What can I say? It’s taken me over two weeks to sit down to write this post. Secretly because I was hoping to be on the other side of waiting. On the other side of not knowing. But I'm not. I'm still knee-deep in holding on and clinging to what is not seen till that glorious day when all we’ve hoped for will be within our grasp and all the not-knowing will be complete knowledge.
So I’ve surrendered because I figured God wants me to write about this very hard thing called the waiting room where our faith is tested. Where those bold statements of faith we proclaim so easily when dancing in the light are scrutinized and weighed when the storms blow in from out of nowhere and leave lives in a tailspin. And where we realize when He talks about the furnace purifying us He didn’t mean a sauna on a cruise ship. It really is a furnace.
Those “dark nights of the soul” where no one else but you and God can tread. Where you will choose whether you’re going to cling to the God of the universe or if you are going to grow bitter and cynical because relief doesn’t come. Or answers come but not in the way you were hoping and praying and expecting it too. And the dark voices of doubt become louder, taunting you with your ability to believe in a God that would allow suffering and drag you down with questions like if God really cares and listens and hears the prayers and petitions for the ones you love? If He sees you clinging white knuckled to slithers of hope as you try to care for your family and you can’t find a job? As you wait for your prodigal to come home. As the life robbing disease lingers and the car gets a disability plate. As you beg for Heaven to heal the addict, to break the cycle of deceit, to restore the broken vows. As you beg for some sign that He is real and that this is not all in vain. And Heaven seems silent.
What do you do in these waiting room times? The in-between times? In-between spaces, that quite frankly make out a bigger part of life than what we would prefer in an instant mc-a-frappacino-ATM-land.
I was asking God what to do after I’ve exhausted every human plan I could come up with to bring relief for my Mom who has end stage cancer. No way out. No way forward. Stuck.
He led me to Hebrews 11. He showed me a movie of her life in black-and-white in my mind of how He was turning back the clock to every broken place and how He was bringing healing through every phase in her life till the very last place where He took the colostomy bag off and tossed it aside. Turning her into the gorgeous young woman she used to be – but only completely whole this time. Whispering to my heart,
“Christelle, this is where we’re heading. Just hold on. See, I’m making all things new.”
Hebrews 11 is a chapter our logic driven minds wish didn’t exist because if you’re anything like me you crave closure and evidence and seeing and the complete puzzle built. The chapter starts with a few giants of faith that actually saw some of the beauty of the complete picture this side of heaven. And for a moment hope surges and I think to myself aha! maybe I will still see, but then the pesky few verses at the end of the chapter speak of many, many more who never saw the complete answer and picture until they reached the other side of life. And there it ends. Not quite the answer I was hoping to get. Sometimes we will live life and not see the promises fulfilled till eternity. Sometimes the promise will be fulfilled here and now, but here and now might mean waiting extra long for it to come. And that leaves me in this very painful, often unbearable place of waiting, of what feels like free-falling into what seems nothingness. Until I remember.
Will I live for the desire of every fiber of my senses that long to see in the here and now? Those senses that desperately want to be in that tiny nursing home room holding her hand, tucking her in, rocking her to sleep, yet because of a crazy long list of events doesn’t make it as simple as hopping on a plane to make that happen. Or will I have faith in the God who has promised to never leave or forsake me or her? Will I dare to believe Him even here in this free-falling, unbearable waiting room?
And then it clicked. Her life has been Hebrews 11. She’s lived an entire life filled with so many heartbreaking realities yet always professed, “God is faithful. He will take care of us. He will never leave us.” Even now. How in the world can I but follow her example? I think God has allowed me to be in this waiting room to grow that kind of faith in me. Bringing me to the place where I have to choose if I'm all in or only along for the ride in good times. Will I trust Him even when I cannot see?
I feel my knees buckle and sometimes fear tries to choke the hope from my heart. And then I remember that this, all of this; it’s just a glimpse. There will be an end. To all of it. There will be a day with no cancer. No more tears. No more homeless little children. No pain. No unanswered questions. No broken homes. No hatred. No senseless killing. And I remember the One who has promised. He is the One nudging me on, "Look up! See I make all things new. I am with you, My strength is made perfect in your weakness." And I feel His love and comfort poured out through selfless acts of His body here, locally by people praying with me for this woman who brought me into the world, and encouraging me and carrying the load on this journey. I feel strength and peace as His body moves thousands of miles away in Sub-Saharan Africa when a stranger pours out love in her free time to comfort a lonely widow and friends reach out the best they can. And I have promises on repeat that I sing loudly and boldly that this wait will be worth it. Promises that silence the enemy of hope. We will not be disappointed. Not even a teensy bit.
Soon all of this suffering and separation will be over for all eternity.
I want to stand next to her on that day praising Him in glory knowing that I ran the race with endurance, like her, that I lived in the hard places holding on to the God who promised to be with me. Not because I was so amazing, but because I was held by my God who is.
So, hold on woman in the Unnamed Tent, hold on to the One who won't let go of you in whatever waiting room you find yourself in. He is making all things new. I can't wait to meet you in a different kind of room where there will be no more waiting. There will be lots of dancing and singing and praising in that room, but there will be no more waiting. Until we meet in His throne room let's do this, let's go all out, let's live for more than what we can see.
It will be worth the wait.
“So I will wait, I will wait on You.
I’m gonna run but not grow weary, I’m gonna walk and not grow faint.
Rise up on wings like eagles and soar,
I know with every step You’re with me,
I know You’re working as I wait,
Rise up on wings like eagles to soar.” Soar by Meredith Andrews.
Waiting Here for You by Martin Smith below.