Egg Hunts, Losers, and Other Thoughts on Easter


The first time Aubrey went on an Easter egg hunt, she found five eggs.  Well really I found them, which was quite an accomplishment given all the four-year-old boys with Spiderman-like vision.  Not only could they spot an egg ten yards away, they could thrust their entire torso into a prickly bush to get it.  Me, not so much.

At the end of the hunt, everybody sat down to eat their candy.  I couldn’t help but glance at the overflowing buckets around me.  With a sigh, I began to pop open Aubrey’s eggs.  Two of them were empty.  She ate her candy in roughly three seconds and looked around. I wondered if she realized what a losing team we made.  I can still see her wearing her little pink chick shirt, watching everybody else eat their candy, clutching an empty yellow basket in her fist.

I’ve never loved her more.

Any parent will tell you that we love our children unconditionally.  Like the rope that tethers a boat to shore, our love braves calm and stormy weather.  But there’s something about seeing a child in a moment of vulnerability that elicits special affection.  Ask any parent how they felt the first time they watched their child be rejected by peers, and you’ll glimpse the emotion.  It’s loyalty and love, compassion and tenderness all mixed together.  And now as Easter approaches a single thought keeps running through my mind.

I wonder if God sees me in my vulnerable moments, and feels the same way toward me as I felt toward Aubrey.  I wonder if His heart is touched in a special way when I’m the child with the empty basket.  The child who’s hurting.  The child who’s failed, or lost, or been rejected.

Because God is omniscient, I sometimes picture Him unaffected by the sorrows of my life.  I assume He’s always calm, cool, and collected—reminding me that He has a plan, so why don’t I quit my sniffling and get on with it?  But the Bible reveals a very different God, One who meets His children intimately and passionately in their lowest moments.  The God of the Bible is One who longed to gather His wayward children into His arms as a hen gathers her chicks (Luke 13:34).  He is the God whose compassion overflowed at the very thought of giving up on faithless Israel (Hosea 11:8).  The God who saw Hagar.  The God who communed with Job.   The God who wrestled with Jacob.  Even when it was their own sin that put them in the pit, God met them where they were.

I love that about Him.

I love that the God of the Universe doesn’t watch us from afar, but gets His hands dirty in the messy reality of our lives.  I love that He wrestles us until we no longer resist Him, but cling to Him and desperately beg for His blessing.  Is there any other god in the history of world religions who would condescend to such a level?  Who would allow Himself to be so intimately involved, so emotionally affected, by the lives and hearts of humans?  And yet the God of the Bible goes even further–not only meeting us where we are, but becoming one of us.  Can you just imagine God Almighty as a baby?  The God of the Universe sitting in His own poop, waiting for someone to come clean Him up?  It’s baffling!  Could He have taken any form more vulnerable?  More utterly defenseless?  More humble?

And to think I imagine Him unaffected by the sorrows of my life.  Unable to relate.

He literally came down from Heaven and walked in the same human flesh I now walk in.  Only He did it perfectly, and then died a gruesome death–enduring the wrath I deserved–in order to rescue me.  You know what I think?  I think the maternal love I feel for my children in their empty-Easter-egg-basket moments doesn’t hold a candle to the depth of emotion He feels for us.

And I love that about Him.

I worship that about Him.

The Things in My Life I Don’t Like


A godly mentor once told me that joy and sorrow are like two sides to a railroad track.  Both run through our lives in surprisingly close proximity.  At the time, I didn’t really get it.  I believed the angst of college life would subside around the time I put on a pair of strappy black heels and received a diploma.  And it did.  Good-bye final exams, good riddance college drama.  But surely as the dawn, new sorrows came.  Indeed every season seems to have its share.  Some are gigantic, others minor.  But always, there is something.  Something I want.  Something I fear.  Something that exhausts me.  Something that confuses me.  Something that disappoints me.  In my life, I can always find something to complain about.  I can always find a reason to be discontent.  A reason to question God.

