The other day when I was waiting at the bus stop, a friend of mine saw me and walked up to me for a chat. A few minutes into the conversation, he asks me who I was waiting for. Now it may seem obvious to you lot, about why I was waiting at the bus stop, but I live among friends who take cabs to places and I used to do that too. Until recently, I discovered my spending habits far outweigh what I earn. And the fact that the bus costs me 5 times less than a cab, hit me like a truck and I started taking the bus. So it came as a shock to my friend when I told him I was waiting at the bus stop for a bus, because he is from a generation that waits at bus stops to meet friends (he is over 5 months younger than me, you see). Waiting at the bus stop, in Ross’ words, is like being given the “gift of time”. There is a lot of waiting involved and the buses are more unpredictable than Game of Thrones. I’ve seen a lot of people at bus stops that get restless and start freaking out, sometimes complaining loudly about the bus being late. I soon realized that the key to surviving that, is to be prepared for some waiting. I leave much earlier than I need to, so that I don’t get late to work and wait calmly for the bus to show up. This has helped me maintain my peace through the ride and show up to work, cheerful and focused at the task at hand.
That got me thinking (of course, it did). When God promises us something, be prepared for some waiting. Joseph had to wait for his God-given dreams to come true. David had to wait to be king. All of Israel had to wait to walk into the land flowing with milk and honey. All of Israel had to wait for the Messiah. Abraham had to wait for a son. There are so many instances in the Bible where there was a lot of waiting involved. But the thing to remember is that God fulfilled His promises. It is a great feeling when we receive promises and we’re so excited about what the Lord is going to do in our lives and we start to picture it. Then when we wake up the next day and see that nothing has changed, we get disappointed. Then the day after that, we see the same old life and we get frustrated. And the day after that, we start to lose hope. And the day after that we start to question if it really was from God. Then after that we live our life as we did and forget His promises.
Just today, I was making a work-related call and that person took a while to answer the phone. Meanwhile, my mind was working on some other things I had on my mind. By the time that person answered, I had to take a moment to recollect who I had called and for what reason. Isn’t it like that when we wait? We get bored and start distracting ourselves with other things and eventually forget what we were waiting for in the first place. While we wait, we must not just be prepared but we must train our hearts and minds to focus on His purpose. Once we lose sight of His purpose of those promises, we sentence ourselves to a longer wait.
We’ve been taught since Sunday School that God has a time for everything. He has the perfect time for His promises to come to pass in your life. And if He is making you wait, He is using this time to prepare you for what He has in store for you. Be prepared to wait, and be focused on His purpose.
I always wondered what it is like to “wake up on the wrong side of the bed”. I’d hear it being said all the time, but never truly understood it till today.
I woke up this morning – correction, I dragged myself out of bed this morning – with a numbness throughout my body. And my mood, ugh. It was like all this time all the things that hurt me physically and mentally were on pause and today it was like all of them decided to un-pause themselves. When I voiced out my body’s cry of pain, I had the word “lazy” thrown at me which made me want to scream bloody murder, but that was just the beginning of a very crabby day.
About late afternoon, somewhere in the midst of tears and homicidal intentions, I looked at my phone and there was an alert from YouTube about a new video. Normally, I ignore these alerts because I think I’ll watch it when I feel like it. (That doesn’t stop me from leaving the alerts on, for some reason.) As I was trying to swipe the notification away, I accidentally opened the link and the song that played made my eyes allow those tears to fall freely.
It was just what I needed to hear. That all my hurt and pain is being carried away by Him. That no matter how dismissive the world may be toward my pain, there is One who notices it all and bothers to find some way to talk to me even when I am in the crabbiest mood and refusing to listen to anyone. Even when I am so down on myself and feel like I am so alone, He finds the perfect words to show me that I am not and never will be alone. That no matter all the garbage that the world so generously keeps throwing at me, there is still hope for a very hopeless nobody like me.
Found this gem from 10 years ago.
Magnify the Lord of your life, rather than the problems of your life.
Gossip the Gospel
2 Timothy 3:10-17
That was from 10 years ago! I remember noting it down from a sermon I was listening to, but can’t seem to remember who I was listening to and hence cannot give that preacher credit. (Sorry!)
What strikes me is that even after 10 years, I am still learning to focus on God rather than my problems. In fact, just last week I was talking about how I need to focus on the God of solutions than the problems of my circumstances. I’d heard a message 10 years ago that would have saved me a whole lot of trouble over the coming years, if only I remembered it.
But that’s the thing, I forget. I hear something, it helps me in my current situation and then that sermon is gone. Forgotten as circumstances change. Then I go through something similar. And somehow, that lesson has engraved itself on my heart. So I may not know where it came from, but they manifest themselves as words of wisdom. Like I didn’t know where that discussion came from last week, but those words were from a sermon I’d heard a decade ago. And then today, I found this note scribbled in a corner of my book. And I realized that this is where I’d heard it. Isn’t it amazing?
