Thursday, April 30, 2015

Saying Yes to the Wait

Last week, I read this post (We Said "Yes" Too) about how we praise families for "saying yes" to all the children God will give them -but in reality, many men and women say yes to God and those babies don't come - or don't come quickly. The author pointed out how her home may not be "19 kids and counting" but she and her husband did say yes and continue to say yes to a home full of as many kids as He calls them to have. (Thanks Tiffany for sharing this article!)

The article hit home, not because I can even begin to empathize with this strong woman's many hard years of infertility struggles, but because the message of saying yes and then facing a period of waiting seems too often to be a theme in my own life.

We praise someone's courage when he or she boldly says yes to God's calling and nudges, but that praise often comes when these yeses are followed by quick action from God. We often see God's action as a clear indication of someone's willingness and obedience. (Joe said yes to God's calling and his ministry has now led thousands to the Lord.  Mary and John said yes to as many kids the Lord would give them and their home is filled with tiny footsteps constantly running around.  Anne said yes to purity, to dating with intention and seeking godly marriage, and a godly man snatched her up quickly!)

But, sometimes we feel called by the Lord, say yes and then actively wait and work and hope for response and movement that may takes years to come. And, those yeses aren't always celebrated, but they are just as valid.

In my own life, I have had times where I obeyed, where I willingly said yes -- and then, I waited. The answer may not have come quickly - but my willingness to say yes was no less valid.

Maybe you are saying yes too -- to callings, relationships, careers - and yet you face a time of waiting. You said yes to a house full of babies but your home and womb are still empty. You said yes to a godly marriage, to years of purity to honor both God and your future spouse, but your ring finger remains bare. You said yes to moving for a spouse's job, trusting God would open doors in response to your obedience, but yet you still look for a job. You said yes to ministry, sacrificing of yourself and maybe even moving to foreign countries - and yet the ministry does not grow and hearts remain unchanged.  You said yes to raising godly children to fear the Lord,to praying for them daily and teaching them God's words, yet your kids rebel.

Sometimes we say yes to God -- and nothing happens, at least nothing that we can see with our limited viewpoint. Sometimes we say yes to the wait. And, honestly, I think that is the braver yes....the one that is questioned by others (did God really call you to this city, this ministry, this life?) and sometimes even questioned by ourselves (is this really what He wanted?)

A yes to waiting, trusting and seeking joy amidst uncertainty.  A yes to future fulfilling of current longings and calling.  A yes to obeying even without seeing. A yes to vulnerability and hope and disappointment. A yes to change, growth and repentance. A yes to brokenness, struggle, surrender and pain during the wait. A yes to reminding yourself of God's goodness even when you do not feel it.

These are the harder yeses, the ones that must be said daily, the ones first entered into eagerly and boldly with such fervent hope and willingness --  and later quietly whispered under our breath, eyes full of tears, in submissive obedience as we fight to continue saying yes to things we yet see.

Keep saying yes to God's leading -- even if saying yes leads you first into the wilderness. The real boldness comes not just in saying yes, but in living in the times of waiting and uncertainty that may follow.

And while we are saying yes to the unanswered longings and callings placed on our hearts, God is saying yes to us -- to loving, providing and sustaining us; to hearing our broken prayers through sobs; to restoring hope and nurturing growth; to not wasting our times of waiting; and to giving us strength to continue saying yes to His will and His plans.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Feasting on Easter

obligatory Easter picture with Dave - this makes 4 Easters together

This Easter was wonderful.  Dave and I spend the 3 day weekend in Georgia with his family.  We all met at his sister's house and spent the holiday celebrating, fellowshipping and eating (lots of eating - thus why I am avoiding bread and hitting the gym this week). I spent time chasing nieces around, holding babies, having heart to hearts with my sweet sister in law, helping the kids hunt Easter eggs, taking neighborhood walks and cooking with the ladies. We devoured an Easter Feast on Saturday night: ham, tenderloin, macaroni and cheese, potato casserole, zucchini corn salad, sweet potatoes, green beans, chocolate cake, etc. We dove into the leftovers for Sunday lunch - and when I left Georgia, my stomach and heart were full. ( I have incredible in laws, by the way....I know this is not always the case, so I am extremely grateful)

Sisters and brother in law and 3 lovely nieces

This winter has been tough -- and more than I realized, my soul longed for Easter, for a chance to remember God's faithfulness to His people and his undeserved unending love and grace.

I've always loved Easter - a holiday to focus on rebirth and redemption, on hope and eternity, on freedom from our sin's damning consequences.  Our truth is that we are loved more than we could ever dare hope - so much so that our Lord would sacrifice His own beloved Son - just to wipe our slate clean. We have a future that extends far beyond the confines of our earthly timelines. We have eternal hope - but, sadly, my daily reality is not often centered on our future hope.

Lots of celebration with our nieces!

But, this spring, I am feasting on Easter (or at least trying really hard to feast!)  I am filling my soul to the brim with the all encompassing hope that will not disappoint. I am striving to believe the best and see this world through our Savior's eyes: broken but beautiful, needing a Savior in every moment, (whether seemingly inconsequential or life changing), inching closer to eternity and redemption.

our newest niece!

If I truly feasted on Easter, what would it look like in my daily life? 

If I feasted on Easter, every loss, every hardship, every pain would be heartbreaking, yet still illuminated by the promise of redemption.  Each broken moment would be a little less broken if I lived in the reality that the pieces would one day be put back together and whole in a way that I cannot even fathom in my present earthly state.  Each loss or hardship would be viewed from an eternal perspective - as a step towards heaven and a circumstance that will be redeemed for beautiful things either in this life or the next.

If I feasted on Easter, I would celebrate and laugh and soak up God's blessings with more awareness. All  joyful moments would point to heaven - a foreshadowing and foretaste of all good things to come.

Feasting on Easter would stir in my heart more forgiveness - both for others and myself.  I would live in awareness of my sin and need for grace - and display that same grace to others more often.  Kind words and gracious actions would flow from my heart and mouth.

If I truly feasted on Easter, then just like my body after a big holiday meal, my heart would be so stuffed full of hope that I could not imagine devouring one more morsel - yet still refusing to push my chair back from the table, still longing to eat just one more mouthful. I would sit at the table and greedily cram hope and blessing in, past the point of fullness.  I would return often, eagerly, expectantly. I would come to the table often, finding nourishment and fellowship, returning for more as often as I could.

If I feasted on Easter each day, then I would not live in fear.  I would wake up confident that no matter what the day held - whatever sin, failure - or even worse, "perceived failures" - my future remains secure - and I would go to sleep each evening, one step closer to a world of no tears, no war and only joy.  

If I truly feasted on Easter, then I would live each day aware that present situation is never the end to the story.  The battle is won! Death and sin are conquered.

If I truly feasted on Easter, it wouldn't be a holiday, just a way of living, my mindset during my daily journey - an eternal focus pointing towards to cross and towards the Savior daily. I would not need an Easter Sunday, because every day would be my celebration.

Oh, how I want to truly feast on Easter!! Lord, help us to live like it is Easter every day. Help us to see your glory, grace and forgiveness in all situations and all people. Help us to never lose sight of what our future holds because of the pain your past included.  Help us to feast on Easter daily.

Doesn't this melt your heart?