Monday, March 15, 2010

Expectancy

God stretches our patience to enlarge our soul.

On the eve of Lisa & Kyle finding out if they are having a boy or girl, I thought it relevant to post about waiting in hopeful expectation. Whether it's waiting for an unfulfilled dream, as a single for a spouse, as parents for an unborn or yet conceived child...God has something if we open our heart and trust he'll meet us there.


"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him." Psalm 62:5

"The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him." Lamentations 3:25

"Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!" Psalm 27:14

Recently at a prayer retreat I was struck by an illustration my friend Fred gave about he and his son and how it pertained in a different way to where God had in me in this whole phase of longing for a husband but waiting in the not yet.
One Saturday Fred went out on his patio to sit in the quiet morning dawn to rest and enjoy the outdoors. As he sat, he noticed his son preparing to mow the lawn. As he watched he noticed the growing frustration on his son’s face as he tried to start the lawn mower.
He yanked the starter.
Nothing.
Harder he pulled.
Nothing.
His son seemed to then sense his father’s presence. Making eye contact with his dad he pointed to the mower. His dad looked, aware of the lawnmower problem, and gestured for him to come join him upstairs on the patio.
Distraught, his son looked again at the lawnmower, pointed at it, and beckoned by his hand motions for his dad to come help him.
His father now held out both hands and motioned him to come up to see Him.
Finally, frustrated, his son marched up the stairs and looked at him with a glaring face, “What?”
“Son, come sit on my lap.”
“But dad…”
“Please just come, come sit on my lap.” The Father longed to be with his son.
Reluctantly, the 13 year old boy lugged his 6 foot frame over and collapsed on his father’s lap. His dad felt the weight of his frustration as the boy sat, but finally he settled in and rested on his Father.
Once he sat with his son for a while and finally felt his son ease up, he smiled and whispered, “Son, why don’t we go take a look at that lawn mower.”
This image of the father and son has sat with me for a week now and I can’t get it out of my mind. It is such a clear picture of how I set up my relationship with the Lord. How often I am pointing to God at my current struggle, longing, hurt, or question and asking, “Dad, don’t you see? Come here. Fix it. It’s troubling me, don’t you get it?”
And he says, “Darling, come sit on my lap.”
“But Dad, it needs your touch. Only you can make it better. Come here.”
“Beloved, sit with me.”
“But…”
“Come sit with me.”
Begrudgingly, I make my way up the daunting stairs. I reluctantly come, bringing the full weight of who I am and I sit. It takes a while to get comfortable, but finally I let him carry my weight. The reluctance has lifted and been replaced by my Father’s presence and his strength. And you know what? It changes everything.
Suddenly what felt so urgent, doesn’t carry with it the immediacy it once did. It’s still important but in that moment I get it. Really get what’s most important; my Daddy’s lap.
He sees “the lawnmower,” he knows I need help, and even plans on helping. He will not leave me alone; he delights in meeting my needs. Yet it’s going to be done in the best way He sees fit and it’s in His timing. And that is often very different than what I’ve deemed best. I feel the immediacy of everything; he sees the big picture and has the full perspective. I want to fix it; he wants to meet with me in it.
Waiting and trusting He is doing what’s best for me challenges the very nature of my old ways. I want control, immediacy, and a game plan. God asks for relinquishment, delayed gratification, and trust in His plan which is revealed moment by moment over a large span of time (and often a longer time line than I like).
I’ve been praying, hoping, and waiting for a husband for years. I’ve had times with the Lord where it feels so clear he’s asking me to trust him with this tender place of my heart and expectantly ask Him for it. It’s even felt like my future husband was just on the horizon. I often pray very specific things for this man, yet to date God has not given him to me. But you know the hardest part? It’s when a potential man comes in my life, awakens my soul, and shows his delight towards me. It’s then that I really struggle.
Recently I met a charming young man (there’s just no other word to describe him). I so enjoyed his presence and wanted to know more and more of him. We met at a wedding, which is always a doozy of a place to meet someone. Weddings are a killer for singles! (Most of the tears? It would be nice if they were for the couple, but most of the time they’re more about the sadness of our unmet longings). This particular guy made me feel so special and I felt his delight as we talked and laughed. However, the problem was he was with another equally delightful girl. When the wedding was over he gave me a big hug and said, “Susie, you are so special.” (Sigh).
