On seasons of waiting [and the unchanging character of God]

I looked down at my left hand, nails freshly painted red. The new diamond ring on my hand glimmered as the light from the small window hit it. It was a Sunday, and traditional Christmas carols lifted from our lips to the rafters of the venue where our church met on Sundays.

Noel, Noel, come and see what God has done. 

One of my favorite song lyrics. I stood, trying to let the words really sink in to my heart.

Noel. Noel. See what God has done. I glanced to my left and saw a line of dear friends there to worship alongside Geoff and me. They filled up the row, smiles on their faces. And sitting beside me was my fiance of only twelve or so hours. He smiled over at me–the same smile I had received a hundred other times.

As we sang, I looked down at my shiny new adornment and then to the hand holding it tightly. The engagement ring represented a promise. But the promise had been made long before the ring had ever been put on my finger. And I realized that my soon to be husband’s love for me was not dependent on when he got down on one knee or when I walked down the aisle. His love was the same both the day before and the day after the proposal. His character had never changed.

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Yet, I had impatiently felt like his love for me was dependent on giving me what I wanted when I wanted it. It’s no secret to those that know me best that three winters ago I was waiting, rather desperately, for my husband to propose. Three years of long distance–three long, hard years in general–and I was ready for the new. We had talked about marriage, of course. I knew he would eventually propose. But there was something about the lack of control in waiting for him to actually do it. I waited in discontentment, often questioning if he loved me instead of savoring the sweet season of dating we would never get back. In fact, I am embarrassed to admit that the day before my ever patient husband proposed, I had a full on meltdown that involved me sitting in the grass and crying. Didn’t I feel silly twenty-four hours later!

You do this with me, you know. I heard a whisper to my heart.

My love for you is not dependent on if your prayers are answered when or how you hope. Or even if they are answered at all. It is not dependent on how long your season of waiting is. My love for you just IS. My character is unchanging.

There are few things we wait on anymore in our culture. Emails immediately show up in our inbox. Texts show up rapidly. And in our faith–particularly in my walk with God–I want Him to grant me answers to my questions, my problems, and my pleas instantly. 

I treat him like a magic genie instead of my loving Father. I want to rush to the end of the story or the journey instead of savoring His love in the midst of it. 

The Bible is full of people in waiting. And really, we as believers all find ourselves in one big story of waiting as we await the return of Christ. And so, we have two choices of how we wait. The first involves sitting down in the grass and sobbing in to the mulch of the trailhead, questioning His love for us. The second, harder but much more sanctifying option is to hold our head high and claim the unchanging character of God as we wait.

Perhaps you have been praying for healing. Perhaps you have been seeking wisdom or answers. Maybe you need reconciliation in a relationship or joy in the mundane trials of life.

I understand. I am right there with you. Some days it feels like I’ve been praying for the same things over and over. I sense God moving–but couldn’t He work a little faster?

Perhaps He could. But this doesn’t change his character. And so, it shouldn’t change my faith that He is good. He wants to journey in relationship with us. Not just grant us what we want.

Three years later, I look down at the same diamond ring. It is a little less shiny and has been dipped daily in to a sink of soapy water. It has been worn in times of laughter and in moments of sadness. But when I look at it, I am reminded of the constant love of my husband. And the unchanging love of Father God.

I wrap up a book for my three month old son and place it in the corner near the Christmas tree. I look out the window and sigh. There will be days where my heart aches for His promises to be fulfilled. Days where prayers are lifted up from tired lips. Days where I wonder if He hears me. Today, honestly, is one of those days. Maybe it’s one of those days for you too. But may I do my best to remember that He is near. He is with me. May my waiting be a holy offering to Him instead of presenting Him with a ungrateful and dissatisfied heart.

Whatever you are waiting on this advent season, may you remember that you are loved. You are not alone. And God is always working. Even if all we see is the bare finger or the unfilled promise or unanswered prayer. 

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