The ironic thing is, at the very same time there’s a track of joy running through my life.  For every handful of cheerios shoved into the waffle iron (ugh!) there’s one little cheerio poked into a bellybutton that sets off a symphony of laughter.  And for every private struggle with God, there is the promise of deeper intimacy, truer understanding, and richer communion.  I think the secret to contentment lies in learning how to embrace both sides of the railroad track—the things in our lives we love, and the things in our lives we don’t.  How do we do that?  I’m glad you asked 🙂  I think it begins by…

Being Honest
Contrary to Facebook myth, nobody enjoys everything about his or her life, because no life is untouched by the fall.  The question is, are we being honest about the painful side of the track?  Few things are more freeing than authenticity.  And no people are freer to embrace authenticity than Christians because we have guaranteed acceptance!  We are not judged according to how well we “have it all together,” how we perform, or how many people we can deceive into envying us.  We live in the shadow of another Man’s perfection which forever declares us righteous, accepted, and loved!  So we’re free to risk, to fail, to be rejected by the world, to be struggling, growing, and honest about it.

Conversely, nothing is more enslaving than deceit.  When we can’t be real with anybody, including ourself, we live in a narrow prison of appearances.  What’s more, honesty with God is paramount to a relationship with Him.  Lying to yourself is denial.  Lying to others is pretense.  But lying to God is the very depths of loneliness.

Being Humble
Once we’re honest about the trials in our life—and we quit pretending we’re not as disappointed as we really are—we can begin to view them through a lens of humility.  Like the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down, humility can make the toughest trial easier to swallow, simply by putting it into perspective.

What this means is, it’s time to take your eyes off your belly button, and look up into the face of Christ.  There is no quicker, truer way to cultivate humility.  Believe me, nobody is more navel-focused than me.  Just the other night I had a conversation with friends about how annoyingly introspective I am.  Because of this, the “honesty” part is not really my struggle.  The humility part is.  Yet time and again humility proves to be my ticket to peace with suffering.  For in light of Christ, my sorrows are pale, my indignation arrogant, and my “rights” ridiculous.

Being Hopeful
So picture you and me—shamefully honest, pitifully humble, a bundle of unworthiness in His presence.  Pretty pathetic, huh?  Wouldn’t you know, our gracious God looks at us, and unlike the world, He does not despise us.  As He said to Israel in the depth of her disgrace, “How can I give you up?  My heart is turned over within Me; All my compassions are kindled” (Hosea 11:8).

In our honest, naked humility, Jesus Christ imparts hope.  He has not left us.  He has not ceased to love us.  He is greater.  Stronger.  And in Him lies the victory.  Often my disappointment with the painful track in my life is intertwined with discouragement over my own sinfulness.  I shouldn’t have these feelings of anxiety, disappointment, or anger.  I should be past this.  Better than this.  More mature in Christ than this.  But there is a truth that continually sustains me.  It is the mystery of Colossians 1:27—Christ in me, the hope of glory!   Because Christ dwells in me, I always have hope.  In Him I will overcome—both my circumstances and my sinfulness—and one day, by His grace, I will arrive.

If you are in Christ, so will you.  There will come a day when the mighty engine of Hope that’s powered us along the tracks of joy and pain will deposit us in a place that knows no sorrow.  On that day, there will be but one track stretching into eternity–that of joy fulfilled, faith seen, and hope realized.  So do not lose heart!  There is a final destination to the journey.  The destination is home.

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Why Women Wander


From the time we’re young, society feeds us a steady diet of lies—find the right man and you’ll be satisfied, attain the right figure and you’ll be beautiful, wear the right clothes and you’ll be accepted.  So we try it, only to discover there’s still this quiet ache.

Like a boat without an anchor, our hearts drift restlessly on a constant quest for fulfillment.  And boy does the world have a lot of suggestions for where we might find fulfillment.  I’m not much of a magazine reader, but I recently picked up a magazine promising to divulge how Jennifer Hudson “lives it up at Christmas without putting on a pound.”  Inadvertently, I stumbled upon an article entitled “12 Things We Learned about Love in 2012.”  The list was nothing short of devastating, boosting the pornographic novel Fifty Shades of Grey and the male-strip-club movie Magic Mike.  Really?  These are the things we learned about love?  But the sad reality is yes, these are the tutors shaping the hearts and minds of countless women.

And it’s all counterfeit.  We desire intimacy, and we’re offered lust.  We long for significance, and we’re handed a J Crew catalogue.  We want a Hero, and the world suggests 007.  Speaking of heroes, the other night I watched The Bourne Legacy with my husband.  One particular scene had me especially hooked.  In it the female doctor is running from the police.  She escapes into a narrow alley, only to find a police officer on either side.  Meanwhile, her partner, the medically enhanced super-duper spy is also running from police on the rooftops.  Just as you think it’s all over for the doctor, her partner leaps from a roof, flies down this tight alley, and saves her.  Ridiculous, sure, but I loved it!  I always love that image of the mighty hero rescuing the girl.  I think a lot of women do.  You know why I think it appeals to us?  Because it’s a dim reflection of a true story.