Weeks later I’m holding onto that hug and wanting a second and third. Not a bad longing, but a lousy goal. I have no control over the situation. He is with another girl and for now the answer is no or not yet. But what’s hard is sitting with it.
My heart is haunted by him. He’s in my thoughts, dreams, dare I say prayers? But is it about Him? The best way I know how to describe meeting him was that for one brief, special moment I walked onto sacred ground. A friend of mine was asking what surfaced in my heart over the weekend as I got to know this special man, “Well, I guess I just started to walk into something deep within that I know I was created for. It’s like for one brief moment I was simply being me, doing what I do, and he saw! He noticed and took delight in me! He got a glimpse into what Jesus and I share together.”
When a man walks into our lives and shares in that delight we experience an especially “sacred moment.” I describe it as when the vertical relationship with God and the horizontal relationship of mankind collide and for one moment we taste the fullness of life as it was intended to be. Fill in the blank for you, a special time with your hubby, a taste of what mothering would be caring for a friends child...God gives us these tastes and they make us thirsty.
When I experienced that big hug and his kind words, “You are so special.” I tasted the delight and enjoyment I was created for; He reminded me and reflected back Jesus’ love and fondness over me. The reason it was so satisfying is because that man got a glimpse, a “sacred peek” at what me and Jesus share together, and it is good and right for me to long for him to come share in it.
However it becomes a problem when I can’t let go of the hug. When I make it about the giver of the hug and not the gift he offered me; a reminder of Jesus love over me. Sure I can appreciate the guy, even hope for a call someday, it’s when I become desperate for more rather than trust another hug (perhaps a ‘til death do us part’ one) will be there when God intends for it to be.
As women we are all tempted to “hold onto the hug” and demand something from the “hugger.” We demand “life” from a person or thing, not Jesus. Now the gift, a kind man reflecting Christ’s love, has become my idol. My broken cistern. My latest affair of the heart. It can be equally said, "If I just get married, then..." "If I just got paid $___, then..." "If I just had a baby, then..."
God chose to bring an incarnational picture of His love towards me in the form of this charming man and called it good. But weeks later, I’m demanding another hug. I’m pointing to the lawnmower and sulking, “God did you forget about my longing for a companion?’
Yet, once again, I catch his gaze and he beckons me, “Beloved, come sit on my lap.”
“But?”
“Come sit with me.”
“But do you see? I’m so vulnerable here! Tell me the outcome? Should I hope for more?”
“Come.”
And hesitantly, once again, I walk up those stairs and bring the weight of my reality--the tension of my deep longing and my growing sorrow—and sit on my Father’s lap.
Do I trust my Father? Do I believe He sees my deep longing, delights in giving my heart good things, but for now is saying, “Wait a while. Sit with me. I see the lawnmower; we’ll get to that, but rest with me and trust, we’ll take care of the lawnmower when it’s time.”

7 comments:

Rose Vernon said...

Susie! Thanks for being so open and raw. You're a fabulous writer! Its not often that someone lets one into their personal thoughts between them and God. How refreshing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susie, It has been years since we have spoken as we only went to high school together for a very short time, but I read your post and just felt I had to comment. I share your struggle...and so much of what you expressed is all too familiar. On that note though, I recognize your faith and find inspiration from it. I hope that in my moments of wedding tears and asking what ifs; I'll pray for a similar strength and "walk up those stairs" again.

Anonymous said...

Susie, This is an amazing post and spoke directly to my heart! You are a gifted writer..thank you for sharing your insights...What a beautiful picture of Jesus' love for us, and the reality of our longings and desires...only God can give us real life, but I love when He uses other people to give us a glimpse of His love!!!!
~Chelsea

Susie said...

You guys, thank you so much. You don't know what an encouragement it is to actually hear a response of how the Spirit witnesses to yours through this. Thank you, a true gift. Friend from high school, you didn't sign your name. would love to know who?

Anonymous said...

Wow! A great post. What feelings and sharing. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for all the Shaw girls... Hip, hip, hooray!

Anonymous said...

I hope and pray it won't be too long before all these dreams come to fruition.
Love,
Mum