Monday, January 2, 2012

New Promise in the Land of Unknowns

Part of my reason for maintaining a blog--why most people would just keep a journal, but somehow the potential posterity keeps me (slightly) more accountable--is to be able to look back and see where I've come from, what I thought and felt, and what pretty words I came up with to describe it. And some months ago, I wrote the following:

I am what seems to be a dying breed: the truly, contentedly single. God sets the desires of my heart, and He intends to give them to me in divine timing, unfolding a plan of the most complex, beautiful, perfect design. Whatever it is, I'm confident it will blow my mind, knock the wind out of me, and drop me to my knees.

Well, dang. Who is that chick, and has she written a book or something? (Hint: no.) I do believe that I was in that place in September, but it's just not where I'm batting from these days. I elect not to blame the holidays, thought they play into it--I've just been in a funk. If all the cards are on the table, I'm sick of waiting. What's the holdup? I'm done. Ready for my man. Let's do this. And before I even apologize for whining, I'll say that I caught myself inadvertently giving myself some excellent, convicting advice yesterday. I was catching a friend up on an ongoing saga, and I was paraphrasing advice that I had given to a friend. Both he and I are dealing with similar issues, on different scales: Living life while a God-given promise goes unfulfilled. (We'll save the details of that for another post--just go with me for now.)  

In the various parables of Jesus, the only case (that I can think of) where waiting is acceptable is when it's in reference to God--waiting for the return of Christ, for the coming of the Kingdom--and even then, we're not to be ONLY waiting. Back to back (Matthew 25), Jesus tells two stories: one about virgins waiting for a bridegroom, the other about servants left with money in their master's absence. Taken together, the point Jesus makes is simple: be ready, be waiting, be prepared--but don't just sit and expect showing up to be enough. 

(Sidebar: In rereading the parable of the ten virgins just now, something struck me: five were foolish and five were wise, but, "The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep" [v. 5, emphasis mine]. Without reading into that too much, I'm going to deduce that even the wise are allowed to get tired of waiting.)

I have a promise, if for nothing else, that God will take care of me and meets my "needs"--physical, emotional, spiritual. But sometimes the bridegroom is later than we expected. At best, we fall asleep; more often, I'm pacing in the dark, getting madder by the minute.

Every year about this time, two things happen simultaneously in my brain: I get mystified and fed up with talk of "this is the year" and resolutions and promises, and I end up, through subliminal whatevers, making these little discoveries about myself that shift the ways in which I want to live. It's not a New Year's thing, it's an understanding that I am being made new, I am on the edge of a new future every day, whether it's January or August. But I guess the corporate mania of the new reminds me of what is always true.

How do you live in the shadow of promises unfulfilled? How do you deal with the worry--the threat--that you've grossly misunderstood something, that you didn't get a divine memo, that you'll look a fool? I don't know, but I've got some good pointers:

"'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and my servant who I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me... Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.'" - Isaiah 43: 10, 18-19

"'This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.'"  - Habakkuk 2:3


  1. A post! Yay!
    I was just rereading some of my old prayer journals and decided to reread the one I wrote in the summer of 2007. It was entirely centered around my breaking up with Thom and the ensuing wreckage and growth. As I looked back, I was struck with how miserable I was, yet how incredibly close to God. It made me wonder if I am that type of person who has to suffer tragedy and sorrow to stay close with Jesus. That would be unfortunate, to say the least, because it means I'm due for some kind of calamity. Maybe spiritual maturity is marked by not needing to be in crisis to reach out to God...
    The other thing I noticed was that the day I broke up was June 23, 2007. Of course, at the time, I thought I would remember that day forever. I knew that it happened sometime in early summer of 2007, but June 23 had eluded me. Then I noted that 21 months later, on March 23, 2009, I got engaged to Allen, and 14 months (and one day) after that I had my sweet little girl. Didn't see THOSE coming when I was in the thick of it. That can be another good thing about journals; looking back and thinking, "Okay, the the things I was so worried about did end up getting taken care of." I need to remember that today, as I wonder about 2012 and how our growing needs will be met. God has always provided and often surprised.
    Can't wait to see you in person in a week or so!

  2. "Who is that chick, and has she written a book or something? (Hint: no.)"...You are such a girl version of Donald Miller. But I agree with you about the eagerness/impatience for seeing ourselves be made new, both in the sense of transformation/maturity/sanctification in this life and the end-of-1-Cor-15, Final sense. I too believe newness can come in January or August, but I guess I try to maintain the "resolute" part of new year's resolutions, because it's one of the few times our culture is open to making personal change in ways that might not be limited to self-help. Kind of like finding possibilities for Advent Conspiracy in the midst of Commercialized Christmas. And this year, being resolute about being new has met with more success than other years: I'm getting back into exercising regularly (had had trouble fitting workouts into married life, and then had completely stopped in late November for health reasons); I'm reading your blog regularly, too; and I'm making real headway in my fiction writing, such that I might be willing to share a completed story with a certain blogger and previous commenter on this site. Nothing earth-shattering, just a more consistent form of what Eugene Peterson calls a long obedience in the same direction...!