Three Words on Waiting

Waiting: it seems like the theme of my life. I was wait-listed twice before being accepted into my college. I have been waiting to find the right guy since high school. I am now waiting on my visa from the Democratic Republic of Congo so I can finally visit the country where I hope to live. Although I recognize I am by no means the longest-sufferer around, I feel that I have experienced a good amount of waiting in my short life, and I would like to encourage you in your times of waiting.

1. Waiting is frustrating.

Let me just put that out there. In this impulse-driven American society, even an hour can seem like an eternity. If I don’t want to wait sixty minutes to enjoy a home-cooked dinner, I will stick a potato in the microwave so I can eat in five minutes. Others may call in take-out or go on a Los run. When I see the little check mark signifying that a friend has read my message but then does not reply for a couple hours, the waiting makes my imagination go all sorts of places. (No, they don’t hate you, Skye. They’re probably studying and will reply later.)

And when you are waiting for something you have put your heart into, such as applying to college or for a visa, frustrating may not be an emotional enough word. Waiting can be worrisome . . . unless you realize that God is in control and has asked you to lay your burdens at his feet. In the words of Gospel singer Travis Greene, “He’s intentional, never failing.”

So what do we do in the meanwhile?

2. Wait actively.

In other words, waiting does not equal passivity. Let me be clear: I am not saying, “God helps them who help themselves.” That adage is not found anywhere in Scripture. In fact, that adage elevates humans to God’s level and limits him to a failsafe. In reality, we can see God’s help most when we are helpless. Jesus mentions this in Mark 2:15-17 regarding our need of God due to the sin we all have. But I have digressed.

While God is not our genie in a bottle that we call when we have met our limits, he is also not a genie who does everything for us if we do have faith. We still have lives to live while we trust him, and we can honor God by living lives worthy of Him (not loafing around waiting for him to do something magical).

In my current situation, I have done everything humanly possible to pursue my goal, but God operates on his own time and not necessarily ours. Sometimes there is nothing left to do other than wait for your visa with patience, faith and integrity – praying all the way.

Prayer should not a cop-out to avoid a particular task; rather, it is a powerful and effective tool we use when we come before the King of Kings. It is a pleasing fragrance to him. It is a way to beg our Abba for mercy and grace (and visas). No request is too large or small, but his answers come in his time. Hence the waiting again.

3. There is a purpose to the waiting.

A few months ago when I was in the middle of preparing for my summer trip overseas, a friend shared some encouragement. She and I were texting about a couple matters including my summer trip, and she talked with me about waiting. I did not understand why she brought this up since I was confident in my plans and excited for the summer, but now I find her words quite applicable.

This friend shared a song with which I was familiar through my worship team: “Sovereign Over Us,” The lyrics read, “You are working in the waiting/ you are sanctifying us/ and beyond our understanding/ you are teaching us to trust.” That sounds about right. I don’t understand why I must wait, but I do  know I must trust God. Then comes the promise in the chorus: “Your plans are still to prosper/ you have not forgotten us/ you are with us in the fire and in the flood/ you’re faithful forever/ perfect in love/ you are sovereign over us.” Amen.

Admittedly, I do not know the purpose to this wait. Neither does the organization I will be joining. But I know that if nothing else, God can use this time to glorify himself through all of us who are waiting — if we wait upon him.

 

Hold on to hope, friends. God is for us, and he will not fail his people. Pursue your God-given dreams and plans, and trust him in the process. And if you do not have a specific vision from Him now, honor God wherever you are. He is faithful.

The Silliness of Fear

Image photo credit: http://www.rachelleb.com/images/2004_03_11/wrigley_field.jpg

“I can’t believe we used to walk around the neighborhood without pepper spray,” my friend said the other day before we took a stroll through the quiet streets by her house. I thought to myself that I go to Chicago unarmed at night and am safe. Apparently people had been stabbed in her neighborhood previously, but I was unaware that any danger existed.

Pepper spray, cell phones, pocket knives–people use these to “defend” themselves against unseen, potential dangers.

Disheveled strangers with cigarettes, the city, travelling to other countries, unkempt lawns and houses in need of paint, the dark, snarling hounds, mysterious animals in your backyard–people are afraid of these things. They legitimately worry instead of taking these things as normal and trusting God in the simple areas of life.

Why are people so afraid? I trust God.

I have talked to hustlers, male parking lot attendants, and even a murderer–all strangers at first, and I have been unafraid and unharmed. I carried no weapons to defend myself, for of what should I be afraid? What can man do to me?

If I should die, I would go to be with Jesus. It would be glorious! I’ll admit that I’d be terrified in the moment, but I like to think that I would evangelize to my murderer before my death. Proclaiming Jesus and His Kingdom is the purpose of my being alive, after all.

Regardless, I do like the buddy system. I feel safer in the city at night when I’m with a male friend. One of my friends from college walks alone on her way from McDonalds to a Thai restaurant in Wrigleyville on Friday nights, visits her homeless friend Linwood, and is unharmed. Is it wise for a woman to walk alone through the city at night? Maybe not, but she adores Jesus and trusts Him in everything. And she is safe. Am I fearful or wise in following the buddy system?

Sharing the Gospel in pairs is Biblical; thus, I believe the buddy system is wise. By going in pairs, you can help each other share the Gospel clearly and effectively. I truly believe prayer is sufficient for self defense.

When did Jesus’ disciples ever physically lash out at others to protect each other? Peter did once in the Garden of Gethsemane, but Jesus halted him and healed the man whose ear he had cut off.

Other apostles and disciples took abuse for the sake of Christ. When stoned, did they throw stones back? No. When whipped, did they use pepper spray and try to run away? No. When people spat on Jesus, stripped the flesh off his back, dug thorns into his scalp, and nailed his soft wrists to a tree, did he attempt to stop them or even make a retort? No, he suffered so that God’s glory might be made manifest through the ensuing salvation he brought.

Thus, in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, “defending” oneself is unnecessary. When we fear, we do not trust God.

Why do we fear? It seems silly to worry about our personal safety when we have Jesus, our God, to proclaim. God is our protector, too. As Psalm 118:6 says in ESV and as Hebrews 13:6 repeats, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Fellow believers, I beg you to be bold in living out your faith. “(W)e are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39, ESV).