authenticity, comparison, God's word, grace, humility, prayer, spiritual growth, transformation by truth, Uncategorized

The Tyranny of Criticism

The last few weeks, I have been working with a couple of the young women I disciple to help them identify where their hearts are in the everyday.  The objective is to stop and identify where they are as they come to God–sharing their heart with God, joys, disappointments and confusion.  This is where prayer begins…with honesty and connection.

I begin honestly this morning with the fact that I am feeling defeated.  Criticism from others and myself has torn me down.  I have taken part in this process because I have listened to and ingested the poisons.  Don’t we all?  We do not live the Christian life in a vacuum from the real world.  We are learning to have hope while IN the real world.

I knew I would die today without the truth and His presence to fill me up again…to counteract the darkness that is swallowing me.  So, I fixed Jack a blanket with all kinds of toys, turned on this kid’s hymn cd my friend, Cindy, gave me and began to talk to God.

First, I identified all the things going through my heart and mind.  These are some of the phrases…defeated and anxious, broken, guarded, pointless as a leader, helpless to affect change, small, not in control.  Just the way we all like to start our day:).

Next, I identified from God’s word what He says about Himself–where and who Jesus is.  I camped in Colossians 1:15-20.  He is the Center, Creator, the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn over all creation, All things made through Him, to Him, for Him.  He is before all things–all things HOLD TOGETHER IN HIM.  He is the Head of the body/The church (in control).  He is preimminent in everything.  My body and spirit began relaxing into Him.

Then, my response to Him.  Thankful, restful–called Him my Refuge, my Hope, my Righteousness.  As I was praying and reading, “This Is My Father’s World” was playing in the background.  Jack pulled up on my stool, and I picked him up to dance and sing.

“This is my Father’s world,

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world

The battle is not done

Jesus who died shall be satisfied

And earth and heav’n be One.”

Maltie Davenport Babcock

Oh, the beauty of God singing over me as I sang over my child.  Jack smiled with delight, and I smiled with delight thinking of in whom my hope resides.  See, I am broken, pointless, helpless, guarded, defeated without Jesus.  I am no different than anyone else.  I am small and not in control.  However, in Him, there is no condemnation toward me.  I rest in Him.  I delight in Him.  He holds everything together.

Oh Christ, be the center of our lives

Be the place we fix our eyes

Criticism will always be as long as we are on this earth.  As a mother, the stakes have been upped.  I am convicted of all the times I am critical in my heart and with my mouth.  Every parent out there has a way they do things…a lot of things are preferences, some are morally right and wrong.  There is a time to speak up for the welfare of a child, but mostly we need to keep our mouths shut and support one another through prayer (speaking to myself here).

There is a huge gift in the grace of Jesus…we cannot be perfect, He is.  I want to listen to the Spirit’s leading in parenting Jack.  I want Jack to know he cannot be perfect or righteous on his own.  I want him to learn that from me and Greg.  I desire that we parent with humility, with grace, with dependence on Jesus.  All of these desires are in me, but they are complicated in the “real” world when comparisons and expectations arise.

I cannot parent in this way without being parented by my Gracious Father–blanketed in His truth.  So, I come again and again defeated and needy, and again and again He reminds me that in Him all things hold together.  What a beautiful, gracious, loving Lord we serve.

discipleship, discipline, doctrine, eternal things, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, infertility, spiritual growth, transformation by truth, trusting God

Feelings, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Feelings…

In the last few days I have had several conversations that remind me that our feelings can be tricky.  We have feelings for a reason.  They help us express joy and enjoy life.  They can be exhilirating.  They often can alert us to something big going on in our heart and relationships.  Feelings are not bad in themselves.  The danger comes when we elevate feelings and experience to god status.

