So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Monday, November 3, 2014

But Even If He Does Not

Wow. Two and a half months since I posted. Guess I'm still getting into the swing of this marriage/new job/moving to Ohio thing.

Before I got married (and the "before" marriage time of my life greatly exceeds the "after" portion, and will for a very long time), people would always tell me that marriage doesn't fix your life or stop all of the struggles. I appreciated their warnings, and I agreed with them then, and I agree with them now. From my grand perspective of 3.5 months in, marriage is great and I'm very happy. But I'm also still me, and I still am wrestling with the Lord about things, just different things than when I was single.

Actually, I should amend that statement. One of the struggles I had before marriage was longing to be a mom. Since I can remember, I've loved babies and children. I would question the Lord about why He had given me this strong desire with no way to fulfill it.

Now I'm married. Have the husband, check. Allowed to have sex, check. Able to provide for a baby, check. Both of us still wanting a baby, check. The box we can't check? The one that says "under 40, all systems go". At least on my side.

I knew the chances were slim. I've educated myself on the numbers and percentages and possibilities. Paul and I have discussed the medical lengths to which we are prepared to go. Yet the doctor visit where the numbers are MY numbers, and the news is "Anything can happen. But it's not likely." Well, then it becomes real. And sad. And I end up back with God, wrestling and crying and struggling.

I know that God can do anything. It's not impossible for us to get pregnant. We are open to adoption. However, that, too, is harder when you are older, at least internationally. We're too old for babies. We're too old, period, in most countries. Many have a required amount of years for a couple to be married. Adopting through the child welfare system has its issues. Adopting privately is expensive. We only get older as the process drags on. Yet, again, none of those obstacles are too much for God.

What has felt too much and impossible is opening my heart to hope and earnestly asking God for what I want and trusting Him to do what is best. I have argued and cried and expressed the feelings of "It's not fair," and "Why does it have to be this hard?" and "Is this too much to ask?" All of that is real, but it masks the deeper feelings of  "How do we figure out adoption?" "How long will this take?" "Should we pursue this at all?" and, ultimately, "Can I trust you to be enough no matter what happens?"

Consistently through my relationship with the Lord, the only way I can get to the real stuff is to go through the process of the surface feelings until finally, the deeper issues emerge. I wish had a nice list of three steps to make it go faster, or the five ways to feel peace with God immediately. I don't.  All I know is that this morning, while praying, He finally gave me the courage to simply ask for what I wanted.

In Daniel, there is the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were young men who were exiles in Babylon. They were Hebrews who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzer, made a decree that all people should worship a golden image, and if they refused, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused. The king gave them a second chance. They said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

When I prayed this morning, I asked the Lord for a baby. I also told Him that even if He does not give us this, I will not bow my knee to bitterness or despair, and that I will serve and love Him regardless of the gifts He chooses to give or withhold. I can't keep that promise without His grace, and I praise and thank Him for changing my heart and making me willing to trust Him. I don't know what will happen, but I do know that God will be enough. He will be enough on the days when I easily trust, and, amazingly and wonderfully,  He will be enough on the days I fight and wrestle and wail.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Waiting Still

My life has changed drastically in the past several months (getting married, moving to Ohio, getting a a new job). Many friends speculated that I would now change the name of this blog, since I was no longer waiting for a husband.  My premise all along has been that we are all waiting for something. In Romans 8: 18-24, we read:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

At a deep level, all Christian believers are waiting for the moment when Jesus returns and the world is made right. I venture to say that most of us are waiting for the day when race relations are just, when no religious group is persecuted for their beliefs, and when cures are found for all the diseases that ravage the earth. We wait to feel satisfied and safe and secure.

I am still waiting for many more prosaic resolutions. I am waiting for the moment when I will no longer need GPS to go to work, to go to the store, to go anywhere. I am eager to get my school schedule figured out and to know all my co-workers and students and understand how my new schools work. I look forward to connecting with my old friends, waiting for times to call them. I long for the day that Ohio and new friends here feel like home.

