means more than words!

Colossians 4:6” Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Disappointments

Have you ever been disappointed? You’ve wanted something for so long and finally, you get it, only it’s not exactly what you expected. However, later on, it becomes crystal clear that the exact thing you wanted wasn’t what you needed and that thing you got was exactly the perfect thing.

“I want a dog”. If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times. “But Daddy, please.”

“Amy, I am not going to get a dog until you get older. I am not raising two babies at once.”

Oh, don’t feel bad for her. She had an ample share of cats. In fact, all of her journal entries in First through Third grades either included a story about one of her cats or her friend, Hannah, and sometimes both. I’m not exaggerating. I read those darn things about two years ago and laughed until I cried.

Finally, Terry told her that when we got a house with a bigger yard she could have her dog. And let me tell you, she didn’t forget.

As soon as we moved to our house with over an acre of property, the begging kicked into overdrive. She was determined to wear him down.

She didn’t and refused to relent because he had a plan. Not really, but let’s just pretend he did.

Christmas was drawing near and Amy started chirping again about a dog.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Amy wanted a big dog. A German Shepherd was her preference but any big dog would do. When she was little and would petition for a dog she would often say, “I want a big dog like Clifford the big red dog!”

Well, it just so happened that Alex, Amy and I ended up at the local pet store in Hendersonville a few days prior to Christmas. We saw and held several breeds of dogs and I took pictures and sent them to Terry.

My favorite was the Bichon. I was particularly fond of this breed because not only were they cute little white balls of puff, resembling cotton, with coal-black noses and big round black eyes but the best part was they were hyper-allergenic and don’t shed! But I also knew Terry would make the final decision. Trust me when I say I pleaded my case to the max for this dog.

I’ve written about how Sammy was chosen. Read Here

Anyway, so Terry picked him out and gave him his name. We took him home on the evening of December 24, 2008. We somehow managed, with the help of Mom, Ned, Ryan and Matthew to keep the dog quiet until Amy and Mom got into bed.

Amy’s room was directly over Ryan and Matthew’s room. They were responsible for his care and keeping him as quiet as they possibly could. The only snafu was locking him in his crate. He whined incessantly until they took him out. Apparently, his cries were loud enough for Amy to hear because she kept tapping my Mom and saying, “Mawmaw, do you hear that? I hear a dog. Don’t you hear it? I’m getting a dog for Christmas!”

Mom said Amy continued to try her best to pry it out of her. Mom had to turn over and pretend to be asleep. I really don’t know how she did it without laughing at Amy’s persistence. This is my very relentless child who doesn’t give in or up easily.

Finally, Amy drifted off to sleep. However, I don’t think Ryan got any sleep and Matthew had very little. Sammy kept them awake.

Christmas morning came. Terry had decided that Sammy would be the last gift of the day. So, we kept him in his crate in the basement and I think the boys put a towel over the crate to dissolve some of the noise.

Finally, after the last present was unwrapped, Terry snuck downstairs and got the puppy. Amy was in the living room and Terry put him down on the other side of the wall and let him walk around.

“See, Mawmaw, I knew I heard a puppy last night. I told you I was getting a puppy.” She picked him up and loved on him a bit but then her disappointment surfaced, “He’s cute but I wanted a German Shepherd!”

Sammy just wasn’t what she expected. She was disappointed. Fortunately, her disappointment didn’t overshadow Christmas Day.

For years, she would mention not getting a big dog and then one day, not too long ago, she said, “You know, I’ve realized that Sammy has been the perfect choice for me and our family.”

Now, let me go back to the original question: have you ever been disappointed? I want to take it a bit further. Have you ever been disappointed because God hasn’t given you what you asked for? Maybe He didn’t come through when you expected but He did come through. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion when you thought and knew you had earned it but eventually, the promotion came. Maybe he didn’t give you the job you wanted but He provided a job. Maybe He didn’t heal your loved one on earth but gave them the ultimate healing in Heaven. I don’t know what has disappointed you. I know there have been many times in my life I’ve been disappointed.

However, what I’ve come to realize is that disappointments are part of life. Life is not a whimsical merry go round and singing “Kumbaya” around the campfire. Life is hard and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it doesn’t feel fair and sometimes it doesn’t feel good. But can I tell you what I’ve learned? Just because He doesn’t answer in the time and the way we think He should does not mean that He is not good. On the contrary, only a good, loving and wise father gives his children what is best for them. In the same way that Terry knew Sammy would be the best fit for the family.

Matthew 7:11. “If you, then, though, you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”