The next morning, after watching the movie, we were singing at church when a particular line from the song struck me: “The King of Glory rescued me.”  Unbidden, the image from the movie flashed through my mind.  With it came the joyous thought—there really is a Hero!  The world may offer an array of counterfeits, but there is a real thing in existence.  There is a Hero who longs to be deeply intimate with you, who has the power to bestow true significance, and who makes the Hulk look like a girl scout.  He is the ultimate leader, stronger than any super-spy, and fiercer than any warrior.

Listen to the heroic imagery of Psalm 18, as David cries out to God for help.  With fire from His mouth and anger that makes the mountains tremble, God flies swiftly on the wings of the wind, His voice thundering like hailstones.  He battles with arrows and lightning, until the channels of the sea are seen and the foundations of the world laid bare at His rebuke.  And then David declares, “He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.  He rescued me from my strong enemy…for they were too mighty for me.”  Talk about a rescue!  Talk about a Hero.

Why do women wander?  Because our souls were made for this Hero, and nothing less can satisfy.  As a Christian, do I still feel the temptation to wander aimlessly?  Absolutely.  It’s why I’m writing.  But I take heart because I also know the truth.  That restless stirring in my heart is not the need for a new pair of skinny jeans, or a few more dates with my husband.  It is my soul’s soft reminder that I was made for Christ.  It is my Savior’s invitation to come and be satisfied.

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Commemorating Your Journey


I remember sitting in my bed a few years ago feeling especially blue.  I can’t recall what was wrong, only that I was discouraged.  As I prayed, I began to jot down all the major challenges and blessings my husband and I had faced beginning with our first year of marriage.  What I found surprised me.

In our first year of marriage, we were about $5 away from destitution (challenge) but swimming in friendships (blessing).  In our second year, I graduated from undergrad, got a job, and we moved so my husband could go to graduate school.  Suddenly, we had a double-income and could go to the grocery store and buy both milk and toilet paper.  Happy day!  We were saving money, and actually had an entertainment budget…only there was no one to entertain.  We were completely friendless.  Year three, it appears, was our golden year.  We moved into married housing, landed a plethora of friendships, still had that double-income, and (surprise!) discovered a baby was on the way.  Enter, year four: the year of the juggling act.  Between the two of us, my husband and I were managing two jobs, seminary classes, a new baby, and a busy youth ministry.  We fell from the golden year straight into the compost pile, a fall that caused us to kiss the double-income good-bye in year five for the sake of our sanity.  Ah, peace!  Less juggling…and less groceries…again.

Are you seeing what I saw?  There is such irony in the ebb and flow of our lives.  The burden we mourn today may be the blessing we take for granted tomorrow…and vice versa.  That day I saw in clear black ink that God is always at work in my life.  This journey is unpredictable, but it’s not haphazard.  There is a purpose.  Someone is in control of every step, even the painful ones.

As I sat on my bed, inspiration struck.  What if I kept a journal to commemorate our journey?  I could look back and see all that God has brought us through.  And more importantly, I could look forward in faith.  I set to work copying my lists into a brand new journal.  To date we have been married nearly 7 years.  Every year on our anniversary, I fill in one page of our journal.  I list all the difficulties and all the answers to prayer that year.  Then I stick in just one picture—a picture of how we celebrated our anniversary.  That’s it.  It’s my 21st century Ebenezer—my memorial to God’s faithfulness in our lives.  Being the dreamer that I am, I imagine that one day I will share it with my kids.  We can flip to year fifteen and remember exactly how God was at work that year.  And together, we can celebrate the journey.

I don’t know whether you’re single, married, widowed, young, or old—but I do know one thing: all of us are on a journey.  Why not commemorate yours?  You can think back to a definite starting point like I did (when you got married, moved out of your parents’ house, became a Christian…etc.) or start right now.  The agenda is simple—you’re taking stock of 2 things: how God has been lavish in the blessings of your life and faithful in the trials of your life.  Then when you’re sitting on the couch and that great big present trial—the one you just can’t stop thinking about—comes looming over you, remember that one day it will be little more than words in a journal, a testimony to the faithfulness of God.

