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.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Not the Goal, but the Getting There

"Joy in the journey." Hearing that phrase makes me cringe. On every set of personality profiles I have taken, I am in the group who are fairly logical, highly bossy, and extremely goal-directed. I don't want to enjoy the journey. I want to get to the end of the journey and get the prize.

As a Christian, I have often been exhorted to enjoy the process rather than be so focused on the end result. Yeah, yeah, whatever, just tell me what to do to succeed and leave me alone so I can figure out how to get to the end. I've had glimpses along the way where I have seen the wisdom in these exhortations, but I am quickly lured back into the pursuit of the end goal, reasoning that the faster I get to the end, the more time I can bask in the joy of arriving.

One of the newest adventures I am living is that of marriage. I was single a long time, and God taught me a lot through that experience. I've only been married about two years, and the Lord continues to teach me, reinforcing old lessons and introducing new ones. Recently I was feeling frustrated because (unsurprisingly), there are some areas in which both my husband and I continue to mess up, to need repentance, to ask forgiveness, and to try again.

For me, the area is that of speech. Anyone knowing me is aware that I tend toward criticizing and complaining, and have for my entire life. I can remember my parents telling me to stop being so critical when I was about eight years old. I have looked up Bible verses about speech. I have memorized them. I have prayed for God to help me. I have tried to uncover WHY this is my default. If I had a dollar for every time I have apologized to someone about my words, I would be rich. Yet I still do it. The Holy Spirit lives in me, and I have the power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead in me (see the whole book of Ephesians), but I still do battle with myself over the words that come out of my mouth and the need to share them with others, regardless of the effect. My husband has his areas which are similar. Places where he falls over and over and over and has to come to me and confess and ask forgiveness.

Our situation is not unique. All of us battle sins and faults. However, in my mind and heart I believed that somehow, if I just kept working hard, or praying hard, or spent enough time with God, I would be free of ever hurting someone with my words again, and then I would have arrived. I would be completely happy. Someday, my husband would overcome his difficulties, and, between both of our victories, our marriage would be the Shining Christian Example of Jesus at work.

That's a lot of pressure, to be perfect before I can be joyful. The result is that every time either of us fails (which is a lot), my happiness and view of my marriage and my relationship with the Lord takes a hit. The thoughts in my head include: "Why can't we GET this? We both love the Lord. We're both trying so hard." "I don't want to do this my whole life. I want to be done and able to just relax." "I want to have a good marriage, and be a glory to God. Instead, we're just a mess."

Yeah. . . lots wrong with all of those statements, actually. Last weekend I heard a message about King David. He was nearing the end of his life, and he was, once again, battling the Philistines. The theme of the message was David renewing his hope in the Lord. What I noticed and have been thinking about is that David never "arrived". He never had more than a few years of calm and peace. He starts out being anointed king of Israel, but has to wait over ten years to assume the crown, fighting and running and hiding throughout those years. Then, he still has to fight the enemies of Israel. He sins with Bathsheba and reaps the consequence of that choice for the rest of his life, his family dealing with the fallout for generations. Yet, in recounting the history of the later kings of Israel and Judah, they are always compared to David. The Lord promises David that his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).

David never got it all together, yet he is still put forth as an example of a man of faith. Thinking about this, I realized that my premise was faulty. I will never be perfect until I die. The whole reason I need Jesus is because I will never, ever be able to get it right. Yes, I need to keep learning and growing and drawing closer to the Lord, but I will never be able to say, "Hey, look at me! Look at my marriage! We have it all figured out and now we can relax because we made it and God is happy with us."

Because of Jesus, God is happy with me now. Even if I am still apologizing on my deathbed for something that I said, I can still be joyful because of my relationship with God. There IS NO arrival until I am with Jesus. There is ONLY the journey of drawing closer to the Lord and learning to love and know Him and others better. Just this morning, I read Psalm 16, which was written by David:

I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

  Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

  You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:8-11) 

My joy comes from the presence of the Lord, not my performance. Period. His presence is experienced during the journey, not only when I have completed it. May I have the eyes and heart to see and believe that truth.