For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:36)
Are you looking for noble adventure? Godly womanhood willingly accepts the risk of treading the pathway to God’s treasure house (Jeremiah 29:13). The glory is sure but the path runs through some of earth’s troubled valleys where we are tempted to doubt our Father’s love. God is good but He is not necessarily predictable (as viewed through our earth-colored glasses). And that implies mystery and challenge.
We read that waiting patiently—after we have done the will of God—will bring the promise. But what promise? One promise that seems to fit this context is, “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). What a big promise!
Does this mean that despite sadness or sickness, setbacks or blessings, I can remain and rest in (joyful) expectation of God’s unfolding and perhaps surprising answers to my dilemma? I believe that it does! Our raft will make it through the rapids of life. And when we drift into calm water, we are still adventuring, not knowing where or how the river will flow around the next bend (1Corinthians 2:9).
We are told to make our requests known to our Heavenly Father (Philippians 4:6). And He answers our requests in one of three ways:
- Not yet, or
- I have something better in mind.
We like “yes” answers and “not yet” is tolerable. But “something else” may be scary. Perhaps we are like a child who prefers a lollipop now to a piggybank full of quarters later. There are times (especially before we actually know what God has in mind) when it may be difficult to believe that “better” really is “BETTER.”
Certainly some of us have circumstances in our life that seem irredeemable. We’re looking for a “quick fix” by answer Number One. But according to Romans 8:28, our Heavenly Father promises to gather the circumstances in our life (even our mistakes) into His hand where they are all reshaped into serendipitous blessings.
Hindsight will show that the thing we most disliked, He has gilded with His glory. To paraphrase a modern proverb, what part of “all” don’t you understand? He really can turn a seeming (or real) catastrophe into a rich storehouse of blessing.
For example the catastrophe of the “tree of knowledge” gave way to the blessing of the “cross.” He has guaranteed to do that with any and all “catastrophes” in our lives—if we don’t say “no” to His invitation. Is this an adventure, or what?
But like the child who, in a tantrum, throws away the piggybank full of coins, we can refuse to accept answer Number Three. Herein lies our dilemma: I cannot wait patiently for His gifting when what I am seeking is fulfilling my present desires and implementing my own plans for the future. Even if my present desires are healthy and wholesome (legal) —they are still “my desires,” and will be less profitable than His answers (1Corinthians 6:12).
INITIATION AND RESPONSE
Now we are dealing with a wonderful mystery. Patient waiting is one half of the Initiation and Response model. We could say that our earthly fathers have been assigned to be a metaphor of Heavenly Initiation so that we can watch him turn our “owies” into smiles.
Our mothers, by having responded to our fathers’ initiation, become a metaphor of Messiah’s “bride”, demonstrating the beauty and joy of responding to Messiah. So the importance of waiting responsively becomes obvious. We are called to be a living metaphor of the Kingdom. (Although we are always in a responsive role toward Messiah, we do have our personal field of initiation. Mothers are often initiators toward the children, teachers toward students, even a child toward a pet, etc.)
Of course, our first response is choosing to whom we will respond.
“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.”
Choosing Him is responsive, for “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In other words, He has already initiated. We do not (cannot) initiate but we can respond by trusting His offer and waiting for its enfoldment. Thus, waiting patiently is like standing in a shower—we are more likely to get refreshed there than by pouting under the bed.
I assure you that He delights in our trust (which to Him is priceless! – Song of Solomon 8:7). It allows Him to gently arrange circumstances to prepare us for the wonderful blessings He so longs to give us. A child may choose a bright plastic ring over a diamond simply because she does not recognize the value of the diamond. Even so, at fourteen or even forty we may not recognize the value of patience or trust. But they are to be the diamonds in our diadem.
C. S. Lewis said that as time goes on, we become more and more “what we really are.” For example, if we resent and complain about our current circumstances, we will continue to resent and complain about (later) current circumstances as they unfold—no matter how wonderful they may be.
On the other hand, if we can enjoy smelling the clover along today’s path (rather than beseeching God for roses), our capacity to enjoy the roses will increase, simply because we are developing a habit of enjoyment.
So the goal is not to “be” a wife but to “become” a princess—daughter of the King of the Universe. And the more princess-like we become, the better we are able to assume the responsibilities of wife and mother—to grace our future families with royal delights. Don’t forget that becoming a wife only means new times of waiting— waiting for dinner, waiting nine months to welcome a child, waiting for the colic to pass, waiting for the garden to produce, etc. Thus we see that waiting patiently is not just waiting for our future husband or future babies. Waiting patiently is embracing the process of being a princess-in-progress.
To state the obvious, it is not better to be a wife than it is to be fourteen (and definitely detrimental to be a wife and act like fourteen or to be fourteen and act like a wife). But one does not get to be fifteen unless she has been fourteen for 365 days. One does not get to be a wife unless she has been a child.
It is good to be a child, and it is good to grow up. But “waiting patiently” (enduring being 14, for instance, or single) is never a trick to convince God to give me what I want (to be 21, perhaps, or married). “Waiting patiently” allows God to fill my inner hope chest with a trousseau worthy of a princess. The joy comes—whether I am fourteen or forty, married or single—in “knowing” that I am where I am supposed to be.
Yes, I have a “future.” And our Heavenly Father has promised that it will be worth waiting for. Meanwhile, my “present” is a cascade of opportunities that will prepare me for tomorrow’s blessings. Why waste one moment —ignoring what I am today— to “covet” what I will become?
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7)
… thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. (Isaiah 49:23)
(This article was originally published in Volume1 Number2/Summer 2008. You can request the entire issue in PDF on this page.)
Possibly sharing at: The Modest Mom, Mama Moments, The Art of Home-Making Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, Roses Of Inspiration, So Much At Home, A Wise Woman, Raising Homemakers, A Little R&R, Coffee and Conversation, Hearts for Home, Growing in Grace, Imparting Grace, SHINE Blog Hop, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Fridays.