Home for the Holidays


For years home was a painful subject for me.

Although my mother is Singaporean and my father is American, I was born and raised a missionary kid in the Philippines for the first fifteen years of my life.  In our home there were always three different cultures alive and at play.  We spoke English, ate Chinese food, and constantly had a house full of Filipinos.  The cultural influences overlapped so seamlessly that to this day I still sometimes pause and wonder whether certain sayings, traditions, or stores are American, Filipino, or Chinese.

In the 1960s Dr. Ruth Hill Useem coined a term to describe kids like me.  She called us “third culture kids,” suggesting that the act of being raised in a foreign culture causes a child to create a “third culture,” which is a blend of the parent culture and the host culture.  While the child embraces attributes of both cultures, he or she never fully identifies with any culture.  Dr. Useem asserts that the only culture a TCK truly “owns” is the third culture—the hybrid culture.  Therefore they only feel truly at home with other TCK’s.

But the painful truth in all of Useem’s research is that this “third culture” exists within such a narrow framework that if you ever leave it, it’s likely gone forever.  For instance, my husband can travel the world, and always return “home” to Georgia.  He can talk about the Braves and the Bulldogs and instantly re-connect with the thousands of people who share his culture.  But when I left the Philippines at the age of fifteen, I left forever the small community of fellow missionary kids who shared my third culture.  Come graduation, all those MKs dispersed.  Sure, I still keep in touch with some of them, but we have no “place.”  There is no “Georgia” to return to.  There is no home to return to.

When it comes to home, I don’t know what your journey has been like—whether you’re going home for Christmas this year with excitement or dread.  Whether your home is joyful or broken, full or empty, celebrating new life or mourning lost life.  Whether you have a home at all.  But since thoughts of home always seem most poignant at Christmas, I’d like to share two powerful truths that helped me process my own feelings regarding home.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be without a home.
From His very birth, there was no place in this world for Jesus.  He wasn’t nestled into a cozy nursery with Pottery Barn bedding.  He was born like an outcast.  Like a child nobody esteemed.  Born with the animals.  As a man, Jesus would go on to tell those eager to follow him: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).  For thirty-three years, Jesus lived and breathed as a stranger of this world.  Certainly, he can relate to the homeless, the rejected, and the lonely.

Jesus has prepared a true home for all who belong to Him.
But the hope of Jesus is not merely in His human ability to relate with you.  It’s in His divine ability to save you.  To justify you, sanctify you, and one day to glorify you.  If you’ve ever felt a restless stirring, like you weren’t made for this place and nothing here can quite satisfy, it’s because you weren’t.  In John 14:3, as Jesus prepares the disciples for His coming departure, He promises them, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”  In his book, In Light of Eternity, Randy Alcorn describes heaven as “home” in the truest sense.  That feeling you get when you’re home—when you kick your shoes off, flop onto the sofa, and finally breathe easy—that is the feeling we will have in heaven, only magnified to its purest, deepest, most satisfying form.  Until that day, part of us will always be dissatisfied with this earthly shadow of home.  In college I wrote a sonnet about this familiar ache in my own life.  It is an ache that reminds us we were never made for this world.

I don’t know what the year has brought your way, but this Christmas, if you are a true follower of Christ, you have great cause to celebrate!  Be grateful for the joys of the year—they are a taste not only of God’s grace, but of greater joys to come.  And in the sorrows, take heart.  Earth is not your final destination.

(Photo credit)

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The Sojourner


When I from distant lands do think abroad,
Of all that lies unknown and hid from me,
I feel a chill of darkness blot the laud,
That else would rise in joyous praise to Thee.
For how can one as tiny as the sand,
Behold the sea a-brew with storm and wave?
And how can one but hope to understand,
The secrets of a God who holds our days?
And when such thoughts do burrow in my soul,
I feel again the deadened throb awake,
Though naught on earth is found that can console,
Still it beats the old eternal ache.
For though my ship on earth is made to roam,
My heart is ever beating for my home.

(Photo not original.)

