A Thursday Evening Letter

The long and short of it is that there is a lot more going on on the way than getting to the destination. And there is a lot more going on on the way than what we are doing. There is what God is doing. Which is why we “wait for the Lord.” We stop, whether by choice or by circumstance, so that we can be alert and attentive and receptive to what God is doing in us and for us, in and for others, on the way. We wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies. Waiting for the Lord is a large part of what we do on the way because the largest part of what takes place on the way is what God is doing, what God is saying. Much of the time, disabled or enervated by sin, we can’t do what must be done, so we wait for God to do it in us. Much of the time, we don’t know what to do, so we wait until we understand what God commands us to do. The waiting is not just an indolent “waiting around.” We wait “for the morning,” which is to say we wait in hope. We wait while we are being “ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven.” We wait for God to do what we cannot do in ourselves “in the depths.” When he has done it, we are once more on the way.
— The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way by Eugene H. Peterson

I love this excerpt from Mr. Peterson. An incredible writer, wrought with wisdom, always brings the end of each chapter of his books back to the character of Christ. When I read this passage, I knew it was one I would hold onto for quite some time. It reminds me of the truth-- that He is holding my hand, He is crying with me, He is celebrating with me, and He knows and loves me through all of it. This time, right now as you read this post, this is it.

It's so simple yet so hard to believe, isn't it?

Because although I believe He never turns His back on me, I also know what it feels like to feel deeply frustrated, sad, even angry at life's outcomes. It's exhausting to surrender to His will only to end up feeling confused and lonely. The truth is, I've felt especially frustrated with God lately. Maybe that's why I avoided church this past Sunday.

In the past month, I've witnessed a handful of close friends/roommates/people I love walk through pain and disappointment in their relationships. I've watched first-hand people who are trusting God and seeking Him in every decision only to feel betrayal and rejection as a result. After repeated instances of heartbreak and confusion, I began to think, "If this is what happens with a faithful and good Father, I'm not sure I'm all in."

When I think about feeling sad and disappointed for my friends and family, I think about how much I love them. I think about the way they have loved me in the past, some for more than 20 years! I think of the color they've added to my life, the ways they've made me feel valued and affirmed. I think about how many of them reflect Christ back to me on a daily basis.

So when I see them in pain, feeling lonely and confused, I don't see the good. And the truth is, I'm not sure there is any to be found. It seems I've been programmed to search for the good, the learning lessons, in every tough time and valley in life. And if I told you that doesn't become absolutely exhausting more often than not, I'd be lying straight through my keyboard.

Lord, I know you love us, but none of this makes sense. Why can't it just all work out the way it should?

Should is a dangerous word, isn't it?

Fast forward to this morning as I perused YouTube for new music to add to my never ending seasonal playlists before heading to work. I am never content when it comes to acquiring music. If you ever want to understand what a hoarder looks like in the form of musical tracks, you can visit my Spotify account! 

Well, lo and behold, in the midst of my ferocious YouTube hunt, I found new music videos from Tori Kelly. Instead of the expected modern day pop artist music video, I was surprised to find words and a song about solely wanting Jesus that would convict me to the core. It was a song my ears were desperate to hear.

I often talk about waiting on the Lord. I talk about waiting patiently, waiting expectantly for what He will do in my life. I talk about what it means to wait well and feel content with His timing. 

Yet when you look at the way I've viewed God lately, blaming Him for the broken relationships, the hurt, and the disappointment I've witnessed, you can see a girl wanting a King who will act according to her own plan. The word "should" quickly becomes the crown I wear on my head so I can act as my own savior. 

Because as much as I love my friends, He loves them more than I can even fathom. And if that's the case, I don't believe He can see any good in their pain either. When I start to feel out of control in life, I begin treating God as if he doesn't love me or the ones around me. When I start to become unrooted and independent from Him, I begin treating the Word as an answer guide for life.

I want to read and know what He will do for me, not simply to know and love who He is. 

What does it mean to love God simply for who He is? What does it mean to say, "Give me Jesus" and let the rest go?

What I do know is He is simply wanting me to be with Him. He wants me to be honest with Him, not feeling the need to come to Him already healed and content. He asks me to wait on His timing because it's not only good, but the best. 

Because, He too, is waiting. He is constantly waiting for us to say, "You are the only thing that matters, God!"

So tonight, in the midst of not understanding or having the answers I so desperately want, I'll be praying for a heart of submission instead. One that doesn't demand clarity but instead believes that clarity isn't necessary to love, to heal, to rejoice. I'm not so sure clarity is as sweet as we think when it's finally received anyways.

Oh, and of course, I'll be listening to Tori Kelly on repeat for quite some time (thank you Jesus for that voice, am I right?)

xo always,

A