Purposeful Faith

Tag - waiting

Winter Means Waiting

Post by: Christine Hoover

In winter, I spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in my home under a blanket, guzzling hot coffee, and longing for spring’s arrival. It’s not my favorite season, but favorite or not, winter is important. Despite what we see with our eyes, the earth in winter is busy creating life. We only know this is so because spring eventually comes, and then we marvel at what that life looks like.

Is it possible that God designed winter and the earthly cycle of life, death, and renewal in order to speak a deeper truth? I believe, because the Bible says it’s so, that everything in creation is designed speech about its Creator. Just as we find him on warm summer days, standing in the sand, listening to the waves crash against the shore, we find him in the stillness of winter.

Winter, however, often speaks of a barrenness we don’t want to hear about.

Annie Dillard writes, “All that summer conceals, winter reveals.” And so we need a life with winters, because we need our hearts revealed. Winter comes to strip us bare of our delusions, to make us face reality: we have imperfections that we can’t perfect. We are helpless to find a formula to reason or act our way out of our helplessness. We are human, and we, in our barrenness, must be acted upon if we’re to experience eternal life, joy, and the supernatural.

Winter then, after stripping us bare, points us to the invisible motion as if in invitation to these very things: life is happening. God is at work, acting upon us.

The harshness of our waiting winter tells us that this world has nothing for us and that we have nothing for ourselves. We have this hope–one, and only one–that there is life waiting for us beyond death.

Although we are not yet in that world, we have reasons for our hope: the words of God. With words, he formed the earth and its seasons and cycles. With words, he continues creating. We can trust his words. In our winter, we must draw ourselves under the warm blanket of God’s promises, a sure comfort in the darkest of hours.

This is what God did with the prophet Jeremiah:

“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, ‘I see an almond branch.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.'” (1:11)

In Jerusalem, the almond tree, the first to bud in the spring, was said to “watch for spring.” God used the almond branch to comfort Jeremiah in his lamentable circumstances. The almond branch was a reminder that God is always in process of keeping his promises, that he is, at this very moment, hurtling all of us toward eternal spring. He pointed to the almond branch—the coming of spring—and told Jeremiah to watch and wait.

We too watch and wait, not in fear of this winter in which we live, nor in fear of our own spiritual poverty or even final death. We watch and wait, comforted, because all of this God is right now working for our true life, when winter will forever turn to spring.

Christine Hoover is a Bible teacher and the author of several books, including Messy Beautiful Friendship. Her latest book, Searching For Spring: How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Time, frames the life of faith according to the seasons and according to Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Searching for spring is really a search for God’s redemptive work, where suffering and death become fruitful life. Christine invites readers like you, who may be weary and withering, to join her on a treasure hunt for beauty in both familiar and unexpected places.

 Loading InLinkz ...

5 Ways Waiting is a Blessing

I drive up to a stop sign and hate that the car in front of me lingers an extra ten seconds. I go to grab some food at Chipotle and find myself annoyed at the gap in the line being caused by that texter. I go to the grocery store and size up the length of the lines to get out quickly.

I hate waiting.

What are you waiting for? A marriage to finally work its way to peace? A time when you can finally quit your job and work toward your dream? A child who will come back home and change his or her ways? A prayer that you so desperately want answered? A future that you no longer need to worry about? A solution to the problem that you just can’t piece together?

Waiting can feel like agony. It can also feel like injustice. Or torture. Or frustration because you don’t know why your good God isn’t pulling through.

May I tell you something? He is pulling through.

Waiting is not about destroying hope, but renewing you.

“How?” you say.

