Tomorrow will be better if you wait

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap] like coffee. Any kind of coffee. Hot or cold, blended or iced, black or with cream, Americano or latte, plain or flavored. Whatever. I like it all. In the heat of summertime in Kansas, there’s almost nothing better than a big Frappucino from Starbucks (yes, I like Starbucks coffee).

I didn’t used to like them, though, because they didn’t last very long. And once I finished, I was left with a cup full of partially melted ice mixed with watered-down coffee and slightly chocolate-flavored foamy stuff. Bleck! It was so much better to get hot coffee and sip it slowly.

But during the summer in Kansas where we had more than 30 days over 100 degrees, I broke down and bought a Frappucino. But something happened, and I had to let it sit for a moment before I could come back to it. And guess what? When I was done, I didn’t have ice left.

At first, I thought it was a fluke. But the next time I got a Frappucino, I let it sit for a little while, and the same thing happened. I let the ice get started melting, and I sipped it slowly. It lasted much longer, and it tasted much better than it did when I drank it all quickly.

It was better to wait

But waiting is hard. It takes effort and discipline. It takes concentration because you have to constantly remind yourself why you’re choosing to wait. You have to force your brain to remember that the end result will be better if you just hold your horses.

I’m not good at waiting. I see a path that looks promising, and I want to run down it at full speed, barefoot, hair loose, no bags packed or itinerary planned. And I don’t care if I skin my knees or break my toes or have to turn around seven times. At least I’m moving forward, right?

But sometimes moving forward only causes more trouble.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]You don’t escape from quicksand; you’re rescued.[/su_pullquote]

Think about quicksand. Your instinct is to fight to escape, to kick and thrash and flail, but that only makes you sink faster. But you don’t escape from quicksand; you’re rescued. And your best hope to survive is to hold still and wait.

Life’s like that too. But if you think that waiting is the same as doing nothing, you’re wrong.

Waiting is hardest job you’ll ever work. It’s the most challenging class in the school of hard knocks. It’s the most impossible obstacle course you’ll ever run.

Our culture has forgotten how to wait. We live in a world of instant gratification. We’re ruled by our watches and our calendars, and we’ve learned to settle for what’s passable and immediate rather than what’s excellent and inconvenient.

I’m so guilty of this, but I learned the hard way that I can’t rush God.

lam3-26He’s got plans for me, just like He has plans for you. But no matter how badly I want to achieve His goal for my life, I don’t get to decide when it happens. I can strive and fight and push and run as hard as I can, but I can’t move Him. God does what He wants. I can’t change that. And if I really understood His plans, I wouldn’t want to change it.

The Bible says it’s good to wait on God (Lamentations 3:26). I struggle with that. Nothing about waiting is good. It turns your stomach upside down. It turns your hair gray. It makes you cranky and irritable.

Or does it? Does waiting really do all that? Or do we do that to ourselves because we refuse to relinquish control of our lives, our dreams, our plans to the Person who already owns them?

Stuck in summer

I wake up in the morning, and I stare down a beautiful curving path into an autumn forest. Line with golden-leafed trees, blazing red maples and shimmering, white-barked aspens, and it smells like cinnamon and nutmeg and joy. There’s a giant pile of leaves just ready for me to dive into, and pumpkin-flavored everything is waiting just out of reach.

But I can’t get there because I’m stuck in summer. In the heat and the deadness of post-harvest dirt. There’s no end in sight. And I want that world so badly I can taste it, and I can see exactly how I’m supposed to get there. So why shouldn’t I run? Why shouldn’t I just leap forward and reach for that dream? It’s right there.

[su_pullquote] While I’m waiting, I’m learning who God is.[/su_pullquote]

But it isn’t just right there. I can’t see the twists and turns. I can’t see the distance or the effort or the disappointments or the successes that I’ll need to experience before I get there. But God can. And that’s why I have to wait.

