It’s almost birthday season. “Season” because all of our birthdays are clumped together in a matter of weeks. Mine is coming up this week, and then two days later, I’ll have a teenager. It’s crazy how time flies because I can still see his sweet baby face and chubby little cheeks when I look at him. I’ve done almost all of my shopping for him, and last night I wrapped his gifts and promptly hid them away as best I could. I don’t want a repeat of last year…
I have two brothers and a sister, so I know what it’s like to have to wait while a sibling has an awesome birthday. I felt all the excitement and angst on their special days while waiting for mine to arrive. Would I also get cool gifts? Would my cake be as delicious? It really comes as no surprise to me that his brother would have the same excitement and angst, because the two of us are basically the same person. Last year, he couldn’t contain himself and ripped the wrapping paper off his brother’s gifts, exposing what was inside. I had to do some quick repairs, but not before the birthday boy saw. I thought he would be excited to see his spoils, but instead he sat down and cried because his brother had stolen the surprise. Because the best part of surprise is anticipation for what is to come.
It’s timely that I recount this memory right now. A few days ago I was told that a medical treatment I was anticipating was not going to happen at this time. Something I had worked hard for all year. Something that would make my days easier and give me more quality of life. With one simple decision on someone else’s part, they’d stolen something from me. I was devestated. If I’m being honest, I came home and wept. I cried myself to sleep that night. And in the morning, I sobbed some more. I felt so deflated. I felt crushed. Abandoned.
Let’s take a step back here and re-read what I just wrote. I felt crushed. Abandoned. Key word? Felt. I felt that way. Yes, it was devestating news to me. (Still is). Yes, I wondered why God would allow this to happen right now. (Still do). But ultimately, my feelings aren’t in control of my life – His plans and purposes are. I can feel lots of different things, but that doesn’t mean how I feel defines the situation.
Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 1 Corinthians 4:8-10
Bad news doesn’t mean God abandoned me. I felt crushed, but I wasn’t really. It’s just not my time yet. I need to suffer for a little while longer. God is saying wait.
That sentence was easy to write, and I’m sure it’s ready to read. But actually doing the waiting? That’s tough stuff. Because no one likes waiting, especially today. We send a text and it’s received in seconds. We can order a meal and take the first bite in minutes.We can take a plane across the world and be there in a matter of hours. We can order something from Amazon and have it in our hands in two days. We are impatient. We just aren’t good at waiting, because often we don’t have to.
We want everything now. But that’s not how God works, is it? His timing isn’t rushed. His timeline looks nothing like ours, and that can be frustrating. We panic when things are out of our control, because the unknown is absolutely terrifying. Even if the Almighty God has it all planned out for our best interest. It’s still so hard to let go and leave it with God. And its that lack of faith and uncertainty which has the potential to cause a rift – creating fear, distrust and bitterness.
When God says wait, He’s saying trust Me.
When God says wait, He’s saying do not fear.
When God says wait, He’s saying be expectant.
When God says wait, He’s saying hold on to hope.
When God says wait, He’s saying I love you, and you are mine.
Sometimes I lose sight of what God says when He says wait. Two days ago, I couldn’t see it. Yesterday I couldn’t see it. But today, He’s making it a little more clear.
Imagine your life as a GPS (or if you’re old school, a paper map). Your goals, dreams and hopes are all destinations. You think you know which way you are going, you’ve made plans for along the way. But then you hit construction and you need to detour. As if that isn’t frustrating enough, a voice starts blurting out Recalculating, Recalculating! You’re no longer heading where you want to be, and the journey is different from what you expected. You might travel over tricky terrain. You might miss the stops you planned, but you’ll get to your destination eventually.
Waiting on God can be like that. But the beauty of His redirection is what happens on the journey. Sometimes He says wait to increase our faith. Sometimes He says wait to build and shape our character to model His. Sometimes God says wait so that we learn to depend on Him instead of ourselves. Whatever the reason, when God says wait, we need to take pause. We need to press in. We need to relinquish our control. We need to stop questioning and start trusting.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
My soon to be teenager is highly anticipating his birthday. He’s seen a few of the wrapped boxes (before I hid them away from his brother). He excitedly ponders what lies beneath the paper. He’s counting down the days. He knows the wait is hard, especially as the day dawns nearer and nearer. But he knows the reward is sweet.
Waiting is not easy. The destination is always going to be worth the wait. We might get sidetracked, our hearts might break a little, and we definitely will wonder if we will ever get there. But we can rest assured in His perfect timing, we will. So lean into Him. Cry a little. Pour your heart out to Him, because He’s listening. And when He’s ready, we will be too.