Waiting for God: Four Keys to Waiting Successfully

In our technology-rich society, having to wait for anything goes against the grain. We have grown accustomed to sending a quick text and having an immediate answer. To sending an email instead of a letter and receiving an answer the same day. But this isn’t how God’s kingdom works. One thing I’ve learned in almost forty-five years as a Christian is that God seldom works on our timetable.

Are you in a season of waiting for God? If so, you are not alone. Our family has been there as long as I can remember. The thing we’re waiting on changes, but the object of our waiting remains the same. We are waiting for God to work on our behalf. So when I saw the following quote from a Bible study I’m currently doing it caught my interest. Such a concise definition of what it means to wait on the Lord!

The underlying truth of this discipline of waiting is the Lordship of Jesus Christ: we are “under command” so we are not free to live anyway we want. To wait on God is to wait for His next command, asking Him to speak to us and doing nothing to resolve our current problem until we hear from Him.

Yet, while we leave the issue of our wait in God’s hands, this doesn’t mean a time of waiting is a time of inactivity. During our current time of waiting on the Lord to provide a dependable vehicle for our family, I’ve been asking God what He wants me to do. I believe He was shown me four steps to take, the first three coming from doing a study of the Hebrew word qavah, usually translated wait in the Old Testament, which gave me a deeper understanding of what it means to wait on the Lord.

  1. The root word for qavah means to bind together, as the fibers of a rope are twisted and bound together. When I read this, I saw it as a picture of our lives under the Lordship of Jesus. As the fibers that make up a rope are twisted together to the point where separating them is nearly impossible, we are to be similarly intertwined with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is especially important during times of waiting.
  2. Another meaning of this Hebrew word is to wait expectantly or with hope. Waiting on the Lord is to be done with an attitude of expectancy. As with most attitudes, this begins with a choice, a decision to hold onto hope regardless of what our emotions are screaming. The natural tendency for me during times of waiting is to give place to worry and fear. To wait expectantly is to stand against these emotions by frequently reminding ourselves of God’s character and the promises of His Word.
  3. A third meaning of qavah is to be strong, robust. I don’t know about you, but during prolonged periods of waiting on God to act, I don’t normally feel very strong. In fact, the opposite is true. My faith feels shaky, even though I’m trying to hold onto the sense of expectancy described above. This brings to mind the words of the apostle Paul,  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV)‬‬ Recognizing my own weakness, I lean on Christ’s strength!
  4. In addition to understanding what Scripture really means when it says to wait on the Lord, another thing that has helped me is meditating on Scriptures about waiting on the Lord. The following verses are some of my favorites.

“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭5:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭33:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭38:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭130:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 “I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:24-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As we wait on the Lord to provide a dependable vehicle for our family, I am daily approaching God’s throne of grace with confidence, asking for His mercy, grace and help in our time of need (Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NIV). ‬‬And I’m also applying the above four keys to walking victoriously through this season. I still don’t know how God is going to answer our prayers, but my confidence is in His character and His promises.

Are you also in a time of waiting on the Lord? If so, remain under the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray and apply the above steps, which will help you walk victoriously through this season. The thing you’re waiting for may be totally different than my current need, but no matter what is the subject of your wait, make the Lord the object of your wait.

 

 

“Even If” Faith: Holding Onto Hope When God Doesn’t Do What We Are Expecting

July 10, 1984. A pivotal day in my life, as our third child was born, the first boy in two generations for my family. I rejoiced in the birth of our son, who at the time we believed to be a healthy baby.

Shortly after bringing David home from the hospital, we began noticing some things that concerned us as his parents. First, he was extremely sensitive to sunlight. Then, one by one we noticed he was not meeting the early developmental guidelines typical for a newborn. He was also very irritable, causing us to think he was in pain.

We had recently moved to Houston and were currently staying with my mother-in-law until Mitch could find a job and we could afford a place of our own. Mom shared our concerns about David and suggested we make an appointment with a local pediatrician.

I called and scheduled an appointment, and since my husband was in Jacksonville, Texas, packing up the rest of our things to bring to Houston, Mom and I went on what we thought would be a routine pediatrician’s appointment. It was anything but.

Where we had been concerned that something wasn’t quite right, we were shocked at the pediatrician’s decision to immediately admit David to Texas Children’s Hospital for testing. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were embarking on the most difficult journey of our lives.

