A God of waiting

Day 5 – A God of waiting

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!

You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!

10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
    but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

In this passage we are introduced to a psalmist waiting. Is this psalm also a pep talk for himself? For his men? Is it internal or external dialogue?

We don’t really know the occasion of the psalm, but we do know that it offers encouragement to the reader in distress and hardship. Matthew Henry’s Commentary references the encouragement to Hope in Him that others receive from the psalm, and implores the reader to “let our hearts be thus affected in singing the psalm.”

Encouragement in the waiting. I like that. I need that.

Are you in a season of waiting? What are you waiting for? Sometimes we know and sometimes we do not. Sometimes we can only see the season of waiting in hind sight. We look back and say, “Oh we were waiting! God was doing His thing and here we are.” At other times, we feel stuck in the waiting process. We can literally feel the waiting pressing in. We are acutely aware of something coming and God’s call to wait on Him, to sit with Him for this moment, to be still and wait.

Let’s look back at the psalm for understanding –
In verse 8, the dialogue between the psalmist and God is gorgeous!
God asks us to seek Him, we respond with the heart cry, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
There is an assurance in that dialogue. We can return to it over and over again.

Verse 9 has the psalmist asking “cast me not off!” This is a prayer for protection in the waiting. Protection from adversaries, from life’s troubles, from loneliness and anxiety. We also can pray for protection.

In verse 10, the author focuses on the promises of God –
O God of my salvation… (others have forsaken me)… the Lord will take me in.”

When have you felt forsaken by others? When have you felt misunderstood? When have you struggled with where you were placed for a certain time? God hears your heart and understands. God takes us in through the waters of Baptism and never lets go. He hears us. He never forsakes us.

In verse 13, the author proclaims, “I will look on the Lord in the land of the living…” Essentially, the psalmist tells us, no matter how this shakes out, we have hope, we can trust, we stand on the solid rock of Eternity.

And finally, verse 14. Wait for the Lord.
I firmly believe that God finds so much value in the waiting. That is so often where His work is done, in the deep places of our hearts. It takes courage, girls, but we have it in abundance from a resurrection God.

Remember the promise of our Heart verse:
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, find mercy and help.
Help! We have help!

Keep approaching the throne, whether your season is challenging or ravishing, or wonderfully abundant, or lean and tight. God is in the waiting, He is God of the waiting. He invites us to rest in the waiting.

Discussion questions:
What is the hardest part for you about waiting?
What comes to mind when you picture God sitting on His throne of grace?
What would you like to ask God for help with today?

God’s time, my time, and getting them on the same page

Day Four – God’s time, my time, and getting them on the same page

Ecclesiastes 3:1 –
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
This verse is the introduction for the poetic form found in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8, which will be the bulk of our study. Take a moment and underline in your Bible or on your page how many instances there are of the word time in verses 2-8, found below.
“a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
28 times in 7 verses! 4x in a verse. Clearly a major message of this passage is time: God’s time, our experience of time, and where the two meet.
First, let’s firm up what we know about God’s time. You don’t have to go very far to get a good overview. Let’s look at verses from the end of Ecclesiastes 3, as well as a couple of other parts of Scripture.
Ecclesiastes 3:11, 14
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end…I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.  That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
2 Peter 3:8-10
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
Acts 1:6-8
“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Here are some touch points we learn from these verses:
·      * God’s time is indeed different from our own and it is something that is revealed to us as He sees fit.
·      * God makes everything beautiful in time. (Thank you, Jesus!)
       * The fullness of God’s time is written on our hearts. We yearn for Him and His time and our hearts know that the way we experience time is not all there is. Just as we long to know Him, we long to know and understand His time. In this we live in a duality. We seek His timing in our lives, honoring that He knows better and His time is better, but we also leave this work to Him. What does this balance look like? That’s a good question for discussion!
·       * Everything, absolutely everything happens under God’s counsel.
·       * God is concerned ALWAYS, first and foremost, with the salvation of people. In everything in our lives then, when we consider timing, we can ask ourselves “What is God concerned with here? Where would He have me place my priority?”
·       * The time of God is very much wrapped up in the character of God. We can not understand one without the other. For instance, God is merciful and looks for opportunities to show mercy and grace. We see this in His patience, His seeking “of what has been driven away”, and His sending of the Holy Spirit in Acts, for Divine guidance and comfort.
We want to believe that we have complete control over our lives. We want to believe that if we just manage our time well, then the ducks will all line up in a successful row. In reality, in having free will we have some control, however, we can only work within God’s framework and counsel or chose to strive outside of it, which will end up as a constant battle as we grapple for control…that isn’t ours to have (Luther’s Works, vol. 15).
Even Jesus had to work within God’s time during His incarnation. In John 7:30 we see this reality:
“So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.”
His time, not yet come, but when it did…wow! The earth shook and the curtain ripped in two, salvation come to us, the inner sanctuary forever opened to His children. His time was worth the wait then, and I’m positive it’s worth the wait now.
Precious sisters, let’s step back, and hand it to Him in prayer.
Lord, Your time is so much better than my impatience. You know the hours, and the days, and the minutes of our lives, and of the lives of those we love. Lord, help us look to you always. Help us trust in Your time, in Your seasons, in Your purpose and plans for our lives. We lay whatever concerns we have on our hearts before you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Discussion questions:
Is time important to you? Are you a punctual person or do you tend toward being a bit late (or really late)?
What areas of life do you most often like to have control?

