This week I’ve been up on Lake Michigan and it’s been just what I needed. I call it my “Healthy Voice Reset.” Every time, I tell myself I’m going to do it once a season because it gives me that reset I need from the hustle and bustle of life. I get filled up because I focus solely on God in nature, in the stillness, even in the things I eat and the people I talk to while I’m here. It’s all so soul filling. I wish I could bring every reader up here with me just to experience it. It was especially important for me to get up here this week with surgery coming on Tuesday.
So, here’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to write you (and me) a blog to encourage you when you feel like you are in a waiting period and wondering what God is going to do next, or even why God is doing what he’s doing. These 5 things are what he has spoken to me through whispers in the last few weeks with the change in the game and this surgery on my plate. (Mind you, back in December when I fell and broke my elbow I thought it would heal right up. But the therapist found something was up in therapy with that same wrist (not the one I had shoulder surgery on 3 years ago) and it wasn’t good. You never know what God’s going to do. Here I thought, “Okay God. So I fall. I’ll be still, spend some time slowing down and let this heal.” Little did I know he wanted me to be still a little longer!!
Anyway, do you recognize those times in your life when the Lord whispers, “Wait”? We often forget that we aren’t the rulers of our life and these are the times that God likes to remind us of that. Whether it’s standing in line at a grocery store, spending months in recovery from a surgery, or years recovering from a loss – God works, even if we feel like we’re stalled. We want to hurry up and wait and God says, “Be still and trust me.” It’s in HIS waiting that we truly learn how to trust him, because we’re not running the show. So here are those things I wanted to tell you, and remind myself in the coming weeks. I hope they help you too. P.S. Next Tuesday morning please say a prayer that all goes well with the surgery!
1) Though it tarries, wait for it. So I’m reading this book by Richard J. Foster called, “Celebration of Discipline,” and I love it. It’s been a great book to read during Lent to reflect. A few weeks ago I had a God moment with it, sitting in the lobby of South Bend Orthopedic waiting to find out results of an MRI on my wrist. Just a few minutes before I was in my car crying out to God (tears included) wondering if I’d make it through this, knowing in the bak of my mind I can do ALL things through him, but not liking it at the moment! So I open up the book while waiting and read this:
“Peter ‘tarried’ many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner’ (Acts 9:43 KJV). It was while tarrying in Joppa that the Holy Spirit got through to Peter (with visual aids no less) about his cultural and ethnic prejudices. What would have happened if, instead of tarrying, Peter had immediately struck out on a speaking tour to tell of the resurrection of Dorcas? Is it possible that he would have failed to come to that shattering insight from the Holy Spirit, ‘Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in ever nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him,’ (Acts 10:34)? No one knows. But I do know this: God desires various ‘tarrying’ places for all of us where he can teach us in special ways.”
This word: “tarry” had special meaning that day.
But just three days before I was sitting in my office in devotion over the weekend when my husband came in. I was reading Habakuk where I first read this from Habakkuk 2:3,
“For the vision is yet for an appointment time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”
I asked him if he knew what it meant. (The word means “to remain, or stay, as in a place, to delay to wait for, to rest, even ‘abide.’) I knew it was a Word given but not sure what for. So there it was when I was sitting in that lobby, right in that moment where I was literally waiting to get results and God’s telling me, “Yes, you are going to have to wait more. But it will come. Trust me.”
2) Embrace the Dark night of the Soul. Often times when we hear the phrase “dark night of the soul” we think of the worst kind of depression or struggle you can imagine. We look at it from the negative perspective, like “Ew, I don’t want to go through that!” But the truth is that the dark night of the soul is a beautiful time that we get to go deeper with God.
So last week when I was waiting to find out about the results of a Cat Scan (this was a different occasion than the appointment above) on my elbow and if I’d have to have wrist AND elbow surgery or just wrist. So I opened that same book I mentioned above and read what you see below. In fact, I made the note to the left before I even read it, and it reminded me that although it will be painful, the dark night I’ll go through in recovering from this surgery is when the Lord will speak. “The purpose of the darkness is not to punish or to afflict us. It is to set us free. It is a divine appointment, a privileged opportunity to draw close to the divine Center.” And how many of us in the world believe that God punishes us when we go through tough times. “Why me?!” we ask. But the truth is, if we want to know why? We’ll find out in the waiting, when we’re spending time with God…in his time, in his way.
3) Keep focusing on the good, not the circumstances. One day over Christmas when I actually originally injured my arm, I had a conversation with my stepdaughter in the kitchen about being broken and what that means for her growing up. When you are young, you feel invincible almost. You can’t even think of having to deal with a surgery or something because you just want to live. But what I told her is that these things that happen in our life, the things that make us a little broken are the things that make us beautiful. They teach us how to respond to life. We get the choice to either be the victims of our circumstances and sit on a pity pot, or see the good in everything – yes even in brokenness. I have learned so much from my brokenness and more importantly, I have gotten closer to God in it and there is nothing more beautiful than that.
4) Don’t hurry the pain or avoid being present until it’s over.
In her book, “8 Choices That Will Change a Woman’s Life”, Author Jill Briscoe says,
“Waiting on the Lord” does not mean putting on hold everything else in life until the prayer is answered, the situation redressed, or the nightmare over. “Waiting on the Lord” means cultivating an attitude of trust, casting the bundle of personal cares on him while we busy ourselves with whatever duties we must do. The devil loves to slow us to a dead stop, telling us we need to wait until things are ok again before we serve, teach, preach or take up daily responsibilities. He wants to paralyze us with the pain of waiting, so he says, “It will soon be over. Wait until things are normal.”
I mean…how much do you get that? How much do we want to rush our circumstances? Especially when they aren’t fun? But when we do that, we’re avoiding being present because we’re so focused on when this will end. Life is a process, a journey, not meant to be rushed through. Every valley and storm is part of the journey. We GROW in those valleys when it gets tough. We get stronger spiritually. We learn to persevere. We get tough on the inside, a good kind of tough. So the idea that we would rush it, makes no sense. But that’s how the devil works. He wants us to put off living until we get to where we think we’re going. It’s like going on a diet but not living until you reach your goal weight. That’s no way to live.
And one more BONUS, that I heard this morning as I’ve been reflecting before heading back. A thought of discouragement came into my mind and I prayed for God to give me the courage to Encourage someone else when I feel discouraged during this season of waiting. Take it as a sign to give away what you need to get, instead of getting in your head and doubting yourself. The devil LOVES to keep us in our head.
So, that’s what I got. I hope it gives you some perspective and I look forward to encourage you more as I go through this dark night and get closer to God! Have a great weekend, a great Easter and I hope you’ll catch what will hopefully be a quick video next Monday at 1pm. Take care!!