Wrestling While Waiting

what-to-do-when-you-cant-sleep-6f616ef8266809cdc0d195a0427678b3My journals uncover the inner struggle. “March 12, 2007 – ‘Boxes and armloads of stuff fill my car as I head one more time to the Thrift Store. Closets and cupboards are sighing, relieved of their overloaded contents. It’s all surreal. The cleaning out of our home is therapeutic, but also sobering. The reality gaining slow momentum is that we are actually moving.

“There are moments of quiet when I lean in listening for more instruction. At the same time, Mike comes along and says, ‘What if we aren’t moving? What if it’s a while before we move? The last time it took us five years.’ I am so unsettled. In transition but on hold. Connected but cutting going on in my heart.

“Lord, I need to hear You. I need Your vision, Your plan. Settle me again in Your will, Lord. I want to be at home in You. I am wrestling with the ‘delay,’ but I know it is for the best, Your perfect timing. Help us to be at rest and fruitful in our time of waiting.”

I filled my journal pages with my thoughts and prayers. Then I opened my “Jesus Calling,”1 devotional. In perfect sync, I read. “March 12  ‘Waiting, Trusting, and Hoping are intricately connected. …Trusting is the central strand because it is the response from My children that I desire the most.’”

How does He do that? How does He place a book on my shelf months ago? Then today, I happen to open it right after I cried out for help on the same subject?

One of the scriptures suggested with the devotional is Psalm 27:14. “Wait on the Lord and be of good courage. And He shall strengthen your heart. Wait I say on the Lord!” God, You are amazing.”

Later that month the wrestling continued. “Lord, Mike and I are both wondering if we’ve missed one of Your instructions. Are we on track with You? It feels as if we are marching in place and the music has stopped. We need to hear Your voice. We want to see Your face.”

Before I could go on, Holy Spirit interjected. “The parade hasn’t stopped or left you. It hasn’t started. I am gathering the rest of the musicians. You will not be marching alone. There will be many accompanying the music. I am the band leader and will lead and direct every member. I am making you one in the waiting.”

Mike poured out his feelings the next day over breakfast. “I’m not sure I want to go or do what God wants. One minute I do and the next minute I want to do what I want. I came to Missouri thinking I was coming to do certain things. Those things didn’t happen. Why did we come here? I’m not sure I want to go anywhere, but not sure I want to stay either. I do know I am supposed to go to the Gulf in a couple of weeks with the Katrina team. God showed me that in a dream. I am bored, frustrated and yet don’t know what to do to change anything.”

I didn’t have any words that would help. Later, I sat with God. “Lord, Your way is perfect. Your timing is precise. Father, help us grab hold of Your grace to wait. Help us not enter into complaining and accusation. Lord, lift our heads above our enemies.

Lord, tell us again. Call us Lord, and we will follow. Help!

Moments later, I opened my Bible.  There before me in highlighted text from years before was Deuteronomy 8:2-10.

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.

6 “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.”

I sighed. Yes, Father, You are faithful.  You are leading us, and You will provide.

While we were working through all these dilemmas behind the scene, our oldest son, Shane was in and out of the hospital. Early in the year, the doctors discovered he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Here too our faith and trust were put to the test. By April, Shane had undergone seven chemo treatments. The tests showed a dramatic turnaround. We were all grateful.

When Mike got back from another trip to the Gulf, he was in high gear to move. He was ready to call the realtor and launch us into a move to California. Rather than argue the point, I continued my dialogue with Abba.

“Lord, all this is in Your hands. I’m ready when you say it’s time. I wait for You, Lord. Father, give Mike the direction he needs. Give him the peace he needs for Your timing.”

On Mother’s Day, our daughter Sarah was in the hospital with meningitis. Within days,  thank You, Lord, she was home and recuperating, but the question hung heavy on my heart. “What if we’d not been here to help?” Not being available to our children is hard to think about.

One morning in the middle of July, Holy Spirit shared more counsel with me. “The next few months will be full of tremendous change. There is nothing to dread. It’s time to celebrate. Your ship is about to come in.  The prayers and promises are about to collide and bring an explosion of blessing. All you’ve longed to have and give away, I’m going to place in your hands. I can trust you now, and I can trust Mike. 

“There is a journey of discovery I have planned for you. You will discover more and more about how big I am and how much I am willing to bless willing vessels.

“Fear not. Only rejoice. The waiting is about over. Soon the great adventure begins. West? Yes, you are heading west, and I will bring supplies along the way. You will be amazed at the ease ahead. What ‘should be’ difficult, will not be. What ‘should be’ easy, may prove a challenge. Look to Me for your supply. I have all the answers and all the maps.

