The Darkness Of Waiting

Waiting. Silence. These are difficult words for me. I am experiencing them in thick servings this year. Waiting on God to show us where He would have our family for this next season really caused me to squirm. I know—God is faithful. He has never left us without provision—but I have twisted, complained, and even doubted His goodness at points in this journey—along with the praising, believing, and hoping.

Saturday. Sabbath. Jesus in the tomb. 

His disciples witnessed him raise people from the dead—calm the sea—cast out demons—restore sight—multiply food. But this Saturday there was darkness. Silence. Mourning. Grief. 

I wonder if any of them thought about the miracles at this moment. I sometimes forget to celebrate and remember all the “miracles” in my life. Like when I thought I had cancer and I didn’t… or when Kavin was born and almost died, but God saved him… or like last summer when we were hard pressed for rent money and I had been looking for work for more than two months—nothing—God provided help through generous people and the best job in His timing. But then there was the time dad died when I begged God to save him. His silence ended with “no.” Maybe that is why silence is so hard. We don’t know how it will end.

And this season of silence for a ministry job for Jason is spoken: one-year pastoral residency in Fort Worth. I praise God for His provision—and a couple days later see the darkness of all the unknowns and mourn the losses. Living in an apartment again—how long? Leaving our church and neighbors? Will we find a scholarship for Kavin to go to school? What will we do with Judah while I am in class? How will we make it on a modest income while paying off student loans for this year? Will God open opportunities for work when I launch my new blog? How can I make the time for that? Will we make new friends? What will happen with Kavin’s health?—and the list of questions can spiral me into darkness.

[focus_color]I need to remember His miracles and His promises.[/focus_color] Of course He has done great things. We can look back and see, the longer with live for Him, the trail of goodness and faithfulness. 

But there are still dark days. When blackness drapes heavy and there seems only to be—silence.

Habakuk 1:2a How long, LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?

God listens, but sometimes He waits in silence. And in my waiting I learn to lean in to Him. Like when I am watching a movie with my boys and my youngest, Judah, says, “Bad guy!” And holds on me, burrows his head in my chest, but keeps peaking. I too run to Jesus to hold on in the scary parts.

I ask Him, “How long?” Sometimes He is silent. But God says He is with us (Matthew 28:20). He will make our path straight as we trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). And He has a perfect plan (Romans 12:1-3).

Are you facing any waiting in the darkness? Let’s both remember the miracles of the past and hold on to Him because we know He is faithful, even when He seems silent.

What is Good About Good Friday?

 

I am sad today. This year I feel the weight of Jesus being falsely accused and murdered. Many brothers and sisters in the Lord are suffering the same fate this week. Numbered out. Assaulted. Whipped. Murdered. Wycliff Bible translators slaughtered. Christian converts from Islam, hacked. Preachers of God’s Word, jailed.

When Jason and I sold everything we could to move to go to seminary someone told me, “I feel sorry for you.” Why? They said because I was giving up my dreams to follow my husband. False. I was giving up comfort to follow Jesus. I don’t regret one step. Seminary has been very difficult and at the same time, glorious. I have been the most depressed and the most liberated, sometimes at the same time.

I want to follow Jesus and that means risking falling on our face—in America. In other places that means risking our last breath. This next season—new church, new home, new friends, and unknown place after a year—has me feeling unsure, afraid, and insecure… and at the same time sure, brave, and solid. That is the reality of following Christ—if we are really following. We go through the dark nights of Friday in our souls with the promise of the resurrection. We despair with hope.

I don’t know why we call it “Good Friday.” I see the good on Sunday, but Friday and Saturday are sad. Wretched. Grotesque. They took a man who did nothing wrong and slashed, spat, ridiculed, accused, and nailed him to a cross. They let a known murderer off the hook and crucified a known healer.

They let an known murderer off the hook and crucified a known healer.

This Good Friday I am choosing sadness. Because Sunday is only as glorious if we feel the loss of Friday and the silence of Saturday.

What is Good about Good Friday? As my professor Dr. Basselin would say, “allowing us to sit in the pain is good.”

Will you take time today to really imagine the loss? The pain? The sorrow? Will you risk comfort for following the way of Jesus? The way of Jesus… is the cross.

 

Happy Good Sad Friday.

 

(Photo from: zbrushcentral.com via google images)

Mamas, This Post Is For You

My phone dinged and I looked down to see a Facebook message from a dear friend. She reached out in her exhaustion and guilt from yelling and snapping less-than-honorable words at her three young kids. She felt ashamed for feeding her kids fast food—again. She felt judged by church members because she came to an event in her workout clothes without make-up (and forgot to brush her teeth). And then she said the words I have told myself before, “I used to do ministry and things that mattered.”

I laughed at the message. Not a laugh that thinks it’s funny, but a laugh mixed with tears that is so thankful another mommy—another mommy that I think is a rock star and loves Jesus and her family—feels, does, and thinks the same as me.

You see, just a few weeks ago I was the mom spent, exhausted, yelling and saying things I thought I would never say to my children—the ones I pray for and hope love Jesus some day—I would then go into my closet and cry out of deep pain and shame. I too felt like I am the worst mom in the world and I can’t hang on. How can I love my kids well? “I use to do ministry and things that mattered.”

I was never going to write this for fear of being judged myself by other mommies that somehow seem to grace through all the challenges, fears, tantrums, and rebellion with dollops of calm and servings of Bible verses. But here it is mamas: we are not perfect. Yep. My Facebook posts of happy faces don’t include the occasional pushing that happens second after. Of course, motherhood is full of wonderful joy and every day moments I sip slowly, hoping I will never forget—like when we pick up Kavin from school and Judah says, “It’s me, my Kavin!”

But there are those days—sometimes weeks—when I have nothing left and I don’t know what to do and I feel like screaming… and do.

In those days I don’t need a Bible verse to tell me how I should be “training up a child in the way he should go”, I need a Bible verse that tells me “You understand my thoughts from afar.” I need to know God is with me and not against me like I am against myself at times. I need His love, not Christianese 12-steps to be a super mom. Because I do everything I can to be a super mom, but some days I feel like the villain.

I need grace and a vision.

The reality is, I have given my life over the Jesus. I love Him with all I am and He has placed me here for His glory: in the ministry of motherhood. My place is not the unreached people of China (where I hoped he was sending us years ago), but the small quarters of a simple apartment living the dream of following Jesus’ call on our lives to love Him and love others—the call all of us have. My kids aren’t dangerous tribal warriors; they are my hooligans that need Jesus’ love just as much. God assigned me my place in his kingdom as a mother and wife. It is not all of me and is not all I will be involved with for the kingdom, but is ministry. This is His life, His purpose, His plan, and His assignment. Washing the dishes for my kids is just as much ministry as washing the dishes in the soup kitchen.

God gave me a picture for my vision and it helps me in the moments I feel most undone: an acorn.

Right now there are hundreds of acorns in the parking lot of our apartment. Judah stops, bends over, and says, “Acorn!” as if he has discovered them for the first time when we stroll to and from the car. I have learned to give us extra time. One such encounter, I too saw the acorn as if for the first time. But in my image, the acorn was buried under ground, broken and undone, dissolving into the earth. Then, a shoot pokes through the ground. Then, a sapling, young tree, then into a towering oak. And the thought forms, “Motherhood is living life like an acorn. We offer all of ourselves to the process, dying to ourselves every day, in hopes that a mighty oak will live beyond our years.”

The acorn never sees the oak. The oak never sees the acorn.

Motherhood is a job of faith. Faith in the substance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). We hope for our children, and their children, and their children. What we do now, we will never see the results this side of heaven.

But dear mama friend, “THIS is ministry and THIS matters.”

Hope for the Rocky Spiritual Road

The past few months have been rocky for my soul. Like an unpaved crudely cleared spiritual road, I have found myself praising God for the beauty of the landscape—and the next moment—caught in an expected hole, unable to move forward.

I praise God for my children one moment and wish to be anywhere else but in the season of motherhood the next.

I praise God for my schoolwork, then wrestle through difficult readings.

I praise God for my husband entering pastoral ministry again, then insert my demands and expectations.

I say, “God, I will go anywhere You want, do anything You want. My life is Yours.” Then grumble when the assignment he gives me looks less than how I want to serve.

In these months God has felt distant and at times so tangible. Like the morning I was washing clothes, pulling out weighted chunks of laundry from the washer and transferring them to the dryer, asking the Lord if he was with me—feeling stuck in simple tasks. The Spirit whispered, “Here I am. Washing your soul.” Or when I set aside my distractions to feel the weave of the dishtowel in my monotonous evening chore and the Spirit reminds me of God’s weaving all of creation together for His purposes, including the details of my life.

God is here. God is here on my rocky spiritual road, traveling with me through unmarked passes as we step out into the unknown. I ask God to help me be refreshed and he leads me to Mark 1:35.

The God of the universe, made flesh, took time alone to pray (Mark 1:35). Wasn’t he one with the Father? Didn’t he only do what he saw the Father doing? Why did he need to go to a secluded place to pray? Maybe it was his humanity that needed space to focus and connect. I am thinking these days, that part of the reason was to model for us how to connect with the Father just like He modeled serving by washing the disciples feet.

The moment the town folk woke up, Jesus was on. Teaching, ministering, and serving. The moment my family is awake, I am on. Teaching, ministering, and serving. And as Jason enters pastoral ministry, our teaching, ministering, and serving will only increase.

So, I asked the Lord to give me time. And this morning he woke me up at 4:00am and nudged me to pray, read, and write. And he has refreshed my soul.

God is in the secluded place and the every day moments. He is in the moments of cuddles and corrections, giving me strength and wisdom to love well. He is in the weave of the dishtowel reminding me of his weaving of our lives. He is in the watercolor painting with my toddler, reminding me of his creativity.

He is here. And he beckons me to dwell with him. In the ordinary rhythm and in the silence at 4am. Both are needed in order for me not to be stuck on the side of the road, ready to abandon the work he gave me to do.

How about you? What are the ways you see God in your daily rhythm? Do you have a pattern to solitude? What works for you to be spiritually refreshed? Please share in the comments.