Think about relationships…in the beginning the feeling is like flying.  Studies even find that chemicals are released in the brain that are euphoric at the beginning of relationships.  So fun.  But then, what happens when they go away?  Some panic thinking their love is not true.  Some try to recreate that same feeling and when it fails they are despondent.  Some move on to the next relationship to capture that feeling again.  Some get married and fight a new battle of feelings.  Those who push through and learn see that love deepens and matures over time.  They may not experience euphoria, but they enjoy the person and trust is built and friendship is deepened and they are fully known, scars and all.  There is a peace and reward to that kind of commitment.

A marriage, over time, has peaks and valleys, but with the goal in mind, much growth can occur.  Endurance through those highs and lows and commitment and focus bring maturity and intimacy.  This can be likened to our relationship with God.

At first, when our hearts are made new, it is so exhilirating.  We are new creatures learning a new life and so full of love.  We see God so many places.  We want others to know Him.  We hear Him.  Like a child, we grow quickly because there is so much to learn.  We long for more…and then something happens and we may lose that “feeling.”

I remember as a teenager and a newer Christian looking at adults and thinking they didn’t get it.  Mind you, some of them really did not know Jesus, but some did and did not have the same “passionate” response as me.  I made a judgement on them.  I discounted their faith.  Now, I am on the other side of that (twice the age I was then).  I understand a little more.

Think about adulthood.  Once you hit a certain age, your growth changes from outward to inward (at least we hope).  The early and mid twenties are about finding out who you are and asserting that relationally in the world.  I work with young women everyday who have hit the wall of adulthood and say “is this what all this is about?”  They easily get depressed.  It is hard.  They feel lost.  I remember those exact feelings.  There’s the F word–feelings.

Part of my purpose is to point them to truth and to bring them to bring their feelings underneath the truth.  As a person, if you do not learn to do this, you will continually be seeking the next thing that will create good feelings within you.  This could be a new spouse or relationship, a new job, a new city, another kid, new friends, walking away from faith, walking to a new faith, self-help, drugs, status, material things, vacations.  I could go on and on.

In our relationship with God, He wants us to know Him despite our circumstances, in and even despite of our feelings.  Many think when they lose that first feeling and passion of the early days in their walk with God that they have lost Him.  He may be teaching us not to trust or rely on feeling but Him.  He may want us to seek Him and find that He is true even in sadness.  We all have seen people who are so driven by experience that they are always chasing the next new thing in Christianity because that’s where people are really “knowing” God.  A lot of times that can be mysticism without God at all.  We can make our religious or spiritual experiences an idol.  He will not stand for that.

God is so much wiser than we make Him to be.  His word says that those who endure to the end will be saved.  This life is not a sprint but a marathon.  Ask runners if the whole marathon is a high–they will tell you there are definite highs but there are moments that they want to quit and do not think they can make it.

God, in His word, calls us to trust in Him and not our own understanding (feelings), and He will direct our path.  He calls us to mature in Him, to grow in intimacy just like a marriage.  As we mature, change comes in long and often painful periods of trust.  To become more like Him, it involves the shedding of and dying to our sin.  This does not feel good because we have come to trust it (sin) and treasure it more than Him.  If we cannot process our feelings and bring them under His truth and choose to trust His truth even when we do not feel it, we will run away to try to get a better feeling somewhere else (in marriage, we call this adultery).  We will miss some of the richest parts of knowing who He really is–not what we’ve made Him to be.

The biggest places God has refined me to know Him despite and even in my feelings are marriage and the struggle with infertility.  In His grace, He continually called me to make a decision to study and meditate on His word.  Was this easy? No.  I wanted to run…and at times I did run to get a “high” somewhere else.  However, in His grace and love, I submitted to His truth and chose to trust His sovereignty.  Oh what a deeper joy…even such that I am thankful for the time of infertility for I would never have known Him in such a way.  Faith is submission even when we are sad or angry or all over the place with our feelings.  Faith is the submission and believing in His truth when we do not feel Him.  We make this decision everyday.  I pray that you not give up or run to something that seems easier or makes you “feel” better for the moment.  Intimacy and maturity in Him do not rely on the circumstance of the moment but continually meditating on His truth and who He is and choosing to place your trust there for the long haul.  I would not trade the long marriage for the false beginning high, and I pray that I continue to remember that.

community, doctrine, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, infertility, suffering in joy, thankfulness, The body of Christ, trusting God

Lots of Thoughts…

      It has been a long while since I have posted a blog.  Many times I have thought of topics to write about that are swirling in my head and heart–I just have not. 