Our life as a married couple hadn’t been easy before this. In November, 1975, on a trip to Fort Worth, Texas to pick up some supplies for Mitch’s boss and visit some dear friends, our vehicle was hit by a man who lost control of his vehicle, crossed two lanes and hit us head on. As a result, our eighteen month old first-born child, Teresa, was killed, and I was hurt so badly that doctors told Mitch I would probably never walk again. The doctors were wrong, but we were now well acquainted with sorrow and suffering.

Shortly after being admitted to the hospital, David was seen by a neurologist who ordered an EEG and several other tests. The EEG showed a brain pattern indicative of massive infantile spasms, a rare but devastating seizure condition that affects only infants. Later the same day, David had his first seizure which lasted almost an hour. If he had not already been in the hospital to immediately begin treatment, David probably would not have survived. This was the first of several cluster seizures per day, typical of this diagnosis.

We had visited a new church the Sunday before all of this happened, one some friends of our attended, and immediately felt at home. So soon after David’s diagnosis, we called our new pastor to tell him what was going on. He made arrangements with the elders of our church, and they all came to the hospital to anoint David with oil and pray for his healing, according to the promise of James 5:

“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” (‭James‬ ‭5:14-15‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

When the elders began praying, David went into another cluster seizure. They continued praying, and the seizure stopped. David never had another cluster seizure. But unfortunately, the damage had already been done. We didn’t know it at the time, but massive infantile spasms cause brain damage and mental retardation.

When God intervened in David’s life and supernaturally stopped his massive infantile spasms, we had faith that he would be totally healed. When this didn’t happen, my faith was shaken. In anger, I told God if this was how He was going to act I was tired of letting Him be in charge of my life.

Scripture says the goodness of God leads to repentance. What happened next didn’t feel like the goodness of God at the time, but looking back many years later I recognize it was. God simply withdrew any sense of His presence. Now, I was facing life as the mother of a severely handicapped child in my own strength, and it wasn’t a pretty picture. It only took me a few days to recognize that I couldn’t go on like this, and I came back to God in repentance.

When God Doesn’t Do What We Are Expecting

Living victoriously with chronic illness requires an even if kind of faith. Whether the one suffering with chronic illness is a family member or yourself, even if faith is an essential.

 

When the Answer is Delayed: Five Steps for Walking In Faith Through the Wilderness

“There is another side to my wilderness. I am only going through it. I am not camping in the wilderness permanently. I am not settling. I am prepared to keep moving because my God is with me.”  – Rachel Wojo

These words caught my attention immediately this morning, as I opened Rachel Wojo’s Bible study Never Alone to begin my devotional time. Why? Because once again our family is in a wilderness situation.

It’s been a week since my husband, adult daughter and I decided to take some much needed family time and go out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. Since they have handicapped parking right next to the door, I decided to use my walker instead of my wheelchair that usually goes with me on all outings. We enjoyed the meal and the time together, but by the time we left the restaurant I was struggling with shortness of breath and wishing we hadn’t left the wheelchair at home.

I made it to the car, and we started on our way to one final stop before heading home. Suddenly, on one of the busiest streets on our end of Houston, the car abruptly stopped and we were stuck in heavy traffic. After one attempt to get the car into neutral so it could be pushed off the street into a nearby parking lot failed, my husband was finally able to get the gear to shift and some strangers pushed us to safety. Then we waited for a wrecker and a friend we had called to arrive so we would have a way home.

We had been having trouble with our car since having some transmission work done several months earlier, so my husband suspected the problem was transmission related and had the car towed to the transmission shop. But once the mechanics looked at the car, they concluded there was no way to prove the problem was related to their work and therefore they would not cover the repairs under the warranty on their work. So we now had a dead vehicle, our only means of transportation, a budget stretched so thin we were barely covering it monthly, and no way we could come up with to either repair or replace our car. 

What do you do when you face a situation like this? My first reaction was to give place to thoughts of fear and anxiety, but I knew this wasn’t the right response. So my husband and I prayed, turning this situation we saw no way out of over to the Lord. And as of today, that’s where it still is, with no understanding of how God is going to solve this problem.

Many years of walking with the Lord have taught me several things concerning how to walk through a wilderness situation such as this one, when in our own understanding we feel trapped and see no way out. 

