Monday, August 21, 2017

The Wait, Part 9: Patiently, Purposely, Playing for Keeps

I've had a LOT on my mind in the last few weeks since the Married and Young Challenge ended. Completing the challenge, which, in total, spanned two weeks, has catapulted me into a season of self-reflection. As I shared before, for the past few months, I’ve felt God positioning me for marriage, so when I stumbled upon the 5-day challenge, I took it as a sign that God was about to send me my husband. Instead, God was like, "LOL, no. I'm about to show you, YOU!" As I began sharing in the Facebook group and tuning in to the daily video teachings, I quickly realized that this was something that would challenge me far beyond a 5-day span. It was a wake-up call, a lifestyle change that encourage me to seek God more consistently and to check my motives on why I was seeking Him. Soon, I found myself shifting focus from future husband to past, present, and future self.

Through the challenge, I learned that God still has to perfect a work in ME and get ME right(eous). I need to be walking right, talking right, and praying right--LIVING right--before He sends me Mr. Right. I honestly wasn't planning on continuing "The Wait" series, not because I didn't have anything to write about, but because I had, quite frankly, too much to write about. My thoughts were so all-over-the-place, I didn't know where to start...until I tuned in to the noon service at First Baptist Church of Glenarden yesterday. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I LOVE FBCG! I watch online almost every Sunday. Anyway, as soon as I heard the sermon's title, "The Benefits of Patiently Waiting," I knew I had to write about it. Please bear with me as I gather my thoughts.

I'll be the first to admit that one of the hardest parts of the Christian walk is learning to stand still and wait on God. We think we know what we want, and we want instant gratification. We want to reap the benefits of progress without having to go through the process. The 5-day challenge, in conjunction with Pastor John Jenkins' message yesterday from Psalms 40:1-5, showed me why the process is necessary. Pastor Jenkins taught from the New King James version, but I'll be referencing the New International Version.

Psalms 40:1 reads, "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." The NIV says, "turned to me," NKJV says, "inclined to me," but Pastor Jenkins took it a step further: "God is leaning in your direction." He explained that leaning is more personal. You are special to God. There are 7 billion people in the world, but because He cares about YOU specifically, He leans in and turns His ear to YOU to hear your prayers. So, if He hears, why isn't He moving now?! God doesn't move as rapidly as you want Him to move because He's examining your posture. He wants to see how you sit in your singleness. Are you uncomfortable? Squirming? Crooked in compromise? Slumped over in complaint? If you are, don't be surprised if He makes you wait longer. Waiting means having an attitude of expectation. Stick with God and do it His way. Don't do what your flesh wants to do. Patiently waiting means recognizing that your time has not come yet. God is a God of alignment. He makes everything line up when the time is right. You can try to rush Him all you want. Just know it won't work until it's on His timing.

Psalms 40:2

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."

This was Pastor Jenkins' second point. "God will bring you up to set you up." When you're in a place you can't get out of, only God can bring you out. You cannot bring yourself out of singleness...well, you can, but you shouldn't. Remember, His timing! Before I go any further though, I'd like to emphasize an important part of this analogy. Your singleness is not a "slimy pit." It's not a dungeon, and you're not trapped in it while everyone else lives happily ever after. "He set me on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." Singleness is not punishment, it's purposeful! God uses our singleness to establish a solid foundation in Him. We need to learn to stand firm alone before He gives us someone to stand beside in matrimony.

Psalms 40:3-5

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

These 3 verses tie into Pastor Jenkins' third and final point: The new song.

When you are fully content in waiting, regardless of what you're waiting for, God will give you a new song to sing that praises Him. In the case of singleness, that "new song" will be marriage. From now on, I'll look at my singleness as the time God is taking to finish writing this new song. While He's writing it, I'll rejoice in the things He has already done for me, because He's already done too much for me to list. I'm learning to be satisfied with just God because I want my single season and my life as a whole to be an example of why people should serve God. I want my marriage to be a testament to how He rewards those who patiently and purposefully wait for His timing. If people watch me play the waiting game, not only will they see the beauty of the wait; they will also see me rewarded. And my reward after the waiting is not just marriage. If I play my cards right, my reward will be eternal life. I'm playing for keeps.

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