Just because you’re still waiting doesn’t mean you’re lost

My yard is full of weeds. We don’t have a lawn here at Safe Haven Farm. We have weeds, and at certain times of year, the green “grass” is practically yellow with all the dandelions. But it’s not worth pulling them up. One, there are just too many of them. Two, their roots are so deep and so intertwined with the other plants that you can’t ever uproot them completely. And, three, even if you get them all up, the seeds will still plant themselves in spite of your efforts. So out here, we don’t worry about them.

It’s a never-ending battle with weeds. If you garden, you understand. Could you imagine what gardening would be like without weeds? But weeds never go away, kind of like other unchanging circumstances in our lives. Maybe it would be easier to live without those situations or relationships, but that’s not the path we’re walking.

See, following God is easy when He asks us to do easy things. When He asks us to help a friend, when He asks us to be kind to someone who has been kind to us, when He asks us to be thankful for all the good things He’s given us, those are all pretty easy to accomplish. I mean, I don’t know many people who would turn a friend away if they needed help. And most people I know are kind in return when someone else is kind to them. And from personal experience, I know it’s easy to be thankful for all the blessings God has given me. But following Christ isn’t about the easy moments.

pexels-photoToday’s verse is Hosea 12:6.

So now, come back to your God.
Act with love and justice,
and always depend on him.

I prefer using the New Living Translation when I read the Bible, but when I want a deeper word study, I use the Amplified Bible. And this verse is interesting in the Amplified Version:

Therefore return to your God! Hold fast to love and mercy, to righteousness and justice, and wait [expectantly] for your God continually!

The part that caught my eye this time is the last bit. That part about waiting expectantly always stings, because I’m good at waiting. But waiting expectantly is different than just waiting. Waiting expectantly means you fully believe that God’s going to do something. What really grabbed my attention was the very last word in the verse: continually. 

Stop and think about that for a moment. Wait expectantly for God continually.

That means we’re supposed to be still and expect God to do great things all the freakin’ time. Not just on Sundays. Not just on Wednesdays or whenever you’re at church. Not when you pray. Not when you’re singing in the choir. All the time. Continually. Of course, that also means God is continually doing great things, and we’re the ones who aren’t paying attention.

Sometimes we lose our patience because we have to keep waiting. In our instant-gratification culture, waiting for anything usually indicates that we’ve made a wrong turn or a wrong decision. But that’s not always the case when you’re following Jesus.

Being a disciple of Jesus means that we walk His footsteps, and Jesus didn’t have an easy life. We are to help friends, but we’re also supposed to love our enemies. We are to be kind to everyone, not just the people who are kind to us but those who hate us. And yes be thankful for the good things, but we’re also commanded to give thanks for the “bad” things too.

The Christian life isn’t sunshine and daisies all the time. It’s more like hurricanes and dandelions. It’s pulling up weeds that never stop growing. It’s trusting that God is right even when everything in your life feels wrong, and it’s waiting and waiting and waiting because you believe that God’s going to work things out.

Just because you have to keep waiting doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path. It actually might mean you’re on the right one.

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.

A beautiful rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Commit everything you do to God

I don’t do this very often, but every now and then I just need reassurance from God that He has a plan and that He’s not going to let me fail as long as I’m following Him.

So here is one of my favorite Psalms. It cheered me up immensely this morning, and I thought I’d share.

A beautiful rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

A beautiful rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Psalm 37

Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.

For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.

He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.

For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

Soon the wicked will disappear.
Though you look for them, they will be gone.

The lowly will possess the land
and will live in peace and prosperity.

The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.

But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.

The wicked draw their swords
and string their bows
to kill the poor and the oppressed,
to slaughter those who do right.

But their swords will stab their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and rich.

For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the Lord takes care of the godly.

Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.

They will not be disgraced in hard times;
even in famine they will have more than enough.

But the wicked will die.
The Lord’s enemies are like flowers in a field—
they will disappear like smoke.

The wicked borrow and never repay,
but the godly are generous givers.

Those the Lord blesses will possess the land,
but those he curses will die.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.

Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.

The godly always give generous loans to others,
and their children are a blessing.

Turn from evil and do good,
and you will live in the land forever.

For the Lord loves justice,
and he will never abandon the godly.

He will keep them safe forever,
but the children of the wicked will die.

The godly will possess the land
and will live there forever.

The godly offer good counsel;
they teach right from wrong.

They have made God’s law their own,
so they will never slip from his path.

The wicked wait in ambush for the godly,
looking for an excuse to kill them.

But the Lord will not let the wicked succeed
or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.

Put your hope in the Lord.
Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land.
You will see the wicked destroyed.

I have seen wicked and ruthless people
flourishing like a tree in its native soil.

But when I looked again, they were gone!
Though I searched for them, I could not find them!

Look at those who are honest and good,
for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.

But the rebellious will be destroyed;
they have no future.

The Lord rescues the godly;
he is their fortress in times of trouble.

The Lord helps them,
rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them,
and they find shelter in him

Buckingham Palace just before the changing of the guard, London, England, UK

God’s never late, we’re just impatient

I want things done when I want them done. When I’m ready for something to happen, I want it now. I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to be patient. And the last thing I want to do is to sit back and let God take care of it. Why? Because His timetable absolutely runs too slow for me.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned–or maybe relearned–in the last six months it’s that God’s timing is truly perfect. I know I’ve posted about it before. It seems to be a reminder I get frequently, but maybe that’s because I need it frequently.