That’s why waiting matters. That’s why waiting is good. Just like a Frappucino is better once the ice has started melting, tomorrow will be better if I wait until God says it’s time to run.

lam3-22-23Choosing to wait is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Making the conscious decision to set aside what I want right now in favor of what God wants right now has taken more faith than I thought I had. But I’m still here. I’m still waiting. And I’m not going to stop, because while I’m waiting, I’m learning who God is and who He wants me to be.

Every morning, I get to start over fresh (Lamentations 3:22-24). New day, new mercy, same God. He doesn’t change. He won’t be rushed. And His timing really is perfect.

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God’s timing is perfect, even though it means we have to wait

I was irritated at God last week.

Yeah, I don’t like admitting that, but I was. Not angry. Just put out. See, I’d known that this whole freelancing thing was 100% dependent on clients. Eventually I want to get to the place where my novels will support me, but I’m not even close to that yet. So it’s freelancing that’s putting food in my mouth. And my big main client’s workload was starting to diminish, just like I knew it would. But nobody was stepping up to take its place.

But every time I sat down to start beating the online streets for new clients, something would happen. My internet would crash. Some issue would blow up with the publishing company. Something crazy would happen that would take my attention away from the search for clients. Later, every time I would sit down to contact people, I just had this overwhelming sense of hesitation, and I only experience that when God is trying to tell me not to do something.

Really? He doesn’t want me to announce that I need clients? What difference could that possibly make to Him?

Well, we had a conversation, me and God, and it came back down to the very same issue we struggle with constantly. Trust. He wants me to trust Him. He wants me to believe that He has everything under control and that I’m not the one who’s in charge of my own wellbeing. It’s not the freelancing that’s putting food on my table, it’s His grace. And that’s hard.

It’s so hard to let go of that thing you think you need to do. And if you’re doing it because God says to? I mean, you can’t exactly talk about your reasons with other people because you’ll come off like a lunatic. So I came to my decision. I decided to trust Him. To not even ask for new clients. To just let Him bring them in His time.

I don’t like to wait for anything, generally. Patience is something I struggle with on a daily basis, but some things are worth waiting for. Waiting for your coffee to cool off is worth it. Waiting for the gasoline to finish pumping in your car is worth it. You get the idea. But if there’s one thing I can’t stand waiting for? It’s an answer.

Whether it’s from the doctor or a friend or a family member or a coworker or even God Himself, waiting for an answer drives me insane. So as a result, I often run ahead. I refuse to sit still while others think about the what if’s and the whyfores and the such-and-suches. I make up my mind, I figure out a way to do everything by myself, and I forge ahead, often alone. And while being a self-motivated, independent thinker is always a good strength, it can become a great weakness … especially when you start running ahead of God.

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Big yellow jungle flower at the Tropics Exhibit, Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Luke 14:25-28.

Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

Have you ever had to wait on an answer from God? Let me tell you, there’s very little else that runs my limited reservoir of patience dry than waiting on God to answer a question I’ve asked that I think is time sensitive.

Think about that. I’m irritated at God because my request is time sensitive. He’s the One who made time. Who do I think I am to be irritated at Him?

Anyway, God works in his own time, and what I’ve learned is that He never stops providing for His children. Everything He gives to His children is right on time. Not on their timetable but always on His, and that’s better … because He knows what we need and when we need it. And we just don’t. And if God cares for birds and flowers to the extent the verses describe, how much more does He care about you and me?

God won’t ever let us go it alone in the world. Yes, waiting is hard. Keeping the status quo is hard, especially if you’re one of those people who likes to improve things. But if God is calling you to stop for a while, you need to stop. If He’s calling you to stay still or go climb a mountain or read a book or bake a cake, you need to do it, and you need to do it now, whether it makes sense to you or not. Maybe you think it feels like a waste of time, but nothing God asks you to do will ever be wasted. Not ever.

And as for me and my client situation? No sooner had I told God I would stay put and let Him provide than two clients appeared. Is that an accident? No, it’s not. It’s just an example of how God takes care of us. Are you waiting on an answer from God? I think everybody is. But don’t be discouraged. He’ll answer when it’s time, and His timing is always perfect.

