Jesus in the Waiting

Author: Brittney Closner

I don’t know about you, but I would love for the tangible, with-flesh-on Jesus to sit across from me on the couch, cup of coffee in hand, and give me the details of my life purpose. To have the opportunity to ask questions, to hear the answer without fear of improper discernment would be so welcome. Yes, we can have a conversation with God, but there’s so many times that I sit in silence, in His presence (and sometimes struggling to find His presence), hearing nothing. My flesh takes over, my heart gets shifty, and I run with purpose — my own.

Hunger and Thirst Brittney ClosnerMy husband and I are sliding into a benchmark in our marriage — we’re closing in on the four year mark of trying to conceive. Four years of known infertility have loomed over our heads, in our hearts, and in my empty womb. Month after month of negative tests, heartache, and seemingly failed hope; in God’s grace, here we are. Still standing, together. Still hopeful. This season of waiting has us confused, excited, heartbroken — much like any season of wait can be. There is a holy anticipation for the movement of God bound so tightly around our desire.

And yet, still, we’re in the waiting. Not alone, Jesus is here, but the stillness of the wait has my heart erupting in doubt and fear. God has shut down other avenues in our hearts — IUI, IVF, adoption — beautiful tools God uses to expand, but tools God has told us to leave untouched. It’s hard to explain to those who offer well-meaning advice that God has told us we would be moving out of His will if we pursue these options at this time. Does this mean tomorrow He could change it all? Absolutely. This is exactly why with-flesh-on Jesus is always invited to my home to help me draw a map.

You see, God is faithful, He is not impatient. He has given us many stories of women working in their waiting — working their faith, fields, and hearts — to give us the map we so desperately seek.

One story He stirs often is the Woman from Shunem in 2 Kings, chapter 4. Quickly breaking the story down, this woman had extra room in her home — room she probably thought would be filled with toddler tantrums and teenagers one day, but instead it was empty. Recognizing her opportunity for hospitality, the woman built a room for Elisha. She could have left this space barren and empty; instead she filled it with the sacrifice of serving another soul. When Elisha asked how he could repay her for her kindness, she shrugged him off. We do that, don’t we? Keep our desires quiet in fear of vulnerability?

But she had been vulnerable with someone, because there was word she didn’t have children. Elisha comes back and tells her that this time next year, she will hold a son in her arms, and verse 16b is so near and dear:

“’No, my lord!’ she cried. ‘O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up like that.’”

Brittney Closner Hunger and ThirstWho can’t relate to this fear?  Someone speaks prophecy and promise over our lives and we immediately reject it, not wanting to get our hopes up. Yet, when Elisha comes back — the woman did have a son, just as prophesied.

God’s season of wait in my life doesn’t give me permission to sit, unwilling to grow, unwilling to serve, unwilling to live out His purpose for my life. If this woman had refused to open her home to Elisha, what might her life have looked like? Being obedient to the journey God asks us to walk with Him might not make sense in the thick of it, but we have no idea the ripple effects one “yes”, one act of sacrifice, one compromise will make. God will do so much with our “yes” to Him — more than we’ll ever know.

As we mark off another month of waiting, I struggle with wanting to sacrifice anything when I feel I’ve sacrificed years of my emotional tank. It’s in moments like this I am able to pull purpose. I may not be called to open a room for Elisha, but I am called to love people fiercely, in their own barrenness — whether they have no children or seven. Not one soul is immune to a season of waiting, and I can see where God is creating beauty from ashes. I may look back in a year with a child in my arms, or I may be looking at my fifth year in the wait, but no matter what, I’m waiting, anchored to Jesus.