  1. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Acknowledging we don’t have an answer but He does is the first necessary step, as we commit the situation to the Lord through prayer.
  2. Recognize our emotions will not always line up immediately with our decision to entrust our situation to the Lord. Therefore, we must make a commitment not to allow our emotions to effect our decision.
  3. Spend time meditating on Scripture. This renews our minds with the truth of God’s Word, which we need to stand upon when fear and doubts come in like a flood.
  4. Keep a grateful heart in the midst of the trial. A graphic of one of my favorite quotes on being thankful hangs in my bedroom, where I see it every morning. It is from Ann Voskamp and says, “There’s always, always, always, something to be thankful for.”  This is a daily reminder for me to look for the evidence of God’s goodness in the midst of every trial and to give him thanks.
  5. Remember what God has done in the past, when He has come through for us in similar situations. This builds our faith that He will meet our current need also.

The last time we were in a similar situation, receiving an answer to our prayers took a lot longer than we expected. God is faithful, but He seldom works on our time table. I’ve walked out these steps during the past week, and I’ll probably need to walk them out many more times in the future, both in this trial and in future ones.  

For now, I’m holding onto God’s promise that this wilderness is not our permanent residence. We are passing through, and with His strength and provision we will make it to the other side. I don’t know what you are facing right now, but these principles provide the keys for each of us to make it to the other side. 

Sometimes He Calms the Storm!


Renewing Our Minds

“In the flood or the fire, You’re with me and You won’t let go.”

I woke up this morning with these words rolling over and over through my mind. I knew they came from a song, but couldn’t even remember which one. A good reminder of how important it is for us to renew our minds daily by reading the Word of God and listening to Scripture-based music. Today, as our family faces a new trial that we have no answer for in ourselves, I’m holding onto this truth that God is with us and He won’t let go.

Asking God’s Direction in My Daily Plans

Lord, what should I do today? This question is a part of my daily prayer time – but this hasn’t always been true.


Two of my favorite Scriptures about seeking wisdom from God make it clear we should seek God for His direction:

  •  “Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.”  (‭‭Psalm‬ ‭25:12‬ ‭NIV)‬‬.
  •  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”     (‭‭James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

Seeking God’s wisdom and direction in the big decisions of life is essential. Few Christians would disagree with this. But what about the small daily decisions that must be made? What about asking Him to help us in determining what tasks we are to work on today?

Until a couple years ago, I saw no reason to pray for direction concerning my daily activities. I knew what needed to be done, and I would start my day by spending some time in God’s Word and prayer and then get busy working on my current list of tasks needing to be done.

But then my life changed. Instead of just living with osteo-arthritis as a result of a serious auto accident, I began experiencing new health problems every few months. And gradually, my stamina and strength ebbed away. What I could accomplish in a typical day a few years (or sometimes even months) earlier would now put me in bed for several days. Trying to keep up with the daily schedule that had worked earlier in my life was now overwhelming. It became obvious that some changes were needed.

In addition to increasing health problems to deal with, I now had more responsibilities than ever. As the mother of a special needs young adult son, the office manager and bookkeeper for my husband’s home-based video production company, and a blogger, my to-do list was unending. I knew it was time for some changes in how I planned my days.

Some of the things God has taught me in this area are especially fitting for those with the reduced strength and stamina caused by chronic illness, but all of us can benefit from seeking God’s direction before deciding on plans for the day. These are some of the things God has taught me.

  1. With wisdom, a life with chronic illness can still be productive. It doesn’t have to mean accomplishing little or nothing during our days.
  2. Begin every day with time in God’s Word and prayer, asking God if He has something special to show you for this day. This is one thing that has not changed in my daily routine.
  3. One major difference: I now end my devotional time with a simple prayer: Lord, what do You want me to accomplish today? What do I have the physical, emotional and spirtual resources to handle today? I’m learning this is a prayer that God is more than willing to answer.
  4. Recognize some days you will accomplish more than others, and be flexible.
  5. Finally, be sure to make room in your schedule for rest.

My life is still busy. In fact, I am now busier than ever, with added responsibilities as a part of the leadership team for a large ministry to women with chronic illness. But I no longer feel like I have an overwhelmed schedule. I am learning to pray and listen to God, and to take it one day at a time. And whether you live with chronic illness or are blessed with good health, you too can benefit from this lesson. It makes for a much less stressful life!

