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How To Survive a Season of Waiting

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Remember when you were little and all you wanted was to get older?

Maybe you couldn’t wait to drive. Or go to college. Or vote. Or get your first “real” job. Or get married.

When I was little I couldn’t wait to turn thirteen. It wasn’t until I turned thirteen that I would be allowed to get my ears pierced. For years I anticipated that day–I waited on it like it was going to be the greatest day of my life.

I was not patient, either. I begged my parents to allow me to get my ears pierced long before my thirteenth birthday. I pleaded. I offered to do extra chores or never do anything wrong again for the rest of my life (that was a mighty offer when I was ten). I. could. not. wait.

My ears were pierced on my thirteenth birthday, just as my parents had promised, and I was overjoyed. I also immediately found a new “something” to have to wait on. Life is a series of waiting games.

My seasons of waiting are now centered around more serious issues, and the periods of waiting are much, much longer and seem more difficult to manage.

waiting_roomWe wait on things daily. We buck against the system of waiting, whether it be in a doctor’s office, at an airport, or even receiving a piece of snail-mail.

In our society of instant gratification, we’ve become accustomed to getting what we want with speed. We shave time off of waiting in every possible way we can find.

But there are some seasons in our life where shortening our waiting time is impossible. The season of waiting is, in itself, out of our control.

Have you faced a season of waiting? I certainly have.

I’m waiting now. Some things I’m waiting for seem trivial while others are life-changing.

I’m waiting for this baby weight to come off.

I’m waiting for my first publishing contract.

I’m waiting for God to answer several prayers about very important life issues.

My husband has recently gone through a season of waiting–one that has been really trying.

The most difficult season of waiting that I’ve ever experienced was certainly when I went through my struggles with infertility. There is nothing–and I mean nothing— that is as difficult as having ZERO control over a situation and it’s outcome.

But this isn’t a post about control.

So what shouldphotographer we do in a season of waiting? Pray for more patience? You know what they say about praying for patience…

Seasons of waiting can be made more bearable when we change our focus.

1. Forget about passive patience and focus on active perseverance.

We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. And hope will never let us down. Romans 5: 3-4 (NIrV)

“…the strength to go on.”  In a season of waiting, the best thing we can do is keep moving. Instead of sitting around, putting our lives on hold until we receive the answers we seek, we must forge ahead and live, enjoying each precious day as it comes. Seeking the joy that comes in the little moments of each day will encourage hope. So keep going, friends. Instead of putting your life on hold, get out there and do. You won’t regret the memories, relationships, and experiences you’ll have while you wait.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

2. Focus on the lesson. Seasons of waiting don’t come upon us simply to teach us patience alone. 99.9% of the time there is another lesson imbedded in the wait– we must identify it and learn from it. As our bodies grow and change over time, so must our hearts.

I have no doubt that my seasons of infertility and all the trials and anguish that came with them were meant to teach me about control. (Mostly that I have none.) The soul-searching that I did, seeking answers as to why I couldn’t get pregnant and when God might answer my prayers about adding to our family, led me to the blinding realization that although I was a follower of Jesus Christ, I had never truly given him complete control over my life. I’m a different person now than I was just five short years ago– like the potter molding the clay, he changed me through that season of waiting. I thank God for it now.

 3. Thank God for this season. That’s right, I said it. Be thankful. I’m sure you are stressed. I’m sure you’re exhausted. I’m sure you’re frustrated and annoyed and tired and maybe even ready to give up. You should also be thankful. A thankful heart is a happy heart (sorry to quote the Veggie Tales here, but it’s appropriate) and a happy heart is an open heart. An open heart is one ready to receive the blessings of the Lord however they may come.

4. Put the focus on helping others. When time moves like a John Deere tractor on a freeway, the best way to survive is to focus our energies on helping others. Something happens when put our effort into doing for others. Not only are we active, but our emotions are no longer solely trained on our own problems. Helping others not only passes the time, it lifts our spirits and develops an attitude of outward concern instead of inward frustration.

5. Focus on praying. Make your prayer life not only about whatever issue has caused your season of waiting, but about how you can pray for others. The same with doing things for others, pray for others. Develop an attitude of seeking God’s response in your prayer life, not just listing all the issues you might have. Pray not for patience, but for perseverance and strength of character (Romans 5:3-4). Pray not just for an answer, but for what lessons you can learn during your season of waiting.