 


FB_IMG_1520521316510Brittney is a married, 30-something, laid down lover of Jesus. She writes at www.promisetothepath.com, and is full of book recommendations, recipes, and laughter, she chases the things that bring her joy in the margin. Married for 6 years, trying to conceive for 4, Brittney has found herself passionate about encouraging women on the infertility journey through raw transparency and clinging to Jesus. Always seeking laughter and purpose in the pain, Brittney jumps at the chance to do the wild things Jesus asks her to do.  An introvert that craves deep connection, she will sit with you in messy living rooms for hours and feel rejuvenated. She loves spending time with her husband and tribe of strong women she calls friends, or with her nose in a book, and has a podcast loudly playing in the background at all times.
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Still Waiting: Ann Swindell Offers Hope to Weary Souls in this New book

“When we have begged and demanded from God all that we can, and when he still doesn’t change our situation, we’re left with a choice: we can choose offense with him, or we can choose obedience.”

Ann Swindell, “Still Waiting”

Happy endings awaken the hope that the dreams locked within our own souls might someday come true. However, our souls know that life doesn’t always work this way. We live in the mess of our own waiting, longing for it to end, and we wonder if the relationship, opportunity, or healing will ever come to be.

stillwaitingbrokenWe can tire of happy endings when we are waiting for our own. I have been a biblical counselor for years and have long looked for a book that could offer both hope and an ending that is not wrapped up with a pretty, little bow of answered prayers and dreams come true. While I love those stories, and marvel at the things God can do, reality reveals we don’t always see what we are waiting for this side of heaven. There is a day coming when all wrong will be set right, when sickness and death will end, and Jesus will bring relief from the anguish of living in a fallen world; but that day is not yet this day.

What then should we do, while still waiting?

In “Still Waiting” Ann Swindell offers elegant wisdom to those willing to be refined and sculpted through waiting.

“It’s a hard truth: to have Savior who doesn’t always explain what he does or make it easy to follow him. It’s hard to follow a King who won’t always decree what we want. It’s hard to obey a Lord whose ways are higher than mine, a Lord who doesn’t think like I do (see Isaiah 55:8-9)” (p.113).

Swindell walks the reader through the feelings of shame, suffering, and identity questioning that often come from waiting. She doesn’t deny that waiting costs us, “And that’s why, as we wait for God’s breakthrough in our lives, it will cost us a great deal. In fact, waiting wellwaiting rightlywill cost us all that we have. It will cost us our illusion of control. It will cost us our self-sufficiency” (p.64). But she offers hope as well, “And yet I always came back to this: God is God, and he loves me and cares for me. Why  he wouldn’t heal me, I didn’t pretend to know. But where else could I go (see John 6:68)? He is the Word of Life” (p.113).

stillwaitingwholovesusSwindell shares details of her own struggle with trichotillomania, and explores the journey of the Bleeding Woman from the Bible. Women of different times, both waiting, both looking to Jesus for sanctuary. I felt my own story wrapped in the words as well. Saw the plights of my friends. The themes reach out to any who have felt the longings that hide away, the weariness of weakness, and the risk required to step out from the places we hide. Her words thrust the reader into the comforting arms of God even when we struggle with Him. Swindell addresses pain, trial, and victory with biblical truth and offers that, “It’s hard to wrestle with a God who doesn’t bend to our desires, even our seemingly good desires….” Then reminds that, “… it’s not that God doesn’t hear. He is not deaf, nor is he powerless (see Isaiah 59:1). He is, in fact, compassionate. Unendingly compassionate. He overflows with unshakable, unbending love” (p.101).

“Still Waiting”, more than anything else, points the reader to Jesus. Swindell invites people to know THE great Hope. The hope that transcends all others. The only hope that is anchored, “There is one truth that allows us to be a people of hope, even as we wait for our own wholeness and healing: Jesus has restored us to himself, to others, and to ourselves. And when the King of kings restores us–soul, body, and life–we are given hope, not only for this life, but for all of eternity.” (211)

Readers,

You can find “Still Waiting” at most major book retailers, and if you order before April 3rd you can score over $30 of pre-order freebies. I know I offered some of her words in this post, but this was just an appetizer. This book is filled with truths that can set the waiting heart free, and I pray that it will meet you well as you journey through your own waiting.