“Continue to bless the one in front of you and keep your eyes on Me. We are going together, and I will not fail you. My greatest joy is to see My plans unfold in your lives.”

One would think that I learned how to rest and was at peace. But, August 2, 2007, my journal notes told a different tale. “It’s amazing what fifteen minutes’ face down in the carpet accomplished last night. Repentance and renewal. Here are the things I realized Lord:

  • I was warring against Your ways, even though all Your ways are based on love. Regardless of how it may appear, You are holding us back to put Your best in place for us.
  • I was not obeying Your instructions.
    • “Fear not.” – Fretting
    • “Rest in Me.” – Restless
    • “Be thankful.” – Complaining
  • I was not honoring You as my Lord. – I was acting like a disgruntled slave, not a daughter.

“Thank You, Lord for forgiving me, giving me peace, and a new beginning of trust.

“I put my journal down and turned on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), and Jentzen Franklin was preaching. He was saying, ‘the Lord has a ‘place’ and a ‘plan’ for each of us. The place and the plan may appear to be illogical, but if it is His, we will flourish there.’ He kept emphasizing the importance of waiting for Your leading.”

At the end of August, Mike and I sat down and started a list of what furniture and appliances would remain and which ones would go with us. Then we created a projects list. After that, we climbed into the attic and started sorting.

It was now two years from that evening with Linda. So many changes in our hearts and our lives.

August 26, 2007—“Weep no more My lady. I am here, I am here. For Me to answer the cry of your heart, I am emptying out all that is not Me. I will fill you to overflowing with all that I am.

“I am in you now, but some closed doors and closets must be opened and emptied. I’m in search of crumbs, leaven, out of My love for you. I am searching your heart and removing every seed. Every remnant that would trip you or try to establish itself in your life.”

“Lord, take it all. Don’t miss a crumb. Search my heart, Lord. Search out my anxieties. At this moment, I realize there is still anxiety about going back to Stockton and family. In the past, there were many struggles.”

“Your lives have changed dramatically, and you are not going back the same as when you left. I’ve deposited treasure in you for them, and while the door is open, you must share with them those treasures. They love Me, and I love them. Do not fear! I am with you, and I will not leave you. I’ve not brought you this far to leave you in a mess.

“There will be challenges, but My love will overcome every one. … Religion does not transform. But love recreates and releases a fragrance that will captivate the lost and draw all men to Me. Throw yourself into this season. It will reap an eternal reward.  No fear. No fear. In My love for the two of you, I have planned all in perfect balance. Nothing wasted. No more ditches.”  

As we continued to pray and listen, the direction became clearer. On September 14, I emailed our intercessors. Here are some of what I wrote that day:

“Dearest friend,

The Lord has been working in amazing ways these past six months. He finally gave us the go-ahead yesterday to take some steps.

  1. I will be turning in my notice at the church office on Monday with the intent to work until October 11.
  2. We are going to California on the 26th to spend a week there spying out the land and listening to the Lord. There have been too many arrows pointing in that direction to ignore.
  3. We will be telling our children next week as well. (Please pray for them, especially Sarah.)
  4. We are paring our possessions to down to bare bones. We plan to take necessities with us. We are trusting the Lord to supply all that we need. He is already indicating that provision in all areas will be more than we can imagine.

We are excited, terrified, rejoicing and sobered by the faithfulness of our Lord. Thank you for your continued prayers. It may take longer than we think, but we are resting in the Lord and moving out in obedience to what He is telling us to do.”

Again, as if by God’s intimate design, the very next day, Sarah and Justin were officially engaged to be married. One of our biggest concerns about leaving was our daughter Sarah and grandson Ashton. Now, with the wedding plans, it was a continuing confirmation that God had all things in His hands.

We set our gaze on California and started making plans.

~~ How About You? ~~

Are you wrestling in the waiting? Are you feeling confident and strong one minute, weak and undone the next? I found Him to be so faithful.

It is easy to run to a friend to pour out your heart. Or it’s just as easy to stuff the uncertainties with food, drink, watching movies, shopping, or other endless alternatives. Still, the only thing that brings resolve is time with Him. It may only be for thirty minutes or an hour, but His patience and love are without limit. He is ever ready with open arms and a willing heart to listen, to counsel, to comfort. There is no other like Him.

Hebrews 4:15-16 blesses my heart every time I read it.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

And, there isn’t a limitation on how many times we can go before Him. Because of His love, we are always welcome in His presence.  He is always ready to hear us and meet our need to perfection.

If you are struggling, run to the throne of grace and ask for what you need. He is a loving Father who finds great joy in blessing His children.

1 “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson Publishers

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