The mailbox was full of junk again. I’ve been looming over it for the past week, awaiting the arrival of what I might as well call a “golden ticket”: a letter from Barnes & Noble’s small press department. Almost eight weeks ago, I submitted a package to have Clean Home, Messy Heart shelved at their bookstores, but days go by and still…junk mail. No golden ticket.
To be honest, the estimated time to hear back from them is just barely expired. It’s any day now. Why not today? Or perhaps tomorrow? Oh, what pins and needles I find myself upon when that mailman comes crusing down the street.
And what disappointment falls upon my face when I see everything but what it is I’m looking for.
As I sit here in this waiting—and I seem to be here often—I can’t help but take a look back at all the other seasons of waiting that have happened this past year. I’m reminded of my constant need to have things calendared and computed, organized and indexed, and how much my daughter reflects those same qualities to a “T”. It’s eerie, really.
Just days ago, the Lord revealed this similarity to me while we were in the car. As my daughter demanded (as she usually does) to have the complete agenda of the day, accompanied by specific time frames for the activities and traveling distances between locations, I caught myself amidst the frustration only to realize I do the exact same thing with Jesus.
How much longer, Lord? What’s the answer going to be? Are you sure your plan is best? I really thought it would be here by now. What about next month, what will I be doing then? When will the next opportunity come? What’s the next big thing on my calendar going to be?
And the questions go on and on—just like they do with my daughter’s interrogation about the day’s events. But there’s a lesson to be found that I’m finally starting to perceive through all this waiting:
We grow in our ability to wait well as we remember God’s faithfulness to us.
While I do not fully enjoy the waiting, I am starting to see it for what it truly is: an exercise in faithfulness. In these opportunities to wait, I am being given divine training that can come no other way. Through the waiting, I am learning five truths about faithfulness that can only be taught by pierced hands:
- I’m being equipped (2 Corinthians 1:4) | There’s something in this waiting period I must learn in order to be of encouraging comfort and/or wisdom to someone else when they encounter a similar situation.
- I’m being trained (Hebrews 12:10–11) | The Lord is purging unrighteousness from my heart, helping to rid myself of the need for control, and replacing it with a thirst that can only be quenched by watching him work his glorious grace in my life.
- I’m being tested (Luke 16:10) | Will I remain faithful to the small things as I await the Lord’s work in the bigger things? And are the things I deem “bigger” really more important from God’s perspective?
- I’m being prepared (James 5:11) | This season of waiting is weaving together a testimony I do not yet know about, but I will be better prepared to share it by having remained steadfast and hopeful through it.
- I’m being conformed (Romans 8:29) | Above all else, through this ordained charge to wait, I am being conformed to the image of Christ, who willingly accepted all things in due time from his Father’s hand, with complete trust in his goodness and love.
Fact of the matter is, all of us have something we’re waiting on. It may not be a golden ticket in the mail, but it’s something precious to us, alright. And as these precious somethings become more important than surrendering our wills in exchange for faithfulness, we’re doomed to grow restless and bitter instead of fruitful and Christlike.
We may never learn to grow fond of the waiting, but we can certainly learn to grow our faith through it. As we remember God’s faithfulness of old—or even recall his new morning mercies—we can see beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is weaving together a plan and purpose for and through us. What we expect may not be precisely what we get, but what we get will be precisely what we need.
“Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God.” Charles Spurgeon