July 18, 2021
Joe was typically patient with me. And I was typically…well…let’s just say the man stored up treasures in Heaven during our marriage. 😜
There was one circumstance in which he expected something impossible of me and just could not be patient about it. It happened every time he put the dang vehicle in park and switched off the ignition.
Joe required a lot of equipment. He always had a pen/pencil, a pocket knife, an assortment of tiny tools and/or hardware, a cell phone, a handkerchief, a wallet…oh…and a pack of cigarettes and lighter. Always. But bless his heart, he also possessed the ability to attach each of those things to his person before he left home. He used every pocket, clip, belt, strap, bungee cord, etc. available to him, so when he threw that thing in park he was ready to jump right on out of the vehicle.
I require a little equipment myself, which I typically keep contained in one of the five million bags I haul around all the time. I have a hand bag, a teaching bag, a lunch bag, a gym bag, a bag of jellybeans…you understand, right? So, once Joe turned off the ignition, I still needed to decide which bag was appropriate, place my phone in it, do a quick booger check in the mirror, reapply lipstick, collect all my belongings and vacate the vehicle.
And Joe would come completely unglued while he waited.
Every Single. Time.
I believe if I had hopped out of the truck while it was still rolling, Joe still would have sighed and given me the look. No worries…the truck was always in park and the rubber on the tires completely cooled before I made my
dramatic exit from the vehicle.
Could I have moved a little faster? Probably. Did I intentionally move slowly because I ALWAYS had to wait for Joe to smoke a cigarette before we went somewhere, when we got home, before we ate supper, after we ate supper, before we went to bed, before and after we did pretty much anything? Possibly. 😇
This week Joe’s lesson is about waiting, and what God wants us to learn while we do it.
Why We Should Wait
Lamentations 3: 25-26: “ The Lord is good to them that wait for Him; to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”
The Bible makes it plain that we go through different seasons in our lives, and one of those seasons God tells us about over and over again is the season of waiting.
But I would like to assure you this morning that while we are waiting, God is working.
We are going to spend a lot of time waiting, and if we don’t figure out how to trust God while we do that, well, we are going to spend right much time not trusting God.
God has no reason to be in a hurry, because He is forever. But don’t think for one minute that He is not watching and working. He is watching for your trust in Him. As we are saying, “When, Lord?”, He is asking us to have faith that He can handle our needs.
We are naturally impatient. We want things done now. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we find, “ To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” Think about what you are waiting for this morning. Are you frustrated with how slowly things are happening? We find a promise in Isaiah 60: 22 that not only is God working, but it also tells us how He is working: “ The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.”
God waited thousands of years to send Jesus the first time, and we have been waiting more than 2,000 years for His return.
So, as we move into the coming week, remember that delay is not denial. When you think God is saying no, He might just be saying, “Not yet. Will you trust Me?”
I will leave you with a verse from Micah 7. Verse 7 states: “Therefore, I will look unto the Lord and I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”
Two Fun Facts About Ronda… 1) I love a good story. 2) I do not like to wait.
It was during one particularly difficult season of waiting that the Lord gave me “my verse”. It is the scripture I go back to time and time again. Psalm 27:14 reads, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Well, I don’t like to wait, so I really thought maybe God seemed to make me do it repeatedly so that I would “learn my lesson”. However, I think maybe I missed the mark. Perhaps it’s not so much about waiting, but more about waiting well–maybe the true lesson comes, not at the end of our wait, but in the time between the plea and the payoff.
We are all waiting for something it seems. Waiting for healing. Waiting for the job. Waiting for the new home. Waiting for the prodigal son/daughter/husband/wife to return. In my current season, I am waiting for several things. I am waiting for healing. Waiting for relief. Waiting to feel happy. Waiting for normal. Waiting for Heaven. And we do all this waiting knowing full well that God has the power to bless us with every desire of our heart at anytime. So, why does He hold out on us? I think it is because of the role that waiting plays in our own story, as well as in God’s story.
Joe’s lesson this week made me think about story of Lazarus…more specifically, about the wait between his death and resurrection.
When Lazarus was sick and dying, his sisters, Martha and Mary, reached out to Jesus, not only as their only hope, but also as their personal friend. They knew He loved Lazarus and they knew He had the power to heal him. But Jesus did not come. He waited. He prolonged their agony.
I reached out to Jesus the night Joe passed away. I, too, knew He loved Joe, and that He had the power to heal him. But Jesus did not give me my heart’s desire that night. He waited. He prolonged my agony.
Joe did, too.
Mary and Martha entered a time of darkness and suffering. Their hearts were broken. They might have even been a little bit resentful. They questioned the goodness of Jesus.
