Waiting Quietly

I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.” – Neh 2:11-12

 I can’t keep a secret.  I’m always talking to everyone about what is on my mind.  I’m just a very transparent character.

Nehemiah had the ability to keep his mouth shut.  I’m impressed by that.  We know he prayed for four months before he went to see the Persian king to ask for permission to rebuild Jerusalem.  He’d taken a lot of time to think, plan, and shape the idea that God had planted in his mind.

Nehemiah had the FAITH to WAIT for God, patiently waiting for His direction.  Warren Wiersbe writes, “True faith in God brings calmmness to the heart that keeps us from rushing about and trying to do in our own strength what only God can do.  We must know not only how to weep and pray but also how to wait and pray.”

Then when he got to Jerusalem he set out to assess the situation, to see what exactly what kind of project this was going to be.  And he went at night, almost tiptoeing around the walls, trying not to be noticed, keeping it all a secret.

He had with him a few men – trusted souls, who could obviously keep their mouths shut too.  Men with whom he had probably shared his vision to rebuild the walls.  Men who were like-minded.  It’s important that Nehemiah was not totally alone, for an assessment build on the eyes of one man is not necessarily accurate.  He needed the wisdom, eyes, and input of other men… to see what he could not see.

I envision Nehemiah and his little team discussing and revising their assessment, making certain it was accurate.  I picture them discussing how the idea of rebuilding the wall should be presented to the residents of Jerusalem… refining their “project launch” and marketing strategy.  I know they were praying about every detail and seeking God’s guidance and His timing for the unveiling of their plan.

How do I know that?  Because when they finally began to speak publically and call local residents to join in the work… everyone did it!  If you’ve ever worked with a  volunteer organization, you know that a mass movement of people that involves hard work is not so simple!  That means that God was behind it all, preparing the hearts of the people so that Nehemiah arrived at exactly the perfect moment and it all came together.

Kelly writes, “Sometimes God drops a dream in our hearts that we must pray over and develop, that we must cultivate by His Word and direction before we share it with others.  Here we get a beautiful example from Nehemiah who nurtured a seed of vision into a fully recognizable bloom, before making it known.”

Has God given you a passion for something?  A vision for how He might use you for the glory of His Kingdom?  Have you been praying about it?  Have you been evaluating the need?

Wait for His direction.  Resist the urge to run ahead of God.  He has a plan.  Listen to Him and He will let you know when the time is right for you to run.  And then you must run, and not delay.

*Nehemiah, a Bible study by Kelly Minter.

I Cannot See Clearly

… and the road seems winding, shrouded in clouds.   I am in the right place.  My heart is right.  I am willing, and waiting.  Yet there are so many things I do not understand.  Sigh.  Have you ever felt that way?

In My Utmost for His Highest today, September 12, it seems as though Oswald Chambers is speaking to me (the green highlights are mine):

“Going Through Spiritual Confusion”

Jesus answered and said, ’You do not know what you ask’ —Matthew 20:22

There are times in your spiritual life when there is confusion, and the way out of it is not simply to say that you should not be confused. It is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of God taking you through a way that you temporarily do not understand. And it is only by going through the spiritual confusion that you will come to the understanding of what God wants for you.

The Shrouding of His Friendship (see Luke 11:5-8). Jesus gave the illustration here of a man who appears not to care for his friend. He was saying, in effect, that is how the heavenly Father will appear to you at times. You will think that He is an unkind friend, but remember – He is not. The time will come when everything will be explained. There seems to be a cloud on the friendship of the heart, and often even love itself has to wait in pain and tears for the blessing of fuller fellowship and oneness. When God appears to be completely shrouded, will you hang on with confidence in Him?

The Shadow on His Fatherhood (see Luke 11:11-13). Jesus said that there are times when your Father will appear as if He were an unnatural father – as if He were callous and indifferent— but remember, He is not. “Everyone who asks receives . . .” (Luke 11:10). If all you see is a shadow on the face of the Father right now, hang on to the fact that He will ultimately give you clear understanding and will fully justify Himself in everything that He has allowed into your life.

The Strangeness of His Faithfulness (see Luke 18:1-8). “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Will He find the kind of faith that counts on Him in spite of the confusion? Stand firm in faith, believing that what Jesus said is true, although in the meantime you do not understand what God is doing. He has bigger issues at stake than the particular things you are asking of Him right now.

So I remain in my cloud of confusion – knowing He is faithful, waiting with confidence and anticipation, standing firm, and trying to remember that it is probably NOT all about ME.