Buckingham Palace just before the changing of the guard, London, England, UK

Buckingham Palace just before the changing of the guard, London, England, UK

Today’s verses are Habakkuk 2:2-3.

Then the Lord said to me,
“Write my answer plainly on tablets,
    so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
This vision is for a future time.
    It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
    for it will surely take place.
    It will not be delayed.

Yesterday morning I watched my best friend hike up the ramp to the security line at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport where she would board a flight that would ultimately end in Manchester, England around 2:30 a.m. this morning (US Central time). It was the day I’d been anticipating (with equal parts dread and excitement) since January. I knew she was leaving, but neither of us were really sure when. We were both waiting to see when God would give the go-ahead.

He did. And Katie jumped.

I don’t know why she couldn’t go in June, which is when she had originally planned. I know I was thankful for the extra time with her, but it wasn’t what she had expected.

There are so many things in life that don’t happen the way we plan for, and sometimes that can be really frustrating. I’m a planner. I like things to work out the way I expect. And then when God turns my plans on their head and things turn out better than I could have ever dreamed, I know He’s up there shaking His head at me. Maybe someday I’ll learn. I’m still working on it.

I guess I just felt the need to remind myself that God really does know what He’s doing. I know that. And I believe it with all my heart.

He’s not late.

His plan is progressing exactly the way it’s supposed to, in the time it’s supposed to, with the people it’s supposed to. No accidents. No coincidences. And when everything is ready, He’ll say jump–and that’s when we need to be ready to spring into action.

Waiting can make you weary after a while. I know that better than most. But you just have to remember that if God’s answer seems slow in coming, it’s because He’s still setting up the pieces. If it seems to you that He’s not moving, just be patient. Just keep waiting. And you’ll see. He’ll come through. He always does.

It just doesn’t always look like you expect it.

You may leave in July instead of June. You may invest your life in other people instead of your own children. You may switch careers. You may leave everything you know behind.

Everything happens for a reason. Even waiting.

The crooked path to the top of Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

Opportunities aren’t accidents

Have you ever had the opportunity to sit back and watch God work? There have been moments in my life where I’ve been able to see Him working in ways that only He could, but  I can honestly tell you that I’ve never seen Him so obviously than in the last six months.

God has opened so many doors. He’s been so present and has provided for me in so many different ways that I can’t even begin to explain it all. And I can trace it all back to a single moment in January this year when I finally said Yes to what He’d been telling me to do since last August.

God has plans, and they’re good plans. And He doesn’t just dump people into the midst of His plans when they aren’t prepared or equipped. Maybe they aren’t prepared or equipped when it starts, but by the time God says go, they’re ready.

But no matter how life works out, one thing is certain: We can plan and prepare and try to make up our own minds about our futures all day long, but God is the one who truly calls the shots. And we can either get on board with that or we can keep hurtling helter-skelter down a path we’re forging on our own, blind and ineffective until we wear ourselves out and end up going back to Him anyway.

The crooked path to the top of Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

The crooked path to the top of Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 10:23.

I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
    We are not able to plan our own course.

So much of life is waiting. I’ve blogged about that before. I hate waiting. I hate it. I want to be up doing something, preparing for what’s ahead so I can anticipate and control a situation and pretend like I have some type of command.

I’m trying to learn to love waiting, and in the last six months, I’ve made great strides toward that because it’s become more apparent to me than ever how and why God makes us wait.

I was talking to a friend in the Starbucks parking lot the other night about baking cakes. When you mix up a cake and throw it in the oven, it would be so much easier to just eat the batter right then. Cake batter is awesome. But it’s not cake. If you want cake, you have to wait (yes, even if the cake is a lie, you still have to wait).

God often calls us to a time of waiting so we can develop and grow and get stronger and learn what we need to learn. Maybe we just need to learn how to trust Him.

Waiting isn’t punishment or a curse. It’s a gift, marvelous, quiet downtime when you realign and get your thoughts straight and focus on grounding yourself in truth. Because when God says jump, you’d better be ready to jump.

When God is ready for you to go, you need to go. And when you say yes, don’t think for a moment that things will slow down. Actually, they’ll get faster and crazier and more awesome than you imagine.

God has planned the direction of your life, and it’s up to you to say yes to His will. Or do you think He forces you? No. God doesn’t force us to do anything, but He won’t always intervene when we end up stuck in the hole we dug for ourselves.

What is God telling you to do today? Is He telling you to wait? Is He telling you to jump? Whatever it is, just say yes. Do what He’s telling you to do. Stop fighting Him.

If He’s opened a door and made a way for you to do something, do it. Make sure it’s from Him–make sure it’s in line with Scripture and it won’t cause you to compromise on the truth of Scripture–and go for it with everything you have.

Opportunities in your path aren’t accidents. They’re strategic. God has created you unique. Whether you believe it or not, you have gifts and abilities that no one else has, and God wants you to be able to use those talents to reach other people with His love.

Don’t doubt the gifts God’s given you. Don’t take credit for them either, but don’t doubt them. Doubting them isn’t humility; it’s insecurity and fear. God has made you to do awesome things for Him.

Don’t doubt Him. Don’t doubt His plan. It’s okay to be afraid, but don’t let that fear keep you from saying yes to God.