Me too, sisters. Me too.
Then, Jesus showed up. Martha went out to meet Him. But she didn’t greet Him with warm fuzzies. She questioned him. “Why, Lord? You could have saved him, but you didn’t. Why??” However, she followed up with, “But even now I believe in you as the Son of God.” At her sister’s urging, Mary went to meet Jesus as well. Her pleas were much the same. If Jesus had been there, her brother would still be alive. And as she plead, Mary fell right down at His feet.
Goodness, friends…that expresses my heart better than anything I can tell you. I went to meet Jesus the morning after Joe passed away–right at my kitchen table where I’d met Him so many times before (and after). My exchanges with Jesus are still a daily mix of “Why didn’t you save him?” and “I will praise you in the storm.” I fall to my knees with my hands held up in praise one minute, and I fall to my knees in weakness the next.
But then, in the story of Lazarus, Jesus did the thing. Jesus did the thing that blows my mind and breaks my heart and gives me hope all at once.
Y’all, Jesus knew when he walked into town that day that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He saw the bigger picture, even when his friends and the disciples could not. But still, in that moment, his heart was broken. Jesus wept tears of compassion–he did not take lightly the suffering his delay caused. He wept tears of anger–the wage of sin is death–and Jesus had seen a lot of it. Death had taken so many, and now Lazarus, and soon it would take Him. And He knew it. He wept tears of distress. Jesus was just days away from his own crucifixion at this point. Can you even imagine the anxiety? Jesus was about to resurrect Lazarus, giving him the gift of life, both earthly and eternal. But, for Jesus, that gift was going to come with an unbearable price tag–Ultimately, this gift would be purchased with His very own life. Even though what lay on the other side of the death of Jesus was wonderfully unimaginable, He was going to have to walk a horrifically painful road to get there. So, Jesus cried.
In the moments before Joe’s death, when I held his head in my lap and begged God to save him, I cried, too. I only remember that detail because at first I thought the tears belonged to Joe. I looked down and saw them running down his cheek. I wiped them away, confused, until I felt one drip off my own cheek onto his and realized that the tears were mine. However, I wonder if maybe one of those tears belonged to Jesus? Even though He could see the bigger picture, even though He knew the paradise that awaited my sweet Joe, maybe His heart broke a little bit to see mine breaking?
But then, four days after he passed away, Jesus raised Lazareth from the dead. Yes, Jesus had the power to heal his friend in sickness. BUT HE WAITED. This wait allowed the glory of God to be shown in its fullest. What Martha and Mary asked for was good. What Jesus gave to them was better.
In the moment Joe’s season of suffering ended, my season of suffering began. So, now I wait, trusting that somehow, the glory of God is being displayed. I asked the Lord to save Joe. In my mind, that was good. In my heart I know that what Jesus gave to Joe is better…so much better.
So now, in this wait, I’m learning. In this wait, I’m leaning.
Sure, I say, “When, Lord??” an awful lot. When is my heart going to mend? When will the waves of grief subside? When will it not hurt so much? …remember that delay is not denial. When you think God is saying no, He might just be saying, “Not yet. Will you trust Me? And so, I trust Him. I trust Him to give me the strength I need for this day, to get through the waves that this day brings, to provide the healing for this day. The weaker I feel, the harder I lean. The harder I lean, the stronger He makes me.
I’m also seeing the sweetness in the dark. In those moments when my heart still aches, when I feel like I might be swallowed up by darkness, I feel the unmistakable presence of God’s love. And that feeling is just a foretaste of the love we will feel when we reach The Other Side. How precious to feel it for just a moment now, in choosing to walk by faith, not sight. Had it not been for this season of suffering, I may have missed it.
I do love a good story. I guess that’s why I write this blog each week–I want to tell Joe and Ronda’s story. But, more than that, I want our story to tell God’s story. So much of our story is about waiting…we waited almost twenty years to find each other again. But it is also about redemption, healing, trust and true love. My favorite part of our story is the path, because it led us home, and it was worth the wait.
My friend, it is my hope that you are forever blessed with your heart’s desire. But, until that day, I hope you will learn with me to wait well. If, by chance, you feel like you are always waiting for something, but never truly satisfied, I hope you see that the true blessing is found not in the gift, but in the Giver. One sweet day, there will be no doubt what you and I were waiting for…it was Jesus. All along…it was Jesus.
That, my friend, will be the best part in God’s story. We, too, walk the path that leads us Home.
❤️ It will be worth the wait. ❤️
-Words of Wisdom from the Book of Joe