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Entries in Waiting On God (4)

Tuesday
Oct232018

Waiting for God's Beautiful Timing

Sally Ferguson, a retreat planner, teaches women how to get away from the craziness of life and wait on the Lord. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she reminds us of a precious principle for intimacy with God.

"I look out the window at my backyard," Sally says, "where reside two apple trees, one Granny Smith and one Red Delicious. My three year old granddaughter persistently reaches for the miniature fruit, hanging on the branches."

"'Not yet,' I tell her. 'The apples need time to grow and get sweeter. Their colors will change when they’re ready.'"

Growing up in the Midwest, I (Dawn) saw many such apple trees. I know exactly what Sally's talking about. It's a beautiful illustration for patience.

Sally continues . . .

I often expect life to be ready, for me, too.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has made everything beautiful in its time, but I impulsively seize opportunities that aren’t ripe yet, and wonder why they taste bitter and feel tough.

Why is there such mystery around when things happen?

       Four ways to know when God’s timing is ripe.

1. Do you have a skillset needed for the job?

People have a way of volunteering us for their projects.

While we’re being taught to learn to say “no” for our own sanity, there are times we do need to say “yes,” for theirs.

In John chapter 2, Mary asked Jesus to take care of the punch at a family wedding. Jesus said, “It’s not my monkey, not my circus.” (Not His actual wording!)

But He helped anyway. Verse 7 says He knew what to do, and He helped save the family from great embarrassment in front of their community.

There are times when I know what to do, and need to get involved, even if I think it’s lousy timing.

2. Does it require an act of faith?

Occasionally, I get the most bizarre ideas, yet cannot escape their unrelenting nudge.

Is it me, or is it God’s idea?

The best thing I can do is ask the Lord to make it absolutely clear with my next step.

In Matthew chapter 14, the wind was whipping around Peter’s feet. He had stepped out of the boat to walk with Jesus, but the splashing waves redirected his attention.

When fear crept up, he cried out for help.

Jesus asked Peter to trust Him, but He didn’t change the circumstances first.

Verse 32 says the wind died down when they climbed into the boat. Not before. Not after. But at the right time. Obedience has its reward.

3. Will God get the glory for something bigger than what you could have done?

Matthew 14:33 says the people in the boat worshipped Jesus when they saw what happened.

My impatience demands action. But, when God moves, the “wow factor” usually stops me in my tracks.

It’s at that point I know the result is much more than I dreamt and requires a level of trust previously unknown.

Who am I, to rush God?

Isaiah 5:19 proclaims an indictment on me for telling God to hurry up! He promises He will swiftly take care of things when the time is right (Isaiah 60:22); and He will do it for His own glory (Isaiah 48:11).

4. Do you have peace about the outcome?

Even though we can’t see the future and the outcomes of our choices, we can trust the One who does.

My NIV footnotes say about Psalm 27:3, “Confidence gives us patience to wait for God’s timing and not demand immediate response to our petitions.”

Oh, to have that confidence and complete trust in the Lord!

Why does God appear to be silent when we ask Him to answer our prayers? My friend, Mary Corey said, “It’s to keep us close to Him, when He seems to be taking too long.”

Let the waiting draw you closer to the Lord.

When God is moving, nothing can stop the momentum of His work in our lives. It’s exhilarating to be in that tsunami of change.

However, we have to wait for that to happen. Ephesians 1:9-10 says He is waiting for history to reach its full potential.

Here’s a secret: Mark 1:15 declares the time to be ripe, now, for us to submit to the Lordship of Christ. Let’s act on what we know to do, and wait for God to do His thing.

When we surrender our agendas to Him, He’s never too late.

Are you ready to pause? Use your skillset, faith, trust and confidence in God to guide your resting and waiting for Him to move on your behalf. The fruit will all be worth the wait.

How are you growing while you wait for God’s timing?

Sally Ferguson loves planning women’s retreats. Her coloring book, What Will I Be When I Grow Up? (Warner Press) and ebook, How to Plan a Women’s Retreat are both available on Amazon.  Visit her latest retreat release here.  

Graphic adapted, courtesy of mploscar at Pixabay. 