Getting ahead of God only makes more trouble in the end

Last Friday didn’t go the way I expected. And I mean, in a major way. I’d spent all day Wednesday and all day Thursday helping a friend get ready for a Seder Meal, and it was so much fun! But it was time consuming. But I knew I’d have all of Friday to catch up on work stuff.

I got home from the Seder Meal around 11pm, and I’d just gotten into bed and was almost asleep when a gust of wind hit the house so hard that I thought my bedroom windows would shatter.

I laid still for a moment, because usually with wind gusts, they die down a second after they hit. But this one didn’t. It kept blowing–and blowing–and blowing, and the windows were in danger of shaking apart in their sills. That’s when I realized it wasn’t going to stop.

So I jumped out of bed and scrambled down to the main floor of the house where my parents were also up, and that’s when we heard this massive crash outside. And then the power went out.

No big deal. Power outages are fairly common in the country, but it wasn’t how I’d planned to spend my sleeping hours on Thursday/Friday. When it became clear that the power wasn’t going to come back on, we settled back in to sleep. We got a few hours in, and when we climbed out of bed, the power was still off. When the sun was up, we tried to assess damage (which was minor), except for the machine shed across the drive that had lost its roof (it ended up in the yard).

We waited. And waited. And waited, and still the power didn’t come back on. Wichita had been hit severely too. Lots of folks had damage. Lots of folks were without power. But my grandparents in Wichita? They still had power. That meant they had running water and internet access. And I desperately needed to get some work done.

So by 2pm Friday afternoon, my folks and I decided to go into Wichita. It worked great. Went in. Got a little bit of work done. Got an okay night’s sleep, and we came back out to the farm Saturday morning. And guess what we found?

Yup. The power was back on! Hooray! It was great news! … and then we discovered that the power had come back on 3pm Friday. It had come back on an hour after we left.

Figures, right?

Shabbat candle at the 2015 Seder Meal, Andover, KS

Shabbat candle at the 2015 Seder Meal, Andover, KS

Today’s verse is Micah 7:7.

As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
I wait confidently for God to save me,
and my God will certainly hear me.

Too often I run ahead of God. I want what I want, and I won’t wait for Him to tell me what He wants me to do. I’ve followed the Lord long enough to know how He reacts to my stubborn heart. He lets me go my own way for a little while until I’ve worn myself out, and then He gently leads me back to where I started.

That’s how He does it sometimes. Other times, He smacks me on the back of the head, and I can almost hear Him say, “Really? Again?”

It’s not easy to take our plans to God. You have to stop what you’re doing and turn them over and then stand still while you wait for Him to show you what He wants you to do. Granted, sometimes you don’t have time to wait, and you have to make a decision immediately. It’s in those times you need to make sure your heart is in the right place and that you’re seeking God with everything you have.

But in the moments in life where you have a choice to make and you have time to think about it, it’s really tempting to just run ahead of God. It’s easy to base your decisions on what’s right for you instead of what God says is right.

It’s so much easier to just pack up and go into town where you can have an internet connection. But is it really easier? Or is it just busy work so you can feel like you’re accomplishing something? If we’d have stayed put, we would have had power without having to pack everything up and carry it into Wichita.

In the end, it probably cost us more money, and I know it cost us extra time and frustration and logistical issues. How many times has that same scenario played out in my life? I run into an unexpected obstacle, and I face a choice–to do what I want to do or to wait until God tells me.

It’s not easy to wait. Even if you’re actively waiting, you still feel like you’re not doing anything (that’s a lie, by the way).

Now, in this instance, I did get to visit with my grandparents, and that was great. But what about the next time I run into some inconvenience in my life? Will I remember to ask God what He wants me to do? Or will I just do what I want because it seems to be the easiest option at the time?

Think about it now. Decide where you’ll go for help now before you need it. And don’t be afraid to wait on God.