Waiting on the Sidelines

waiting on the sidelines

I was never very good at playing sports. Oh sure I liked to play volleyball in college, leaving a big crater in the sand where my body landed with a thud and hurling the ball to whack any unsuspecting spectators, but I was certainly no athlete.  Before sand volleyball I tried out for softball and basketball (never made the teams) and later joined track because they needed people.  There’s a confidence booster.  But when I broke my toe trying to throw discus and then hobbled over to my next event, shotput, I realized I was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing.  My pride hurt about as much as my toe.

With my limited sports experience, I never had to wait on the bench for a turn. I was part of the volleyball team so I showed up and I played.  I was part of the track team so I showed up and I…broke my toe.  Ahem.  Anyway, I never had to prepare and then sit down and wait, and wait, and wait.

But I’m waiting now. I’m waiting on God.

Okay, I’m going to be brutally honest which will probably be more embarrassing for me than the whole toe story but here it is: I don’t like waiting.  I complain A LOT.  I get aggravated and frustrated and even mad.  I get upset with God and wonder what’s taking so long.  I wonder if I’ve disappointed Him, upset Him, let Him down and start to reason that THAT is the reason for the delay.  I’ve obviously screwed up somewhere so the aggravation and anger turn inward.  Then the lying enemy has a field day with me, tap dancing on my thoughts and kicking me in the teeth.

I try to fix things, hurry things along. I let go of God’s hand and run ahead of Him like I do every time the waiting takes too long.  I reason, “I’ll just do this and that while I’m waiting.  Start a small business, work on another writing project, start something brand new that sounds like fun.”  And then when things feel “off” I wonder why.  Could it be because I was with God and I let go of Him?!  Is not waiting really worth all of that?

What exactly am I waiting for? Well as some of you may know I’ve written a book and I’ve been waiting to hear back from the agent I submitted my proposal to.  (I’ve prayed for God’s will in this situation.)  In the meantime, I’ve felt like the waiting is going to kill me.  Yes, I’ve actually said that.  Sheesh, how ridiculous. I know.

But it’s not just the book I’m waiting to hear about but the next step. I love dreaming and planning and getting ready for the next big adventure with God.  And you see, there are a few of those spinning in my head that I’ve been praying about.  My problem is waiting to see which one God chooses for me.

I realize while I’m waiting on the book and waiting for God to pick the “new” He wants me to move forward with, I’m doing a lot of waiting. Mind you, I’m not sitting here staring at the house as the dust bunnies take over or as the laundry sprouts fingers and crawls out the door; I’m doing the things that need to be done. But my spirit aches for more of God and more of what He has for me to do.

So it seems I’m waiting on the sidelines after all. Yes, I can see myself sitting there on the bench with my legs dangling and kicking.  I’ve got my arms crossed and I’m wearing my uniform and pigtails; fitting for my earlier behavior. I anticipate my Coach calling me into the game any moment now.  He knows I’m here.  He hasn’t forgotten me.  It’s just a matter of time; His timing.

Meanwhile, I have a choice. I can give up, get all huffy, and storm off because I’m tired of waiting. Maybe I’ll go chase down a butterfly or take a picture of a flower. (Oh brother, I really DO those things.) OR I can wait here, study my playbook, and cheer on my fellow teammates as I trust and have faith in my Coach that He knows exactly when I’ll be ready.

I choose You, Lord, and Your timing.

 And if that’s you sitting beside me on the bench and you’re waiting for God to call your name too, I want you to know I’m praying for you.  Don’t give up.  I know waiting is hard work, but God has so much more for you than flowers and butterflies.  He’s going to call you at just the right time, and you’re going to be amazed at what He has for you.  Remember, He’s the One who parted the Red Sea.  He can do ANYTHING!

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT.)

When God says “No”

bubble

It’s hard when you’re a child and you’re told, “No.” You pout or maybe even throw a fit to get your way.

But what about when God says, “No” and no temper tantrum will change His mind? It can be downright devastating.  Especially when it involves an old dream you’ve been carrying in your heart for so long.

It’s like this dream of yours is so vivid and living in front of you in its own world; no one else can see it but you see it clearly. It’s like looking in at a snow globe and watching this tiny world moving and breathing before you.  It’s so real you know you can just reach out and touch it.

But when you do, you realize this dream isn’t inside a snow globe but a bubble. And as soon as you touch it, it pops.  It’s gone.  This vibrant world, the image of YOU inside this dream living and doing all those things you’ve wanted to do for so long, is gone.

So you learn the painful lesson that dreams are delicate, especially those closest to your heart.

And this one was so close to becoming reality that when you finally reached out with trembling hands…you destroyed it. Now all you have left is the memory of what you did wrong, how you reached out too quickly or too rough, and tears; lots and lots of tears that fall so freely, so violently.  You can’t hold them back and really you don’t want to.  They’re too painful to hold in and the moment so heart wrenching it scares you because you realize something:  You’re angry.

You’re angry at yourself for getting your hopes up. You’re angry for daydreaming about something that perhaps wasn’t even meant to be.  And then this anger creeps in deeper, burrowing into your heart and burning everything it touches, leaving black holes in your spirit, and you find yourself staring at the face of God in your anger.

This moment scares you the most. You don’t want to be mad at God, and you tell Him that.  But the anger lingers and you don’t know what to do with it. It’s too heavy, wearing you down, pulling you down, and you want to let go of it.  But something tickles your ear and reminds you of your pain and your mourning over something you never even had.

So your dream is gone, but all the daydreaming and possibilities remain to torture you. You try to look away, but you keep looking back.  You over analyze all you did, what you could have done better, what you shouldn’t have done at all.  There is even an inward crumbling and you wonder if you’ll ever recover.

It’s in that moment of internal collapse you realize how important this dream is to you. Maybe too important.  You start to ask yourself if you were putting it above God.  Your heart hurts all over again because you’re not sure if you can honestly answer “no” to that question.

But God answered, “No” to your dream. Or perhaps He whispered, “Not yet.”

You don’t know which one but you realize something even more crushing than not getting your way: You’re not the only one hurting in this.  You hurt God.

Were you looking at that snow globe of a dream and seeing His reflection as He stood over your shoulder? Or were you so focused in on seeing yourself inside that you forgot Him?

He was watching that dream even more closely than you. He’s the One who crafted every part of it to perfection because He loves you, not because He wants you to run away from Him to chase that world.  And when you eventually go into that world, in His timing and with His blessing, He wants you to take Him with you.

So where do you go from here?

Tell God you’re sorry you hurt Him, and ask Him to forgive you. And don’t be angry with Him.  He was simply protecting your relationship with Him.  No dream can ever compare to all you have with Him.

Ask Him to help you with those black spots in your spirit. Never hold on to anger or it will burn clear through you.

Ask God to help you see this dream clearly for what it is: A gift from Him to shine as the child He created you to be and to bring Him honor and glory.  (It only turned black and ugly and blew up in your face when it became an idol to you.)

And don’t ever gaze into that world again and forget to look for His reflection. If you do, you may find out it’s no world worth having at all but merely a bubble on the verge of popping.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”  (Exodus 20:4- 5a NLT.)