Monday, January 14, 2013

Day Fourteen: Patience

The WORD of the Day:

"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." 
--Isaiah 40:31

Let Me Give You a Lift:

Those of you who have been following me from the beginning know that I have written about this particular verse before. I read it often because patience is one of the things I have the most difficulty with in my own life.  I like to plan, I like to know what is going to happen--I like control over my own life.  It's a feeling that is totally at odds with reliance on God, and I have to work really hard to keep myself from trying to "go it alone."

Having patience with God's plan is something that many of us struggle with.  I think this is partly because trusting in the unseen is really hard.  But learning this trust is essential to spiritual growth.  Author Sue Monk Kidd tells the following story of a time when she was on a spiritual retreat at a monastery: 
A monk was sitting perfectly still beneath a tree. There was such reverence in his silhouette, such tranquil sturdiness, that I paused to watch. He was the picture of waiting.
Later I sought him out. 'I saw you today sitting beneath the tree—just sitting there so still. How is it that you can wait so patiently in the moment? I can't seem to get used to the idea of doing nothing.' 
He broke into a wonderful grin. 'Well, there's the problem right there, young lady. You've bought into the cultural myth that when you're waiting you're doing nothing.' 
Then he took his hands and placed them on my shoulders, peered straight into my eyes and said, 'I hope you'll hear what I'm about to tell you. I hope you'll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you're waiting, you're not doing nothing. You're doing the most important something there is. You're allowing your soul to grow up. If you can't be still and wait, you can't become what God created you to be.'
Trust. That is what it all boils down to.  We must wait because we must learn to trust God in every facet of our being.  We must bring our souls to understand that no matter how grand a vision we concoct for our lives, God has something better planned.  We must learn that though we think we know what we want right now, God knows what we need to live life abundantly far beyond the now.  

True waiting means learning not to tell God what we want and then be disappointed when we don't get it (e.g., "please let me get this promotion"), but rather praying that you can identify His path for you ("please help me to know which path You want my career to follow") and follow it to His glory. It means adjusting our thinking about who is in control. It means learning to identify His guidance in our lives.  

And oh what a relief it is when we finally realize it! Rather than beating our heads against the wall because we can't make things go as we want, we take a step back and allow God to make things go as they are supposed to. That is when we can truly fly.

One thing about waiting is that it can feel a lot like standing still.  But if we find ourselves actually standing still--stagnating rather than listening--that, too, is a message that we are not where we should be.  Because even when we are waiting, we are still called to service.  Even in the in between times, we still have a purpose.

Give it a Listen:

Today's song is "Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave.  This song dovetails nicely with the Word of the day because they are both talking about the comfort and freedom that come from God.  When I listen to this song, I imagine this huge weight of grief and care lifting off my shoulders.  

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