        Life is full of different seasons.  My thirties, to this point, have been about pain, struggle and immense growth in knowing Christ.  An overarching sadness has plagued circumstances (see the history of this blog).  Now, I am in a season of the joy of pregnancy–preparing to let go and preparing to embrace a huge new role and responsibility in life.  Soon, (3 months and coming faster) I will be a Momma and Greg a Daddy. 

        God has been unbelievably gracious to me in the last few years to lead me through heartache and struggle while providing friends around me who have prayed deeply on my behalf.  Even aquaintances and strangers have taken up the mantle of prayer.  He now has me in a season of having the privilege of doing that for others.

      I have NEVER experienced a season where so many around me are so heavy in pain and struggle–NEVER.  He has traded my personal struggles with struggling with the body.  My heart breaks for many around me who seem to be in the sadness and wrestling phase I had been in for so long.  No, it is not about infertility for most of them, but it is the same concept.  We, at one or many times in our lives, will find ourselves in situations and circumstances where we have NO CONTROL.  We are hurt by others and ourselves.  We see people moving toward utter destruction, and nothing we say can pull them back or change their hearts.  Like infertility, we cannot make new life happen.  We find ourselves at a crossroad of trusting ourselves and what we can make work of this life (good luck with that one!) or choosing to know and trust God in the midst. 

       I thank God that He is using everything I have struggled and learned in the midst of the last years to pour out to others (2 Corinthians 1).  This is not that I can give people answers–cause I cannot.  This is so that I might journey and struggle with others pointing them to the ONLY hope–Christ.  Pointing others to Him that they might taste and see that He is good no matter what the circumstantial outcome. 

         He has given me opportunity to pray and hurt with others just as friends prayed for and hurt with me.  There is nothing more comforting when you are in deep heartache than to know someone is faithfully praying for you.  Many times when we hurt, we are exhausted and do not even know how to pray (let alone feel like we have the energy to pray).  God is so gracious to give us opportunities to serve in the gracious ways we have been served.

       We do not know when times of heartache and struggle will come into our lives–we just know they will.  Though we war in every way against struggle, especially in our culture, without it, we wallow in shallow existence.  We choose the lesser things every time.  We choose to trust ourselves.  We choose to try to control our lives.  We choose worshipping the idols around us over the ONE true, beautiful, gracious, loving, just God.  When we are broken, we finally can see Him  and our need for Him clearly.  Though my heart is breaking and my knees are bruised from prayer for those around me, I do not want to take the pain away.  I know that pain and struggle are purposeful to bring us to deeper life in Him (Hebrews 12).  My prayer is that that life in Him be embraced fully–that they learn and grow in waiting on Him for their strength to be renewed. 

         I also think about this little boy growing in me.  So many times in the last month, I have already felt tugs in my heart to surrender him fully.  I do not know what his personality will be like or what struggles he will have or what decisions he will make.  I only know that he will struggle and I will not be able to protect him and heal him and shield him.  But, I know the One who has his best interest at heart every time.  My prayer is that I let the little one face struggle and adversity and know the ONE who is the only hope.  I pray that I can let go and let him wrestle with hard questions and circumstances and know God in ways that a “safe,” “disinfected life” does not bring.  It is not easy to say and pray now as I cannot imagine how hard it will be to follow through with. 

