July 28, 2014

Finding Hope

Faith. Walking. Finding Hope. Learning to be still. Waiting. Patience. Some days it is so difficult to be a Christian, to stay focused and to remain determined to stay put on the path that the Lord has you on. Some days I so want to jump off the path, and go running toward what looks like a better choice, a better opportunity. Some days I don't want to wait anymore. Some days I want to get moving so fast, so hard, and so RIGHT NOW that I can barely contain myself. Some days are like today where I want this waiting to be over, and the blessing to begin NOW.

Psalm 46:10 says,

"Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world."

The Bible has a lot to say about being patient, about waiting for God to move, for God to deliver, for God to bring His promises to fulfillment.
Isaiah 40:31 - But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.
James 5:7-8 - Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Isaiah 30:18 - And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD [is] a God of judgment: blessed [are] all they that wait for him.

It is so very hard to wait especially when you believe the Lord is doing something in your life, when you feel His presence, sense His calling, or see Him moving ahead of you. When the Lord is active in your life, when He is moving you, changing you, calling you, building you up -- you delight in Him, you long to experience more of Him, you want to KNOW everything about Him. I liken it to the "kid in the candy store" where the father says "go in my child and take whatever you like." Oh my goodness! My heart cries out, "Daddy, can I really have whatever I like?" My Lord says, "Yes, you can, my child!" 

How do I choose to wait? How do I patiently endure until His plans for my life are revealed to me, and then are fulfilled?

The Veruca Salt Syndrome

Oh, I struggle so with waiting. I want it all now. In a horrible, little child way, I am like Veruca Salt, who screams "I want it NOW!" Veruca Salt, the spoiled bratty character from Roald Dahl's children's book, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," is one my favorite's in the story. There is just something about Veruca that appeals to me. It is not that I was spoiled like this as a child. Nor is it that I particularly like spoiled children (I have seen and heard my share of them). No, it is just that her character is so identifiable, so downright nasty, and so completely human. We all have a little bit of Veruca Salt in us -- whether we want to admit it or not. And, Christians are no exception. We like to hide our inner child well, we put on this mask of humility and piety and tell the world that our natural desires for wanting it now have been crucified with Christ. In truth, our spoiled rottenness was crucified with Christ. It is just that the part of us that remains, that natural human part, still retains some of the patterning of the fall, and at times, it can be seen in our unwillingness to wait, to be patient, to let go of our need to control and let God be God.

But Daddy I want it NOW!

The Lord is so good to us. He knows our hearts and our minds, and praise be to God, He also knows that we are still prone to childish tantrums. He understands us, our needs, our wants, our desires -- and the blessing is -- that He loves us unconditionally.  Now, I am not saying that we get a free pass when we behave like Veruca -- may it never be! No, I am just saying that Grace covers us when we feel like we need something from God now, and the Lord says that we must wait. While we may not scream, throw a tantrum, or sit down in the dirt and pout -- we can in our heart -- choose to not respond appropriately to God's word and His call to be patient and to wait. We can become downcast. We can become depressed. We can get so discouraged that we fail to see all the good things that are happening right now, all the wonderful blessings that are taking place -- often as preparatory -- to get us ready for the BIG REVEAL. Yes, the Lord often allows us to wait while He is prepping us for the BIG SHOW.
I am at this place in my life right now. I am in the midst of an EXTREME HOME MAKEOVER. God has taken my life and completely remade it. He has made me over, and the process, is not complete yet. I so want it to be over. I want to see the NEW me revealed. I am ready, I am willing, I am agreeable to all that the Lord has asked of me, yet I still wait for His perfect timing. I am yielded and I think I am being very patient. Yet, still I wait. I wait. I wait. I wait.

I believe that while the final REVEAL will be wonderful, beyond words, beyond compare -- it is in the waiting period -- that the real miracle exists. Waiting is not just about longsuffering nor is it about keeping your "nose to the grindstone" and hanging in. No, waiting is a wonderful period whereby there is much growth taking place. Consider a home remodel and the amount of work involved in transforming a dump into a treasured palace. The process of the remodel is grueling, and at times, the work load is heavy. The remodel is proceeding according to plans, the timelines are being met. Yet, the work seems to take forever. There is so much to do, so much work to be completed. The end is right there --> right over there --> and the closer you get to the end, the more you can see the final outcome. It is when you are most close to the end that the waiting period becomes interminable. I can see it, I can see the end --> I just cannot get to it. UGH!

Learning how to enjoy the process of the remodel gives us a blessed perspective. Not only can we appreciate the hard work involved in the makeover, but we can also use the time to be sensitive to others around us who are also going through a makeover. If we appreciate the steps, the small changes, the little details, then we can find joy in the moment. Yes, the big REVEAL may be still off in the distance, but we can experience the changes NOW, and we can learn to let go and we can learn to live in peace.

My prayer today, for myself and for others, is to let go of the need to see the reveal before God's time is right for it. I so much want to see the plans He has for my life come to pass, but I know that I am a "work in progress" right now.  God is working on me, making me over, changing me, grooming me, and preparing me for His work. I am choosing today to see all the changes that have been made thus far, and to take joy in what has already been made new. I look with expectancy, with anticipation, and with excitement for the next set of major improvements. In the end, when His time is right, I will be ready to experience the full joy of seeing what He has done with me in this life.

So when will this BIG REVEAL take place?

I believe this time will only be on reflection, when I am in heaven and I am standing before my Lord. I do not believe that I will ever see the BIG REVEAL on this side of heaven. I believe that I will not have the proper perspective necessary to see the entire change -- all the changes -- made in my life until I am free from the presence of sin. No, the BIG REVEAL only comes once we are made perfect, once we have been made complete through Jesus Christ. Until then, I can only see dimly, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, what the Lord is doing in me and through me.

1 Cor. 13:12 - Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Yes, God be praised, the changes He is making within me will be revealed in time. For now, I must be patient and wait for them to come to pass. While I am waiting, however, I can take joy in knowing that the work is being done, that there is progress in my journey, and that I am being made new. Each day of my life, I am being made new.

Revelation 21:1-7

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.   

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

My heart longs for the day when all things will be made new. Until then, I rest in the knowledge that God is working out His will in my life, and He is making the changes within me to prepare me for His work.

I will patiently wait. I will be still and I will know that He is God.

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