Kingdom Come: Thoughts on the Wait

Thoughts on Waiting

Seth and I had the biggest fight we’ve ever had last week, and I’m not exaggerating, a go-to-bed-angry fight.  And of all the things I learned in it, I learned that we don’t have marriage figured out. I mean, I knew that already, but it’s one thing to say you know it and another thing to act it out. I knew my time of mourning and pulling back after the funeral would have its consequences. I just didn’t know how to stop it.

Isn’t that how it goes? So often we know that what we’re doing isn’t going to end well, and we don’t know how to stop it. I laid in bed crying, and he couldn’t stop it. He was angry, and I couldn’t fix it.

Righteousness and peace kiss each other, so the next morning first thing, he said he was sorry. Neither of us ever settled with the others’ perspective, but there was peace. We know we’re on the same side. It turns out that marriages die little deaths throughout, and it has to be this way to experience all the resurrections. Every time we’re resurrected, I know my adoration for him deepens.

I’m assuming it’s my age, but I’m suddenly surrounded by the inexpressibly exhausted. We’re carrying on and can laugh while dining together, but when you pull the real ones off to the side and ask how they’re doing, the answer for both men and women can come so quickly to tears. Hardly any of us know what we’re doing here with all these kids. We don’t know how to keep these marriages together or how to live justice before God.

So many friends have shared how they’re not keeping it together, and I nod a big YES.

Don’t we all have tax-collector souls?

Aren’t we just begging that a friend would come over and pop the cork, hear our hearts and send us in the unwavering direction of truth? We keep finding ourselves begging forgiveness and screwing up at the same things over and over again. Is Jesus still my friend? I see so many eyes ask that question. If He were hearing me, why am I not acting better or why haven’t I found healing? And with these questions, the problem is then what to do with all the guilt and shame.

Maybe it’s just my scene of strugglers and stragglers, but I can list long how many of us have something in our lives that we just want to stop: a secret sin that we truly want gone, the agony of bitterness toward someone we don’t know how to forgive, the sickness in the child we’ve begged to be healed. What happens then to our perspective of God’s ears, his understanding and love when our earnest prayers are answered with silence.

It’s true that we rarely hear anyone speak of such things (especially from pulpits), not until the person is broken and at the edge of total unbelief do we hear it, how even our most highly esteemed elders have had seasons of questioning God’s love.

All the verses on waiting for the Lord, they all say it’s worth it. He hears. He renews strength. He is only hope.

Thoughts on the Wait

1. It’s not for nothing.

There’s a purpose in the waiting. Maybe waiting for His voice is like drawing a meditative bead on hope. We can preach in our sermons that hope is in God alone, but then watch your baby get sick and then see where it really is.

2. It builds faith.

Believing that he’ll answer builds faith; I’ve experienced it. If it’s faith, we’re dealing in unseen realms, and sometimes we forget that part. Things are not going to be as they seem. You know it’s all upside-down here, you cheek-turners and grace-bearers. Even if you’re believing by the hair of your chinny chin chin, by standing in one place, bead drawn on the horizon of last breath, our hope is coming. Every passing day that you wait in hope, whether you feel it or not, your faith is maturing.

3. You can’t work perfection into yourself, so chill out.

Often we think that next time we’re tempted to sin, we’ll just muster up all our acquired righteousness and beat that sin in the face. That’s not how it works. I have to re-believe against my shame, or against the fact of the matter that sicknesses aren’t yet cured, that Christ’s work is complete. That’s the hardest part for me. We are becoming, and Christ already is. When we lean into the the waiting and say that Christ is worth it, we often learn the power of resting in Christ Who Is. A heart rested in Christ is armored against heaping shame or burning anger and the sins that follow the lies therein.

4. Worship is oxygen for when you’re drowning in the wait.

Even if I never get better than I am right now, never stop losing my temper and struggling with overwhelming fears of becoming a moral failure, even then, Christ has still offered himself to me and for me. He stands outside of time for me. He is still worthy of my praise. I’ve threatened to never say another prayer again, said I’m not going to do it because I’m not so sure he hears me and obviously I don’t mean it when I ask for forgiveness or I wouldn’t keep messing up. But I look back at my story, my history with God, and even if He stopped now and left me with a life of spiritual silence, I would have lifetimes of praise to still raise up to Him. I was given more in the first 15 minutes of my faith than I’ll ever earn in a lifetime. No matter the strikes against me, I am going to worship God. That is how I fight the lies. That is how I know He still works in me. Play me a hymn, and you can wash the puddle of me up with a rag off the floor. While I’m waiting, while I prove to myself that I’m a short-sighted screw up, I refuse to stop singing.