Heart verse:
I perceived that what God does endures forever
                                                               Ecclesiastes 3:14a

A long time in coming…

16 years ago I started a journey. I was far from mature, but I knew God had a place for me in this life, things for me to do. I was sure this place was exotic and wonderful. I took classes to be a deaconess. I married my stand-up husband, I worked to get him through grad school, and followed him to the far reaches of the earth- well, at least to Northwest Ohio. 8 hours from home and 30 miles to the nearest Aldi and TJ Maxx.

Far from exotic, I lived in the corn fields. It was shocking to me that people lived without sidewalks, and finding a friend took a few years and is still one of my greatest struggles. Those early months were so hard. It was lonely, confusing, and consisted of me vacillating from embracing my new life to yelling at God for torturing me so. I took a deep breath. I joined a bible study full of wonderful women, real women, with real problems, who really loved the Lord.

In the next 9 years, I came to the conclusion that is the force behind this blog. My life will continuously be a struggle this side of heaven. All of our lives will. But it will also be filled with sweet, sweet joy, continuously finding that wonderfully exotic place God has for me, wherever he has so deemed to put me.

As a pastor’s wife, I find that I am not alone in this struggle. I have sat beside, chatted with, and prayed with many women, just trying to figure out how to best balance the eight thousand balls they juggle in the air that comes with the territory. Sisters, this blog is for all you women juggling and discerning and trying to be all in. I hear your heart. I see your struggle. I laugh with you when the joy comes.

I love my shepherd and I know you do too.

I love my Shepherd. I love Jesus and all that his grace has been and done and redeemed me from in my life. How do I make my life about Him? How do I seek Him in everything, everyday?

I love my shepherd. I love my husband and struggle to show him this each day, in the midst of everyday marital junk and joy. I watch him in his work and am so proud of God’s work through him, so devastated when he hurts, and so tired of being lonely in the imperfection of it all. How do I love him best? How do I build him up, instead of tear him down?

I love the people God has entrusted to me, all those precious people He puts in my path. Some of you are moms, some of you are nurses, some are engineers. God has a path and a place for each of us, but on this journey, because he has given us our husbands to support, we are in ministry. This looks different for each of us. No necessary talents required, like playing the organ or teaching Sunday School. We follow the way God chooses to use us, but we are doing ministry and are each women of influence, each in our own place. How do I love the people God has put in my path? How do I share Him, while sharing my husband, and balancing life and work and children, and a clean home, and friends, and attempting to get a devotion in?

So I have a new leg of my journey. I am looking forward to talking and laughing with you, finding resources to help women and families in the struggle, and offering opportunities for sharing our hearts with others who understand.

This blog is meant to be simply a piece of all that. It will be real. I firmly believe healing comes through realness, authenticity, and honesty in not just who God is, but what he’s brought me through. I will be blessed if you join me in this journey.