Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting Well

My countdown to Advent continues. That'd be a little over three days, in case you were wondering. (Sign up for prayer buddies now if you're interested!) I'm not really sure what the fascination is for me, because this is a season that I have more or less ignored all my life.  But I think it has a lot to do with reading these posts in October. Some stuck with me, others maybe not quite as much, but I think what stuck with me the most was the phrase, "waiting well".

God is all about making us wait at various times of our lives.  This is not because He doesn't like us, but because He wants even more for us than we want for ourselves. We can often only see the pain of the now, but He sees that "for the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

Want to or not, I get to wait in my life.  I am not waiting for my life to begin, but I am waiting for the fulfillment of my vocation in life. It has been a much crazier and longer journey than I ever expected. More painful and more beautiful than I ever would have thought possible. I don't pretend to know what's at the end of the journey, or when the next stage might happen, whatever that stage may be.  I do not get to choose whether I wait, but only how I wait.  I want to wait well. I may not know much, but there are a couple of things that I have learned.  One is that waiting is going to change me.  I want it to be for the better, so that I can praise God for the wait, like my friend Rebecca. But I guarantee that if it does not change me for good, it will change me to a shell of bitterness.  The only reason that I haven't gotten to that point is because I don't wait alone.  God is with me, as are many friends who are praying for me (thank you guys more than I can say!!)

I read the above verse in Hebrews during morning prayer last week, but when I went to look it up, I found that there was a lot more to chapter 12 that I wanted to think about.  Here is the way that chapter is speaking to me tonight (not to be taken for an authoritative interpretation of the text, just the way it is challenging me).

Note: Just read the block quotes if you only want to look at the Scripture without my copious amounts of prattling in between.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
We are not alone.  In the blog world alone, many of us know what it is to find that there are others going through many of the things that we ourselves are experiencing.  Not only that, but the saints who have run before us truly are our older brothers and sisters in Christ, cheering us on and letting us know that we can make it through the trials as well.  "Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely."  I know many of my readers are Catholic and thus a little straight-laced, but seriously, can I get an amen? I can't tell you the number of times that when the weight of the wait has left me with nothing but rawness and facing something that I didn't know was even a problem.  And through that has come healing and leaving some of those weights and sins behind (of course this is a process and won't end until death, but I see some sort of progress through this.)  Oh, man, and the exhortation to "run with perseverance the race that is set before us"!  I mean, most of us can't and wouldn't choose the course we get.  It's not about it being what we did or didn't want. It's about running it anyway and sticking with it.

looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Can I just say that the only times that I have ever felt that I was halfway on the right path with waiting are the times that my eyes are on Him.  I love that He is the perfect example.  He knew the cross would be horrific and painful, but He counted that as nothing with the joy of the salvation that it would bring us when He was again seated at the right hand of God. I honestly can't see it many days, but I do know that not only will the pain be worth it, but that it will make the joy that much deeper, not only in the here and now, but also when we stand before the throne at the end of the race.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you might not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?--
            "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
            nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
            For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
            and chastises every son whom he receives." 
I don't see this as being "discipline and punishment" in terms of what is happening to us is a punishment for what we have done in our lives, or for the fact that we are sinful.  I see it more as discipline like when an athlete has to be disciplined about what he is doing in order to reach a greater goal (there's a reason that high level athletes sometimes refer to hard workouts as a "punishing workout").  I see this in terms of God loving us as we are, but pushing us beyond our limits to something greater. In working out, you have to push beyond your limits to go to the next level. I think the same thing applies here.  And I love that He loves us too much to leave us where we are.

It is for discipline that you have to endure... [H]e disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight the path for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed... See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" spring up and cause trouble.
That's really the crux of it. Waiting well means peaceful fruit from training in righteousness, it means healing. Without God, and without grace and being trained by the wait, we're looking at bitterness and injury.

My prayer is for anyone waiting, whatever it is that you are waiting for, whether it is physical or spiritual or emotional healing, or waiting for a job, or waiting for the fulfillment your vocation, or waiting to get through whatever it is that is tough right now. I am praying that you reap the many fruits of your waiting.  Know that you are not alone!

7 comments:

  1. Amen! (Does that work?)
    How do you do this? Get such incredible insight into the waiting to share with us? I don't know what I'd do without you! And I'm gonna have to go read Hebrews myself now. Thanks for this post.
    -January

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amen!

    This is a beautiful reflection. I whole heartedly agree, if waiting and IF don't change me for the better, it will change me to a shell of bitterness. I just hope and pray that the changes that have been started continue and do not turn into bitterness over the years. It reminds me of the song "For Good" from "Wicked" - no matter what, I am changed for good, only time will tell if it's for better or worse. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQJaZO2nfGg)

    ReplyDelete
  3. AMEN! I want to wait well too! Thanks for the reflection, I am going to include Hebrews 12:11 in my talk this weekend on NFP. I am praying for you and your vocation! Thank you for including all of us on your journey! Since I am a more recent reader, have you determined what your vocation is yet? Just wondering...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I will second the other comments...AMEN! It is so hard to see waiting as a fruitful thing, but it definitely is. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Amen! I love that you are both deep and witty in your discussion of faith. And incredibly true to the beauty of God's greatest gifts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ditto to what Rae said. :) I love the idea of calling saints our older brothers and sisters in Christ. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Im really glad that you're holding steadfast to hope, M. You are right sbout bitterness. Once it takes root, you're likely a goner. What's worse, is that it doesnt even provide a relief to the pain, it makes everything worse. You hurt more. You lose more. It changes uour soul. I wouldnt wish it on anyone.

    ReplyDelete