I picked up this awesome devotional by Elizabeth George at the Exchange. “One Minute With the Women of the Bible” has tiny readings and thoughtful questions about what we can learn from various women in the Bible, including those who are not named. One of the entries (I like this book so much I can’t wait and just read it day by day!) is about when God changed Sarah’s name from Sarai to Sarah. When God changes someone’s name in the Bible it is like a promotion, like they have developed and changed to a new being.
She names five things Sarah did to grow and to “earn” her name change. And then she asks us readers to rate ourselves in those five categories. Today I am going to write about a couple of hard ones. Trusting in God and waiting on God. Both are difficult.
Do I trust God? Do I wait on His timing and accept it with thanksgiving? I’ve always been very strong willed, strong back boned, and determined to make things happen for myself wherever possible. And much of that is a good thing. Just because God provides doesn’t mean He wants us sitting on our butts, passively waiting for something to happen. So to a certain extent is good to be a go getter. Yet it is also vital to be willing to wait on God’s timing. For instance, I have been rather passionately looking at a worship arts program at a seminary in Dallas. Most of the program is online, but the last year of it, the year with the creative classes, are held in Dallas instead of online. I have wracked my brain trying to figure out how I could go, but after careful consideration and an honest look at the logistics, I concluded that there was no way I could go without splitting up the family. There is no way to guarantee that Craig’s deployment will run from August to May, and I’m not leaving my husband or separating him from his child during the time he does have at home. So unless something radically changes, I cannot do seminary. I will not abandon my family responsibilities. That is wrong. So I have to accept that if it is God’s will that I go to seminary, he will make a righteous path for me to go with my family. If He doesn’t, then His answer is no.
We have this common misconception in our culture that if we pray to God for something and we don’t get it, He didn’t answer our prayers. But the truth is, He did answer. He said no. We don’t get everything we want. God’s plans are greater than ours.
Sometimes even when we feel called and created for a specific purpose, we have to wait on God and trust in his timing. As pretty much everyone knows, I am a poet. But how and when my work reaches the world is up to the Lord. It is so hard to trust in His ways and His timing. I am so ambitious, so determined to have worldly success. My visions just pour out on the page and I polish them and then long to present them to the world like a gift. I really believe they are meant to be read, but whether or not that happens is up to God. My creativity and visions come from Him, and what they are used for and by whom is up to Him. If He intends for me to have 10 books published, I will be grateful and say “Praise God.” If He elects that my writing is meant for a small community only, I must say “Praise God. His works are good.”
Being strong willed all the time is not a good thing. I try to be less strong willed and more submissive to my husband, which is good and Biblical and right. (However, I am still not a doormat.) But with everyone and everything else I can be pretty strong willed. It is one of my strengths and one of my weaknesses. On one hand, I do not roll over for anyone. And Christ needs people in the kingdom who will stand up and proclaim his word without watering it down, without shame, and without apology. Besides, He wouldn’t have made me an independent thinker with a strong personality if He did not intend for me to be one. Everyone’s unique personality and gifts are needed in the body of Christ. On the other hand, sometimes we need to pray and trust God to bring us where we need to be. Not everything can be done through the sheer force of will power. I need to be better about praying for things I need and want. There is no such thing as praying too much, and if there was I’m sure I’m nowhere near that cap! And honestly, when I pray I usually thank God for things that I have, and pray for the needs of other people. That is great. We should give thanks to God and we should lift others up in prayer. But to really follow God, we need to take our own troubles and needs and wishes to Him. I have failed at this.
I am always willing to fight the good fight (and if I’m honest, to fight in general. I love to debate, especially a good, intelligent debate with logic, Scripture, science, or facts. And I always stand up for myself, even when maybe I should let things go). But sometimes we are supposed to let go and let God. Some fights we cannot win. Some fights we should not fight. I don’t think a good intellectual debate is wrong, but some people are incapable of those. They either are not intelligent and/or couldn’t form a cogent argument if their souls depended it.
And sometimes, when people do us wrong, it is best not to fight and to trust God to help us forgive and to deal with that person. All of us will be held accountable for our sins, including me, and those who have wronged me will be hearing about it from God. I have always had a passion for justice and righting of wrongs, but the truth is in many cases that is just out of our hands. So you trust God to make things right, if not in this life then in the next. You should pursue justice where you can, but also be willing to stand back and trust God.
Sometimes I worry about how we’ll do when Craig retires from the Navy, or how my Bipolar struggles will be in ten or twenty years and whether or not they will get worse. I worry about how degraded our culture will be by the time my daughter is grown and how will she find a good Christian man to settle down with and how will she have any friends. But I must trust that when I cannot take care of my daughter, that Jesus will. That somehow, he will make a way for her. That she will be able to find a community of believers and a good husband and have a good life, no matter how foul and degraded our culture gets.
I need to wait on God. I need to trust God.