Tuesday
Aug282018

Waiting on God for Dreams to Come True

Cathy Horning is a rare jewel of wisdom. The more I've gotten to know her, the more I realize we are heart-sisters with the same passion for the Lord and His truth. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she focuses on a popular topic: dreams.

Cathy asks, "Do you have a dream? One you have waited a long time to come true? A dream, that perhaps, you have all but given up on? Me too!"

Cathy's article came along at a time when I (Dawn) have been talking to the Lord much about dreams. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate her insight!

Cathy continues . . . 

I'd almost given up on a dream—until this summer when this nearly-60-year-old grandmother saw a childhood dream come true.  

1. God’s Timing; Not Mine!

I was 12 when I first decided I wanted to write a book. My books were going to be juicy, the kind of novels sold on racks near the checkout counter at the grocery store.

Then I met Jesus, and in His great wisdom, He tucked away my dream while He worked to grow me up and build my faith.

But one day, it was as if the Lord took my forgotten dream off of a shelf in my heart, dusted it off, and handed it back to me.

It was as if He said, “Remember when you wanted to write books for the world? Now, I want you to write books for Me.”

2. God Takes the Little We Have to Offer.

I was thrilled to rediscover my long forgotten dream. Eagerly, I began to write a weekly devotional for my women’s Bible study group.

Then, a few months later, I received two letters in the mail. Each note, from a young mom who had recently moved away, contained nearly-identical messages: “I have watched you as a mom … can you write to me about parenting?”

I cried. This just couldn’t be a coincidence.

But why would they ask me?

I prayed. God answered. And, I began to write letters—one letter a month for the next year and a half.

I mailed them to my two mom friends, then to a dozen more, and eventually to more than one hundred mamas.

In the days before social media and blogs, with four active children and my husband’s demanding career, it was the little I had to offer.

3. God Uses Detours, Delays and Busy Days.

Life got crazy, and my letter writing ended. God called us to a season of home schooling. Then we moved. Our new home soon became the hub for all of our teenagers’ friends. Plus, we kept busy with sports and hosting dinners, parties and youth events. Our basement was the place for our sons’ band, our daughter’s darkroom, and eventually, a dormitory for boys who wanted to move out, but couldn’t quite afford it.

Our lives were abundantly full.

I continued to teach Bible studies and speak at women’s events, but I did little writing.

Looking back now, there is no way I could have imagined how the Lord was using that very busy season of life to prepare, train and equip me (and our whole family) for purposes He had further down the road.  

4. God Will Give A Loving Nudge.

On occasions when I did speak or teach, I was often asked, “Do you have a book?” No, I hated to admit, I had nothing written.

However, that all changed on a flight to Arizona. The woman across the aisle recognized me from the gym, and for the next hour I had the opportunity to share with her the message I would give the following day. As we prepared to exit the plane, she called out, “I need your message. Do you have it written anywhere?”

I was utterly convicted.

So that summer, the year I turned 50, I began to write again. A book seemed daunting, so I decided to begin a blog.

Never again would I tell a hurting soul, “I have nothing written.”

5. God Rewards Sacrifice, Surrender and Obedience.

Our kids went off to college. Then there were weddings, and grandchildren began to arrive. As our family grew, our parents aged, and there were many unexpected health challenges and great family needs.

Through it all, I continued to blog as I was able. I worked to hone my writing skills, as I prayed my posts would encourage others.

Amidst all this, a spiritual season of winter hit hard. There were three long years of dying to self, serving my family, and surrendering my dreams to Jesus.

I began to believe my years of ministry were over.

Yet, as my hope waned, the Lord began to show me signs of spring. And slowly, this past year, God again opened doors for travel, to speak, and to show me that it was now time to write my book.

6. God’s Plan—for Such a Time as This.

Much to my delight, this summer—the year before I turn 60—my childhood dream came true! 

  • I cried as I held in my hands my very first book.
  • I praised God.
  • And, I dedicated it to the Lord.

You see, to my amazement my first book was filled with the parenting letters I had written twenty-one years earlier, even though I had long lost hope those letters would ever be a book.

