Wait for it..."Do I HAVE to?"

10:22 AMHeather

You know, I have to say that this trip toward gratitude is taking a detour I never expected.  I was picturing a lot of rosy sunshine and rainbows as I learned to say thank-you a little more often until it became a habit and a heart condition.

I didn't expect such brutal self-examination.   I guess I never contemplated that "demo" work had to come first before gratitude could be rebuilt in the empty spaces.  But I must admit that this is, indeed, the turn I've taken.  And, I must also admit that the mirror displaying discontent is something I'd much rather just look away from.  However, gratitude is the goal.  So, I must press on.

Last week, I blogged about discontent.  Then, I felt led to do a follow-up.  If it was a trilogy, this would be part three.  Because straight to the heart of the matter, God reminded me on Sunday of another aspect of discontent.  Not just being unhappy with what I don't have...but being unhappy about waiting for what I wantYou see, two pressing issues burden my heart.  And they have for months and years.  Years, I tell you.  I feel a sense of relief coming, but all in good time.  All in God's time. And there is the rub.

Waiting.  Is there any more brutal job we are called to do?  Even we feel a whisper of promise that it's just a matter of time, it's incredibly hard to just wait.  Waiting is so passive.  The delayed gratification of wishes and dreams and prayers requires our surrender.  Our ability to submit ourselves to His will in His timing.  For my control freak, type A personality, just about no greater torture exists than having to release and wait.   The waiting season is a time of discontent, indeed.  As I'm learning, where discontentment lives, gratitude has no room.

Imagine my surprise as we dove into that not-too-often explored book of Habakkuk on Sunday night in small group.  Habakkuk?  Yes, let me get out my table of contents.  Who knew that there in those pages, within that study time, I'd get yet another lesson dealing with discontent.  But, there it was.  As Tim, our small group teacher, called out the idea of waiting.  Did you know that Habakkuk is essentially a dialogue between a prophet forced to wait and a God who said keep waiting?  Yeah, me neither.  

Evil was winning in the land of Judah.  And Habakkuk, a prophet of God, cried out in complaint.  How long, God?  How long must we wait for justice and salvation?  God's "reassuring" answer involved the truth that the Israelites would be crushed by the Babylonians BEFORE justice would prevail.  Wow, that's great.  Thanks, God.  When wait for it includes a, "hey--wait.  Things will get worse.  Way worse.  And THEN, things will get better!"

Anyone feel as though this is the story of your life?  You're waiting for an answer, for relief, for help NOW, please.  Yet, you sense that things might get worse before they get better.  Not so reassuring, is it?  Talk about discontent.

While we don't always have a choice about our season of waiting--and therein lies the problem, we do have a choice to make about our response.  I'll share with you the three options that we touched on in our small group.  

When God says, "Wait for it!"  And, our response is "Do I HAVE to?"...Here are three options.

1.  Remember his truths.  

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy. 
Habakkuk 3:2

When forced with no other choice but to wait, we can choose to remember His truths.  Remember His character.  The Scriptures are full of reminders about his lovingkindness that endures, that He is for us, that he has a plan for our future and hope--not to harm us.  It's full of stories about His awesome deeds.  Oceans parting.  Lions mouths being shut.  Giants being slain.  Death being conquered.  We can look broadly at the truth of His character by searching through both the Old and the New Testament.  And, we can also zoom in more closely to remember the truth of how he's showed up in the past within our very own lives.  Instead of wailing about the wait, we can choose to remember the acts of faithfulness.  And be encouraged.  

We can choose to stand on these two amazing promises and truths for seasons of waiting.

   Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.  
Isaiah 64:4

We wait, while nothing seems to be happening.  Oh, the agony.  But, we are assured that behind the scenes, in the Throne Room of Heaven, God is at work.  He has a plan, and He is moving and acting and preparing.  He is working on our behalf.  He is not passive.  He is not immobile.  He is acting.  While we are waiting for the unseen that is already in motion.

You know what else?  Not only is He acting on our behalf while we wait, but our cries to Him set him in motion while we are STILL speaking.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 
Isaiah 65:24

How would my life look different if I truly stood firm on these promises and claimed them and allowed them to be written on my heart and guide my emotions?  That while I am waiting, He is moving.  And, before I even finish my sentence, He hears.  He doesn't ignore me.  It's just that I forget he's answered.  And his answer is "wait."

2.  Remember He's sovereign.   While I am waiting, part of my angst is that I feel out of control.  Listen, I know the best solution and the best timing.  And it's NOW, exactly as I have it pictured.  When that doesn't come to fruition, discontentment creeps in.  Because I lose sight of the fact that He is in control.  He is sovereign.  He's still on His throne.  My circumstances are completely and utterly within His sure and loving hand.  
Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

Hmm.  That I might come around like Habakkuk.  Complaining in chapter one, whining, "HOW LONG, GOD?"  And, then allowing the truth of God's sovereignty to be sown into his heart, Habakkuk is transformed.  Though my plan isn't coming to be.  Though I wait and wait.  Though You say it'll get worse before it gets better, YET I will rejoice.  YET, I will be joyful.  Because the SOVEREIGN LORD who reigns gives me strength.  He levels this rocky path out for me and keeps me from stumbling.  

3.  Enjoy the silence.  What?  Excuse me?  I'm not a fan of crickets chirping while I pour out my angst and the injustice of having to wait because I want it NOW.  But, sometimes, God tells us silence is golden.  God calls us to this:

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10   

I don't know about you, but I find it hard to hear and see and dwell on God at work in my life when I am busy and distracted.  The noise of my life, the clutter of my schedule drowns Him out.  Oh, He might be intersecting my day repeatedly, working to get my attention.  But, the telephone and tasks and busyness of life are blinders that keep me from seeing it.  To really connect and interact and become intimate with someone, you must lose all distraction and focus on them.  To truly see the great I am for who He is--GOD--we sometimes are forced to be still.  The wonder is that in the quiet sanctuary of waiting we can be transformed by the whispers we suddenly hear from our Heavenly Father.  When we wrestle and strive and cry out about our waiting, and then fall into an exhausted heap, quiet and still--that is where we meet our Savior.  When we learn to embrace the silence of prayers answered with a "wait"--when we surrender to the quiet, there we find fresh encounters with a God who is courting us and would rather have our devotion and attention than our happiness.

Oh, bloggy friends, I know.  Waiting stinks.  I hate it.  I hate waiting in the car pool line.  In the grocery line.  In traffic.  I hate waiting for what I think should happen when I think it should happen.  It's the breeding ground of discontentment.  

But, here's a truth to dwell on. Here's an encouragement to ponder.  

"God's will is what we would choose if we 
had all the facts."  
--Mark Bearden

If the veil of heaven were opened, the moment we had a desire, and we could grasp the "immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20) that God has in store in light of eternity, then we would indeed choose it.  If God said, "listen, you can have what you want when you want it.  Or, you can have what I want to give when I want to give it because it's the best, most blessed plan that exists,"  then, we would choose his will.  His timing.  For His immeasurably more.  

Wait for it.  Really, wait for it.  I know you want to scream, "Do I have to?"  The answer is actually, no you don't.  You can choose, full steam ahead, to force your plans and your timing and see what happens.  Or, you can choose to remember his truths.  Remember He is sovereign.  Enjoy the silence.  And then, prepare to have your mind blown by the perfect will in the perfect timing that your Omniscient God wants to give you.  Just wait for it....

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