Courage dear friends, you who walk in darkness with me.  The sun will rise again.

http://utmost.org

 

 

 

The Restless on Sabbatical

I can’t sit still. I have always been that way. I am busy, I am Tigger, I am always working on something, I am the original hyperactive child. Fidget, fidget, fidget.

Restless – I am restless. The heading in my commentary for James 5:7-12 is “Reminders to the Restless”. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”

I do well under pressure, when I am busy. I have been reflecting on coming out of a busy season of ministry – when so much was required of me, when I met the Lord at 5 am every morning because there were so many things to pray about and seek guidance on, when it was “game on” all the time.

When I left Stuttgart, the Lord impressed upon me that the next thing was a Sabbatical Season. Sabbatical meaning rest, quietness, study. I needed it, but I didn’t like it. The Lord gave me four clear priorities for my sabbatical season:

1. NO new projects (oh, how hard that would be!),
2. Support and encourage my husband in this time of transition,
3. Support and encourage my kids in this time of transition, and
4. Work hard at getting back into good physical shape.

So here I am – I’m dying for a project like some people are dying for a drink… But I am on sabbatical. I am trying to be appreciative of my period of resting, but I just find it difficult. (But I do like having time for sports!) I am still meeting with the Lord, and He still speaks to me (usually it’s “Be patient, child.”), and I am loving reading and playing with my kids.

I like the farmer image in James 5:8 – he is waiting for precious produce, something valuable, that will only come in due time. I cannot, and should not, hurry it along. (This is much better than the “Moses tending sheep” image I have stuck in my head – Moses was out there 40 years! Plus, thanks to West Africa, I know a lot about sheep and there’s nothing good that comes out of that…)

Pray for me and my sabbatical – that I wouldn’t run ahead of God, nor waste my free time.

Also, when I started this blog I promised myself that I would only write when God laid something on my heart… that I wouldn’t post every week just to hear myself talk. (There’s plenty of that around!) So don’t worry if I don’t write… I am resting.

Waiting for puzzle pieces

I feel like a six year old who’s been given a new puzzle – on a rainy day when there’s nothing to do. But I am not allowed to open the box and get started. I just have to sit and wait. Even worse, there’s no picture on the box so I do not know what it will look like when it’s completed. All the pieces to my mystery puzzle are in the box – but I am not allowed to get started!

I want to throw a tantrum… But I suspicion that will only make Dad grumpy, not make Him open the box faster. Oh please, can’t I have just a piece or two to get started?! Sigh. And I also have a sneaky feeling that when we (Dad and I) start the puzzle – finally – that He will hand me the pieces one at a time and it could be a long time before we finish and all the center is filled in and we can see what the full picture is.

How long do I have to wait to open the puzzle box?

With the psalmist I cry “How long, O Lord?”

In my case, it is our family’s post-retirement future that lies in the puzzle box.

And you? Do you have some part of your life or your future that is shrouded in mystery – a gray fog, not necessarily dark but not light either, just an unknown? Are you in transition? Or suffering and wishing you could see the end? Or maybe you are called to something but don’t know exactly what?

I want to have CONTROL! I want to rip open the box and put the puzzle all in order, right now! I want to KNOW what the final picture is! But I have to wait. I am very bad at waiting. I fidget and I want to fiddle with things. I am a mover and shaker and I hate when things move slowly.

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

I was convicted today that asking “How long?” is not really the right question. Rather I need to ask myself, “How should I behave while waiting?!”

I thought about what I tell my kids when they have to wait for something: Be patient. Don’t complain. You may ask me again, but not too many times in the same day. Go find something else to do. Relax! I promise you that I have not forgotten. Trust me. Have you done what I asked you to do yesterday? No, it won’t be too late. I know what I am doing, I am your mother. I am not doing this to be mean to you. It’s good for you to wait. Yes, I love you.

Read that again. Imagine that’s what God is saying to me (or you). Which of those statements jumps out at you?

Waiting in the fog for God to reveal pieces of the puzzle requires several things of me:

A belief that God is good and that He cares about me – which allows me to trust Him;

An expectation that He will answer – which keeps me on my knees waiting for Him;

A willingness to obey what has already been revealed – without knowing what is next;

And a whole lot of patience and perseverance!

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

O Lord, help me to be childlike in my faith and trust in you – and to willingly relinquish control of my life to you, your timing, and your perfect plan.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

(Confession: I wrote this last week and waited to publish it. In the meantime, God handed me a big puzzle piece – my husband accepted a teaching job! Now I am simply waiting for more of the pieces of our future to fall into place…)