Ann also offers writing courses and has been published at popular sites around the internet. I had the privilege of taking a course from her about writing as ministry early on in my writing career and what a breath of fresh air it was. 


chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue can often be found with her nose in a book and coffee in hand. She enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Hope for When it’s Go Time

Author: Chara Donahue

I was with my mom the first time I felt the thrill of a roller coaster, and last summer I stood in line for the same coaster, twenty-something years later with my own daughter. She waited nervously, boarded, and then…AND THEN… she jumped out of her seat and practically cemented herself onto the exit landing! She panicked. The moment she had been waiting for arrived, and she jumped ship completely. That day she chose fear over adventure.

Having to wait leaves ample time for us to let fear move into the front of our minds, so much so, that we can become crippled by anxious forebodings. We must find peace in the waiting, but we cannot allow it to make us comfortable, inactive, and resigned to the point that when it’s go-time and the dream is about to become reality, we run the other direction in fear.

We see this in the bride experiencing cold feet, the newly discovered talent getting stage fright, or that first date/day of college/new career. Two paths lie before us in these moments of anticipation, excitement and fear. Our fragile hearts may have trouble discerning the difference, but our actions will show our resolution.

We must choose a side. Will we run into, or away from, what we’ve been waiting for?

As we make our way through a fallen world, it can become easy to disbelieve our deep hopes, dreams, and stuff we don’t dare to ask or imagine could ever become a reality. We’ve had expectations crushed, plans deconstructed, and have sat in the trenches of fear wondering if moving forward, pursuing purpose, and hoping for the things of God is even worth it.

We need not submit to being tortured by questions such as: how we will handle it if what we’ve been waiting for isn’t as good as we hoped, or  what we will do if this too is taken away? A heavy heart, and  suspicious mind are all we gain when we act like we can control the unpredictable future that God is asking us to leave in His hands.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”-1 Peter 5:7

We cannot exchange promises for predictability. We prefer known pain to uncertainty. But we must not allow predictable pain to build illusions of security. It is nothing but a frail attempt to stave off being vulnerable to disappointment.

The Israelites whom God freed from the chains of oppressive slavery had waited and wandered toward the land God destined for them. They reached it, the first time, approximately close to two years after being freed from captivity. They  had their toes on the edge of the promised land, their wait was finally coming to an end, and then…AND THEN… they began to rebel against the hope that faith in a Holy God would see them through. They saw themselves as fools for believing, took their eyes off of the God of their deliverance, and they were focused only on all that could go wrong. They shouted, “Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.[1]  They were ready to run, and because of their disbelief, they wandered the dessert for 40 years before taking hold of what God had promised. A full generation perished.

It doesn’t take much for people to turn back, scramble, and flee.

We preach a good God, but yet can act like He is out to get us. Because of Jesus we are not stalked by the wrath of God but are cleansed and brought near by His relentless love. In the blessing and the trial He is good. Yet in the blessing we fear, and in the trial we question. God has not given us a spirit of fear or demanded that we have it all figured out. Instead, He has offered us rest, peace, and promises we can trust Him. Why must we insist on striving in every season of life? Yes, there will be times of suffering, loss, and trial but there are also times of life, celebration, and blessing. Whatever the season, we can trust Him to sustain us, to never forsake us, and to be with us where ever we go.

May we immerse ourselves in the truth of Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The fear of disappointment can flow deep below the surface, but we cannot allow it to keep us from embracing the good gifts of a loving God. The mix of excitement and nerves washes over us with a new hope as we get closer to seeing what we have been waiting for be birthed into reality. Our heart can choose celebration or panic, adventure or self-inflicted little deaths.  We can step into the joy of the moment, or skulk slowly away in the shadows of fear.

Do not cower when go-time finally arrives; remember— God is who He says He is. Not a warden out to get you, but a Father who is for you. Let’s stop letting fear rob the children of God, and trust him by going into the new beginnings He has waiting.


