Don’t you hate it when God uses your own words against you? Let me tell you…this waiting stuff is for the birds!
Yes, I say that facetiously, but there is truth in it as well. I am trying hard to keep my eyes on the future prize, but right now it is so hard. I find myself returning to the very things I have written on this blog—words that I know God intended for me to pen. Honestly, though, I am struggling—my heart is being torn to bits, fear invades my thoughts, anger wells up within me.
Just to give you a little background, I have been wrestling with God for nearly a year now. You might remember in Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestled with God all night long. After the match, Jacob insisted that “the man” bless him. Jacob named the place Peniel which means “face of God.” I think I might prefer to be in a physical wrestling match with God for one night rather than a year-long battle. Of course, if I’m honest, it’s my fault that it’s taken a year.
About a year ago, I was at the track walking. I was praying over a situation in my life begging God for wisdom and clarity, and I suddenly saw a direct correlation between things I had been praying several years earlier and some activities that had happened at the same time. It was a true moment of clarity. But, because it was something I knew that I wanted, I was very hesitant to accept it as a revelation from God.
As the months wore on, I continued to pray for God’s wisdom. Circumstances certainly were indicating that I had heard God’s voice, but I just wanted to make sure that I was not misinterpreting what I wanted for God’s voice. All summer long, I prayed and begged God for clarity. All summer long, I continued to see correlations between my prayers and things that were happening. All summer long, I continued to hear confirmations that it was God. All summer long, I continued to fear that I was misinterpreting my will for God’s will.
As the summer moved into winter, circumstances began to change—and not in a positive way. I continued to cry out to God. Lord, if this is your voice, why are things changing to go against what you have revealed to me? His response was, Love is patient. Circumstances continued to spiral out of control (in my opinion). His response was, Trust me. I’ve got this. I went through a period of depression—a deep, dark depression in which I couldn’t eat, I was irritable with my kids, and I did little other than cry and sleep. His response was, Focus on the spiritual growth of your children.
As we rounded the corner into the new year, He pulled me out of the depression. I continued to beg Him for clarity. I asked a trusted friend for her opinion only to have a response of, “I don’t know what to tell you.” (That was a rightful response as only I can know what God is saying to me.) The battle raged. I attempted to be obedient, trusting that He was in control and working toward spiritual growth in my children. I would walk in peace one day only to be blind-sided the next by unbelievable frustration.
February 3, 2013, was a pivotal day for me. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and our pastor was using Super Bowl commercials to illustrate biblical concepts. It was a great sermon, but there’s only one part that I remember. After one particular clip, the pastor read from John 10:4:
…His sheep … know his voice.
At that very moment, the Word pierced my heart as it has very few times in my life. With that brief portion of a verse, God said so much to me. In that moment, God said, “Dena, you are my dearly loved lamb. You have known me for many years, and you have followed me. You know my voice, and you know that it has been me talking to you. Now, accept my words as truth, and walk in faith.”
I knew immediately that it had been God speaking to me all along, not me trying to read my will into His. I had a confident faith that what God had been trying to tell me would happen. I quit praying for clarity, and I began praying in faith—as if it was real, and true, and unchangeable. My prayers over the situation seemed so much more comfortable and bold. They seemed more powerful than ever before. There was a hopeful anticipation, a confidence that God would work out the details.
For a while, anyway. The more time that passes without seeing any movement toward what He has revealed to me, the more I find myself wavering. It seems so improbable—even impossible—that it will actually happen. I again find myself going between His peace which surpasses all understanding to fear and frustration.
As I walk each day, I find myself repeating my own words. Quit being restless—wait quietly and rest in God. Don’t be so anxious—wait patiently for God. Trust God’s character—wait confidently on God. Don’t give up hope—wait expectantly for God to act. That’s where He’s using my own words against me!
Remember when I talked about waiting expectantly? I mentioned the importance of preparing ourselves for the answer to our prayers. In the last few weeks, I have begun to pray along a new line. I have told God that I am putting myself on the altar, and I am begging Him to slay me—to cut my life wide open with His word which is sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing even to joint and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). I am giving Him permission to reveal anything in me that would prevent me from living in the fullness of His grace for me, anything that would hinder my walk with Him. I want nothing more than to be completely His.
God has heard that prayer, and He is answering it. (Please don’t pray this prayer unless you are truly willing to surrender everything to Him—I guarantee He will answer and it’s not a fun process!) I’ve lived a pretty spotless life by the world’s standards, but I don’t want to live my life by the world’s standards. As long as I am on this earth, there is growing to be done. Until I reach completeness and perfection in Christ Jesus, there are sins to be revealed and removed from my life. Even though I’ve done my best to walk with Christ from the time I was a small child, I recognize that there is more to this Christian life than I have. I want it all! That requires complete surrender.
This journey that I embarking upon is new territory. It’s a little scary to wonder exactly what God is going to reveal to me, but it is also exciting. I know that there are greater rewards than I could ever imagine. I also know that this time is in preparation for what God has revealed to me—even though I still have to wait.
Yes, waiting is extremely difficult. I recently found this quote: “Sometimes there is more at stake than just the circumstances we are believing for. There is more on God’s agenda than just your current problem. Our circumstances are not just about situations being resolved, they are about us being changed in the process.” You see, waiting is the process that changes us, that enables our faith to grow, that molds us into Christ’s image. Waiting allows us to move into all the fullness of Christ and into the abundant life that He has promised us. Waiting is a necessary part of building our faith. But, we must cooperate with God in the process—giving Him permission to slay every part of self and the old man in the process.
Right now, what God has promised seems so far away. It seems improbable that it will happen—even impossible. But, not one of the Lord’s good promises has ever failed (Joshua 23:14).
I’m so glad that God majors in the impossibilities!!
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).