I'm grateful beyond words for the gift of my husband. I hope that I will remember the biggest lesson from that season of waiting: God is working, always, for the good of those who love Him. There were many days and months and years when I doubted that God was paying attention and wondered if He was doing anything about finding me a husband. And yet. . . here I am, married. I continue to wait and want to doubt. When will there be justice and mercy in the world? When will it all be set right? When will I feel at home here? During this new waiting, I want to choose to trust and hope and know that God continues to see and will, in His time, accomplish His purposes.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Wedding Story

As most of you know, I got married (!) in July of 2014! Thanks for all the support and love! The following was printed on the back of the ceremony program, and I wanted to share it with you:

Thank you for being a part of our wedding day! As most of you know, I have waited a very long time for this day. My tale of waiting is not a story about waiting well and then being rewarded. Instead, it’s a story about wading through the waiting, wailing to God about the waiting, and then, for no reason that I can discern, receiving the gift for which I’d been waiting so long.

I’ve heard the other stories, the ones about how someone finally “gave it up” and then got what they wanted. Or the stories about how they found it when they weren’t really looking. Or about how people finally learned whatever lesson the Lord was trying to teach them and then received the goody. 

My story is a bit messier than those. Over the past 20 years, I’ve struggled with singleness and grappled with God about it. I have cried many tears, prayed many prayers, and searched long and hard for the secret key that would unlock the blessing. I attempted to give up wanting to be married, but I never truly lost the desire. I tried not looking for a husband and then tried being on three different online dating sites simultaneously. I have learned a lot of lessons over these years. I know that my worth is not measured by my marital status, that singleness is better than a lonely marriage, and that God really and truly is enough. Yet, I still wanted to be married, but I still wasn’t.

I kept dating and searching and praying, but in my heart of hearts, I felt I was never going to meet the right person for me. Then, suddenly, my friends Jack and Joan contacted me to see if I would be interested in corresponding with a friend of theirs. . . and here we are.

Much prayer has gone into this marriage. Both Paul and I believe that God is in charge of our lives, not us. When I was first praying about my relationship with Paul, I suddenly realized that, in my heart of hearts, I didn’t really think God would ever send me anyone. And then I burst into tears. Sad tears because of my appalling lack of faith. Happy tears because of God’s goodness in spite of my faithlessness.

I struggle a lot with thinking that I have to do something for God to love me. Deep down I still think that I must earn His favor, even though I know that God’s love and grace is free to anyone who seeks Him and asks. I had been waiting all this time in hopes of figuring out the magical key to get God to do what I wanted, and to give me this good thing. I had been imagining that once I figured it out, then I would be deemed worthy of a husband.

Wrong. God brought me Paul, the exact right man for me, when I had no faith at all that He would (or even could) do this good thing. Knowing my doubt and skepticism, the Lord still blessed me and gave me what I needed and what I wanted at just the right time.

Some of you (and me, too) thought this day would never come. Yet here we are. Not because I’m great, or Paul’s great (though I think he is), but because God is great, and He gives good gifts to His children, in His good time. Even when we don’t deserve them. I am thankful!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reminding Myself of the Truth

As I am reading through Deuteronomy in this year's read-through-the-Bible journey, I've noticed how often the Israelites are reminded of their deliverance from Egypt. Over and and over the story is told. The first three chapters of Deuteronomy are devoted to retelling the Israelites' journey.  I started wondering why the people needed to hear the story so often. Granted, it had been 40 years since the actual event, but it would seem that plagues and the parting of the Red Sea and escape from captivity would be memorable enough that constant reminders would not be needed. And yet. . .

It seems that usually the people of Israel = me. I want to think that I would have remembered seeing God's power rescue me from slavery, that I wouldn't have made a golden calf within 40 days of Moses leaving, that I wouldn't have complained about having to eat manna and about how it was so much better in Egypt. And yet. . .

When I read in the Old Testament, which can be tricky and I by no means am any sort of expert, I try to think and pray about what the Lord wants for me to do with these thoughts now, in light of Jesus. God was reminding the Israelites over and over again of their rescue from slavery. What did He want them to know? I think He wanted them to remember that the He rescued them, by His hand, and without any help from them, and that He did it because He loved them:
And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power,  driving out before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day,  know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:37-39)
He also reminded them of their sin and the consequences of it. Even with the visual presence of God in the cloud or the pillar of fire, the people wouldn't trust His timing or His ways.

So, what do I need to be reminded of over and over and over? What truths do I forget as soon as I go to the next task? Unsurprisingly, the same thing as the Israelites. God came and rescued me from sin and death, and it was all Him, not me:
 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
 Sometimes I think it was me. And if it was me, I could have done it wrong, or messed it up, or failed. Or, I could get pleased with myself because of how great I was to choose God and do what He wants. That's when I need to be reminded of the second truth I tend to forget: I'm a sinner. I don't make golden calves, but I set up other idols in my heart. I worry and don't believe the promises of God in the Bible and I speak unkindly and I'm impatient and. . . the list goes on. Every day I need Jesus. Every day I need to be reminded of the truth of the gospel--that because of God's great love for me, I have Jesus and I am forgiven and made righteous only because of Him.