Making Family Gatherings Meaningful

the-ultimate-christmas-hot-chocolateFor as long as I can remember, my family has practiced one simple Christmas tradition.  Every year, on Christmas morning, we each take a turn sharing hopes, goals, and desires for the coming year.  Sometime soon after I learned how to write legibly, I became the official scribe.  On Christmas day my mother would hand me “the journal.”  Someone, usually my sister, would volunteer to go first.  I’d crack open the worn notebook, find Johanna’s name, and re-read her goals from the previous year.  Then she’d reflect—how did the year turn out?  Did she accomplish her goals?  Did God fulfill her hopes?  When she started sharing her hopes for the coming year, I’d quickly scrawl as fast as I could.  Finally, when it was my turn, I’d pass the journal to someone else and do my own share of talking.

As kids we use to squirm through this tradition.  It was an exercise in great restraint to gaze longingly at the presents under the tree and fidget impatiently through all the talking.  But over the years something amazing took place.  As we grew up, so did our goals.  Aspirations to conquer computer games turned into desires to trust God in school, to share our faith with confidence, to spend more time in the Word.  God was molding our hearts.  He was growing a family, and all of it is recorded in stacks of worn journals safely stored somewhere in my mother’s room.  We could flip to any year and see exactly what God was doing in the lives of each member of our family.  Somewhere along the way someone—I can’t even remember who—suggested we give Jesus a symbolic “gift” each year, along with a year verse.  So that was added to the sharing time—our belief, our jobs, our loved ones, our failures…all of these have been gifts we laid at Jesus’ feet over the years.

In many ways this special time on Christmas morning was the glue that brought us closer together as a family unit.  I can still remember us all coming to the living room on the year that one member of our family endured a devastating tragedy.  What would this person say about the year that had transpired?  What hopes would this person have for the coming year?  How was God at work?  That morning, as we sat together listening to all God was doing, passing along tissues to dry our eyes, I realized that these were sacred moments.  We were all still here.  In it together.  Despite it all, God had brought us through.  God would always bring us through.

As we got married, spouses were invited into our tradition, and this forged new intimacy in our ever-expanding family.  This year, we will likely have to share on Christmas Eve night because my two little girls are still too young to sit through the tradition, although I smile in anticipation of the day they’re ready to start sharing their own hopes of conquering computer games…hopes that I know will grow up as they do.

It’s funny—I use to wiggle through our tradition, anxious for it to be over, and this year the single thing I look forward to the most is tucking my kids into bed, grabbing a mug of something hot, snuggling up on the couch, and listening to my family share while I take notes as fast as my fingers will let me.

(Photo Credit)


When Life Disappoints


(Photo courtesy of Matteo Mazzoni)

I wanted security, and You gave me chaos,
Wanted esteem, and You let me know shame.
I wanted success, and You handed me failure,
Wanted Your pleasure, and experienced Your pain.

I wanted simplicity, and You gave me troubles,
Wanted grandeur, and was reduced to nothing.
I wanted approval, and You handed me rejection,
Wanted Your blessing, and tasted Your suffering.

So I packed my frustration, and all my complaints
Into two giant burlap sacks,
And one I named “Bitterness” and the other “Disappointment,”
And heaved them upon my back.

Thus I began my journey to You,
Because I needed an answer, You see,
For all of the things You’d promised me once,
And failed to deliver to me.

But the loads, they grew heavy with each passing day,
Til I fumed with fury and hate;
And I moaned and I wept and I stumbled at last
Beneath their unbearable weight.

I looked at these bags, laden with trials,
And deep in my soul I knew,
That I could not carry, nor change, nor fight them;
There was but one thing left to do.

I reached both arms, fierce as I dared,
And I hugged them to my breast,
Then I heaved and hauled and wrenched until,
I’d wrestled them into my chest.

I cried to the heavens, “I embrace these trials!
I welcome them full unto me,
Let them now work Your will in my life
So that I may be more like Thee!”

The trials spilled over, into my lap
Each of them laid before me,
And as I sat and stared anew,
Suddenly I saw them most clearly.

I wanted comfort, and You gave me character,
Wanted completion, and You gave me patience.
I wanted glory, and You gave me humility,
Wanted Your promise, and You gave me Your presence.

I wanted ease, and You gave me strength,
Wanted cheap idols, and You offered me wealth,
I wanted garbage, and You gave me riches,
Wanted your gifts, and You gave me Yourself. 

I laughed and I danced and I started to sing,
For the treasures I held in my lap!
Then I looked back and forth and finally found
My two giant burlap sacks.