It may seem impossible to remember the hundreds of sermons you’ve heard over the years. But rest assured that the ones you’ve really learned from, will still be engraved on your heart and will be made accessible when you truly need it.
I love Psalms! I love how they go from “O Lord where are you? Why aren’t you delivering me from my enemies?” “Don’t let me fall and die” to “But you know what, I trust you Lord. I know you’re doing something to get me out of it. Just do it fast, okay?”
It feels so real. Like our daily conversations with God. Whenever I face something, my prayers are panicky and desperate. After a while when the situation hasn’t changed but the Lord has shown me that He is with me, my prayers change to, “I may not understand Your ways, but I trust in You.” Have you ever felt like that?
After I’ve prayed that prayer, then very slowly things start to make sense. The delays have an explanation. The obstacles have a purpose. The hindrances have an end goal. It is as though the Lord was waiting for me to trust in Him to make things clear to me. I mean, of course I will never get the whole picture. But pieces of it. Trust. That is all He asks. A trust that blindly allows Him to lead, guide and direct. Even when circumstances dictate failure, a trust that knows that there is an end to this suffering. A trust that is, what’s the word for it? FAITH. That’s the word.
Everything you’re going through will require one thing from you. Faith. Faith that He holds the whole world in His hands. Faith that He can turn things for your good. Faith that He is in control, no matter what you’re going through. It may not seem like He’s doing anything, but trust Him, He is. Nothing is impossible for God (It is impossible for Him to be doing nothing. Get it?). He is working on a way out. He is making things clear. He has a plan. Just trust in Him who created you. It won’t exactly be smooth sailing, but at least you know He is with you through it all.
Last week, I watched Nick Spencer burn himself at the stake (figuratively, of course) when he made Captain America out to be Hydra all along. Literally, no one was happy with that development. And that somehow got me thinking.
Not every plot twist is good. Not every opportunity is welcome. Not every solution is right. Not every decision is a wise one. Not every thought is from God. There are times when people say to you, but you could have done this or that OR you must do this now. And it all seems logical at the moment. But if the Lord has told you to plant yourself there and wait for Him, no storm or wind can make you move unless you want to.
We watch superhero films and shows where they defy science and logic completely. How much more can the Lord defy our logic and our understanding of science? Our job is to trust and obey. That is all He asks of us. And it may seem illogical or things won’t make sense at first. But I’ve learned (and am still learning) that the best step I can take is the one directed by God. No matter how vague and cryptic the step may seem.
No one could love me like You do. No one could and no one would. Your heart bleeds with love for me. Your eyes they search my very soul. Your hands they reach out to me. Especially when I don’t deserve it the most.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve apologized and You took me back. But they don’t outweigh the times I’ve forgotten to apologize altogether. You still love me like You do. I keep running away from You, and getting myself into trouble. And You keep welcoming me back, when I find my way back to You. I find innovative ways of hurting and disappointing You, and You in all Your majestic love cast Your pain aside and tend to my wounds. My actions provoke Your righteous anger, but all You do is heal my broken heart.
How, do You do that? Love me like You do? No one could do that, no matter how much they may think they do. Every time You fix me up, I go and get myself broken again. And all You do is mend me with patience that I cannot comprehend. But that isn’t the only thing I can’t fathom. Why? Why do you love me like You do? And how can I ever repay You for all You’ve done for me?
Have you ever felt like you’re praying but your prayers just bounce off the roof and fall back? I’ve been there, multiple times. I pray and cry out to the Lord and all I hear in response is the sound of crickets in the distance. That last bit is probably in my head, you never know. But you know what I mean? When you feel so desperate to hear from the Lord and all you get is silence? When your heart longs for encouragement and you look around and there is nothing encouraging?
It is at times like these that I find it really easy to focus on the situation. Like I can do something about it without divine intervention. Oh, Lord isn’t answering, maybe I should go at it myself. Bad call. Of course I shouldn’t “go at it myself”. I mean, when have I ever succeeded at anything by myself? Without the Lord, I would never have accomplished anything (without messing up quite a bit). Then suddenly, the problem grows in my perception like a mountain and I feel overwhelmed and undersized. I realize I can’t “go at it myself” because this is far bigger a problem than I can handle. But God still isn’t answering, what should I do?!
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I learned very recently the solution to this sort of a situation. The Bible calls God by many names and phrases, one of those being “He who lives within you”. You’ve probably guessed the next bit already. If God is “He who lives within me”, then I must shift my focus from my surrounding and stop looking for answers around me. What I should be doing is take a deep breath and listen to my inner voice. The voice that is God’s and is within me. When I did that, I not only found peace that I wasn’t alone in this, but also found the solution or the steps to a solution.
God is a complex God. We will never be able to understand why we go through certain things and why we feel abandoned. But all I know is that God “never leaves nor forsakes” me. And all I need to do is trust Him, believe that He is Who He says He is and He will do all He says He will. Even in the silence, trust Him.