My tax-collector soul can only set the table and wait for Him to open the door and pour the wine. Kingdom Come.

 

Comments

  1. Oh I wish I could have had time to write out much more.

    I also want to add that naming who you’re waiting for is essential! Sometimes we wait so long that we don’t know anymore. Sometimes faith and clinging to HOPE is to simply be able to say that God exists. Even then, waiting for GOD is entirely different than hopelessly floating out in space.

    Please add to what I’ve written. How do you handle it when you feel like God isn’t hearing you?

    • This post speaks to me on a couple of levels. My short answer to your question: read God’s Word (and pray) so God can speak to you. Then pray His Word back to Him. I pray Psalm 91 for the person in my life whom needs healing. I pray Psalm 40 for myself.

      Job has helped me to understand. The story of Lazarus’s resurrection has helped me to understand.

      You’re doing all the right things, though. The real miracle in this (and every) situation is that he never leaves us. It’s not about the healing, because that will come even if it doesn’t. (No one is broken in heaven.) It’s about the way His eye fixes on us. It’s about the way He never turns His back: how he looks our pain full-on. It’s about the way He never sleeps. But I know. I feel you. I really, really do.

  2. Every couple that parents needs to read this to see the Kingdom expressed in these tired years. It is so necessary to be reminded that yes, even His Kingdom will come through these struggles, fights, tears and seasons of brokenness. Beautiful. Thanks.
    Suzie Lind recently posted..Be {One Word for 2013 }

  3. Amber.

    This was FOR me today. For me. Thank you.
    Lore Ferguson (@loreferguson) recently posted..Comparing Weight

  4. Amber, I just want to hug you and cry with you and plead with God for you. I don’t have any answers. I read the Psalms and Job and Hannah begging for a son, and I remind myself that I am not alone in the waiting and the silence and the not knowing. And I keep putting one foot in front of the other, because isn’t faith in the doing even when we don’t hear or see or understand?
    Joy @ Joy in this Journey recently posted..No Matter What: My One Good Phrase

    • yes, Joy! Just yes.

      I’m hearing from Him now, and I know I hear Him say to write it out. David was a screw up, too, and it seems that every time he was telling his soul to wait, he would begin to recount all the details in his relationship with GOD. David was always sustained in the waiting.

  5. I am a real-one pulled aside and in tears this morning.
    Thank you for writing truth, clear as water outside the belljar.

    I love you.
    You are my favorite one to be broken with….if that is even a thing.

    (something tells me it is)

    SS

  6. Oh my WORD, Amber. (blinking back tears) Thank you.
    Megan (Friedokra) recently posted..InstaFriday a la FriedOkra

  7. Jesus had a nickname for his disciples–”ye of little faith.” Its a phrase he only directed at them; that’s encouraging to me.

  8. “It turns out that marriages die little deaths throughout, and it has to be this way to experience all the resurrections.”

    Oh, how that word is for me this morning. For not-enough sleep and too-much stress and getting sideways with the one I lean on most. I needed that hope-giving truth most of all.

    And so we wait, with the fullness of one expecting. And groan with all of creation. I know it well.

    Thank you for your hands which broke bread and administered the elements to us today.
    Megan at SortaCrunchy recently posted..free to float and free to fly (on eight)

  9. Oh Amber, like Lore, this was FOR me this morning, too… “surrounded by the inexpressibly exhausted”. Amen, sister. Love you.

  10. Thank you for courage
    for honesty
    for a transparent heart
    we wait, and continue waiting
    and so often hurt each other
    but there is grace…
    HisFireFly recently posted..Resurfacing

  11. “That’s the hardest part for me. We are becoming, and Christ already is.”

    That’s it right there.

    Crazy I have just been processing that idea too. I see darkness and screw ups and all the are nots where I am today and I lose hope. But when I see where I will be, I praise. And somewhere in the middle of all that He saves a wretch like me. So, let us learn to praise God in the darkness for the light that is coming as though we were already there. I think this is where the abstract freedom is chipped away so we can know the real stuff. It changes you, ya know?

