Friday, January 3, 2014

10 Things I've Learned In The Wait

I've decided that 2013 was a year of waiting for our family.  God seemed silent, distant even.  Not much seemed to happen, good or bad.  We just were.

Our adoption updates seemed fewer and far between.  There really just wasn't much to write.   Nothing new.  Same old update….we're still waiting. :)

The news coming out of Ethiopia these days is not looking good for the future of international adoption, and as time has marched forward, our hearts have slowly lost hope.  I hate waiting for things, don't you?!?  Waiting sucks stinks (my bad).  But seriously, it does.

Over the past few months since I last wrote, I have found this waiting period increasingly difficult.  Along the way I've learned a few things.  Lessons, that perhaps can only be learned while waiting, though I'll attempt to share them here with you.  Here goes….

1.  I am not in control. 

     I repeat.

     I AM NOT IN CONTROL.  Enough said. :)

2.  Sometimes having faith during the wait is more difficult than the initial faith it takes to step out in the first place.  Take our adoption.  The initial act of stepping out in faith and believing that God was calling us to adopt, was hard.  Crazy hard.  Signing those papers.  Believing He would provide the finances.  Trusting Him through all the red tape.  But the continued faith it takes to persevere through the wait trumps that all.  100%.  Doubts creep in uninvited.  They linger.  They whisper.  They cause your faith to waver.  A lie reminiscent of the garden.  Did God really say......

3.  Redemption, ours and theirs, is a messy, ugly process.  The stench of our sin, both the Prodigal Son type-sin and that of his religious older brother, is repugnant to a Holy God.  The road to the cross was an excruciating one.  Gruesome, even.  For what?  To buy us back.  To redeem what had been marred by sin.  Nothing about this redemption plan was easy.  And nor is (or should) ours be any different.  The road to adoption is long.  And hard.  Ugly even.  And it is riddled with bumps along the way.  Isn't that true of anything worth anything though??

4.  The wait causes in us a desire to take matters into our own hands.  Hello, Sarah??  I seriously feel bad for that chick.  Why?  Because I get her.

I. Am. Her.

God reveals a promise to her and Abraham, and what happens?  She has to wait for TEN YEARS to see the fruition of that promise.  And so she does what any strong woman would do when she tires of waiting.  She usurps her husband's authority and does things her way.  Because surely something is amiss with God.  Perhaps they heard wrong....

Naturally though, the plan backfires.  It turns out God DID know what He was doing, and the damage is done.  An illegitimate child.  A jealous wife.  Tension.  Heartache. All because the wait was just too darn hard.

5.  Our feelings will fail us.  We will grow weary and we WILL want to turn back.  We will question whether we heard right in the first place, and we will question whether God will provide.  We will think things like this... "I know He's provided in the past, but surely THIS is beyond even Him."  Our feelings will be all over the place.  One day we will feel inspired and encouraged; the next day we will feel defeated.  Can you tell?  I know this one well. :) While our culture screams, "Follow your heart," God's Word whispers, "Follow the Truth."  

"Whatever is TRUE....think about such things."
Philippians 4:8

It is a daily act of obedience to remind myself WHAT God has called us to in the first place and WHO we are in Christ.

6.  The wait forces us to see our need for Him.  No truer words could be spoken.  The fact that we are powerless to do ANYTHING, causes us to seek Him continually.  And certainly this isn't just true of our adoption process!  Parenting, direction in decision-making, finances, relationships….the weight of it all should force us to cry out, "We cannot do this thing you have asked us to do on our own!"

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness."
2 Corinthians 12: 9

"But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."
2 Corinthians 1: 9

And why?  Why would God allow us to walk through a difficult situation?  Through the valley of the shadow of death or through a period of waiting?  For His glory.  So that His power would be made known even in the midst of our trials.

7.  We are not alone in the wait.  Countless others have gone before us.  Scripture is chock-full of examples of men and women who have waited well.  Noah.  David.  Elijah.  Ruth.  Mary.  Examples of REAL people who were promised REAL things by God, only to turn around and wait.  And wonder.  And wait some more.

If we are to believe that God's Word is the inspired Word of God (and I do!), then we must believe that every story in there, every word even, has been ordained by the Creator.  Not one fact or detail was arbitrarily tossed in there without a second thought.  Those countless stories of waiting were meant to point all glory to Him and to show us how to do the same.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3: 16-17

8.  Scripture is also full of promises specifically FOR the wait.  

Psalm 40 - U2 anyone? 

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:8-9

Read the book of Psalms.  Read Job.   Read His Word for yourself and see how God speaks to your heart on the issue of waiting.

9.  When our faith is struggling, look back.  How has He provided in the past?  As I read through the Psalms, I see a trend lifting off the pages.  As we pray to God and spend time in His presence, our focus shifts from ourselves to Him.  I love the truth that is told in the Psalms of Ascent.  As the Israelites would travel the long, arduous journey to Jerusalem to participate in the Holy Days each year, they would sing the Psalms of Ascent to God (Psalm 120-134). These journeys were plagued with danger, and as they would pilgrimage, these words would ring true....

"I lift my eyes up to the hills - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."
(Psalm 120:1-2)

They would recall the long days spent in Egypt, and how their God had faithfully brought them out.  How He had turned the Nile into blood and wreaked havoc on those Egyptians.  How He had parted the seas of Red and led them out into the promised land.  When their faith was struggling, they would look back and remember God's faithfulness throughout the ages.  Recalling His goodness, would give them the faith they needed to wait well.

10.  Pray THROUGH your circumstances.  This is the newest lesson that God is in the process of teaching me now.  I've been convicted lately that my tendency is to pray and pray and pray for something to happen, and the moment I see the horizon……the moment I see a tiny glimmer of hope, a small glimpse of God moving in the direction towards answered prayer…...I quit praying.  It's as if I'm saying, "You've got this God.  I'm all done.  I'm all prayed-out."

The concept of praying THROUGH something reminds me of Aaron holding Moses' arms up during the battle with the Amalekites.  Even when his arms probably ached with exhaustion, Aaron and Moses held strong.  And God is asking me to do the same.  To press on in prayer, even when things seem to be going my way.  This is a difficult one for me.  The flesh is always seeking to slip back into the comfortable place of complacency.   Maybe you also? 

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…"
Isaiah 40

So I encourage you to wait well.  And pray that I would have the grace to do the same.


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