The 5 Ways Waiting is a Blessing

  1. Waiting addresses your heart-issues.
    What you can’t see through times of abundance becomes the red hot potato in your hands during waiting. Here, you can see the burning anger, irritation, bitterness or frustration at God and others. Waiting points a finger to the places God is ready to bring restoration through a heart of confession.
  2. Waiting creates a deeper dependence on God.
    When I really need my husband’s help to hang a picture or to get something done, I hang near him. I want him to see me and be reminded of what it is I asked him to do. We do the same with God. We hang closer to Him when we really need him.
  3. Waiting reworks our vision.
    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted a lesser gift from God. Years ago, I thought it was a silver convertible that was going to be my joy. I prayed for it, desired it and got it. That day was glorious. A couple of months later, it was just another car on the road. I realized I longed for a lesser gift, when what I really wanted was joy. In a wait our vision often adjusts, and rather than asking for a lesser thing, what comes to light is our need for a greater thing.
  4. Waiting sends us out in ministry.
    You are not alone in your wait. Thousands of other women and men sit in the same shoes with the same hope, deferred. Waiting helps us to get our eyes off of our demands and to see the dejection of others. As we reach out to them, see the needs and address them, the weight we placed on ourselves lightens. The desire to help and love them increases. Peace swoops in like a dover of hope.
  5. Waiting prepares your heart today for the abundance coming tomorrow.
    It’s in the waiting that God does his preparing for the gifts, goodness and greatness he will bring tomorrow. As we wait, impurities fall, so we’re ready to walk into His best with purity. Waiting prepares us to become holy vessels.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

 Loading InLinkz ...

What Are You Waiting For?

waiting king of world

Post By: Angela Parlin

My last semester of college, I moved to North Carolina for an internship at a giant computer corporation.

I hated to leave school early, but they offered me a chance to work into my first real job, and I couldn’t pass it up. Just before I moved, my boyfriend proposed, and we decided to get married less than 6 months later. Just after college graduation. It was an exciting time, to say the least.

So I transitioned into a new job, and moved into what would become our first apartment. I learned our new city and made some new friends. And after setting up our apartment with just the basics, I laid out pieces of wedding paraphernalia on the nightstand beside my bed. It was a daily reminder of my new life to come, the life I was eagerly waiting for.

Do you remember a time when you longed for something new, just around the bend?

I studied a verse earlier this week, and it reminded me of this anticipation.

“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:28, ESV

Let’s talk about that last phrase for a minute. To save those who are EAGERLY WAITING for Him.

Jesus will come again, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.

I have a question for you, and it’s probably going to hurt a little. But I hope it brings you to a better place, and a new perspective.

Are you eagerly waiting for Jesus?

He is coming to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. But there’s just one problem.

We love the world instead.

We are eagerly waiting for all our dreams to come true in this life. We are waiting, for everything we love right here—for the work and accomplishments and people and events and promotions and possessions and all the plans we desire for our families, for our lives. Right here.

I hate to admit it, but my desires and dreams for this life compete with my desire for Jesus.

I’ve been involved in a love affair with this world, and it has prevented me from waiting eagerly for Jesus to come again. But the Holy Spirit used this passage to make me aware, and to lead me to repentance. There’s no better place to be, because repentance brings refreshment.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19

I don’t want to be waiting on all the amazing possibilities of this world.

I want to be waiting for the King of the world.

Let’s hope He finds us waiting for a new life to come. Waiting eagerly for Jesus.

Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

When You’re Waiting for the Next Great Thing

wait next great thing

Post By: Angela Parlin

I couldn’t wait for my life to begin.

I crossed off another day on the calendar. Soon I would load up my Chevy Cavalier and move into my first, tiny, post-college apartment. I’d purchase my own food each day. I’d wear Business Casual Monday through Friday, and pull an IBM lanyard around my neck each morning. I’d sit poolside on weekends, reading all the fabulous novels I never had time for while in school.

There were so many things to look forward to when we were young. We took a step, turned a year older, completed a milestone, and then we looked ahead to the next great thing.

Double digits.

Being a teenager.

Earning a driver’s license.

Living on our own.

Childhood dreams were made of these things.

It was the same through college, where we checked off one step at a time, eyes always fixed on the next great season.

Before I knew it, I was learning the ropes of the corporate world and counting down the days until my wedding. After that, we looked forward to this trip or that and hoped for a baby and added to our family and survived multiple toddlers at once, and we continued to build.