6. Focus on the promise. The promise is that no matter what your issue or how long your season of waiting, God will answer (Hebrews 10:36). Whether or not you receive the answer you seek is up to Him, but he will respond. Until then, you need to prepare.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

When we give ourselves over to the Lord, completely focusing on Him, when we seek him with our whole hearts and yearn to understand his word, our will conforms to his will— he will give us the desires of our hearts because our hearts will seek only him. It’s an amazing, beautiful thing.

7. Focus on preparation. Be mentally prepared– get in The Word. Seek God’s truth and his answers. The Bible is the only book that’s got everything we’ll ever need.

Be physically prepared– exercise is good for you, not just because of what it does for your body, but what it does for your mind and spirit. I’m sure you’ve heard that exercise releases endorphins, and those endorphins will help you feel better. Exercise has tons of benefits, and taking care of our bodies honors the gift of life God gave us.

Be emotionally prepared– God has three answers to our prayers– yes, no, and maybe (or in this case, keep waiting). No matter what answer we get, when we do the things listed above, focusing our attentions on things other than our own season of waiting, we can prepare our minds and hearts to receive his answer.

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Waiting is difficult. Waiting can destroy our faith, if we allow it. But shifting our focus during that season of waiting can change us into the person God wants us to be– which might be the reason for the whole season of waiting to begin with.

Share with me: What truths did God reveal to you during a season of waiting?

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Love this song from John Waller– sums up waiting perfectly. (Video from the movie Fireproof.)

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Making Molehills Out of Mountains

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He is jealous from me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree

Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions Eclipsed by glory

and I realize just how beautiful You are And how great Your affections are for me.

–How He Loves, David Crowder Band

The verse above is how the song How He Loves begins. If you’ve ever heard it, that very first phrase can really penetrate your spirit if you let it.

He is jealous for me.

He loves me. He desires my heart, my praise, my time, and my faith. He wants to bestow his presence and his peace on me.

God has let his jealousy for his people play out over and over throughout the Bible, giving us stories that test and develop faith, and most of all, show how God’s love and promises are revealed in his jealousy.

Mountains play quite a role in displaying God’s desire to have the full attention, focus, and hearts of his people.
Over and over, God used the mountains to send a message.

  • Mount Ararat— God sent the promise of no more destruction in a rainbow to Noah and his family.
  • Mount Horeb (Sinai)— God told Moses just how jealous he was, and instructed that he be the only God to whom the Hebrews bowed and worshiped.
  • Mount Carmel— God showed the 450 prophets of Baal who was the most powerful.
  • Mount Moriah (Mount Zion)— God commanded the full obedience and love of Abraham in the form of the sacrifice Isaac. But God provided Abraham with a ram, saving Isaac and showing just how deep God’s jealous love can run.
Many of us have had spiritual mountains in our lives.

They come in the form of trails and tribulations that have challenged our faith. We have to traverse these mountains, overcoming the hardship. When we reach the summit, we often see God revealed.

They come in the form of spiritual highs where we feel close to God, and valleys of trouble where we wonder if God is there at all.

They come in the form of moments when God reveals his jealous love for us, demanding our time and attention.

It’s these mountains– the small moments, that we often ignore or sweep to the side as insignificant, reducing them to molehills.

Let me give a couple of examples from my own life.

About two years ago I was able to take a tour of the Mormon Temple in Atlanta when it was open to the public for rededication. Obviously I am not Mormon, but I have been fascinated by the Mormon faith for as long as I can remember.

When I returned home that night, I dove into my Bible, hungry for the truths to dispel the lies that had been fed to me that day. That night I prayed that God would use my interest in the Mormon faith in a specific way– that he would show me how I could be involved in leading people away from Mormonism and Joseph Smith’s Jesus and to the true saving power of Jesus Christ.

I had a moment that night while I sat alone in my bed praying– a moment that has been seared into my mind and my heart. I felt the power of God. I heard him saying, “Yes, my child,” as I prayed for the opportunity to work with anti-Mormon missions. I have no idea how God is going to bring it about specifically in my life, but I know he will.