           I have to remember what has brought me true life and teach that to my child.   Greg and I want to be truthful and point to where true life comes from.    It’s a joke for me to think “I’ll deal with that when it comes.”   May I prepare to speak the same truth to Jack that I do to my friends who are hurting and girls that I disciple.  It all comes down to–do I really trust Him?  May I remember that He is trustworthy now and He will be then.  He calls me not to fear and to remember that ” He is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not grow faint or weary; His understanding is unsearchable.”   Isaiah 40:28

      Greg often says that the time to begin to  talk about the Sovereignty of God in all things is not at the casket…it is now.  I have been in a study of Isaiah in Precepts, and you cannot deny the complete Sovereignty of God studying that book or the Bible in general.  What comfort there is in His character!  I am wrestling with this truth over and over again as I pray for friends.  I am resting in Him over and over again as I pray for friends and think about the future when troubles come my way.  I do not have this life figured out, but I know the only place to go for Shelter and Refuge.  My prayer is that I teach that to Jack and model that for Jack.  John Benjamin is his name–meaning “God is gracious” and “son of my right hand (favor).” He is a gift that we did not earn or deserve and favor that we certainly did not deserve.  May we be faithful to preach the word to Him in and out of season–to love Him and disciple Him and let Him go.  I know I am going to royally screw up at times–may I continue to rely on God’s grace.  When I do screw up, may I go to God and model trusting Jesus to Jack. 

       In all things, even in the pain of my friends, God is teaching me about His beautiful character and His redemptive hand and HOPE.  I am blessed beyond measure, and I know this is not the end.  It is certainly not the end of my learning of our Gracious Father in all circumstances–soon to be parenthood.  I know it is not the end for my friends and family who are in pain.  We have no control over His timing, but we are called to know Him in the midst.  I cannot wait to rejoice in things He does that we have no clue about that will come from the midst of this pain now in their/our lives.  Thanks be to God for who He is.

discipleship, God's word, grace, humility, New year, pride, self-absorption, the gospel, transformation by truth

A humble entrance

       As I looked toward this new year, I am overwhelmed.  Yes, we are having a baby (still sounds crazy to say), but that is not until June.  I am seemingly overwhelmed by every task and relationship I face even before the new year rolls.

        This Christmas season has been busy.  We traveled for a full week to Texas, and in our time there my heart was burdened for family and friends.  There was not an extended time to focus on Christ–to be in and savor His word.  I came back feeling empty and defeated.  I began thinking through next week and next semester and the things going on in girl’s lives that I disciple.  There is a lot to prepare for for the future child, but there is so much to be faithful in NOW. 

      As I walk with these 20-something young women, I see the battle is so fierce for their affections.  A day without truth poured in breeds so much falsehood, deception–spaces where the gospel truth is robbed and they fall back into self-reliance and/or guilt.       I reflect back on this fall.  I feel like I have failed these girls because of my complete lack of energy and the intense sickness that I had with pregnancy.  I guess the balancing act begins as I see the struggle between caring for a child (whether in my womb or out) and serving others in the body of Christ!  I want  to be purposeful in planning and taking advantage of this time before the little one enters the world.  I long to run well and faithful–pouring out His truth and honoring Him above all.    Pray for me that I prepare now to help these girls as my life transitions and I lead in ministry. 

       The good thing about the way I am feeling now is that it puts me in a posture of complete need as the new year commences.  Is there ever a time where I am not in need?  Is there ever a time that I can do any of this on my own?  No.  However, there is always a time when I think I can.  There are times when I walk in self-reliance, self-preservation, self-righteousness.  Unfortunately, those times come too often, and I forget that He superintends the growth–He is in charge.  I try to give myself honor instead of Him.  Or I tend to think it is all on my shoulders.  So, yet again, I am reminded that my hope is in the Gospel.  Jesus took the punishment for my self-reliance, self-preservation, and self-righteous pride.  It is finished.  I am to repent of my rebellious ways and cling to Him yet again.  There is such peace in that–such release.   And yet, everything within me fights that truth.   If there is anything I want and need to pass on to these girls, to our children, it is this beautiful way that Christ has made–the Gospel.

