Archive for December, 2015

Esperar
December 21, 2015

We have stopped hoping because we have stopped waiting.

 

I sat eating lukewarm Pad Thai with my beautiful friend Shannon a few nights ago as she did a really great job of gracefully slurping green curry without breaking eye contact. I cried through two fat napkins and probably looked only at my noodles. I had been in bed all that day. Not dramatically or over-exaggeratedly, I had actually been in bed all day long. I had cried most of the day with my quilt tucked up over my chin and scrunched in both of my hands. I wasn’t in pain from broken bones or squeamish from the flu, I was sad. I am sad.

After writing then deleting six excuses as to why I couldn’t go to dinner so that I could stay huddled under the covers, my brain flashed scenes it had stored somewhere of a long-ago-viewed TV medical drama where a woman died from oozing bed sores and I jumped out from the sheets immediately to put on mascara and meet her downtown.

It’s hard making new friends sometimes because they don’t know the backstory, they know the now. But to understand the now, they always need to know the before.
Shannon knew that I was lonely and burnt out, now. That the loving people is what fills me up but also what is emptying me, now. She knew that I’d had a recent history of heartbreak, now. But I had to stare at my noodles while I snottily cried through telling the before. Because now I wanted to tell God sayonara.

I couldn’t actually turn on my heels because I can’t deny His existence, but I wanted to because I couldn’t prove His love. I had nothing to hope in anymore because as I was left waiting. And waiting. And waiting…  my hopes of before and of now and for then were sitting in sealed envelopes in His big pearlescent heavenly mailbox, unanswered.

After I stole her napkin to wipe my face, she said “Did you know that in the Spanish language ‘to hope’ and ‘to wait’ are the same verb? If you’re hoping… you’re waiting.”

She’s a Spanish teacher so it’s not unusual that she’d know that little tidbit, what was unusual is how much it got my attention.

There is no hoping without waiting.
If you are in a season of hope, then you are in a season of wait.

Quite counterintuitive considering our culture , huh?

First of all, we don’t wait. Ever. For anything. Maybe in line for Adele tickets or a freshly glazed hot cronut, but really really rarely do we wait. We complain if the speedy checkout has someone ahead of us. We complain if our wireless router blinks and that People.com article about the Kardashieverywheres needs refreshed. We complain if the girl we’ve taken on two dates (one with actual food!) won’t sleep with us. We complain if our Amazon Prime free 2 day shipping has a hiccup and gets here in two and a half days! (HOW DARE THEY!?)

If everything we want we don’t have to wait for – do we give up on the deepest desires of our hearts because they require more than two day shipping?

 

I started reading some stories in Scripture with fresh eyes – eyes on the hunt for waiting. And do you know where I found it? Everywhere. Somehow we tell these tales of God’s provision and presence and we leave out the waiting.

Abraham and Sarah waiting for a baby:
“He faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.”

The Israelites waiting for God to save them:
Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Simeon waiting to see Jesus:
“It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.”

Hannah waiting for a child:
“The Lord had closed her womb. Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’ As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.’ ‘Not so, my lord,’ Hannah replied, ‘I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.'”

Waiting is ALL OVER scripture! Waiting for words, cures, punishment, answers, judgment, salvation, miracles, redemption!

Joseph waited in slavery and then again in prison. Noah waited for that first drop of rain. The disciples waited for a dead Jesus to burst out of the tomb. The bleeding woman waited twelve years to touch the robe of the God-man that would heal her!

And we re-tell and re-tell and re-tell these stories, always with a laser-like focus on the end. The hope come true! The answer given! The big finale! But we skip right over the waiting.

I bet the years of bleeding with no healing were horrific. I bet the years in prison for a crime not actually committed were excruciating. I bet the decades and decades waiting for descendants while her womb dried up like the Sahara were whatever-word-is-ten-times-bigger-than-disappointing.

But they hoped! And they waited. And they hoped! And they waited.
And indeed, there was freedom and newborns and unlocked cells and beauty from ashes.

But what in the world does that mean for you today?

Today I got a text from a beautiful pal & a spiritual powerhouse. She’s waiting for her son.
They’ve raised thousands for his adoption, they’ve put together the crib, they’ve prayed and posted and pleaded, and he still ain’t in her arms.
She wrote to me and said “I had some ladies praying for a specific day and that day came. And that evening I got a call that a birthmom was looking at us. I just really believed that baby boy was ours. But now I’m wondering… was I being silly? Why would God allow me to get THAT call on the day I was begging Him to SHOW ME SOMETHING if that baby isn’t ours? Oh the waiting… and now the heartache and doubt and questions while I wait.
Was my gut feeling about God right or wrong? And if it’s wrong…”

She didn’t have to finish that sentence or end that question because I already knew. I am living that same dot dot dot …

God has cast vision and even brought wild signs and wonders into this season of my waiting (and hoping.) And people get really nervous when I talk about it (especially the Baptists.) Because what if the signs and wonders and neon arrows pointing to the big blinking “YES” to what my heart is and has been crying out for all fizzle into a terribly bitter “No”?
What if I bank on God and my dreams never come true? The promises I believe I’ll eventually be able to cash in on bounce back? What if all of this painful waiting is waiting without hope? Well. I can’t stomach any of that so I guess I’ll give up on both.

And yet… 

 

Yet there’s this teeny tiny silver sliver shining in the dark of that decision.
If I give up the heart-cries and the hoping, if I stop waiting, I’ll never know the fullest beauty of them coming true.

Right now I’m holding onto the last whispers of a big hope. A hope that looks more and more crazy as time goes on and tides turn. I barely talk about this big hope now because people look at me with pity in their pursed lips; the unspoken “Oh sweetie, you’re crazy to believe that” obvious in their crinkled eyes. I’d imagine it’s the same gaze you’d give an octogenarian still believing she’ll get pregnant. Probably the same gaze you’d give a man building a ship the size of a cruiseliner in his bone-dry backyard. Probably the same gaze you’d give a 13 year old girl who tells you that an angel told her she was gonna be the mom of God’s only son.

If I truly believe that the God of the Bible didn’t stop telling crazy stories, why am I so hesitant to believe I’m living one?
If we can see that hope & wait go hand in hand, why will we only take one without the other or just plain give up on both?
How do we keep hoping when it’s scary? Exhausting? Unencouraged? Uncomfortable?
When we’re earlobes-deep in the waiting do we even let ourselves get excited about what He must be up to? …or do we just complain and curse His name?

Smack-dab inside of Advent, “a season of expectant waiting and preparation for celebration”, I marvel at how well I’m able to wait and prepare when I can mark my hope’s big reveal on the calendar in bold red marker. CHRISTMAS IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER! I can see it! The 25th is circled and starred in my day planner!
But how can I take the spirit of Advent and apply it to the God I can’t see? The answers I don’t yet have? The hope I’m still hoping for?

Let’s take another look at Abraham…

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

And in case you forgot… they did have that baby. And their son had a baby and his son had a baby and many many generations later, a baby named Jesus was born.

 

Let’s see how these chapters end and what new volumes begin.
Let’s refuse to believe that the only good & crazy waiting-come-true is kept inside the Old Testament.
Let’s hold hands in a season of expectation and let’s dance on the tabletops of each other’s celebration.

 

Don’t give up, ok?
Let’s keep hoping. Together.

fingers-crossed

 

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