But God knew. He had a plan that in His time and His way they would become my very first book, as He has whispered His word to me all year, “Who knows if you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

My dear sisters, do you have a dream God has placed in your heart? Does it sometimes seem they will never come true? Or, that it is too late or you are too old? 

Let me assure you, as you walk with Jesus day-by-day, in His perfect plan and time, He will bring to pass and allow to come true the dreams He has planted in your heart.

Please don’t ever give up!

What dream has the Lord placed in your heart? Which of these six points help you to trust God with your dreams today?

Cathy Horning has been a women’s ministry leader, Bible Study teacher, speaker and writer for more than 25 years. She loves the Word of God. Nothing brings her greater joy than sharing with others how very precious, practical, and powerful the promises and truths in God's Word. Married for 34 years, Cathy has four grown children, 10 grandchildren, and many spiritual sons and daughters. She loves long walks by the bay, a good book or movie, Starbucks ice tea, and especially family get-togethers. Her new book is Letters from a Mother's Heart. Read more by Cathy at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of StockSnap at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Mar132018

Waiting Well

Wise and winsome Nali Hilderman calls Christian singles to seek and live for the Lord, but her words have often spoken to my own heart as a married woman. In this UPGRADE post for Single Christians, she once again calls all of us to consider life from a biblical perspective.

"Like most people," Nali says, "I really do not like to wait—I don’t like long lines, I don’t like sitting at the airport for a flight or in traffic. I get antsy and oftentimes anxious for things I cannot control."

I (Dawn) DO hate to wait. Waiting is "a waste of time," I say—except when God has us in a waiting pattern for His purposes. Nali reminds us of some lessons the Lord might teach us in this schoolroom of waiting.

Nali continues . . .

I’ll be honest and say I have an especially hard time waiting on God. 

When I wait for other things, I can at least cognitively understand the situation: there are 10 people ahead of me and as one leaves, then I move up. 

There are 25 minutes until my flight takes off, so I can manage that. 

But with God, it often seems like those cognitive “markers” are elusive, and waiting proves angstful and difficult.  This is especially true if, like me, we are waiting on God for a relationship, especially one that will lead to marriage. 

However, God has not left us in the dark regarding this; and I want to offer us some advice on how to WAIT WELL—to give some “cognitive markers” to hang on to in the midst of our waiting.

1. Remember You are in Good Company

Not only are lots of other people waiting on God right now, but the scriptures are filled with countless people who had to wait on God. 

Most of the heroes of the faith—the patriarchs, the kings, the Jewish nation—all had to wait years for God to fulfill the promises He had given them.

Read their stories and be reminded of how they waited (some well, and others, not so well). Visit Hebrews 11 for an overview of many of them, and note especially that some died before they received God’s Promise, yet they did not waiver in their faith that God would provide. What faith!

2. Remember It’s about the Journey, Not the Destination.

More than anything, God desires relationship with us.

Often God's provisions and withholdings are meant to draw us into deeper fellowship with Him. 

I once went through a whirlwind relationship and was convinced God had finally provided a husband for me. I was left in tatters after the relationship ended.

Only through a deep wrestling with God did I discover Him saying, "

This was never about the guy; this was about my relationship with you!”

That led me to an intimacy with God I never knew was possible. Romans 8 says God works in all things. Why? So we may know Him and be conformed into the image of His Son (vv.  28-29).

3. Get busy!

Follow the examples of those in the Bible who waited on God. Though there are some negative examples, most carried on while waiting, and God used that time for what was to come. 

David was a young man when he was anointed King of Israel, but it was a few decades before that promise was fulfilled. In that time, he fought lions and bears, killed Goliath, served another king—who taught him what he was not to do—and walked with God (I Samuel 16-242 Samuel 1-2). 

4. Trust God and His Timing.

The hardest part about waiting is feeling out of control in our circumstances, yet time and time again scripture provides examples of how God is in the most minute details to get His children right where He wants them in order to provide. 

My favorite story of this is the children of Israel in Exodus. They had left slavery in Egypt under miraculous means, only to begin wandering in the desert. The Bible says God did not lead them through the land of the Philistines, though it was shorter, but took them to the Red Sea and had them camp there! 

