Many of us have experienced situations in which we've lost touch with an old friend. You may have once been so close, spending lots of time together and sharing all your joys and struggles with each other. Then at some point you parted ways either because of a hurtful situation causing a loss of trust, or it simply happened based on the busy-ness of life or the physical distance that often comes with a move for a job, etc. Regardless of the reason, they carry on throughout life with a sort of out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality even though you may have tried to reach out to them often over the years. What can be fascinating is when you notice that they all of the sudden start wanting to come back into the picture pretty quickly when they either want or need something from you, or they find out you got engaged and are trying to snag an invitation to your wedding. Take a moment to consider how that would make you feel. Does the word "used" come to mind?
I would dare to suggest that many times we are guilty of giving God the same treatment. We call out to Him more and pursue a stronger relationship with Him when we want something or in times of need. If something is not happening as fast as we would like for it to, we pursue Him even harder because in today's culture that is how you get results. Everyone hates waiting - whether it be in lines, in traffic, for job promotions or any other aspect of life. No matter how many times we hear the words that God's timing is perfect, from our perspective He sometimes seems late. Can you recall a time when you felt that God was actually early on something you were waiting for?
Over the past 2 years Kelley and I have been waiting on God to provide a child for our family. As you will find out if you read the rest of our blog, it has been quite a difficult journey emotionally for both of us and even physically for Kelley. There have been ups and downs along the way including the hope of a pregnancy back in November only to end in a miscarriage a few weeks later. We have sought help from fertility specialists who have been very knowledgeable, but still no baby. There has been an abundance of waiting, which I particularly am not very good at.
I realized recently that although we were honestly seeking God and trusting Him to provide for us the entire time, it was during the rounds of fertility treatments that I would become more passionate about seeking God and crying out to Him for help. You see, the messed up part about this is that deep down that might have been all I was doing sometimes, just asking Him for "assistance." I was getting tired of waiting and I guess without realizing it I had figured that I should tap into all the resources I had at my disposal to have a better chance at getting the results I wanted. In my messed up mind,
Fertility treatment + God = Baby.
Seriously? How did it come to this? I had reduced God to a variable in a simple math equation.
This all came to light when we were forced to take a break from fertility treatments. During that time period I started to notice my desire to seek and worship God slowly decreasing. I wasn't mad at God, I just knew it wasn't possible for us to get pregnant during that month or two so I didn't really need anything from Him right then. Sadly, I found myself sort of putting my relationship with God on hold. Wow!
After recovering from the embarrassment of this discovery that my motivation for worshiping God had mostly been to END the waiting period I was in, I began to search for what was at the root of all this and look at other areas of my life that may have been affected by this skewed mindset. How could I correct the course I was on and begin to truly worship God IN the waiting, regardless of the outcome?
I first needed a better understanding of what true worship was. According to Louie Giglio, one of my favorite Christian speakers, "Worship is our response to God for who He is and what He has done, expressed in and by the things we say and how we live."
Let's break that down for a minute. "Worship is our response TO God." It is not something we do in order to get a response FROM God. I could stop right here and that would be enough for many of us to chew on for days. Continuing on, "for who He IS and what He has done," is a great reminder that we still have reason to worship Him just for who He is even during times when we feel like He hasn't done much for us lately, or at least not what we would have wanted him to do if He were our little servant or a puppet on a string. Hasn't God done enough already even if we never experienced another single blessing for the rest of our lives? He has given us abundant life and eternal salvation, which is more than anyone or anything else could ever give!
Although applying this newfound understanding can make worshiping a little bit easier, it still doesn't eliminate the difficulty of waiting.
Many of us say we want to know God's will for our lives right now and we so desperately want God to just end the waiting period we are currently in. But when He begins to show us what He has next for us, we often respond initially with fear and dread if it does not line up with the plans we had conjured up in our own minds. Our fear of unfulfilled expectations becomes stronger than our faith at this moment. The only way to overcome this fear is to trust God to increase our faith as we confidently wait on Him to show us what’s next. Learning to worship IN the waiting is not a one-time event however, but an ongoing process.
Isaiah 40:31 says "but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”
Ultimately I have decided that worshiping through the wait all comes down to this:
“Waiting becomes worship when our as-yet-unfulfilled hopes and dreams take a secondary place to knowing, loving, and trusting our God. God is worthy of our worship and our praise should not be contingent upon the gifts He gives or chooses to withhold.”
If you are waiting on God to provide children, a spouse or a different way to answer the "What do you do for a living?" question, don't lust after what you perceive as the next thing in life. Instead, trust and submit yourself to the Lord. Wait on Him by worshiping Him and allowing Him to grow your faith.
“Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24-25
Even though I have never considered myself to be much of a writer, I found the desire to write about this experience because I know how easy it was to fall into this trap of worshiping God more to End the waiting, and I have no doubt that there are many other people who have fallen into this trap and may not even realize it yet. The waiting periods will be different for everyone. My hope is that these words would at least cause some of you to question your motives in your pursuit of God during your times of waiting, and that you would be able to truly worship Him simply for who He is and what He has already done throughout your entire journey.