 

 

The Conviction of the Holy Spirit: Six Positive Responses

Recently, I’ve sensed God at work in my life. This hasn’t been a season of great blessing. It hasn’t been a time of receiving big promises of what lies ahead. Rather, it has been a period of having God show me some areas of my life where change is needed. It has been a time of having my eyes opened to a particular sin that God was showing me needed to be dealt with. I was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit in the area of self-reliance, which God wants to replace with a greater trust in Him.

 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  So conviction of sin is not a bad thing. It is a part of a healthy Christian life. But it is important that we know how to correctly handle conviction of sin, because God does not convict us to leave us where we are. Conviction of sin is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, meant to result in spiritual growth.


First, we need to know the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and condemnation which comes from the enemy of our souls, Satan.

  • Satan comes against us with usually general thoughts of condemnation. He may use our own thoughts to condemn us or he may use the words of others, but the words will bring guilt and condemnation without sowing us a way out. Hold onto the promise of Romans 8:1, that “there is no condemnationn for those who are in Christ Jesus,” recognize the ultimate source of hopeless guilt and condemnation is Satan, and refuse to give place to him. When we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil, he has no choice but to flee (James 4:7).   
  • Conviction, on the other hand, is always specific and comes as a gentle yet corrective word. It always comes with a way out, through the process of repentance. The Precepts Inductive Bible Study symbol for repentance has always helped me to remember the meaning of true repentance.To repent is to stop the direction I’m going, turn around, and start going the opposite way. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

Once we’ve determined the Holy Spirit is convicting us of a specific sin, we need to take some practical steps to deal with that sin. 

  1. Prayer: Agree with God in prayer. I find the A.C.T.S. prayer method helpful when dealing with sin. A is for adoration, turning our focus on Who God is and on His character. C is for confession, admitting to God we have sinned and specifically naming the area of sin. T stands for thanksgiving, expressing our gratitude to God that He is working in our lives and that He has already made the way for us to receive forgiveness. And finially, S is for supplication. Supplication is simply asking earnestly and humbly for God’s help.
  2. Study: What does the Word of God say about this sin? What character quality do I need to work on to overcome this sin? 
  3. Memorize: Pick one or two verses that apply to the area of sin where the Holy Spirit is bringing conviction, and begin memorizing them. There are many ways to memorize Scripture, but one of my favorite is using the Scripture Typer app, which helps you memorize the verse and includes a built-in review system to continue focusing on it until it becomes a part of your life.
  4. Meditate. Meditating on Scripture is the process by which we begin exchanging our faulty way of thinking for God’s way of thinking. It begins with reflectively reading and rereading of the Word and by reflecting on its meaning. Studying a verse to understand what God thinks about this area, memorizing it, and then meditating on it’s meaning and application in our lives are all a part of the process of renewing our minds to think like God does in this area.
  5. Journal. Another step that helps me to make the needed changes is to journal about what God is showing me through my study and meditation on Scripture. Putting my commitment to change in writing makes it more real.
  6. Practice. Walking out what I believe God is showing me to do, not just for a day but as a new way of life.

Are you sensing the conviction of the Holy Spirit is some area of your life today? If so, praise God. That means God os active in your life and your are growing spiritually. Thank Him for the work He is doing in you, and determine to cooperate with the process of conviction, repentance, and change.  



Five Minute Friday: More

As soon as I read today’s word for Five Minute Friday, one verse of Scripture came to mind, Ephesians 3:20. We serve a God “who  is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” And almost immediately, a question came to mind: Do I really believe this? 

I want to respond with the cliche, “God says it, I believe it,” but when I look at my life I know this would not be honest. I struggle to believe God will do MORE THAN ALL I ASK OR IMAGINE.  I believe God is at work in my life, and yet years of asking and not receiving what I was hoping for have caused me to doubt this promise of Scripture. In my life, this especially applies to the area of healing.

Could this apparent contradiction between God’s Word and personal experience simply be from a lack of undnerstanding of God’s ways? What I see as a blessing, God is His greater wisdom may see as a hinderance to my spiritual growth. So beautiful promises such as this one must be balanced with the overall message of Scripture. 

God doesn’t always give us what we desire, because He knows in some cases what we desire isn’t the best for us.  While we are only looking at today, He is looking at eternity. I don’t claim to fully understand this verse, but I suspect we will understand it more fully when we see Christ Jesus face to face. And for now, I’m choosing to trust that God is always good, kind, and faithful, even when in my human mind all the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit together.