       If there is anything that this season of life has taught me, it is that my hope is not in circumstance or people.  My hope is in Christ.  In this time of joy and preparation for a child, it is so easy to get side-tracked from that hope.  Having babies has become like having a wedding.  We are tempted to plan for a nursery or ceremony more than a life and marriage.   More than nurseries or diapers, I have been thinking about the overwhelming task of discipling children, of teaching them a God-entranced worldview.  How do I do that from birth?  If there is anything I want to be faithful in, it is that.  He is so faithful to teach me through these girls that I meet with–to trust and  rest in Him, in His word.

      So, with all the swirling thoughts in my head entering this new year, I pray for a continued reliance on the beautiful Gospel of Grace.  The Lord is so good, and I am in such need.  In my feeble ways, I pray that this year, each day, I point others to the beauty of Christ, the truth of His gospel, and remember it myself.

authenticity, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, humility, idols, infertility, poverty and hunger, trusting God

A four letter word…

      Need…that’s right.  I said it.  Need is a word we do not like to say.  I mean need in the true sense.  “I need to go to the grocery store,” or “I need a pedicure.”  This is not the use of the word I am referring.  I am referring to the necessity of a condition in a time of difficulty where you lack something to grow, survive and thrive.  Poverty of situation…whether physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. 

           If you are reading this, you may have never been in need of food–real need.  You may have always had a can or 10 of something you could eat for survival in your pantry.  However, all of us are in real need of something beyond ourselves.  In a cultrue that raises us to be independant and take care of our own needs–be a good American, we are taught to scoff at being in need. 

          This morning, I meditated on one of my favorite Psalms–Psalm 25.  I began to make a list of what our response was to be to God and what His character and response is to us–from the text.  Here is ours:

  • Take refuge in Him
  • Hope in Him
  • Wait on Him
  • Fear Him
  • lift our soul toward Him
  • Put my trust in Him
  • Think on His truth
  • Pray for help
  • Keep our eyes toward Him
  • Fear Him
  • Abide in Him
  • Be honest about all of us in humble need before Him

His Action and character in Psalm 25

  • Sovereign LORD
  • Protects us from shame and enemies
  • Trustworthy, worth waiting on
  • His ways, path and truth are life-giving
  • God of my salvation
  • Leader
  • Teacher
  • Shepherd
  • He remembers
  • Mercy
  • Steadfast Love
  • Eternal (of old)
  • Goodness
  • Upright
  • Instructs sinners in His way
  • Has a Way (unlike any other)
  • Leads and teaches the humble
  • Faithful
  • Has a covenant and testimonies
  • instructs us in choices
  • Giver of inheritance/reward
  • befriends those who fear Him
  • Rescuer
  • Gracious to the lonely and afflicted
  • forgives sins
  • Considers us and our circumstances
  • Our Refuge
  • Our Redeemer

        A recap?  Um, we NEED Him.  He is ALL that we need.  HE IS.  Even in the garden before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve needed God.  He was their creator, sustainer, life organizer, companion, object of their affection, provider.  When Jesus spent his 33 or so years on this earth, He showed us the pattern of need He had with time with the Father.  Read John.  Wow, does Jesus talk about abiding in the Father, needing Him, relying on Him, listening to Him.  He pulled away to spend time with Him sharing His heart, getting directives, fellowshipping.  So, why do we treat need as a four letter word?  It is clear in His word that we are to abide and rely and come to Him in need everyday, every moment, all our lives.  We are to be as children before Him. 

         Reflecting on this before Him this morning, I realize our culture and our flesh war against this.  Needy and weak and dependent are character flaws to us.  We are coached to find ways to provide for ourselves (I am not speaking against being a viable citizen and providing for our families).  I think we take this “provision” to all areas of our lives in thought of our needs.  Independence in praised in all forms.  So, how does that bump up against what God’s word says?