That was a mountain for me. When I’ve shared that story before, I’ve gotten mixed feedback, like many people don’t want to believe that God would speak to me about such a thing as Mormonism. But Mormons need the real Jesus, too, right?

So I will not reduce that moment to a molehill. It wasn’t. It was a mountaintop where God said, “I want all of my people to know my son.” I’m only a willing participant in that moment.

The second example I want to share has been happening a lot lately.

As I near the moment we expect to meet our third child, I haven’t been sleeping much. I’m having all the normal symptoms of a woman in her last month of pregnancy– trying to find a comfortable position to sleep is one of them.

I’ve been waking around 4 am every morning. I’m frustrated by that. I’m tired. I’m exhausted, really.

So I prayed about it and asked God to help me get some more sleep. You know what he said? He said NO.

Instead of tossing and turning and hoping for a couple more hours of sleep, I’ve felt compelled to get up and spend those wee morning hours with Him.

He is jealous for me. He wants my time and attention and he’s let me know. He’s fed me in those moments, given me rest through his word.

This is another mountain for me and I will not reduce it to a molehill.

God is jealous for us. He wants us– our whole hearts and our devotion. He won’t accept anything less.

So when he displays that jealousy at a mountaintop moment, don’t reduce it, cast it off, or ignore it. Take it for what it is– God’s unending love reaching for you.

Share with me: Do you have any mountains in your life where God has displayed his jealousy for you or for others?

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Hey– are you expecting a new baby, too? Know someone who is? Check back on Thursday for an awesome giveaway!!

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Luther’s Order– Make a Choice

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Sin is a concept which has often held me captive.

I struggle with the fact that although I am saved through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, I can’t break free of the grip of sin.

Shouldn’t I be able to resist temptation? Shouldn’t I be able to choose right over wrong every.single.time? Shouldn’t I be able to take the following verses, hide them in my heart, and always, always follow the “way out”?

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. I Corinthians 10:13

How many times will God forgive me? Won’t he eventually get tired of my sin? Will he be so disappointed with His child that he will turn away from me? Will I ever be good enough for his grace? How can I look myself in the mirror and not see a dirty, sinful, waste of skin? Is that what God sees when He looks at me?

My favorite historical theologian, Martin Luther, also struggled with the concept of sin.

As a monk, he struggled with the same notion that I struggle with– that although we know better and strive to make the right choices for God, we fail.

As a failure to the flesh, Luther looked for every possible way to “work” himself free of the burden of sin. He followed every sacrament of the Church (he was a Catholic monk, after all) and attempted to submit to every requirement of grace that the Church presented. He even admitted to extreme fear of and anger at God, in whom he saw no possible way to achieve redemption. After all, to Luther, God judged all from a throne of righteousness that was so far out of the reach of humankind that nothing could save us except mercy, which the God he understood may or may not give.

It wasn’t until a fellow monk encouraged Luther to read the New Testament for himself that Luther discovered the path to freedom.

Within the New Testament, Luther found freedom in the blood of Christ. He realized that nothing, nothing, NOTHING else can free us from the bondage of sin except a belief that the Lamb of God was sacrificed on our behalf.

 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Luther discovered the truth that would underlie everything else that he would do, including taking on the Catholic Church for the incredible amount of hypocrisy and faithlessness he saw there– sparking the Protestant Reformation.

What Luther discovered is a simple truth– that nothing we DO can achieve grace. Nothing we DO can put us before a righteous God who will forgive. Nothing we DO will ever be good enough.

It’s all about justification by faith alone– that faith in the sacrifice of the Son is what provides our righteousness, our redemption, and grace from the God who sent his son to be tortured and die with the sin of the world on him.

When I sin, I fall short of the glory. When I sin, I separate myself from the holiness of God, yet Christ took my sin and freely justified me. All I have to do is believe it.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24

When I feel unworthy, when I want to DO something to prove to God that I am truly sorry and want to turn from my sin, I have to remember that God already DID it for me.

I am free in Him through his son’s death on the cross. When he looks at me, he sees a child redeemed.

Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want. –Martin Luther

Share with me: What is the hardest part of being a Christian to you? What theological or Biblical ideas do you struggle with?

**If you’ve never seen the movie Luther starring Joseph Fiennes, I highly recommend it.

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