"God's discipline through waiting is good for us and will lead to deeper peace and good fruit in our lives.
Waiting exposes our idols and throws a wrench into our coping mechanisms. It brings us to the end of what we can control and forces us to cry out to God. God doesn't waste our waiting. He uses it to conform us to the image of his Son.
But sanctification is not the only purpose God has in mind when he takes us into the school of waiting. When we wait, God gives us the opportunity to live out a story that portrays the gospel and serves as a kingdom parable."
This book, you guys. This wonderful, rich, timely book. There's about 501 things I could say about what a gift it has been for my heart to read this book and be left in complete awe at the Lord's timing in it all. This theme of waiting has resounded heavily in our lives for several years now, but this past year the waiting has held particular significance for me. The significance has come, most especially, I think, because my heart roots are being shaken and stirred; shaken to get rid of those nasty awful sins that continue to rise up and stirred to gain a more deeply rooted trust in my Father. So picking up this book for me couldn't have come at a more timely moment, and I've no doubt the Lord knew that.
My favorite thing about this book is how the author, Betsy Childs Howard, writes with the most beautiful thread of an eternal perspective woven throughout all the pages. She balances so well the truths of present suffering and eternal hope. She writes with understanding, reminding us that grief and longing are not sinful in and of themselves: "Contentment and grief are not incompatible states. Just as we weep over violence and death and sin, it is appropriate to weep over a womb that has not born a child. All is not as it should be. The pain of infertility should send us deep into the goodness of God for comfort. You can find contentment in the mercies of a tender Father as you grieve the barrenness of your womb. Grieving at the brokenness of this world points beyond to the life to come." (This is from the chapter on Waiting for a Child, but I believe it carries over to whatever form of "waiting" we are facing.) The grief, the longing, are real, heavy, overwhelming struggles (look at David in the Psalms), but they can drive us to our gentle Father for the comfort that we need (again, look at David) and point us to eternity where we will know perfect satisfaction in His presence, all our longings satisfied.
One of the lines that J and I have often repeated to each other throughout the past year, in particular, is, "I want to wait well." How I loved that when I opened up this book one of the first sentences I read was: "God wants me to learn how to wait so that I can wait well, even if my waiting continues for the rest of my life." He wants us to learn to wait well, by His power and grace, and with the knowledge that He isn't going to "waste our waiting", but has purposes beyond even what we can see right in front of us (1 Cor. 13:12).
I set this book down feeling as if a friend had come alongside, put her arm around me, and just spent a few hours speaking truth to me. Truths about the character of God, the seen and unseen purposes of God, the way He intimately knows me and loves me, and the opportunity for my story to be a canvas for His glory to be seen by the world around me. There is beauty to be found in these painful seasons, dear ones, because we have a God who loves us so well and remains steadfastly on His throne.
This book is a wealth of help and encouragement. Truths of comfort and clarity spill out of the pages. Betsy Howard writes that way; a gentle voice of firm truth, and I love that. We need that. It's all I can do to not just buy boxes full from Amazon so that I can hand them out to everyone I come in contact with. It's a gem of a book, my friends. You must, must, must read it.
"I still struggle with wanting God's gifts more than I want him. But I'm grateful that God continues to withhold some of his gifts in order to satisfy me with himself. The presence of God in the darkness of our trials is a small foretaste of the presence of God that we will know in the eternal light of his glory. It is in the absence of God's gifts that I learn the Giver himself is the greatest gift of all."
Happy Monday, friends! I hope it's a sweet one for you.