Waiting is the Hardest Part

I was in the Great Smoky Mountains over the weekend on a new trail with a different landscape and its own kind of challenges. The promise of a spectacular view and an abundance of wild blueberries filled me with anticipation as we made our way to the top. The narrow, rocky parts of the climb almost wore me out sooner than I needed to be worn out. I felt like a kid on a long car ride to the beach. Are we there yet?

When we reached a trail intersection that informed us we were six-tenths of a mile away from the view and the blueberries, I was encouraged. img_6870

No big deal, I thought. This is fine. We’ll be there in no time.

Six-tenths of a mile never seemed as long.

We are always waiting for something. Waiting in line. Waiting to speak to customer service. Waiting to finish a project.

Sometimes the waiting is exciting. Other times it’s painful.

Waiting for the right one to marry or for the marriage to be what we thought it would be. Waiting to lose the weight. Waiting for a relationship to be restored. Waiting for the perfect job or the dream to come true or a promise to be kept. Waiting for the cravings for the alcohol or the pills or the entire box of doughnuts to stop.

Waiting for a child. Waiting to forget the regrets of the past and the day you can look in the mirror and like the person you see. Waiting for the sadness to go away. Waiting for God to come through.

That kind of waiting can be so hard that one more day of it seems unbearable. It feels impossible to keep going.

img_6871It’s that kind of waiting that God will use to change us. When it all feels like too much and it’s taking too long and it’s just too hard.

He’ll open our eyes. Or reveal Himself to us in a new way. God works while we wait. He may not change our circumstances.

He’ll do something even greater. He’ll change our hearts and minds. He’ll make us more compassionate and less judgmental. Give us greater faith and softer hearts.

In the waiting, we learn to fix our eyes on Jesus. We learn that He is with us and takes care of us. We aren’t diminished in the waiting. We grow in it because we work through it. We are made stronger and more patient in the waiting. And we see more clearly because of it. Best of all, we learn to love better because of the waiting.

God is greater than the pain of waiting. Great things will happen.

Just wait and see.

I truly believe I will live to see the Lord’s goodness. Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help.    Psalm 27:13-14

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I’m Like Them

“We misunderstand God altogether if we think He deals coarsely with our souls.”
Henry Drummond

My journey through Lent this week has given me new thoughts on old stories. The stories were part of the daily devotions from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. I revisited the story of Jesus driving the merchants out of the temple for buying and selling there.

Am I like the merchants?

I reread the story of Thomas who declared that “unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” John 20:25

Am I like Thomas?

The story of Peter is another one. Not only did Peter fall asleep in the garden when Jesus asked he and his other friends to keep watch but he denied he knew him. Peter turned his back on the very One he confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Am I like Peter?

Yes. I’m like them.

How many times have I tried trading with God….tried to get something from God in exchange for my faith or good deeds? “Look what I’m doing God. I’m serving and giving and studying. I’m working hard for You. Now bless me. Make my life comfortable and give me what I want.”

I’ve been the one not believing….not trusting until I can see. “Show me Lord, then I’ll trust You.”

My denial doesn’t look the same as Peter’s but I’ve turned my back on the One who loves me with an everlasting love. By not following Him. By not loving others. By withholding forgiveness. By causing others to feel less than.

But God doesn’t deal coarsely with our souls.

God is kind when He reminds me that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

God is patient when I have doubts and fears. As Jesus did for Thomas, in His mercy He will give me the “grace of interior vision, the gift of the opening of the heart, and of its surrender.”

God is tender with me when I’ve turned my back. It was Jesus who turned to look at Peter as he was denying him for the third time. (Luke 22:61) There wasn’t judgment in Jesus’ eyes. There was love.

And I am thankful for His kindness.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”  Romans 2:4

For more thoughts on our Lenten journey visit my friend, Joy, at her website A Life-Giving Moment.

Confess

Instead

imageJust because you can doesn’t mean you should.

I say this to my kids all the time.

It’s a reminder for me.

I can eat two bowls of salted caramel gelato.

I can watch endless hours of my favorite shows on Netflix.

I can ignore the tattooed girl in line at the cash register or be rude to the neglectful waiter at the restaurant.

I can let my bad mood ruin the day.

I can skip my workout.

I can gossip about my co-worker.

I can do all those things and a thousand others that seemingly have no effect at all.

Who cares if I watch 8 hours of Netflix or stuff myself with my favorite snack or gossip or stay in a bad mood?

The little things matter more than you know. Your habits matter. Your self-control and your kindness and your patience matters. Your simple acknowledgment of the girl in line at the grocery store matters.

And that’s why I’m challenging you to think beyond the things you can do. This is another one of my Live Like It Matters Challenges.

Think about what would be most helpful. Even good allowable things aren’t necessarily the best things. What’s permissible is not always beneficial. This applies to the choices we make every day.

This kind of thinking and doing helps you and others. Because in the long run, you’ll benefit from skipping the 2nd bowl of ice cream. You’ll reap the rewards of going to gym. And you can save yourself and your co-workers a lot of pain when you shut the gossip down.

Instead, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy one bowl of gelato. Watch only one episode on Netflix every now and then.

I’ll be kind to my co-workers and take every opportunity to encourage them.

I’ll be slow to speak when I’m in a bad mood and I’m going to try really hard to remember how good I feel when my workout is over. I’ll make sure to smile at those around me – even the waiter who never refilled my drink.

Because it matters. The little things we do matter.

Make the wiser choices. Think beyond what you can do and live like it matters.

  But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.    Galatians 5:22-23  NCV

In response to the Daily Post’s prompt
Second Thoughts.