Waiting Long Enough to Expand the Heart

How long, Lord…

So wrote the Psalmists 22 times.

So I also pray too many times to count.

I trust God. I pray for the things that are dear to my heart. My life is one of brave decision to brave decision to brave decision. But I do an awful lot of waiting on God for the things I have hope for. This is why my hope has bloody fists.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 27:14
This is such a vulnerable statement. We don’t have the patience to wait. We want some control over the outcome. We want to know the outcome.

Do I trust God for the outcome? Probably not. I’ve been disappointed before.

I trust God as I have trust issues with God. I am this mix of fear and faith.

I write this as John and I just had to make a hard boundary decision of no. What was “supposed to” didn’t happen. To have our beautiful reunion is going to require more waiting and more trusting in God for the larger story. Disappointment is grief.

How long, Lord? Why not now, Lord? What if…, Lord?

I must remind myself, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Because those “what ifs” cause me to spiral.

Patience is not passivity. I don’t get to “let go and let God.” I can’t “easy button” this to God. As if I actually could.

Patience as listed in Galatians 5 is often called long suffering. The original Greek word is makrothumio, meaning “long temper.” A long temper is not passivity.

A long temper means I must stay engaged as I pray and wait and trust and pray and wait and trust and grow angry.

A long temper is filled with tension because I just want this whatever to be over with. I want God to do something, be given all the glory for the wonderful story, and for my life to have the happy ending so I can move forward.

My picture of a long temper is me holding on to God’s robe, at first at the neck. I’m right in his (or her) face pouring out my heart. But God keeps moving forward so my hold on that robe starts slipping. I’m grasping to stay a hold of that robe. Sometimes grasping and being dragged as I hang on to the bottom hem. “I will not let go until you bless me” as Jacob bravely declared when wrestling with God. Genesis 32:26. That is me. This is not passive.

This doesn’t mean my soul is not damaged in this. I walk with a limp also. I have a relationship with God whom I love and who breaks my heart.

Patience does not mean that I am not trying hard enough. When I feel so overwhelmed, I could easily convince myself that I should do more to fix this. Often at the expense of my soul. That there must be something I can do to control this outcome. Justifying that God is asking me to do something so I should do something. But that something is really me trying to control the outcome.

This is not having a long temper either. This is me ending the temper because I am uncomfortable. This is me letting go of God’s robe and finding a way to fix it my way.

Patience is a middle point of not becoming reckless and not becoming overly emotionally engaged. Patience allows you to stick with it so you don’t give up. Patience is willing to suffer and stick with something.

Patience is uncomfortable. Patience is love. Patience is vulnerable. Patience grows muscles.

No wonder we are bad at it.

The Psalmist added to this, “Be brave and courageous.” How Bravester. We just mentioned how patience is vulnerable.

Bravery always requires vulnerability. In a cartoon sense, bravery is the opening of the door without having any idea what is on the other side. There is vulnerability in that—often in the form of Bugs Bunny.

Vulnerability defined is having the guts to show up when there is no guaranteed outcome. It is the going “in” again and again and again because deep down you believe you are worthy of good things happening to you so “I will not let go until you bless me.”

Even when you don’t understand what is happening to you.

God’s love for me is a love that also waits. Love defined by me would be to rush to someone’s side to help and to fix. To have an end to this pain. Yet sometimes love also has to wait. You know this is true.

Because I have to wait for something doesn’t mean that my love is any less or that God loves me any less. It means I love so much so I am waiting for the better thing. This must be what Ann Voskamp means when she wrote, “The longer the heart waits, the larger the heart expands to hold the largeness of the abundant life.” Please read.

I do have an abundant life also.

God is a larger story God. Meanwhile he waits with me. This I have learned over and over. Especially when I have these long tempers with God. I am not afraid of my pain. I am not afraid to tell God exactly how I feel. I’m not afraid of the gamut of emotions because I have learned that all of these emotions lead to God.

I have learned this…the painful way. This is the definer of my brave life.

Even now as I pray again (and grab that robe by the neck again), “How long, Lord.”

“Waiting is never passive–waiting is passion:  Loving long enough to suffer.”

–Ann Voskamp, Waymaker, p. 120


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