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.
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.
This post originally posted January of 2013. I have needed it this past week and figured maybe some of you could need it, too. Hey, I love you, church.