September 30, 2013

When You're Waiting

I feel very raw right now, right now being the last few weeks since we've moved from summer to fall. It's obvious that God is in the process of some necessary yet painful stripping away of things, my pride and selfishness being the most glaring rough edges getting His primary attention. No wonder I feel raw: the sanding hurts and there are gaps where He has taken away but not yet filled.

In every conversation I've had where I've tried to explain myself, my thoughts and emotions have tripped over themselves, landing in one big jumbled mess. There is no explaining it, because there are no coherent lessons emerging. There is no mall directory helpfully pointing out my location and how to precisely get through all this to my final destination. I'm just riding a wave of uncertainty and emotion. There is nothing to do but to lay my heart out and let Him do His work in me.

He's made it clear to me that I am to submit and wait.
I'm waiting on the Lord, and I'm a horrible waiter. It's a painful process, and I have to force myself to remain in it rather than to fill my plate with good activities or to distract myself with vain pursuits or to avoid thinking about it altogether. Waiting draws so much ugliness to the surface of my heart. Waiting, I've discovered, shows the real me to myself, like holding a mirror up to the areas of my heart that I tell myself aren't really there. The pride, the self-focus, the clamoring for importance, the need to be needed, the comparison, and the competitiveness. Yes, all there, bobbing at the surface right now.

Naturally, at our church's women's retreat this weekend, we talked about waiting on the Lord. Oh. Thank you, God, for driving this home. I wasn't really getting it before. But I liked how my friend Aimee emphasized Psalm 27:14: "Waiting on the Lord; Be of good courage." It takes courage to wait on the Lord. She's right, it takes courage to sit in the painful process of waiting and trust the good hand of God. It takes courage to believe in faith that there is a point to the crashing waves of uncertainty. It takes courage to believe that the sanded down gaps in my heart will be filled up again.

For me, mostly it takes courage not to try to fill those gaps myself. I flail a lot when I'm waiting, and I want desperately to grab hold of what I do have and clench it to my chest. See! Something is sure in my world! I must hold onto it so that it can't be sanded away! In other words, I look for security in what I think are sure things but aren't actually sure things. My friend Jessica said to me, "Waiting well involves seeing all things as gifts from God and holding them loosely." She's right: I'm not entitled. What I've had or experienced or been in the past is not guaranteed in the future. It was a gift then and what comes next is a gift as well. The waiting itself is a gift because it grows my faith.

The security in it all is God Himself. I cling to Him.

Are you waiting on the Lord? What Scriptures or lessons has He used to help you wait well?