    Thanks for being honest—always freeing to be reminded marriage isn’t the be all, save all. And that when it does come, I still won’t be perfect! Thank you thank you, as always.
    Courtney Osborn recently posted..In Which I am Learning to Be Set Free

  12. This was so incredibly beautiful! Thank you so much.

  13. Amen and amen. Funny you should mention that this is not often “preached from pulpits”. It is my text for Sunday.

    • Well, I didn’t mean you, John Ray. :) And I’m serious.

      Really though, I love a pulpit. It’s a crazy thing, like the mouth hole of the church. And I confess that I myself would rather not talk about the hard stuff. I know by how hard it was to write this post. I’ve let the idea of writing boldly make me so weary. I wonder how many preachers and teachers have friends to the side to whom they say “I wish I could preach about xyz.” I know I have blog friends I say that to.

      SO many things burn in me to write, and I don’t do it for fear. I think confession of doubt is something that many leaders in the church fear. They also fear not having an answer. You, John Ray, are not one of those people. I fear both having an answer AND not having an answer.

      I ramble ramble. We love ya, brother.

  14. Thank you for this, Amber. Your words are helping and healing. I love you.

  15. Love. Learning.

  16. Amber, I so needed to hear this today. It moved me to tears. Thank you for being so transparent and allowing God to use you to help others. I’m glad I’m waiting with your encouragement!

  17. Thank you for reminding me that I need more #4 in my life. I love your heart and your transparency!
    the Blah Blah Blahger recently posted..EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THAT HAPPENS

  18. Amber, these couldn’t have come at a better time here. Reading your words always causes a soul-sigh. I’m so grateful. In the waiting places? I’m learning to lean into grace in the ordinary things, in living slow during the waiting – I’m finding that place in painting these days, mostly. I’m not sure if this will always be the case, but somehow I feel like the places where I know I’ll wait for kingdom come (the places where a literal grave means I’ll wait til heaven…) are shaping me more than the places I expect resolution in this life.

  19. This adaptation of Thomas Merton’s prayer has resonated deeply with me in places of waiting.

    “My Lord, God – I have no idea where I am going.
    I do not see the road ahead of me.
    I cannot know for certain where it will end.
    The fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so; but I believe that the desire to please You does, in fact, please You.
    And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
    So I will trust You always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
    I will not fear, for You are ever with me; and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

  20. I absolutely love this! “Righteousness and peace kiss each other.” When Keith and I have a disagreement, it is without fail that one of us will pause and say, “This just doesn’t matter. In the big picture, this doesn’t matter so let’s figure this out another time.” And then we move on, absolutely in love and so happy to have a partner in this crazy thing called life. We’re both such strong people and we’re not always going to agree. But I married a man who would make me better; not one that would become me at a later date. Amen (don’t know why I felt the need to agree with myself there but I did :)).
    Fawn Weaver recently posted..Saying "I Do" is Good For Your Health

  21. Amber,
    So there would no way for you to know how very much I needed these words today. Literally. Ten minutes ago I was mentally going through the litany of reasons I had to feel at the end of my rope in one situation in my life.
    Many, many thanks for Truth
    Grace & peace,
    Ashley
    Ashley recently posted..Believe

  22. Oh. My. Goodness. You just looked straight through my middle with this. Thank you for these hope words, true words, life words today. I needed them. So grateful for you.

  23. Thank you, Amber.

  24. “inexpressibly exhausted” … Oh if that doesn’t perfectly describe it. The tears that live too close to the surface, the smile that doesn’t reach the eyes, the pressure to “fake it till you make it”…exhausting. But I love the hope and growth that can come from waiting – even if I’m awful at it :)
    Crystal recently posted..God Sized Dreams: What I Have to Believe

  25. Found your blog aimlessly going through blogs as I was purposely avoiding my husband, knowing I was brewing on picking a fight with him. Then bam! Your post. The little resurrections…I love and needed that. (also the second today that touched on not being perfect) The sin you think you ought of yes, mustered up enough righteousness to overcome but never, never do. Nightly exhaustion. And then the truth: numbered for us too! Christ is. We are becoming.
    Cheers,
    Leah
    Leah recently posted..January thaw

  26. The exhaustion? Yes. The tears welling? Yes. The sin trait that makes you wonder why why WHY is God not answering my prayers? Yes.
    That whole ‘becoming’ thing is just hard.
    And I know that He is with me in it, but really? I don’t want Him to be with me in it, I want Him to change me! Now would be good…
    More tears…

  27. I needed this…we have been waiting over a year to adopt, and our portfolio was shown today…and nothing, still waiting. Like I said, I really needed this. Thank you so very much, Amber.

