“Are we there yet?”
If you’ve ever been a child, you know the desperate feeling of being trapped in a car or plane or train with seemingly no end to the journey before you. Even if it seemed like a great trip to begin with, having to wait for the destination is hard, especially when there are unplanned detours and obstructions involved.
We may be grown, and better able (hopefully?!) to endure things like traffic and unforeseen accidents and delays in our daily traveling. When it comes to the events of our lives, however – the journey we take toward growth and maturity – we often have a great lack of patience and an abundance of anxiety. It is difficult – if not painful, for us to wait on God and trust His processes.
I have a picture in my office of a clock, with this Scripture written beside it:
“My times are in Your hand…” Psalm 31:15
I look at it every time I sit at my desk. It reminds of what we don’t often want to be reminded of: that I am not in control. For some, that is a frustrating and frightening reality. But it was intended – it was written – to be a source of great comfort for those who have put their trust in God.
Yesterday, I heard a great message on this very truth: God’s timing. I’ve provided a link below, if you’d like to listen to it. What I’ll share in this post are some additional thoughts that sprung up in my mind and decorated the margins of my notes.
We forget sometimes, I think, that our times are really God’s times, don’t we? His timing in our lives means that every moment and every circumstance of every single season belongs to Him. We can choose to live in that reality, and draw great peace and security from it. Or we can choose to kick against it, and find ourselves in a perpetual struggle to move forward faster, or go back to someplace or sometime that we found more favorable. I am guilty of the latter, on more than one occasion.
I think this is common to most of humanity. But I also think that, as we grow in grace and trust, it ought to become less and less common.
Psalm 31 was written by King David, as he faced the scorn and persecution of his enemies. He wrestled through the grief and trauma of wanting things to be different – of knowing they could and maybe should be. And yet they weren’t.
Don’t we find ourselves there….just about every day?! Just this week, as I considered some of the progress I’ve seen in a certain journey my family is taking, I wanted to settle into the comforting belief that we are nearly “there.” But quickly, and gently, I was reminded that this journey is a long haul, and only the Lord knows the appointed end. I want to believe it is just around the corner, and use that knowledge to keep my faith steady. But He would rather I face reality as it is, and anchor my faith in something much more definable than the end of a period of suffering.
My faith – and yours, too, must be anchored in HIM.
When it is, the length of the journey will not change my confession. Nor will it sway my confidence. It may still be hard to endure, but I will remain at rest, because I will have staked my tent pegs on the one, immovable, unchangeable factor: His faithfulness.
To commit my times into His hands is an act of willing trust, and in order to get there, I must know one thing that can only be gained through personal interaction – through creating a history with Him: that He is good, and therefore all He does, all He allows, and all He doesn’t, are good for me, as well.
That’s a difficult truth to embrace when you’re on what feels like a thousand mile journey through the valley of the shadow of death, isn’t it? When things don’t make sense, when there are enemies on every side and chaos before us and behind us, it’s hard to just sit in it. Our instincts provoke us to believe what we see, rather than what God has promised. Our instincts tell us to find a way out. Our instincts cry out, “Are we there yet?! How much longer, Lord?!”
As a parent, I have a tender affection for this question when it comes from my childrens’ mouths. I realize that most parents don’t, and I sympathize with the lack of patience for the whining that comes barreling over the back seat on a long drive. But because I have asked this question of God so many times, and His reply has always been gracious and kind, I have learned to reciprocate the same to those who have a hard time sitting through the journeys that take longer than they feel they can bear.
I hope that, as a parent in charge of leading the treks we take, I will gain the confidence of my children as I continue to lead them into great and affirming memories with patience and love. I hope they will grow up to realize – even if subconsciously – that “there” will surely come, and that the journey provides much to be treasured, if they will only trust that I am leading with intention.
I believe God desires the same for us. In every leg of the journey we are on in this life, God desires that we would grow to know Him and to trust Him more. Especially in the difficult places, where waiting feels like torture, there is always a fresh revelation He reserves for us. There is something new for us to learn about Him, some new manifestation of the good He has promised and loves to reveal.
As my Pastor said yesterday, “When it comes to God, timing is not just about an opportunity. It is always about Him working all things for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A28&version=NLT).
If I told you, as she reminded me yesterday, that where you are right now is exactly where God needs you to be, could you accept it?
In seasons where life feels good, it’s easy to say yes. But in seasons where life feels shattered, not so much. This is something worth wrestling through. “God’s timing is a confirmation that the thing I want is only available through Him.” This is a statement we have to look in the eye, and allow to challenge our confession of faith and trust in God. Do we just want what we want, or do we want God, even if it means the thing or things we want must be put off or even possibly surrendered (think of Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac).
God is always working all things out according to His will in our lives, but I wonder how often we remain along for the ride? Sometimes, we jump out of the car or off the train too early, and we forfeit what’s been reserved for us because we would rather have instant or temporary relief from the long monotony of mystery.
I get it, and I’ve done it. But the thought of what could have been if I had just stuck it out is always too much for me. There is a God-planted desire in my heart for maturity and the possession of all that’s been promised to me, and I know that, in order to obtain it, I must learn to endure the journey. I must learn to trust His timing.
At the beginning and end of every day, though I sometimes forget in the middle somewhere, I come back around to the same truth: My life is not my own. To believe in God means more than just believing He is real. As one who has confessed belief, I’ve also committed to accept His Lordship. That means I live with the recognition that my life has been purchased by Christ. He owns it. When I trust Him, because I know Him, this brings peace and confidence to my flailing heart. I know He will do what is right for me, even if there is pain in the process.
I want to end with an important question, Dear Woman of Breakthrough:
When you consider that your life is not your own, and God is always intentional about bringing His full purposes to pass in your life, are you open to receiving what He perceives you need?
His work in our lives includes a wide range of activities, among which are: salvation; teaching/training/equipping us for the work we are called to; deliverance; protection; correction/discipline; guidance; pruning; character development and testing; developing strength; leading us into greater dependence and humility….
The list could go on, but there is enough mentioned to provide context for the question. It will be difficult for us to trust God’s timing in our lives if we are hoping for deliverance when He is moving us toward greater dependence. He is not like the parent who promises a trip to the ice cream store, only to pull up in front of the dentist’s office. But if we are not willing to place our times in His hands, and to trust His navigation, we will assume He has betrayed us, and remain stuck in a cycle of failed trust and resulting stunted maturity.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, I wonder if you can do as the birds do today? Can you sing your song, and commit the details of your life and care to Your Maker? They do not worry about what they’re going to eat in the middle of a pandemic, or whether they will have a home tomorrow. In fact, they are rather untouched by the shocks we are enduring as a human race, because they know their times are in the Creator’s hands.
If He cares so diligently for them, will He not so much more take care of us? Can He not be trusted to get us through the jagged forks in the roads of our lives? Can we realize and rest in the fact that not one twist or turn comes as a surprise to Him? Can we sit back, and try to enjoy life in the middle of the wild ride, because we know that He Who leads the way also transforms the valley of trouble into a door of hope? (Hosea 2:15 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=hosea+2%3A15&version=NLT)
This will be my meditation and consideration this week (and hopefully for the remainder of my time on earth. I invite you into the same conversation with God. May you – may we – learn to trust Him, in everything. And may all our times become refreshing as we lean into His abundant goodness.