         The very ways we are being responsible to provide we begin to trust in instead of God–the life-giver, the giver of our gifts.  We can easily make idols out of our providers of need.  A few years ago, I quit a job and we had a really nice savings built up.  I felt safe and secure in going into a season of exploration in ministry.  Then, I had back issues and needed a car that would sit differently (doctor encouraged this “need”).  We had a few more bumps along the way, and voila–our savings disappeared.  I was a basketcase.  I realized that I had been trusting in the savings account instead of the Father who is our provider. 

          When in need, we are always looking for a solution–a provider.  Most of the time, we make idols out of those things around us that we feel comforted in.  Job, hobby, marriage, children, escape through entertainment, drink, food, technology, shopping, beauty.  With any of these we are feeding a need in us that we think we have control of filling or numbing.

          Our job?  To need Him and go to Him in our need.  Why does this seem so exhausting to us?  For one, we rebel against not being able to “meet” our need.  We want to be in control.  We feel dumb.  Also, it seems exhausting to go to His word and dig in.  Yes, it is work.  Most of the time it brings life, though.  The enemy wants us to run and find other providers.  There will be push back in your life to keep you from Him–pride, lies, laziness. 

          The crazy part is that it takes energy to need.  That is why it is easier at first to give in to idols.  At first, they do not seem to take effort or energy.  We just fall in to eating more, drinking more, buying more, spending more money to beautify ourselves to make us feel better.  We just fall in–then we begin serving our idols. 

          Like drug addicts, we structure our life around our idols–feeding it, needing it, serving it by giving our thoughts, money and resources to it.  For example, we spend whatever we have to to get comfort, ease, power, etc–whatever our fix of choice is.)   Like drug addicts, the way we fill our needs only creates an astronomical problem–usually quite evident to those around us–sometimes not.  We are affected poorly in every way, and we become blind to our problem.

        Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden adn I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”   He simplifies this whole need thing.  Come to Him.  Rely on Him.  Do things His way.  Know Him.  Yes, there are times I feel stupid for being in need again.  The truth is, I am His sheep and I need My Shepherd.  I will never grow out of need.  To be needy is the exact place the Shepherd wants us–depending, knowing Him, fellowshipping with Him.  We bring nothing to the table exc ept ourselves–our need.  Blessed are the poor in spirit (who know they have need), blessed are those who mourn (broken over their sin), blessed are the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…see a theme of need?

         In this time of infertility and loss and leading a ministry and being married and being a daughter, friend, sister, I am learning how much I need and how GOOD it is that I do.  I am always fighting my pride to be in control and look strong and show how independent I can be–and then I am reminded usually quite publically that I NEED HIM.   And, that is His good.  In that, He is making me more like Jesus. 

        The best gift I can give to those I lead is to be a broken dependent woman relying on the beautiful Shepherd King.  Then, I am working with His resources instead of mine.  His are life-giving and eternal–mine are the real four letter word…

authenticity, comparison, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, infertility, Rheumatoid Arthritis, self-absorption, thankfulness, transformation by truth, Uncategorized, waiting

