I remember it like yesterday…sitting in a room full of women with suspended and shattered hopes. We had all come for one reason: to see if what was broken could be put back together – and if it could be, what the cost would be for us. One woman spoke, as the rest of us sat with our hearts in our throats, on the edge of our seats and the edge of our worlds, listening for some glimmer of hopeful promise.
Instead of promise, however, I received a prison sentence that day. As the woman in front of me shared that it took five years for change to truly come, I died inside because every day of the reality I was living in felt like a thousand deaths. How would I ever survive five more years of this? I was hoping for something brighter, something lighter, something that came bearing relief – not heavier chains. The door of my heart slammed shut with a deafening echo of condemnation, leaving me alone again with the harassing voices of shame, pain, and hopelessness.
Yes, I remember it like yesterday…though it’s been eleven years since then, and I have only just begun (but I have begun!) to see the change I had dared to hope for on that fateful day. Yet, I have not only survived the waiting, but found myself thriving in and through it.
This is why I write today, dear Woman of Breakthrough: because – no doubt – you are waiting for a moment. It might be a healing, a releasing, a severing, a reconciliation, some kind of much needed change. It might be for a marriage, for a relationship with your child, for your faith to overcome its doubts and fears. Whatever it is, the fact remains that you are a woman in waiting.
But the greater fact is that you are a Woman of Breakthrough! And so your change is destined to come, if you do not lose heart!!
As I look back on my treacherous journey of these past eleven years, as I waited for the restoration of a marriage I didn’t have the heart to fight for, I see the hand of God at every turn. Sometimes I see only His footprints, as He undoubtedly carried my weak, weary, and resistant heart forward. There were so many days when I wanted only to give up, when I could not summon the strength, the courage, or the desire to try anymore. But one thing remained constant in all of these years: God’s faithful, gentle, loving presence.
There were many years through which I wandered blindly, when I could not see that for which I was pressing on. My hope was sifted until all that remained was the resigned surrender to whatever God desired to do, because my own desires had suffocated me. I died, in truth, quite probably a thousand deaths along the way, and yet my faith was somehow preserved. My hope was not utterly destroyed. My heart, for all of its brokenness, did not fail, though it surely fainted many times.
This I can only attribute to a God Who is kinder and wiser than I was able to imagine on that day so long ago when I entered into the journey that felt like captivity, but has changed my life, my marriage, my family, and me.
So how did I do it? How did I manage to survive those eleven long years of waiting? I am still sifting through the records of my journey to glean the treasures I received along the way, but I’ll share with you a few of the things I know for sure today:
- Times of waiting are never wasted. In the path of obedience, everything enters into a redemptive purpose and is guaranteed to be transformed into greatness we can’t even imagine.
- Don’t count backward, but forward. It may seem less definite, but it will be more promising, because you are one day closer to the fullness of hope, rather than one day further from what may look promising but is really only a shadow of the things God has purposed for you.
- Watch the right field for harvest. If your eyes on someone else and you are looking for the changes you want to see in them, your hope will continue to fail. Let your own heart become the fertile ground of God’s promises, even if right now it seems hardened and barren. Let God start with you, even if someone else’s need for change seems far more glaring. As God changes you, you will begin to see change all around you, because you will see as God sees and not as broken humanity sees.
- Though times of waiting are not meant to be inactive, if they are to be fruitful, there must be times of suspended activity. As you get alone with God and learn to be still, as you sit the in the “waiting room” of Heaven, your voluntary showing up will prepare the room God needs and desires to heal, strengthen and encourage you to keep waiting and believing.
- Don’t forget to live. Sometimes, when we are waiting for something (or someone), we become absorbed in the waiting, watching for the change to come, and we forget about the rest of our lives. We forget to tend to the other things that also matter. Don’t let your negative be bigger than your positive. Don’t let what you don’t see eclipse the reality of what you should see, because we are rich in so many ways – even if we don’t yet possess the thing for which we are waiting.
- Give thanks. Not just for what you have, but for what you are waiting for. This is how faith works. Especially when you can’t see it, and maybe are tempted to not even want it anymore, thank God for His faithfulness to accomplish it, even and especially in ways that might look so different than you are expecting. Give whatever you are waiting for back to Him and give Him permission to be God again with it. I can promise you that He is able and desiring to do something better with it than you are hoping for!
- Don’t limit God. Don’t limit Him to your small vision, to your strained clock or calendar, to your premature hope. He is the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth. He is the One Who is able to call things into existence that don’t yet exist, with a Word! He is able to raise up things which have entered into the realm of death and destruction, into new life and promise. Ask Him to raise your expectations again, to help you become willing to hold the hope of His promises again, without fearing that you will be perpetually disappointed. He is able, and He will do it!
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, as you wait for your moment, you are invited to steward a most precious period of time. The time of your waiting is not meant to be fraught with worry, frustrations, and disappointments, but employed with growth and fueled by grace. You are intended to prosper while you wait!
Just like a new mother whose womb is carrying life, so you are carrying a promise (or promises!). You are not lying in a grave, but in a garden. You are not in a prison, but in a palace, for you are the Beloved of God, the King of all the Earth. And He is working all things out for your good, because He loves you and you love Him.
So as you wait, I encourage you to wait and to pray as a bride or as a new mother would, with hopeful anticipation of the mystery and the beauty that is about to unfold before you.
Don’t let the disappointments of yesterday stain the horizon before you today. Don’t forbid God to do a new thing because of what you did not see Him do yesterday.
Dare to hope again! Dare to believe again! Dare to wait with longing again, entrusting all the fear and the doubt and the pain to the hands of the faithful God Who is still on duty and still waiting for you to show up in His waiting room instead of running to a clinic down the street.
I know beyond the shadow of all doubt and fear that God is good, and that in His goodness, He is desiring to pour out what is well worth every second of the waiting endured. My eleven years of waiting have culminated in the confidence to declare this jubilantly.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, I do hope you will be able to say the same one day very soon. But first, you must enter in, so let me hold the door open for you…