Readers,  
What helps you find the courage to go after the things of God? 
Thank you for joining us for our February series The Wait, we hope you will join us in March for New Beginnings

Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

Hope in Who God Says He is

Author: Sarah Dohman

“God is drawing me to Him- to require me to rely upon His timing, His promises. To solidify that His plans are better than my own. I’m not saying this is easy. My heart longs for answers. I know my small, quiet desires- the ones I hide deep within and only a few know about. The most insanely beautiful thing is that God knows them all. He knows when I sit, when I rise. He knows my quirks and longings. I’m not forgotten. I’m just in a place of waiting upon Him. Right where I am suppose to be. Hanging on His word and truth and seeking after Him. How peculiar this stage of uncertainty is for me. How pleasing must it be to God to know that I trust Him and I know in due time, His plan will be revealed. I am seeking Him and I’m really learning to put Him first- no matter the cost.”~Me(Journal entry, September 18th, 2013)

I wrote the above right after graduating from nursing school and while in the process of applying for jobs. My life was in limbo. Was I to move? Where would my first career job lead me? How was I to pay down the lump sum of debt I had looming over my head? These questions were swirling in my mind, seeping into every thought.

I could have stayed wrought with fear and anxiety. I could have allowed Satan to speak lies into my heart, as he so often does during times of waiting. And yet, I didn’t.

I’m not Superwoman, I don’t know all the answers.

I just continued to put one foot in front of the other. I took step after step out into faith, because God reminded me daily of His character. When we feel paralyzed, uprooted, shaken, or unwell in our soul, we have a God who remains steadfast.


If you are in a place of waiting, and have no end in sight, allow these truths to remind you that God is who He says He is.

  • Faithful. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  • An anchor. (Hebrews 6:19)
  • Rich in mercy. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
  • Our refuge. (Psalm 46:1-3)
  • Our portion. (Lamentations 3:24)
  • Cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:19-20)
  • Powerful. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
  • Near to us. (Psalm 145:18)
  • Fighting for us. (Exodus 14:14)
  • Jealous for our attention. (Deuteronomy 4:24)
  • Shepherd. (John 10:11)
  • Love incarnate. (1 John 4:8)
  • Keeps us in perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3)

Several months after I wrote my journal entry, I received a job offer. I rejoiced, and I remembered.

I remembered that God was, and is, faithful. He is my anchor, rich in mercy, my refuge, my portion, the cornerstone upon which my life is to be built, powerful, near to me, fighting for me, jealous for my attention, a Shepherd who seeks His lost sheep, love incarnate, and the keeper of perfect peace. He is, He is, He is.

So when I come into another time of waiting, as I know I will, I will be rooted in Him and His promises. I will know I am not forgotten, but I am exactly where I am supposed to be: drawing nearer to Him.

~~~

Sarah believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

When the To-Do List is Empty

Waiting.

It just DOES NOT have the same connotation as the word “anticipation.” With the latter, it seems like a positive thing, but waiting? It just drags on and on. I hate it. I hate waiting. I have yet to hear someone say, “Oh, how I love waiting!”, so I am confident I’m not alone.

Although, I’m someone who rarely makes decisions without tons of Google research, I don’t usually make decisions slowly. Once I’ve decided something should happen, I like for it to happen immediately. Whether it’s a significant life change or a Pinterest project, I am ready now.

My husband and I are in an interesting season…we are waiting. After a sudden and unexpected job change six months ago, he’s in a temporary position while we prepare ourselves for what we hope will be a permanent career change for him. It’s almost for sure, but it’s not. Waiting.

Part of the reason I despise waiting is that there is all that extra time for something to fall through. Someone could change their mind. Circumstances could change. I don’t want to trust God with these details.

Yet in the midst of all this, we have seen the sure hand of God guiding every step of the way. Of all the times in my life, this waiting time has uniquely felt that God’s hand was guiding. And, now, having brought us this far, God has us waiting. There is nothing to do, no task to accomplish. It’s painful to realize just how heavily I depend on my to do list to provide comfort. It gives me a semblance of control. But right now, in this situation, there is nothing to control. I feel like we are treading water in the middle of the ocean, and I wish there was a nice pillar I could grab onto.

I know God is in the middle of this. He already knows what is going to happen. And since I have nothing I can do while we wait for something for that phone call, I can only cling to the truth found in His Word. Frequently, I visualize myself clutching at His robe, begging Him to help me to trust. I hate waiting. It requires so much trust and courage.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” ~ Psalm 27:14

David, the writer of those words, did a lot of waiting. He waited for God to use him. He waited for God to punish his enemies so David could safely return home. He didn’t know what the years would contain.

I don’t know the outcome or what the next few months will look like. If I’m honest with myself, I’m afraid. But I have my Jesus. He is worthy of my trust. He can handle my doubt. And He will give me courage.

