A life of Waiting

In a world that waits for nothing, God has given us a few great examples of how to live a patient life, waiting fully on Him.
Think about your definition of waiting, what does it mean to you to wait?  Many times we see waiting purely as a means to an end.  But there is also a type of waiting has more to do with Presence & Service. It’s not just something we do for a time, but it’s a type of waiting that permeates who we are and how we respond.
If someone wants to be a good server or waiter at a restaurant, what are the two main things you are required to do? Be present and be of service.  Now this order is important, because if you’re not present to the person at the table, how will you ever be able to be of service to them?  In order to be a good waiter, or server, you need to practice the Presence of waiting…..making a connection with the person and listening to them well. 

As we look throughout the Old Testament you’ll see many examples of God’s people waiting, waiting, and waiting.  Some people in the Old Testament like Abraham & Sarah didn’t want to wait for God’s promise to them any longer, so they went ahead with their own plan.  Others, like with Moses & the Israelites, instead of waiting for God’s timing, they turned to idols & let fear take over which in turn they were told to wait longer…40 years longer.
There was one man though that waited an extraordinarily long time for God—and that man is Noah.  Noah grew up in a time where the people on earth, similar to today, were becoming more & more rebellious against God, turning to their own desires & plans.  Noah’s heritage however, was laced with strong & faithful men.  Enoch, Noah’s great grandfather was a man who walked so closely with God that eventually God just “took” him from the earth.  Noah’s grandfather was Methuselah, whose name meant “when he dies, it will be sent.”  And even Noah’s name meant “rest,” which at his birth his father stated that he would bring rest from the toil & work of the ground that was cursed.  I don’t know how these names were chosen, but as we’ll soon see, they were both very meaningful & prophetic.
For over 400 years, there’s no mention really of Noah’s life, except that he had found favor in the eyes of the Lord & that Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” (Genesis 6:8-9)  When Noah was given the task “Build an Ark,” it probably wasn’t because he was a great boat builder, or that he knew just how to do the task, but he responded because he walked with God and KNEW Him.  Noah was able to fulfill this request not because he was so skilled in making boats, or even building for that matter. What made him qualified for this enormous project was that he was in constant communication with God, and was consistently present to Him.  Over the 400 years of Noah’s life before this point, he had learned to discern God’s voice and knew when to respond.  In the game we played earlier, you needed to know what your teammate’s voice sounded like & discern their voice from all the rest of the yelling voices.  In the same way, Noah, in 400 years on earth had learned to hear God’s voice above all the others & pay attention to HIS voice as the one to direct him.
If Noah had any doubts about if it was truly God telling him to build an ark, he probably would have just dismissed the request & gone about his business. Maybe God would have chosen someone else for the project, or maybe he would have just kept speaking…..we don’t know, but what we DO know, is that Noah wasn’t confused about if it was God’s voice. He understood the request, and set about fulfilling it immediately.  He knew it was God because he had been waiting on God for 400+ years. Now hopefully it won’t take US 400 years to get this down, but Noah was constantly going to God’s table, getting to know Him and His desires. 

This is where it gets tough for me…many times, I get into a habit of praying to God about…. “God, give me this, or that, tell me the answer here, or can you direct this to happen?” But truly, honestly waiting on God like Noah did, should be more about listening for what God’s list for US is, not what OUR list for HIM is.  And Noah had quite the list from God…..the ark he was told to build was about half the size of the Titanic, he had to build with certain wood, to certain specifications, all while having people mock & criticize his efforts. 
Yet he waited and endured. Because of Noah’s certainty that it was God who called him to build the ark, he disregarded the people’s jeers and continued diligently in the directly God had set him.  The estimate is that it took Noah 120 years to build the ark….and I don’t know about you, but I’m almost sure that I would have given up before then.  But he just kept going because that’s what God requested of Him.  He didn’t jump ahead of God’s plans either, he patiently waited on God’s timing, while continuing to walk with God & listen for his leading.
“Barbara Brown Taylor, an outstanding Bible teacher & preacher, tells the story of a friend who traveled to visit her shortly after she moved from Atlanta to the small township of Clarkesville in the north Georgia foothills. Without a cell phone or a reliable map, the friend became hopelessly lost, increasingly frantic, and somewhat faster on the roads. Finally, she glanced in her rearview mirror and saw those ominous flashing blue lights. She pulled over, and as the police officer approached her driver’s side window, she handed him her license and registration. “I am so sorry,” she said. “I know I was speeding, but I’ve been lost from the last forty minutes, and I cannot find Tower Terrace anywhere on this map.” “Well, I’m sorry about that, too, ma’am,” he said, writing up her citation, “but what made you think that hurrying would help you find your way?'” ….like this lady, how can we ever find our destination if we don’t first slow down to really get to know the map, or the Father?  We can’t rush ahead if we aren’t first present to the One who should be giving us directions.
Noah didn’t get distracted by the project, but kept his focus on the Lord throughout the 120 years that he built the ark.  Even when it didn’t rain for years & years, and there was no “reasonable reason” why he should be building an ark, He kept going.  And during this time, he kept waiting on God’s perfect timing. Interesting to me, is that his grandfather, whose name meant something like “when he dies, it will be sent,” passed away shortly before the rains & floods came!  Wow. And Noah, whose name meant “rest” was able to play a critical role in God renewing the rest on the earth from corruption & evil.
After the flood, God honored Noah and promised that never again would He flood the whole earth. 
If we are to have the same perseverance & waiting ability that Noah had, it won’t come from a strong will but a strong walk with the Lord.  We shouldn’t just follow God when we see results, we should follow Him because He is trustworthy and will tell us what we need, when we need it. By establishing a solid waiting relationship through PRESENCE, we can then be good SERVERS.