We know what happened next. The Egyptian army came to kill them, yet God miraculously provided AGAIN for their rescue. 

Notice the key point: 

God took them to the exact place where He would prove his power and protection, even though it seemed to make no sense to the Israelites (Exodus 13:17-18).

Dear friends, are you in a season of waiting on God for a relationship or for anything else?  Which of these four markers is most challenging for you? How can you actively pursue one of these this week as you learn to Wait Well? 

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history and political science at San Diego Christian College. She also is currently the Acting Chair for the Leadership and Justice Department. She writes on the connection between Christianity and the public square, both historically and in the present.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of AD Images, Pixabay.

Thursday
Aug212014

Living in Uncertainty: Waiting on God

Julie Watson is a gifted woman who not only has technical expertise, she also has deep compassion for people who hurt. In this UPGRADE, she encourages us with powerful words about patience.

“Having patience, standing in line, waiting my turn … these are things I learned in kindergarten,” Julie says, “but still didn’t do well ... until now.” 

Watching Julie in her long waiting season has inspired me (Dawn) and taught me to trust God’s timing. But what I value most are the lessons God has taught her.

Julie continues…

I quit praying for patience long ago because I realized every time I did, I’d somehow get stuck behind the slowest drivers known to man!

God is not surprised by my impatience, but for my journey, He gave me something very special to wait for.

Nearly 17 years ago I married the man of my dreams. As most young couples do, we made plans for our future. Children were a part of that plan. However, life throws you curveballs, and mine came in the form of a slow growing type of ovarian cancer. Long story short, having children—natural children, that is—were no longer in our plans.

We were saddened, but not devastated. God had other plans … perfect plans!

Fast forward to Easter week 2013. Adoption was always something we wanted to do once we found out we couldn’t have children. It just took us a LONG time to get there.

When my husband and I separately received confirmation from God that it was time to move forward (on Good Friday of all days) we were READY! And, when I say ready, we literally prayed someone would drop a child onto our doorstep the next day!

Needless to say, adoption doesn’t work like that. We waited… and waited… and waited some more.

Living in uncertainty is never fun. Waiting for something I had wanted for so long stirred a whole range of new emotions, and I learned some things along the way:

1) Don’t ever stop talking to God—keep praying diligently for His will to be done and leave your own will out of it!

2) Don’t stop listening to God—keep reading His Word, be still and allow His truth to penetrate your heart! (Proverbs 4:11-13)

3) Don’t alienate yourself by shutting others outkeep your support team on standby; you’ll need their continuous encouragement and prayer!

4) Don’t hold in the anger, frustration or disappointmentkeep it real and be honest with yourself and God. You can even yell at God; it doesn’t surprise Him and He can take it—plus it might be very cathartic for you!

5) Don’t doubt the path God placed you onkeep your eyes on the prize and persevere! (Isaiah 40:31; Jeremiah 17:7-8)

6) Don’t stop planning—keep your priorities straight, your routines normal and don’t stop living just because you don’t know when “that something” is coming! (Philippians 4:12-13)

So yes, I hate waiting (even still). But, I now see God’s handiwork in the wait. I know the wait will equip me for the task ahead. And, I know that if I trust God and wait on Him, He will accomplish great things in and through me (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28).

Lastly, even while writing this article God revealed to me why I needed to wait for what was coming.

We were about to embark on the hardest journey of our lives and marriage.

We chose to open our home to a sibling set of abused and neglected foster children who needed a ton of love. But what do they need almost as much as love? A mountain-sized amount of PATIENCE (1 Corinthians 13:4a).

Had I not gone through this waiting game, I never would have been ready for the most important job of my life: motherhood.

Are you waiting on God for something? How can you use this time to prepare (physically, emotionally, spiritually) for what’s to come?

Julie Watson has worked with pregnancy care centers over the years and is currently a Grant Writer. She and her husband Shawn are new parents to three beautiful children who have forever changed their lives. The process of becoming foster/adoptive parents was neither painless nor short, but was well worth the wait. They know these children were hand-picked by God to be their own, and plan to adopt as soon as they are legally allowed.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net