My whole life I’ve been climbing, building, and looking ahead to the next great thing.

Sometimes now, I find myself looking back. I long for the good old days.

They passed far too quickly, if you ask me now. I wouldn’t have said that then, but I was clueless. I often failed to realize so much hidden beauty between the chaos. We don’t know what we have until it’s gone, after all.

We are prone to wanting what we don’t have, what we hope to have, what we used to have.

We look ahead, hoping for an ideal, assuming the next season will be something better. We want the current hard stage to pass. But then a new season arrives, and with it, new difficulties we didn’t plan. So we look back and long for old comforts.

At least, I do.

We find something similar in Hebrews 7, where some newer believers were longing for the not-so-good old days.

They were suffering persecution, and many of them wanted to return to the law, to Judaism. Then they would be part of the crowd again. When life got tough, they lost sight of the Better Hope they’d been given.

They lost sight of Jesus and His amazing benefits.

For the law made nothing perfect, and a Better Hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:19

We could talk for hours about the Law, but we probably wouldn’t want to. What I mean is, it’s hard for us to understand all the implications of living under the law as opposed to living under the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. But the difference was everything. Jesus still makes every bit of difference in our daily lives.

Because of Jesus, we have this amazing privilege–to draw near to God.

Under the law, worshipers had to stand out in the courtyard while the high priest represented them before God. They also had to fulfill so many regulations.

We have a full-access pass to the Throne of Grace. He makes His home within us. Maybe we’ve lost sight of this gift?

We know our greatest good will never truly be found in the next great season or another chance or a smoother road. That’s because our greatest good will always be found in drawing near to the Lord Jesus.

What if we exchange all our longing, for building into and climbing toward and waiting on a place where “real” life really begins?

We’ll be looking forward to the next great season, after all.

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

When You Think You’re Missing the Party

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I could not stop looking at the other table.

I tried to focus on my eating my meal and made eye contact with the women around me. We talked about our writing experience, what drew us to the conference and our hometowns. But every few minutes, my eyes would drift back to the table parked directly in front of the stage.

Filled with authors, speakers and book contracts, I was certain this circle was the place to be.

What were they talking about? What was the source of their laughter?

A seat there would make me content, wouldn’t it? My mind filled with images like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, convinced there was a golden ticket just out of my grasp and I had to get my hands on it. Wonders beyond my wildest imagination waited behind closed doors.

My mind was so preoccupied with crazy assumptions that I almost missed the woman sitting across the table from me. It was her first blogging conference. She was quite visibly nervous, no doubt feeling alone in a room full of people who had already made online connections.

She needed encouragement. She needed to know she’d made the right decision by being there.

And in all my selfish absorption with what I thought I was missing, I almost missed a God-given opportunity. In all my distractedness, I almost forgot the reason why I was there.

Giving the women around me my undivided attention, I leaned in, listened, and shared what I’d learned over the past two years. My eyes stopped wandering and I remembered who I was.

We already have a seat at the table of the Most High King. We share a Spirit with the person who was exalted to sit at the right hand of God, and yet we often can’t stop looking around as though we’re missing party.

God invites us to the greatest party on earth. We simply have to accept his invitation.

When we see the beauty and the opportunity of the exact place and time where we are, we discover what it means to truly live. We stop looking at across the street or across the room and know we are right where God wants us to be, for such a time as this.

People often cite the verse, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” as a powerhouse verse to show God can enable them to accomplish a task beyond their human ability, like scaling a mountain or competing in a triathlon. (Philippians 4:13 NIV) And yes, God can enable us to do each of these things.

But if you look at the context of this verse, Paul is talking about contentment. He is writing to the church of Philippi from prison, and telling them how his walk with Christ enabled him to be joyful no matter what the circumstances.

Friends, true joy and satisfaction don’t come from a physical location or a black and white contract. They come from knowing the One whose love for you was demonstrated in the most humble way possible. He laid down his divinity and took the very nature of a servant.