Wait & Trust

Our faith has to be in the Lord, not in a desired outcome.

This can sometimes be a hard one for me to comprehend. Our faith has to be in the LORD, not in a desired OUTCOME.  Our faith cannot be in the thing we desire to gain, do or receive…our faith must be in the Lord himself: the Giver, the Teacher, the Ruler of our life.

I’m reading this book called “Sacred Waiting”….read it. In the second chapter, it talks about Abraham, and how throughout Abraham’s story, he was spoken to by God.  God spoke directly to Abraham, and told him to leave his home, that his barren wife would have a child, that he would be the father of many nations & then one day God told Abraham that he would have to sacrifice the promised son.  These are all difficult things to comprehend. How do you know when it’s the right time to leave home?  How long do you wait for a child?  How can you give up the dream you’ve held onto for years?  None of these things are easy, and none of these things should be done without God directing you. And if your faith is in the object of these questions….faith in your home, faith in your fertility, faith in a dream….then I believe our faith is misplaced.

When you drive a car, or wear a watch.  You trust that that machine will work.  Ultimately, you trust in the manufacturer of that machine. You trust that all the pieces were put together just right, even though you don’t understand how valves, cranks, levers or batteries work together, you understand that the manufacturer & designer knows, and that according to them, if you turn on the watch, or drive the car, it should work.  Your faith is in the creator, not really the car itself.  In the same way….like Abraham, who left his home without knowing where God was calling him, but just left in faith that God would direct, we should allow our faith to only focus on God & to watch for His direction.  To jump into the water & keep our eyes on Him….not sitting around waiting for Him to move, but moving & allowing him to direct our movements.   

We may not know where God is leading us, but we still should follow.  We may believe that He is guiding us one way, but He may direct us somewhere different. Yet if in the change of direction we are following Christ, then how will we go astray?

Something beautiful

On the last day in Kauai, we took our little car and drove a long, winding and “hole-y” road to the summit.  While the length of the road was only about twenty miles, it took nearly an hour to reach the destination.  As we neared the end, mist filled our windows & clouded the glass.  We took a short detour to a lookout further inland, which was suggested as a better view than the summit.  Pulling into a small lot there were only a few other cars, mostly other hikers because we were the only people at the spot. 

We walked to the edge of the overlook, to the fence that was the only thing that held us from the depths of a mile-high canyon drop.  It didn’t take until the fence to see the view before us….it captured us as soon as we stepped foot out of the car.  There was a complete covering of fog.  Past the fence was nothing but white. And as the sky was so bright, the air before us and above us melded into one perfectly spotless canvas.  We sat on a table, submitting ourselves to the fact that we would see nothing of the canyon from there.  This canyon we had seen from the air & from the sea, the canyon green with life, vivid with color, proud with height, this canyon we knew was merely feet from where we stood, was hidden fully from our view.

Sitting still on the table, for a few moments neither of us spoke, nor did any cars approach the lot or hikers exclaim.  The only sounds that could be heard were birds echoing their praises & distant calls of the ocean shore, clapping with delight against the cliff walls.  We sat there silent, feeling as though we were just out of reach of heaven….a perfect place of light, just beyond sight.