This morning I was praying about it again, and asking the Lord, "What do you want me to remember and never forget?" Unsurprisingly, really, was the answer, "I love you." Always, always, always, it's what I most easily forget and most vitally need to remember: That God loved me when I was yet a sinner and died to reconcile me to Himself (Romans 5:8), that God loves me as I remain a sinner in need of His grace, and that God will love me when I die (or He comes back) and I finally am no longer a sinner.

Me, you, all of us. . . God loves us wildly, and He wants us to know that. A few days ago, I was reminded of this song by Rich Mullins (one of my favorite, favorite artists): The Love of God

I hope that I, and you, will choose to remember (or, more accurately, let ourselves be reminded) daily the reckless, raging love of God that redeems and saves us.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Francis Shaeffer and the Undead (Zombie Theology)

What? Two posts in one week? Pick yourself off of the floor!

As regular readers know, I have been keeping up with season four of "The Walking Dead" (TWD). I've been trying to figure out my fascination with it.  I hate blood and gore, of which there are plenty on the show, so I spend many minutes with my eyes closed. I like happy endings, and happy stories, and happy people. Not so far, not too many, and not too often. Yet I am hooked.

I am also reading Francis Schaeffer's book, True Spirituality.Schaeffer was a Christian theologian who lived from 1912-1984. True Spirituality tells of Schaeffer's examination of his faith and exposition of what it means to live life, real life, as a believer in Christ. I will confess: I've only read the first two chapters. However unlikely, the first chapter of Schaeffer's book gives me a clue why I am so fascinated with "The Walking Dead."

Schaeffer posits in the first chapter (as I understand it), that the breaking of the ten commandments (and, by extension, all sin) is rooted in the inward sin of covetousness. He states, on page seven:
We must see that to love God with all the heart, mind, and soul is not to covet against God; and to love man, to love our neighbor as ourselves, is not to covet against man. When I do not love the Lord as I should, I am coveting against the Lord. And when I do not love my neighbor as I should, I am coveting against him.
Schaeffer sees coveting as wanting something other than what God has given and believing that God is wrong in what He gives, and as wanting what someone else has. For most of us, once we are past the age of about ten, coveting is inward. We don't just tell our friend that we want their cute clothes or their great car or their wonderful boyfriend. But we think it. As adults, many of us struggle with wanting someone else's talents or looks or relationships. We don't much talk about it, but it's always there, under the surface.

Zombies on TWD (disclaimer: I am not an expert on the genre or mythology of zombies) have one goal: To eat. They have one preferred food: Human flesh. They want what they want, they want it now, and they don't care who gets hurt in the process. Their one and only purpose is keeping themselves alive (well, kind of, in an undead sort of way).

Zombies, to me, are the graphic image of the sin nature that is at the core of each of us. We hide it, we dress it up, we fight it, but each of us have needs or desires that we pursue with single-mindedness and without much caring whether someone else gets hurt as long as we get what we want. In our lives, the sin is usually disguised, but, in our worst moments, most of us recognize that we really do want what we want and intend to get it.

The people on TWD are not yet zombies (spoiler alert if you've never watched), but as soon as they die, that's what they become. They are "zombies walking" who have only two fates: To become a zombie or to have their brain destroyed as soon as they die to prevent this. There is no cure. I have not read the comic book series upon which the show is based, so I don't know if a cure is ever found.

All of us are "zombies walking" in the sense that we are sick with sin. There is no human cure. I can try really, really hard, but I will still internally covet something someone else has. Schaeffer puts it like this: "'Thou shalt not covet' is the internal commandment that shows the man who thinks himself to be moral that he really needs a Savior." (p. 7)

The characters on TWD need to be rescued. They need someone to save them from death. I need to be rescued. I need someone to save me from death. If I were writing TWD, there would be a rescuer. There would be a savior. In my life, God sends a rescuer. He sends a savior. The raging zombie of sin has been forgiven and redeemed by the love of Jesus. I am no longer enslaved to covetousness. I no longer have to fear death:

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed[emphasis mine]. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory?    O death, where is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Life, Zombies, and the Pursuit of Love

A blog? Oh, yeah, I have one. This being in love thing kinda takes up a lot of brain space. Speaking of love, many people know that I am, as unlikely as it may seem, a fan of the AMC show "The Walking Dead." Two words: Zombie apocalypse.

