Finding purpose in the waiting

Originally published Friday, 17 July 2015.

                                   The Baobab Tree, Africa

No one likes to wait or can we actually enjoy waiting?  We all go through those hot, dry messy seasons, don’t we? Yes, friends, even me.  I wrote a post once that ranked high and included this excerpt from one of my prayer journals…(dated 3 years ago).

“I yearn for your answers God. You know my prayers, my hopes, dreams and desires. I long for Your promises to be complete. Sometimes the waiting period seems unbearable. Your will seems cloudy and unclear. The waiting seems excruciatingly endless.”  I was in a hot mess of a season, smack dab in the middle of the heat, with a whole lot of tears and there was no oasis in sight.

Many of you know what that feels like, I think. Perhaps your unspoken desire is for your broken marriage to be restored, your rebellious teenager to return home or a family member’s health to improve. Maybe you’re waiting for your turn to have a good day.  Maybe you have allowed toxins in your mind with so many negative thoughts you don’t which way to look anymore. Maybe you are waiting for the right person to be “the one”. Maybe you just don’t know what you want in life. You wait. You pray. You wait some more. And you beg heaven to hear. You wring your hands just wishing this season was over and done with.

The Bible is full of people who waited. Godly people like Abraham and Sarah had to wait till they were really stinkin’ old to have their first child. At that point, I would have given up long ago. Joseph was sold as a slave by his own brothers, only to end up in prison for years before his promise of royal authority became a reality in his life. I would’ve thought that old Joe’s life wasn’t trackin’ like he had planned.  Those years certainly couldn’t have been his easy or best years, or were they?  It seems life stalled out for these people.  I know a missionary couple who have been waiting for a piece of paper for months.  My daughter and family have been displaced from their home for ten months!

If you find yourself in a similar situation, how do YOU find yourself? Are you in a hot mess too? Are you in the middle of dry spiritual season with no oasis? How did these troopers of the old testament trudge on? Why didn’t they give up? How do you wait for a promise?  And how do you know that heaven hears?

And thus the long line of questioning begins all over again. You know honestly we can stir up a lot of trouble in our minds by just assuming that God doesn’t hear our prayers. If ever there is a truth to be learned it’s this:  He hears each and every one!  He knows our thoughts before we know them in fact.  And it takes these waiting seasons when heaven is silent to recognize one simple truth.

God doesn’t work against us. God is for us.

Look at Abraham and Sarah. They had the promise of many generations to come but for years they stood barren among the people they were leading. Joseph was held captive for too long before he could establish his legacy seemingly not arriving at the right place at the right time.  Maybe the wait has to do with their prosperity, not their promise.  There can be long periods of waiting for us all in our different situations and circumstances. And in those waiting times our faith is put to the test. Nothing bears witness in your soul as a wait.

Recently God tapped me on the shoulder and asked a simple question, like He did Peter on that one morning on the beach. They had just feasted on some fish and swapped stories about their latest catch. Jesus is among them, not fully known just yet, asking them if they were ready to move from a waiting season to a prosperous season.

“Do you love me more than these?” Oh those words must have fallen with surprise on Peter’s heart, like it did mine. “Of course, Lord, I do”, I simply smiled and said the appropriate answer. He asked it again, “No, do you love ME more than the things of mine.” I blinked pondering my response. Oh yeah…that! Was I willing to wait for what God had for me? Was I willing to wait even if the promise never came? Am I willing to share my faith even if one book of mine is never published? Do I love Jesus more than living under the anointing of writing anything? If there was never another scrap of paper to scribble a half-thought blog, would I still love Jesus?

Ps. 119:123-124, “My eyes strain to see your deliverance, to see the truth of your promise fulfilled. I am your servant; deal with me in unfailing love, and teach me your principles.”

“Deal with me in your unfailing love Lord.”  That was my response…eventually. Now I know that kind of unfailing love that always knows what our best words forward are. And when I look to His Word to me, written by the beat of His heart through inspired writers, it causes me to focus my deep love back to where it needs to be. Again.

How often we want to know God’s plan before we obey God’s plan?  How often God catches us unaware of our looking to the gift instead of the gift Giver. The season I spoke of at the beginning of this post was a hot mess for sure as I was in deserted place with a mindset in a paralyzed state.  God wants our obedience in love first and foremost, there could or could not be an explanation later to the purpose or His plans for us. The echos of my momma’s voice came loud and clear, “Because I said so, I am your parent!” (But God’s tone was oh so gentlelike the ocean’s breeze on a sandy beach.)

I dropped some hot mess baggage in that dry, sandy season.  I came away released from a HUGE period of doubt couple of months ago. Again. It was a long, hot time with the Lord but let me tell you, it is over. It’s like physically stepping onto the shore of promise with a new pair of shoes. My feet are still a little dusty from the traveling but as I think back, I was never wandering aimlessly. I eventually got to a place where I was content in the waiting as my need to wait overrode my need to understand.

If I could only know then what I know now. Oh but I learned well my friends…so well!

When we are talking about deep love, it’s always worth waiting for. The wait puts us in a position to receive the finest of Loves. My need for control faded as I took joy in my oasis season. I didn’t have to wonder what God was up to because I trust Him implicitly with my life. My need to control took a back seat to His omnipotence. My need to understand is overshadowed by His peace. My next steps are clear and open with His light shining on each blessed step. I am content in not knowing because honestly it would send me running to the hills with my tail tucked between my legs. (that last lesson is a joke people, I’m not afraid of the future anymore).

I enter a new season of gratitude. I needed the desert season more than I can say. Like Abraham and Sarah needed it. I needed to align my heart with His direction to have perfect patience in all seasons. I needed that one on one alone desire that He has set in my heart. I needed to learn the ways of the Holy Spirit to follow God and be empowered by His way.

I needed to learn the desert instinct for spiritual survival. I needed to stop my way of thinking about it being hot and messy and let God take His time to position me for my next season of inspiration. Yes, it was and is good, right and complete. I gave God, who stands outside of time, permission to take all the time He needed to walk me through that season. Hot, messy, barren, heavy, and inching my feet through the grains of time. I endured by clinging to the promise at the end. His promise of a deeper love that is always working FOR me.

Now my eyes don’t strain. His promises are clear. I have them tucked in my heart.
Now I don’t have to re-dress for spiritual warfare, I stay dressed and armed with truth.
Now, I don’t have to regain my hope and peace, because I never let go of it.
Now, my joy is continuous and full.
Now, I’m excited, refreshed and on fire.

Something changes from the inside out as you feed your soul and spirit with the ways of the Holy Spirit. It’s a hot fire that can’t be quenched. I am finding MUCH delight in worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I know that my faith that has be exponentially enlarged from to last season to season. Inside to outside, back to front.

There’s a legend out of Africa about the Baobab tree.  This variety is beautiful and is often referred to as the “upside-down tree” because its branches resemble roots sticking up. It’s said that it lives thousands of years by it’s own deep roots that enable it to find water underground, and it stores water in its trunk during rainy months to sustain it through the dryer periods.

“Yes, God you are my nice oasis in the dryer periods. Finish the perfecting work you have started in me no matter…how long it takes.”  Have you had to wait on God for a specific answer to prayer? What did you learn in your waiting?