As I recalled this moment to a friend, she made a comparison to this “non-sight” to that of the lives Christ has for us….how we can be right on the edge of something beautiful, spectacular & breathtaking….and yet sometimes He hides it from us. It’s not the right time for us to see what is there, what is coming next, what colors he’s using, what form he’s making, or where he’ll bring us into. The beauty that he is forming is there…it’s within reach, yet until He blows the clouds away, we cannot see. We can have faith in His will for our future, and that our future is with Him…yet faith is what it takes to grasp that there IS something beyond the fog, behind the clouds, lying still & silent in his hands.  It is waiting to be revealed, but until then, we are to sit, silently and in awe of the beauty of where we are…take in the smell of the flowers, the sounds of the birds & waves, the feel of the wind on our faces, the warmth of the sun beating down through the thickness of clouds. Rest & relax in the quiet knowing that while it is unseen, we know that something beautiful is before us.

Going back forward

Last night, talking with a friend, made me think about some things….about “being”.  There also was a group of people yesterday, who I shared with about my struggle with this whole concept of just “being”….of being still, of listening, of taking time to slow down, etc. A very good friend of mine has asked me to take some time to slow down, with writing letters…..I started, but still haven’t gotten a whole one out (It’s coming you).

Anyway, what I found funny yesterday is that in thinking about “being” I took time to look through some of my old blog posts. It dumbfounded me because what is happening today, is totally different from two years ago, yet some of my thoughts & reactions are completely identical. I read one post, and thought….this could have been a narrative of me today, crazy!  Totally different situation, and yet same response.  Makes me wonder how much I’m growing….or how much this is just me, and going to stay me. Is there something more I need to learn in this area, or rather will I EVER learn?

I don’t know. But I do know this…..whoever is reading this, you know me (or at least most of you do)….so if you see things that you question, I’m opening myself up to your questioning of me. Seek me out & ask about it if you see something that brings up a flag in your mind….caution me, question me, whatever you feel you need to do. I’m okay with that. It’s helping me to grow.

Conflicts and Fear

So last night, while speaking with some close friends, someone asked me…how is it you can go through such crap & hard things, and still be so happy?  My answer? “Because I’m a really great faker.” Don’t think that’s much of an answer? Well…..neither did I once it was out of my mouth.

Since I was in HS, honestly probably before that though, I’ve been the “tough girl” who doesn’t let things get to her. And it’s not that I really AM that tough, it’s just that I don’t want to face those things. Tonight, I was at a youth retreat, and after saying yes to leading part of a game……I said….I can’t handle it. I don’t want to do that. (I’m learning to say no when I need to and tonight I needed to say no.)  Instead, I somewhat reluctantly grabbed my Bible, hid myself away in someone’s room & read. I searched for all the places that God told us about his peace, and how he would hold us together & allow us to have rest in Him. Here’s some of what I found: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) “Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest…..” (Hebrews 4:8-11) “Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink;….” (Psalm 69:14)

These are all things that were going on in my heart tonight, and as we studied together later, about how God wants to open our doors if we LISTEN to Him and then wants us to OBEY Him, I wondered about what it was that He wanted me to open up with.  My answer?  Fear.  He wanted me to open up about the fear that was residing inside, holding my outside captive, never letting me truly express what was going on.  It was interesting, because it was like God was saying….I can’t heal that if you’re not admitting it’s there.  So I admitted it was there. And then the next thing, was….how do I obey God in this area?  What am I supposed to do about it?

One of the other verses I found spoke to that…Psalm 62:5,6 and 8 says “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken…. Trust in Him at all times, O people; POUR OUT YOUR HEARTS TO HIM, for God is our refuge.” Then you know, there are those many other verses that say do not fear….well, it felt like God was telling me….”don’t fear or worry….but if you do, tell someone. Tell ME.”
The other thing, was I avoid conflict (I’m growing in this though) ….and most times I think about that in relation to others. But tonight, I realized that I’m avoiding the conflict within myself, about the fear that I am (was) unwilling to face.  Fear about my mom, my family, my future, relationships, what God’s “to-do-list” is for me, etc.  So the conflict wasn’t with other people, but it was a conflict that I’m fighting with myself.  (which is interesting b/c a year ago, in a class, the question was posed “what is the biggest hindrance to you growing with God and I answered “myself”)  Hm.

So….it’s been a good night.  I cried. I think the last time I cried was in December….and before that one day in October. I do not cry.  But I want to, because it’s an outward expression of the deep fear that is in me, and I need to express that not just to others, not just to God, but also to myself.  ….”The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take delight in you, HE WILL QUIET YOU WITH HIS LOVE, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

And now….I’m going to be quiet.