I was watching the most recent episode, "Claimed" (season 4, episode 11), a few days ago. Once again, all hell has broken loose. The safe haven the survivors had claimed was destroyed, and the makeshift family they had formed was disbanded. No one knows who's alive and who's dead. Various group of two or three are trying to figure out what to do next and where to go. 

Part of the fascination for me with this show involves imagining what I would do if something like this really happened. There are enemies everywhere, there is no hope in sight for a cure, and life consists of fighting zombies and trying to find enough food and water to survive. Even death holds no peace (spoiler alert) because once you die, you turn into a flesh-eating zombie. A question the characters wrestle with over and over is whether to keep fighting for survival or to just give up. What is the point? There is no safe place, no solution, no rest.

As the past few episodes have played out, I noticed that almost every character carries on because of the love they have for someone else. A father for his son. A little sister for a big sister. A husband for a wife. The one goal of the these characters is to find or protect their loved one. They don't rest, they risk death, they pursue even in the face of overwhelming odds. The following clip shows one character's (Beth's) determination to find her sister and others:

The world we live in remains free of zombies, but, nonetheless, it is not safe. People hurt us. They leave. They die. Worse, we hurt other people. We leave. We die. We sin against God and others every single day. I wonder how Jesus sees our world? Do we look like survivors of a zombie apocalypse, wandering around in our rags, seeking family in a war zone? Jesus came to us in our mess to rescue us. More ardently than Glenn seeks Maggie (think Romeo and Juliet. Except older, dirtier, and much better with knives), Jesus seeks us. As we run after the loves we desire, He pursues us, knowing that only His love for us will save us from futility and death. 

That desire of the survivors of the zombie apocalypse to find their family? The passion and purpose that impels them to keep going though thirsty, hungry, and wounded? It reflects, but only dimly, the passionate pursuit of our Savior.

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Next! (Time to Switch Rooms)

Waiting and I are old friends. All of us have, are, and will be waiting for many things. I have waited to grow up. Waited to understand about Who Jesus is. Waited a really long time to forge an emotional connection with God. But, as almost everyone who's even met me knows, the waiting room that I have inhabited the longest is the Singleness Waiting Room.

I've been in this Singleness Waiting Room for over twenty years.  I've seen most of my fellow waiting room guests get called into the next room. I've celebrated their transition joyfully (not without envy, but with genuine happiness). I've read all the magazines. I know where the bathroom is. I know where to get snacks. I've shed lots of tears there, prayed lots of prayers there, and even had some parties there. I've met God there, grown there, become comfortable with my role there.

All I have ever wanted while in this Singleness Waiting Room is to get out of it. Yet, now that there is the possibility of my name finally (finally!) getting called, well, I've discovered that while I hate waiting, change is also very scary. I know how to wait in this room (not always well, but I understand the process). I've gained a deeper knowledge of God than I could have gotten anywhere else in my life. I know this drill. I know my fellow sojourners. I know my identity and role in this place.

Hebrews 11:8 says this: "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going."

Abraham was more or less minding his own business when God told him to take his family and follow the Lord to a new place. An inheritance and a legacy were promised. But Abraham had no idea what it would look like, where it would be, or what would happen. Even after leaving and following it was years before Isaac, the son of the promise, was born. 

I don't know for sure what my future holds. From all I can discern from the exciting things happening in my life, God is calling my name to move into a new waiting room.  However, the room may be different, but the waiting hasn't ceased.  Is He calling me to marriage? I have to wait to know that for sure. When would it happen? Waiting for that too. How do I learn to live a life joined together with another person and God instead of just me and God? Waiting. Just like Abraham, I don't know where I am going.

I will have to get to know this new waiting room. To figure out where the snacks are, who the other visitors are, what the Lord wants to teach me now. I've long said and believed that we are all waiting for something. I'm just now starting to grasp that the waiting never ends. In Romans, Paul talks about how all of creation is waiting for the Lord to come back and to do His redemptive work:
 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25, NIV).

I must trust the Lord that He will be as present and as faithful in the new waiting room as He was in the old, and that the lessons I have learned will not be forgotten. Though I don't know where I am going, He does. I must be willing to move from the familiar to the unknown so that I can see, like Abraham, what new blessings the Lord may have for me.