~~~

Readers,
What have been the hardest parts of waiting for you? Like our guest poster is it tough for you to not have your next step made clear? When that happens, what do you turn to?
A huge thank you to our guest poster! If you are interested in submitting a piece for consideration you can find the details on our submissions page.

Hope Even if “When” Never Comes

Author: Holly Hawes

Years of negative pregnancy tests.

‘Nuff said.

No matter how quickly we tell others that “God loves us and has a good plan for life,” some seasons of waiting, we would never choose. “Waiting upon the Lord” is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The soul spaces in which we wait might not be as innocuous as the physical waiting rooms decorated in muted shades, but they torture the nervous patron just as severely. These waiting spaces are built with our hopes and dreams, and those walls too, can feel like they are closing in.

Nosy questions, and unfulfilled desires left me raw and unable to really talk to anyone. Not even to God, about my deepest hopes. I felt bad for the people who happened upon my ugly cry episodes or bumped into my raw emotions. My every decision was resting on possibilities that hadn’t happened. I couldn’t look for a new job because I’d probably get pregnant and need to leave. I didn’t buy myself clothes for years because I wouldn’t be able to wear them “when”.

“When” didn’t come.

We had a plan— it didn’t happen. No one is prepared for that. It was a devastating season of waiting.


Who we want to become; those we love the most; those we hope to love in the future. When these things come, or do not come, our view of God is shaped. It is easy to see him as holding back and holding out. Why won’t he just give you that one desire? Hope is born as He draws near. He comforts as you put your desires into his loving hands, again and again, even as your heart breaks.

We often can see what God was doing—afterward. We began to subtly hear God whisper and direct us towards adoption. It was something in our plans, but after biological kids. We felt there were too many obstacles: We weren’t old enough for most adoption programs. We hadn’t been married long enough to even apply. We didn’t have the money, the energy, and is anyone’s marriage ever in a place to not need a little work?

Then, we heard of a dessert night taking place at a local church where several families would share about their adoptions. That night we uncharacteristically knelt on the floor and prayed out loud for God to move. We stood up with new direction. While we could always wait for life to reach a better place, children were waiting. They needed a family NOW. The season had come for action in response to God’s activity. We weren’t just waiting now; we needed to act.

These verses remind me of that time:

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both”.~ Ecc 11:4-6 (NLT)

The new steps we were taking, didn’t fix the hardship we had gone through, but helped us see beyond our struggle into the possibilities of God. Not only were we waiting for children, our daughter was waiting for us. Had we waited for the perfect time, until we felt completely ready, we would have missed out on the work of the God of the universe. It wasn’t what we expected; she was 12 years older than what I imagined when holding my first child.

God has brought me back to that waiting and action. Now, we are waiting for the next member of our family to join us. Instead of a pregnancy test we’re waiting on a committee of people who have the power to say whether or not I get to be his forever mom. It breaks my heart, because many of the kids who need to find their forever families have been waiting longer than I have.

They are waiting now.

I don’t know what season of waiting you may be in. But whatever it is, when God directs you, don’t wait. Act.

Want to see what children might be waiting for adoption in your state? Check out some pictures of the waiting children in your state.

Readers: We know waiting is hard. Tell us how we can pray for you in the comments, and may this verse uplift your heart.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

Holly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.