Ready, Set, Go

Setting my heart, setting my hope, setting mind…These have been words and phrases that I have been fighting to dwell on in the last few days. These phrases come from 2 Corinthians 4-6 and 2 Corinthians 1:10 and 1 Timothy 1:7.
These have been some frustrating days for Greg and me. His Rheumatoid Arthritis has been relentless the last few weeks–including bringing a canceled trip to Texas to see his family this last week. I know it has been hard for him as he is exhausted and frustrated with his body. For me, I have felt stuck. With infertility and RA and being at home with little change in any of it–stuck, stuck, stuck.
In the midst of stuck, thinking on truth does not happen naturally. Self-pity happens naturally. Reaching for numb-ers happens naturally. Escapism calls to me.
I realize I am a bit bored. I know that sounds crazy–or maybe it doesn’t. I am tired of people asking me how I am and not having a different response. Saying “fine” is so much easier and makes me feel more spiritual than “stuck.” For people around me, it seems things are always changing–kids growing, adding kids, etc, etc. (I realize they face the mundane, too.) However, it feels to me that Greg and I are in our old age as empty nesters that are seeing the futility of this life. Nothing seems to be changing in our household while everyone else is speeding by.
I know that some of this is truth–because of sin’s effects, there is futility in hoping in this life. I also know that we have been rescued to think on and hope in truth. This is not the end–here or in eternity.
I am learning, however, that it is a viscious fight to think on truth. I have to be disciplined and focused, and at times, I simply feel too tired and want to escape away by buying something or watching something or eating something. However, when I do think on the truth of Christ—what a salve to my soul! My prayers from scripture have been ” help me set my heart on thanks…help me not lose heart as our outer selves are wasting away–help us be renewed in the inner self day by day…may I see these as what they are–“light and momentary troubles”–help me think on “the eternal weight of glory”…may I remember the “unshaken hope” and remember that on Him have we set our hope…training ourselves for godliness in setting our hope and heart and mind on things above. That is life-giving. That is what I fight for…
Also, I was reminded this morning–through a Bible study that I wrote through Colossians–that my suffering and troubles are used for my good but also the good of those in the kingdom. That, my friends, makes it worth it. There is some point to this. I may not grasp it or understand it–but I trust the Father who knows beyond all what the reasons are.
This morning, as I was studying, I was reminded how my heart has been shaped. I now pray differently for others who are going through pain–I pray for spiritual fruit–for them to think on truth…to gain intimacy with the Father…to know Him and seek Him above all else. I even see, gulp, suffering as a good thing to enter our lives. We are walking in the way of Christ. DO NOT READ that I enjoy it! I enjoy Him–when I fight to get past my self-pity and escapism and laziness and complaining.
I have to choose to be thankful. I even wrote the other day in my journal listing people that God has given me an opportunity to unite with and minister to and learn from in the midst of our circumstantial pain. I was amazed at how quickly I forget where He has and is working. So, my friend, wherever you are today, I encourage you to fight to think on the gospel–truth, Him. Please–that is your choice–what you think on…
Greg and I were talking yesterday, and he said–if we get pregnant, you know there will be people who say “God is so faithful–as if pregnancy and children are something we deserve.” That is not true–God is faithful and it has nothing to do with giving us children–he did not promise us that. He is good and faithful and gracious beyond what we can fathom regardless if we are childless forever. He would be blessing us beyond what we deserve if we have children–may I remember that.

God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, infertility, transformation by truth, trusting God, waiting

Wait a minute…

Wait. We use that word frequently in our days. “Wait til your Father gets home!” “I can’t wait until vacation–it’s going to be great.” “There will be a 4 hour wait today because the doctor had some emergencies (i.e. had a long enjoyable lunch).” “How long will I have to wait for Mr. Right? Mr. Right Now looks pretty good.” “I cannot wait until Christmas.” “All good things come to those who wait.” I could go on…

Our bodies, minds and spirits automatically become restless when we know we have to wait. When I enter a doctor’s office, it is like time stands still for that 20 minute or 4 hour wait where vacations always happen on triple speed! Each year our culture grows exponentially in the thought of instant gratification. We are so accustomed to fast dinners, google answers, on demand and dvr cable, and call ahead seating, that waiting is a foreign concept. Guess what? Waiting is not a foreign concept to God. Ummm…in our life with Him, we are going to learn to wait.

In our journey with God, we are going to learn to wait more than a minute. Consider Abram, God gave an earth shattering promise to Him that He would be the Father of many nations. Abram had to wait and wait and wait and wait…until He took the initiative in His own hands (sound familiar?). Taking the initiative into his own hands caused exponential trouble that still plays out today (war in the Middle East anyone?). Then, when Sarah’s womb was deader than dead, a son was born named Isaac (Abraham was 99 and Sarah 90–in real years people!). Talk about exhausting, pull your hair out, invent many schemes to speed the process up, waiting.

