Two weeks ago I told you guys how much I adore the “abnormal” hope that comes from knowing Jesus and trusting in God’s Word, and I promised to share some of the ways I’ve waited over the last 30 years.
Did you hear that? I said 30! Woah. It’s real, it happened, and I’m loving that I can now say I’m in my 30’s.
I’ve bared a lot of myself on the internet already with you guys, so I figure why not jump in and share a little more of my story. It pretty much includes a whole lot of waiting on my part and a whole lot of rescuing on Jesus’ part. I’m not sure why it took me so long to understand how good He is in spite of how imperfect I am, but I’m glad He never gave up on me and has given me “a new song” as Psalm 40 says.
Here is a quick list of some of the major things I waited for over the course of my life:
- I waited many years to escape an abusive situation
- I waited 9 years for a diagnosis and a clue as to why my health was slowly deteriorating
- I waited 2 more years through intense medical treatment to be healed
- I waited 29 years for a godly husband
I don’t say any of the above with a woe is me attitude. Instead it is incredible for me to look back on my life and see what God has done. He took a rocky start and polished my life into what it is today, and He’s still doing a lot of polishing. But seriously, I know what it is to wait for help, for healing, and for something I’m wishing for. Maybe that list above doesn’t sound like a whole lot to wait for, but at the time all that waiting felt about as fun as watching grass grow and in that time I learned something about life:
- Life involves a lot of waiting
- But our real life is already found in Christ
Ok, so that seems really simplistic, but let me just explain.
I’ve gone through two very different kinds of waiting in my life. It started with me waiting to be saved from a hard and hurtful situation, and even though it took a lot of waiting, God was with me and led me through.
But after that, I just kept on waiting. I thought that once God rescued me I would have a “real life” that was everything I’ve ever dreamed of and so much better than the life I’d had before. I think when we’re rescued from abuse or illness we can trust that to be true.
Where I went wrong though is I thought my “real life” was based on the material things I could buy or the status I could achieve. My version of real life included my dream career, my favorite city, the right clothes, a pretty apartment, and on and on and on. None of those things are actually wrong, but I found myself waiting for them as if my life wasn’t complete until I hit a certain mark.
Once I did hit a mark – like moving to New York City, landing a job in the music industry, working with celebrities, and even earning a gold record to hang up on my wall – I set the bar even higher: I still needed a better wardrobe. I still needed a nicer apartment.
At this point I was waiting in vain. There is nothing wrong with a dream career, a city you love, nice clothes, or great apartments. But I was subconsciously putting these things on a pedestal as if they could fulfill. I was so focused on what was next that I was missing out on real “real life.”
It wasn’t until I was seriously sick that I slowed down enough to truly seek God in the unknown, the suffering, and the uncertainty. I was waiting again, and this time I came to Jesus completely empty handed. He showed me that waiting wasn’t about living for the future. It wasn’t about biding my time until my real life started after finally lining up all the things I thought I needed to be secure and safe. In my inability to make any decisions, financially meet some of my most basic needs, do my best on the job, or bring anything of “value” to any situation, I found out the truth about waiting and real life.
Waiting is about hope. It’s about confident expectation. But it’s also about that deep rest that comes from knowing we’re in the Father’s arms right now. We are safe with Him, and He can take this moment – this exact one right here – and use it for our good, even if it’s not where we want to be.
The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;
the godly run to him and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10 (NLT)
And real life is about Jesus.
Plain and simple.
He is the only thing worth living for.
I love His promise in John 10:10…
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10:10b (NLT)
Here’s where I want to clarify something. I’m not suggesting that if you’re going through illness or abuse that it’s OK or that you shouldn’t be hoping that God has better things ahead. What I’m saying is that if you are going through illness and abuse, don’t forget that God is with you and don’t give up hope that God is going to rescue you. And that He can take that ugly situation that hurts so badly and turn your life around so that you can say to someone else who needs to hear it, “do not give up hope that God is going to rescue you.”
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. – 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)
That other kind of waiting I did, that was just painful for all the wrong reasons. I was waiting for a real life when a real life was right in front of me. I think in my case, God had to allow me to walk through illness to see that for myself.
When we’re constantly acting as if today doesn’t matter because it’s not the “real life” we planned, we’re missing out on the real “real life” He offers. Most of the time while we’re waiting (again, I know this doesn’t apply to every situation) we can still find treasure in the blessings of each day: the opportunities to know Him more, the people He puts in our lives, the Scripture He breathes into our hearts and minds to help us love more like Him, the ability to touch another life with a smile or a laugh or a word of encouragement when they most needed it, or to celebrate someone with a card, or a birthday party, or a special gift to show them how much they’re loved.
We don’t have to wait for life to be perfect.
Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.
If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.
Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.
– Ecclesiastes 11:4-5 (NLT)
You know that passage in Matthew 6 when Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow? I think of His Words all the time. I’m convinced I need a permanent sticky note of it in my brain to operate day in and day out.
I’m still waiting on a lot of things. A lot of things. Like dreams God’s given me. Callings I’ve had. I’m waiting to be financially free from debt, and I’m waiting for the husband to wrap up his PhD (can I just say I completely understand why some schools give the spouses honorary degrees too just for sticking by our loved ones for ten million years of school days?). I’m waiting to see loved ones’ prayers answered. I’m waiting to overcome certain fears. I’m blessed and I am l-o-v-i-n-g my life, but I’m convinced we’ll be waiting for pieces of heaven until we are welcomed into the real thing by the Lord Himself.
The only difference is this time as I wait, it’s not like it was before. I know I have a “real” life right here with my Lord even as my heart says “when God, when?” about certain issues. I’ve found the best way to wait is to place our tomorrow’s in His hands and trust He’s got control of it. There is a plan and a future and a hope for it, and this moment is either a time to fully enjoy the opportunity God is giving us right now to know Him more or a time to know that help is on the way.
So here’s what I say. I say we wait with hope. With confident expectation. That we don’t worry about how it’s all going to work out or miss out on the way He’s answering our prayers inch by inch today and building in us a spirit of faith, hope, and love that will change the world as we go.
Because if we do that now and open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to God today and live for Him now, we’ll be prepared to see, hear, and understand Him then – when He says, “I’ve heard your prayers, your wait is over.” We’ll be able to see His way out, because we’ve grown so connected to Him in the now.
Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. – John 15:5-8 (NLT)
UPDATE: Thanks to Lexi for her wonderful comment that brought up so many good points about waiting! When I wrote this post, I was thinking about the circumstances I’d been in specifically but not everyone’s situation is the same. I definitely believe waiting is an active verb and not a passive one – if you’re in an abusive situation GET OUT! And when we’re waiting for healing, we can do things to take care of ourselves and honor God with our bodies. I love this blog because it’s been so great to talk about some of the ways I’m putting hope into action and to hear from you about how you’re doing it, too. It truly takes a village. I’ve also written a little bit about some of the ways Jesus asked me to care of myself while I was sick in my How I Got Healthier series, and I plan to write lots more soon.
UPDATE… AGAIN: You guys really got me thinking! Find the rest of the waiting series here: