Waiting for God knows what

I have joked a couple of times with friends that if I ever write a book that reflects on my journey with the Lord, somewhere would be a chapter or subheading entitled, ‘waiting for God knows what.’

On the one hand, I fear that perhaps it might be perceived as irreverent. However, that isn’t the way I mean it at all. I’m quite serious. I’ve approached this season of life where I’m waiting and walking with Him and the more I read His Word, the more I seek to know Him, the less I really grasp what I’m waiting for. Maybe that is because it’s His business right now and not mine or maybe I’ve just been so anxious about it and thought through so many scenarios that I’ve now found myself obscuring what could have been obvious. Overthinkers can do that. 😉

What can be gained from a season of ‘waiting for God knows what?’

Perspective. God has a grip on what’s going on even when I don’t have a clue. When we approach those wide open spaces or those long corridors with too many doors along each side, we have to trust that God is permitting a lack of clarity for His purposes. It challenges me time and again to recall that He is sovereign and that our lives are all for Him.

Humility. So, all that thinking and reflecting and reading multitudes of books does help me grow as a Christian, but I’ll be lopsided unless I’m forced to put those things into practice and when I do, I find that I need God for that because I fall way short of who I aspire to be in Him, and that some of the ideas I have about who I ‘should’ be for Him might not be His plans for me. Ouch.

Gentleness of spirit. I have this ‘thing’ about crying, especially in public, but just crying in general. I don’t like to. I feel ‘weak’ if I do. The drawback, of course, is the callous it seems to form on my heart when I set out to withhold my emotions because of pride. This year has brought forth a lot of tears, many in public. I still don’t like it, but the bright side is the sensitivity to other people’s pain and the willingness to really hear them out and care grows when you’ve been through your own ‘stuff.’

Determination. When we stick with God through the waiting, we find that the more we stick with Him, the more we want to, no matter what is up ahead, and even when things may get worse before they improve. I’m more compelled to persist in my relationship with Him, in part, because of the waiting room times. I think that when this wait is over, I will have been infused with the strength to take up the things God has prepared for me, but that came out of the willingness to persevere during the lean moments.

Trust. I want to be able to understand what God is doing, what He has done. While I wait, there have been big circumstances under which He has made it clear that He knows what He’s doing, but He’s not going to explain it to me, either now or maybe not at all. It presses me to trust Him to handle the intricate pieces of my life that I just can’t figure out.

Hope. I am a doubter. This one is the most difficult to bring forth in me, but in the smallest ways, I see tiny glimmerings of hope cropping up out of the waiting. Slowly, I believe more and more that God hasn’t said no or wait or kept silent on some matters that mean a great deal to me simply because He’s got His plans and I need to fall in line with them. When we have to wait, it hurts because God allows us to become acutely aware of emptiness within ourselves. Then, He permits us to wrestle with the reality that we can’t fill that emptiness with anything we can come up with. He gives us Himself; His presence. Until we acquire a taste for Him, it still doesn’t quite seem like ‘enough,’ even though it is. Sometimes those other things might accompany Him and other times, perhaps not, but if not, it is out of His love that He says no or wait or remains silent.

So, here I am, waiting for God knows what and praying that I will become the woman God intends through the waiting.

What fruit has waiting borne in your life?

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Paul David Tripp on Responsibility

This figure is generally what is represented in Tripp’s book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. I recommend the book along with basically anything else in the Resources for Changing Lives series  (War of Words for example). Tripp comes from a Christian counseling perspective that advocates Christians really gaining a solid grasp on scripture and applying it.

One of the concepts he covers that I think back on from time to time is that of identifying who’s job is it to handle what’s happening in our lives. To what extend is it mine? When does God step in? What kind of relationship exists between my circle of responsibility and His?

Tripp diagram3

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the words to show up clearly enough to leave them in…so I’ll have to explain outside of the chart.)

This chart is called ‘Clarifying Responsibility.’

Area 1 is Concern/Entrust to God. This is the sphere in which matters concern us, but these issues extend beyond our responsibility. Our efforts aren’t sufficient, so we give these things to God and trust Him to supply.

Area 2 is Responsibility/Faithfully Obey. The inner sphere includes things that God has given us to do. We need to accept responsibility for these and obey Him.

The arrows moving from the inner circle to the outer circle exemplifies when we try to take on some of God’s responsibilities. Tripp calls these folks ‘overly responsible.’

The arrow pressing from outward to the inner circle represents when we try to give God back some of the responsibility He has entrusted to us. Tripp calls these people ‘irresponsible.’

The third group of people find themselves, ‘genuinely confused’ about which roles are theirs and which tasks belong to God, so they often oscillate between taking on too much and doing too little. Tripp proposes that many people fall in this category.

This is a really basic diagram, but it succinctly identifies some of the struggles we face when trying to follow God’s will throughout our lives. It also points out where some of our frustrations might be if we’re not clear on who’s job it is to handle some particular situation in our lives.

If we go about trying to do God’s job for Him, not only will we find ourselves exhausted, irritable, and discouraged, but we might be overlooking the very things He has asked us to do. (Personally, that was a pointed reminder!)

However, if we passively ‘wait on the Lord’ on matters that He’s already given us instruction about, we may grow weary of trusting Him and slip into complacency instead of finding contentment and satisfaction that comes from knowing that we are working at the things He’s asked us to do.

Spiritual growth steps from both recognition that there are things only God can do and a willingness to step in and take up the tasks that He has called us to.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” –John H. Sammis