  28. Oh! my! Worship is oxygen! Yes Yes! “…even if He stopped now and left me with a life of spiritual silence, I would have lifetimes of praise to still raise up to Him.”
    It is hard for me lean into him during the wait through his word or pray. Sometimes I am just to overwhelmed with (insert feeling) that I don’t have words or brain power. So often I am silent and I just take it all in. Everything. I gain encouragement from other’s stories. And it makes the wait just a little better. Maybe its more distraction then…
    Thank you for this Amber.

  29. Thanks friend. Good words. Sweet to my soul. Honesty is so wonderful. In the honesty comes the renewal and in the renewal, His redemption. Things in the light can grow…things in the dark can’t. Waiting for me is so hard right now, cause the thing I think I long for the most is the end of this world. I see too much suffering, injustice, pain and death here that I sometimes think I can’t wait anymore. This isn’t what He wants. It isn’t how He wants it. Why won’t He stop this madness. And then I think about me and I relate to your comment of not having “figured it out”. That’s me – tired of not being able to figure it out. Tired of not being able to ‘fix it’. Tired of not understanding. Tired of feeling like I make the same mistakes over and over and can’t learn to trust, to be unselfish, to show love at every turn…but not to be mushy or sappy or ridiculously spiritual, but I know whom I believe in and He is able.

  30. Waiting is so hard. I believe the lie SO OFTEN that my prayers aren’t being answered because I’m doing something wrong – not worshiping Him in the right way or not being intense enough in my conversations with Him, etc. If I actually stop for just a moment and take ownership of these thoughts and suspicions, I see they are laughable. It’s not about me. He’s got this.

    “But I look back at my story, my history with God, and even if He stopped now and left me with a life of spiritual silence, I would have lifetimes of praise to still raise up to Him. I was given more in the first 15 minutes of my faith than I’ll ever earn in a lifetime. No matter the strikes against me, I am going to worship God. That is how I fight the lies.” – I especially needed to read this.

    Thank you so much for this post.

  31. oh man, this post hits me in the raw today.
    it’s january. my husband works and goes to school more hours than are humanly possible. i have seven kids, all of whom are home with me all the time (home school). we are poor enough to get food stamps (which, it turns out, is a full time job in and of itself). it’s january. we just moved to this community and don’t know anyone deeper than the social smiles and surface conversation. my internet connection is faulty. the baby (who has CF) has a cough he can’t shake. we are reeling emotionally from a spiritually abusive church situation which we just left. oh and, did i mention?, it’s january.
    yeah.
    posts about “how to get it together” or “5 steps to rejoicing always” or whatever make me want to puke today. and i don’t have any answers for your question or mine. but reading your broken words makes me know i’m not alone.

    and perhaps that’s what i needed the most right now. thank you.
    (and sorry for dumping on you.)

  32. Wow, your have harvested the thoughts a words of so many hearts with your pen. “Pop a cork, hear our hearts and send us in the way of unwavering truth,” Excellently worded! Thank you for sharing your thoughts today. You have blessed me greatly.

  33. I’m writing a blog on Job right now, so I’ve been soaking in the book. It’s like reading it for the first time! It relates a lot to what you’re talking about. The essence of what I’m going to be writing is that God is OK with us “raising a fist” in anger or complaint about him when we just can’t understand what’s happening / what he’s doing. And BTW, I didn’t remember what jerks Job’s friends where when they started talking. (On the other hand, I know I never could have waited seven days to give my amazing insight.) :-)

  34. I walk with a holy limp after wrestling with God in the wait. So much of what you say is deep truth, Amber, truth only found after a shifting.

    The one that struck me the most was this: “Worship is oxygen for when you’re drowning in the wait.” Oh, I have found that to be true. Even when I’m angry, even when I have no earthly idea what He’s doing, even when I can’t see a way out, worship grounds me and blows a spring breeze into my soul.
    Kelly @ Love Well recently posted..Rest for the Weary

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