And the names on the bags were re-written,
For God had seen fit to destroy
Both “Bitterness” and “Disappointment,”
And to name them “Steadfastness” and “Joy.”

I fell to my knees and worshiped and cried,
“Oh God, all along You knew–
That deep in my heart from the very beginning,
All I really wanted was You.”

My Ungrateful Heart

lonely man[1]

I had a little pity party today.  Ironic, I know, considering the fact that thousands of families across America gathered to count their blessings.  The truth is, I have a lot to be grateful for.  But for some reason my heart seemed dead set on finding things to complain about.  Minor grievances, irksome frustrations, circumstances beyond my control.  What got it all started was a comment my husband made in the morning.  I have a brilliant brother-in-law (currently in residency) who rarely gets time off.  This year he and his family couldn’t join us for Thanksgiving until Friday.  Unfortunately, my husband only had Thanksgiving Day off of work.  This morning, Clint sadly made the remark that he was disappointed he couldn’t spend his day-off with his family.  Knowing my husband, he was likely over it about five minutes after he voiced it.  But not me.  I let the comment stew until it began to fester: Yeah, that is disappointing.  Poor Clint!  Everybody will be here tomorrow and he’ll be back at work.  It’s so unfair!  Why doesn’t he ever get a break?  This stinks!  It really stinks!  It super-duper stinks!  Blah, blah, blah…on and on.

It’s amazing how easily my heart can drift into discontentment.  One minute I’m joyful, the next I’m sulking.  In reflection, I think there are two major battlegrounds–the mind and the heart.  Contrary to Paul’s teaching, I failed to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).  But I was especially susceptible to such thoughts because of the idols in my heart.  Like the dry wall in an attic, there are weak territories in our heart–tread too harshly and you’ll come falling through.  These are the sensitive spots, and for me, my husband is one of them.  I am fiercely protective of him.  I’d like to say it’s simply because I love him, but it’s not as noble as that.  I’m protective of him because I don’t trust God with him, and because I am constantly tempted to idolize him.  And my heart was only designed to idolize One Person.  Whenever I take my affections off Christ and lay them squarely on someone or something else, all manner of ugliness spews out of me.  Defensiveness.  Possessiveness.  Anger.  Envy.  (Really, all the things the Bible guarantees will spew out of a heart living in idolatry.)  So what’s the remedy?  I think it starts with learning where the weak places are.  Just like your dad use to point them out in the attic by warning, “Don’t step there!”  Only instead of avoiding them, reinforce them.  Memorize Scriptures to directly combat the idols you’re most tempted to turn to.  And be wary.  That’s what should have happened this morning.  I should’ve recognized that I’ve been here before.  This is familiar battleground, Jeanne!  Stand firm!  God is always in control.  He will minister to Clint.  You have so much to be thankful for.  Can you imagine what a greater encouragement I would have been to Clint?  Not to mention what greater joy I would’ve experienced?

In the end we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch (which, if you didn’t know, is one hopping place on Thanksgiving Day).  And in the process God used something powerfully simple to catch my attention.  I was standing behind an elderly man, waiting to request a table, when the waitress turned to him and brightly asked, “How many?”  The old man quietly said, “I’ll take one Thanksgiving dinner to go, please.”  I looked at him, and my heart fell to my toes.  I pictured him all alone, eating his Thanksgiving dinner by the TV set.  How can there be no one to cook this man Thanksgiving dinner?  No one to share it with him? 

There’s nothing like perspective to give you a cold hard slap in the face.  That old man with his small polite smile broke my heart today.  In so doing, he turned my heart back to the Lord.  With my eyes fixed on Him, the foolish grievances scattered like ash to the floor.  And wouldn’t you know it–my great God replaced them with joy, worship, and yes, even gratitude.  So tonight I am thankful for a gracious Father who faithfully loves every person He created–myself, my husband, and a lonely elderly gentlemen somewhere in Southern Georgia.

When All You Can Do Is Wait

Photo courtesy of

I’ve never met anybody who loved waiting rooms.  Think about it—nobody schedules a doctor’s appointment to read the AARP magazines in the waiting room.  You don’t call Cox Cable to listen to the music they pipe through the phone while you’re on hold, and you don’t go to a restaurant for the fun of holding a buzzer in your hand.  Embracing the concept of “waiting” defies our sense of logic.  Waiting is what we put up with to reach the goal.  We endure it.  Deal with it.  Grumble our way through it.  But we certainly don’t embrace it.  In many ways, “waiting” is the enemy.  It is the hairline crack in our perfect plans that terrifies us, secretly makes us question if we’re deficient…if God’s deficient.