Israel also knew the waiting game, and they did not do it well! God would give a command, and in about 3 seconds they were disobeying Him and inventing ways to disobey Him more. Judges, Kings and Prophets and Priests proclaimed the truth to wait on God. They were promised the Messiah–to wait for this coming Hope and Salvation. They were told to repent from prophets in all different positions–they knew the message. They did not wait well. Then, from Malachi to John the Baptist, there was four hundred years of silence. They knew the promise, but they invented ways of dealing with the time. Those ways included more rules, rules, rules. They began to put their hope in themselves to be righteous before God instead of waiting on God’s righteousness.

Is this not a picture of you and me? We wait and wait and wait. By the way, a year seems excrutiatingly long to us in our instant age. However, the older we get, we know by experience that a year is a blink. God is not concerned with our instant happiness and “right now” gratification. He is not concerned that we invent ways to control our lives and make the waiting more palpitable. He is concerned with shaping us to be in His character, to depend on Him, to grow up into Him. This takes time, cultivation, and yes, waiting.

We cannot and will not grow in God if there is no waiting. If you have not read the Psalms lately, pick them up. It seems that every other word includes a concept of waiting. Humility is also a concept that the Psalms proclaim is needed in relationship with God. Humility is a state in which we are in need of something and someone other than ourselves. We see humility battle with pride in the waiting game. Just like Abraham, we concoct ways to make the waiting go away. If I could just go shopping, or manipulate my husband, or try this fertility treatment, or get attention from this guy or read this book or try this program. Then, if we are listening and surrender, we come to the end of ourselves and see that our control is not the answer to the frustration of waiting. We see that we make a bigger mess of things because of our sinful adulterous hearts. Then, we are left to deal with the conflict we created from our lack of patience. Humility is seeing with repentant hearts that we need Him and not simply a resolution to our waiting.

There have been two distinct times of prolonged waiting in my life, and I know these will not be the last! After college, I felt lost and was in a waiting game for direction. I tried many of my own concoctions–none more humorous than being a flight attendant where I actually fainted in class because of a heart condition and got kicked out of the program! I did not know what to do with my life after college graduation, so I inserted something that sounded cool–living in NYC and being a flight attendant. God obviously had other plans for me, and those plans were much more humbling! I remember reading over and over again in His word to wait on Him.

Time number two is right now–and this waiting has been much longer and much more painful in the process of marriage and infertility. This waiting has also been much more fruitful. Somewhere along the way, I have learned and relearned that I cannot control this venture. I have learned that this venture is not about us “having a baby.” Am I tempted to put my hope in things that are lies? Everyday…I am tempted to fill myself by buying things, eating things, drinking things to make the waiting more palpitable. I try everyday to be renewed in His word to remember what the ultimate wait and hope is for–Him.

A baby/babies will not curb my wants or needs–they only create more wants and needs and exhaustion for me to learn my hope is found in HIM and Him alone. Just the lesson I have learned in marriage. I am most satisfied when I am found hoping and waiting in Him. This is relying and trusting and knowing the LORD and His ways instead of trying to use Him to create the life I want here. How have I learned that this is the purpose of my life? Through waiting, of course.

It is only through the frustration of seeing our “lesser” dreams die that we cling to and find our greater Hope and greater dream. After college, I memorized a passage from Psalm 25. That became my prayer, and God, in His timing and beautiful purposes, has been answering it.

“Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. for you I wait all the day long.”
“Who is the man who fears teh LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he shold choose. Good and upright is the LORD. therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble is what is right and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his convenant and his testimonies (which are mine through Christ’s work on the cross–he is my righteousness.)”

Do I still want children? Yes. Am I growing each day to want Him more? Yes. That is a lasting hope. My friend, waiting is often excrutiating, but it brings such good if the waiting is on the LORD. He is the fulfiller.