Let’s lay our false assumptions about what we need at the feet of Jesus today. Let’s remember we’re already children of the Most High King.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

Guest Contributor

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

3 Encouraging Truths When You Feel Stuck

When you feel stuck

Do you feel stagnant? Like you are trying to accelerate, but your car is going nowhere? There are truths when you feel stuck.  Do you know them?

At times, we all feel stuck. We wonder, “Are we making a difference? Serving a purpose? Changing lives? Impacting the world? Is our life adding up to anything meaningful?”

Like a car spinning its wheels, we feel the same. Round and round we go – going nowhere. Pushing and pushing with all our might – but we stay suck. Pressing and pressing our gas pedals – but our wheels dig in deeper.

It’s aggravating. Frustrating. Demoralizing.

It doesn’t matter if we steer in the right direction, because we aren’t going anywhere. So, we look up to God, and ask, “Why?” We feel like giving up.

I sludged around in the mud for so long. I spent much of my life working in jobs that never satisfied. I often arrived to work with a smile – and left for home with a frown. I felt purposeless. Passionless. And, disappointed in myself.

During this time, I realized:
To live without cause is to feel like a fraud.
To not make a difference is to become indifferent.
To fake like you’re okay is to put on a good play.
To not see results feels like an insult.

I believed – and still believe – this is not how God intends us to live. God desires us to be authentic, patient and enduring.

Yet, so many days, I can return to this place of “stuck”. I may want bigger progress. More lives changed. I may want to do better spiritually. Or to be a better mom. Or to have circumstances improve. I may just want to feel closer to God.

Often, I just feel stuck.

But, God is faithfully teaching me that, many times, he is diligently at work to get me unstuck from life’s muck. Even more, we tend to best receive the Lord’s sermons when we are stuck in muck.

It is here where we can’t move, where we have to wait, where we must be still. And, we hear the Lord in profound ways.

The Lord has 3 critical lessons he wants us to grab hold of, instead of our life’s steering wheel:

1. God has us just where he wants us to be.

He knows where we are. He sees us. He has not forgotten about us. This place of frustration is a place of transformation. It is in this place, where we must stop and wait on him.  It is here where we can find his love, his direction and his guidance.

It’s in these places of “wait” where God’s work really gets started. This muddy ground is his best working ground. It is here, where he molds us – growing us in patience, endurance and perseverance.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

2. He is preparing, reforming and transforming us to do his work.

Fear not. Even though we feel stuck, it doesn’t mean our lives have gone amuck. Because it’s here we can choose to trust, grow and sow. As we sow faith, we let go of fear. As we let go of fear (sometimes the fear of mediocrity), true purpose surfaces – it is here we find – our calling.

The bottom line of true calling is pleasing and serving the Lord.
When we let go of fear and indifference – we start making a difference.
We understand that he is at work – in us – instead of us demanding to have him work – through us.

We spin our wheels less and he produces more and more fruit. Fruit that we can go share with others. In this, we find rest, encouragement and renewed passion.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)

3. God put a calling in our hearts. Listen and follow.

God made us with a purpose and for a purpose. Perhaps we are still in the training stages. An Olympian cannot just walk out on the track and get the gold. Likewise, there are hard training days that accompany our work for the Lord. We have to put the hard work in. Work that is endless, tiring and ongoing.

God is sovereign; he decides the proper time to exalt us. We can wait on him. Even if that time of exaltation is at heavens door, we can still trust in his plan.

Let’s not miss the moment. Because the most important calling for our lives is not the one we dream of – but the one that he has already placed in front of us – for this exact moment. Let’s not miss it.

Let’s call out to the Lord.
He will help us.
His words will guide us in our way.

When we stop focusing on our circumstances and start focusing on him – things start to happen.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Ps. 32:8)

We can’t give up our drive; this was placed in us by God. But, we must keep our eyes on the one who provides “the way”. Then, in God’s perfect timing, our wheels will stop spinning – and start moving us to destinations we never dreamed.

***Sign up for my blog posts via email for a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card! Click here! 

 Loading InLinkz ...