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.