Waiting has never been one of my best attributes, in fact, I am flat-out lousy at it. However, I can say this...I was WAY worse when I was young...like 40:). When I read Linda's chapter on bowing our times of waiting and what that DOES NOT LOOK LIKE, I saw myself as if looking into a nice, newly windexed mirror. But I am definitely not alone down through the ages as Linda reminds me...for instance, there is Sarah...
Sarah really messed things up, didn't she with her inability to wait? Her consequences still reverberate down through the generations. I think just about every woman on the planet can, at some time in their lives, identify with Sarah...especially if you are married...ESPECIALLY if you have children. We are by motherly nature: fixers. So here is my transparent moment: Hello, I am Cherri. I am a recovering fixer.
It is difficult for me to wait on a checker who is as slow as molasses in January as my mom used to say. Peter and I stood in line at Walmart...the express line for 30 minutes as the checker kept trying to put through a credit card that her register would not accept. She would look up every once in awhile smile and say, "Have patience, please." As time went on, she began joking about how she has lots of "patients." "Look at you in line" (smile smile smile). "You are all my patients" (smile smile smile). I think I gave a gratuitous fleeting smile, but that is truly all I could muster. I don't think Peter could even lift the corners of his mouth. For the life of me, I don't know why she kept trying that same card, but eventually the machine had had enough and just locked itself up. So then she had to call for a manager to unlock her machine and give her some help. But, of course, Mr. Manager was no where to be found. Finally, I thought..."I know what will get us out of here...the self-check line." Have you ever tried one of those? Oh My Gosh! Peter and I froze one register because it could not sense the paper towels we put in the bag. "Please put your item in the bag." So I picked it up and put it down a little harder. "Take unidentified item out of bagging area." ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! So I take the towels out. "Please put items back in the bag." And then just like our happy checker's machine...this one froze too. So we moved onto another register. We managed to freeze this one as well, but a young man who worked in the area solely to unfreeze machines walked over and waved his magic badge and Viola! register healed. I want one of those badges. We walked out an hour later with some pretty soft ice cream, questionable popsicles and of course our problematic paper towels.
Linda writes we get in the way of God when we get impatient with waiting and try to fix things ourselves. I think I can accurately say many times we get in our own way as well...much like my dear husband and me during our Walmart fiasco. I have found waiting to be a skill that needs practice. I could have practiced a bit in line with our comedian checker...but we had ice cream and that changes everything...nobody messes with my ice cream. But seriously, we could have handled it differently...with grace.
Years ago as a young wife and mom, I was disappointed in Peter and his spiritual leadership in our family. I had a picture of what it looked like and he was not coming NEAR the ideal. I tried to "help" him by getting him books on how to be a "great spiritual leader." I told him about programs he could listen to on Focus on the Family. I bought devotionals by the stacks for him to use in the evenings with the kids and I. And still he refused to be the man I knew he could be. For years I devoted myself to forcing, coercing, manipulating and even pleading with the most emotionally charged words I could muster in an attempt to "help" Peter become the spiritual leader I envisioned. One day I spent some time with my friend, Nancy Robinson, who was a pastor's wife. I knew here I would find a sympathetic ear for my dilemma and maybe some new ideas. So she listened to my very sad, dramatic tale of spiritual neglect and then when I finally had spoken my last word, she looked at me with a smile and said, "Cherri, you make a very poor Holy Spirit." I was stunned. She went on to explain to me that many times God is working in the lives of people we love and because he does not work on our time schedule, or it doesn't look like what we envisioned, we will push our own agenda and cause a "miscarriage of what God had been trying to birth in that person." I understood miscarriage. I'd had a devastating one and realized full well the death that miscarriage brings to a newly formed and developing life. Nancy went on to say that what I say and do can delay what the Lord wants to do in Peter's life. It won't derail it by any means (thank goodness I don't have THAT kind of power) but my "fixing" wastes valuable time.
I began to see that I was a "spiritual abortionist" in my family. Ugly ugly truth. I wish I had learned this lesson once and for all. That I could say I applied this to all relationships in my life, but for some reason I felt my children were exempt. I could tell stories about some really stupid choices made as I navigated raising my brood of six, but I won't waste your time. What I will tell you is that God would not let allow me to keep it up. Eventually, He taught me the lessons of waiting, listening and obeying and now...when it comes to relationships in my life...I am big on waiting, listening, and obeying because I have seen the value of it. He has shown me over and over He is trustworthy and I CAN wait.
Linda writes there are three reasons we do not wait and get in God's way:
1. We only know part of the story.
2. We are prompted to fix a problem because we care
3. We are prompted to fix in order to protect ourselves.
And then she asks the question: Which of these do you most identity with? And I had to write "All of them" in big bold letters. At different times in my life I have instantly come to a conclusion, worked out a solution to "fix" and then found out I made matters worse because I had NO CLUE what was really going on. I rushed ahead with my assumptions...bad idea. With my children I have jumped into fix because I cared...loved them with so much of my heart that I wanted to fix issues: real and imagined...bad idea. And in the case of Peter, many times, if I am to be really honest, my fixing was to take responsibility off of myself. Back in those early days, I didn't want to be responsible for my own relationship with God. I remember one time reminding him that if he did not lead me spiritually, he was going to be in BIG trouble when he got to heaven. I had envisioned standing near as the Lord reprimanded Peter for not leading me as he should have, and I got some sense of satisfaction out of that thought. But now, at fifty-six, I can say with all honesty I am so grateful Peter did not take on a responsibility that did not belong to him. It forced me to seek God on my own and, through some difficult times and circumstances, my own roots have grown deep in the Lord. I treasure my sweet relationship with my Savior. Truly Peter was being led far better by the Spirit than I was in my arrogance and pride.
Here's what gives me great joy...Sarah..."By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised." (Hebrews 11:11 ESV). She is mentioned in Hebrews' "Faith Hall of Fame"! She was not a perfect woman or follower of God but even with all her mistakes, eventually she got it....she believed! JUST LIKE ME! And girls, that just makes me smile:).
What if we saw these times of waiting...the short waits..for slow checkers, slow drivers, slow internet connections, slow coffee baristas and the long waits...for lives to change, inspiration to come, prayers to be answered as times given to God in faith as worship? This could change the way we react in our times of waiting. It could be just the fertile ground we need to enrich and grow in our lives of faith. Waiting=Worship...what a wonderful and encouraging concept!
We are imperfect waiters for sure,
but we grow in our faith, we grow in our trust, and we grow in our
ability to wait, to listen and then to obey. And we like Sarah triumph
over our mistakes and say with David, "But as for me, I trust in You, O
LORD, I say, 'You are my God. My times (and my husband's and my
children's and all those who I care about) are in Your hand..." (Psalm
31: 14-15 NIV)
Love to you, my faithful "Hall of Fame" sisters!!!