On the day our son was born, somebody shot video of me standing outside the operating room, waiting to go in and be with Paula. I was nervous and excited and sort of bouncy. There was a joy in the waiting.
Almost two decades later, I got a call early on a Monday morning with the news that my mother had experienced a devastating stroke. I flew home and spent the next week beside her bed in ICU, watching for the final breath. There was agony in the waiting.
Sometimes, you wait for something to be born and sometimes you wait for something to die. And sometimes, you’re in-between and you’re not even sure what you’re waiting for. You’re just in the waiting.
For the past several months, we have been in a season of transition unlike anything in our lives. Something has ended—the steady rhythm of vocational ministry that has marked our lives for three decades. At some point, something will begin, perhaps a new ministry. But right now…well, we’re just waiting.
This waiting has been unlike the others. There is mystery, not knowing where the journey is headed. There is often been a baffling silence from God, even while we strain to hear His voice. There is confusion, as we wrestle to press meaning into this season. There is a dulling of emotions, a vacancy sign in the window of the Passion Inn. There is a deep weariness that no afternoon nap can relieve.
Our souls are unsettled. Like eggs cracked and in the pan, but not yet cooked. Like a compelling story that comes to the end of a page with the frustrating phrase, “to be continued…” Like a night-time journey down a rural road with no street signs. Unsettled.
Here’s the even more frustrating thing. I know God is in this. That’s sort of part of the deal for Christ-followers. I affirm His omniscient providence and that He knows the end from the beginning. I agree that my life is a small part of His divine purposes. I believe that He has marked out all my days before one of them came to be, and that His purposes includes this season of waiting. But in the waiting, those truths can have steel-cold edges.
I know the Scriptures urge me to “wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” (Ps.27:14) I can quote the promise in my sleep: “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Is.40:31) But in the waiting, when my heart is terrified and just crawling is a dream, even precious promises can wear thin.
What’s left? What is there solid to which I can lash my soul when nothing is familiar, nothing makes sense, and everything is odd?
Just this: my Father is very fond of me.
He has lavished the riches of His grace on me (Eph. 1:7-8), has adopted me (Rom.8:15-17) and calls me His very own child. (1 John 3:1). My Father loves me the same way he loves His Son, Jesus, who also walked through his own season of waiting, sensing God’s abandonment and pleading for another way to accomplish divine purposes than the excruciating pain of the cross. This Jesus, “the author and perfecter of faith, for the joy that was set before Him, endured (waited through) the cross, despising its shame and sat down at the right hand of the Father.” (Heb.12:2)
For His Father and by His Father, Jesus made it through.
So can I. So can you.
Because no matter how long we have to wait to see what’s next, no matter how confusing or unsettled the future seems, our Father’s gracious love is our one most certain thing.
Right now, in this moment. In the waiting.