I use to view “waiting” as something akin to being a bench warmer.  You’re watching the game, all the while knowing deep down that if you were just a little bit better, you’d already be on the field.  Married to the man.  Given the position.  Pregnant with a baby.  Head of the company.  Healthy and in remission.  It’s taken a painful journey for God to teach me that waiting on Him, is playing the game.  And as such, it requires phenomenal endurance, strength, and training.

Training myself to “wait” in a God-honoring way began with an honest look into why I hate waiting so much.  I came up with three reasons.

1. I want to have control over my life.
I have sugar-coated this for a long time by simply describing myself as a “go-getter.”  I like to have a plan, and I like to accomplish it.  In fact, at random times in the day, my three-year-old will point one pudgy finger forward and command, “Let’s keep moving!”  (I wonder who she learned that from?)

Moving forward gives me the illusion that I am in control of my life.  Being at a God-ordained standstill, when I want to be moving forward, shatters that illusion.  I feel like a cartoon character running as fast as I can, with somebody’s hand against my forehead.  It doesn’t matter how much I want it, I’m not going anywhere.

But oh, the sweet grace, of being stopped by the hand of God!  Of being reminded that He is in control.  The truth is, deep down I don’t want to be in control of my own life, because deep down I know how inept I really am.  To sit back and submit, to quit trying so hard and simply wait on the Trustworthy One—now that is freeing indeed!  To embrace a season of waiting is to embrace the authority of God, to willingly acknowledge that He has complete control.  And it’s impossible to do that and not come to a place of greater peace.

2. The act of waiting is usually accompanied by a host of lies.
For me, it typically begins with worldly idols—for instance, I want the success and acclaim of being married to a man with a phenomenal ministry.  This idol becomes enshrined in worldly thinking.  Look at that other couple—they’ve got it all together.  Look at how their ministry is growing!  If only I could have this or that, surely I’d be content.   Following the really destructive lies come the really depressing lies.  Maybe I’m just not good enough. Maybe God doesn’t love me as much as He loves them.  Maybe there really isn’t a plan for my life.  

In order to embrace “waiting” we must first win the battle for our minds.  And this is no easy task!  As often as the lies come—a million times a day—we must be ready to speak the truth to ourselves.  Like the athlete in I Cor. 9:24-26 who runs to win a prize, disciplining his body, forcing it to submit, we train our minds to feast off of the Truth.  For me, this began with memorizing Scripture that directly countered the lies I believed, for my particular battles it was Psalm 16 and Psalm 34.

3. I had a wrong perspective of waiting.
Earlier, I mentioned my “bench-warmer” view of waiting, but actually my wrong perspective went even deeper.  My focus in “waiting” has always been very literal.  I am waiting to be done with school.  I am waiting to meet the right guy.  I am waiting to get a teaching job.  You get the idea.  But the Bible makes it clear that the thing we are to be waiting for is the Lord Himself.   

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”  (Psalm 130:5-6) 

You see, we aren’t just waiting to pass the home study, make it through medical school, get the promotion, or grow a church.  We’re waiting for God Himself—His presence to fill us, to make us more like Him, to take us deeper into the heart of who He is.  And amazingly, how does He do this?  By allowing us to wait.  The very act of waiting is sanctifying in and of itself!  And in this, we can take great heart!  If you, like me, are in a season of waiting, allow me to say I know how hard it is.  Believe me, I do.  But may I encourage both of us with this glorious truth—you and I are moving forward…just not outwardly.  We are moving forward into becoming the people He wants us to be.  We are moving forward in developing patience, trust, and submission to His perfect will.  We are moving forward into the very heart of God.  All this waiting, it’s not a break in the plan, it’s part of it.

So in these seasons of waiting, let’s train our minds not just to know the truth, but to believe it.  Let’s train our hearts to trust the heart of God with greater and greater stamina, so that if He should say to us, “Wait another month…wait another year…wait indefinitely,” we might courageously and willingly respond, “Yes, Lord!”  If we do that, we’re not only out on the field, we’re winning the game.