To Wait on the Lord

After a period of time of feeling very weak and exhausted, I have been encouraged by how the Lord has answered my prayers in giving me enriching time in His word. I recently celebrated being in the country for two months and there was a part of me which felt I was done with adjusting and I was ready to move into focusing on working and being in the field. And yet, it seemed the Lord did not have such a transition in mind for me just yet. But, in typical fashion for a task-oriented person, I became frustrated with not getting to do what I thought I was ready for. I was eager to move on to the next phase because surely this adjustment period shouldn’t last much longer. Then I began to wrestle with what the scriptures seemed to be teaching me. 

Joshua 7 tells the story of Achan, how he sinned against the Lord by taking treasure from Jericho that was intended to be consecrated to the Lord and how this obedience led to destruction as the Israelites attempted to move further into the Promise land. The beginning of Joshua 7 tells us of how Achan’s sin hurt the Israelites and eventually led to his demise. In isolation, the story of Achan clearly states that we must not disobey the Lord. Something similar happens in parenting, if you disobeyed your parents growing up chances are you received some type of reprimand for your transgression against them. 

So the Israelites go on, after Achan is punished for the sin he committed, the Israelites have victory over the next city, Ai. While I read Joshua 8, one verse took on a whole new meaning to me. Joshua 8:2 states, “You shall do to Ai and its king as you did in Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves…”. I was shocked, in the very next city they went to attack, the Lord commanded them to take the plunder for themselves. If only Achan would have waited, then he could have received all he desired and maybe more. 

I went back to Joshua 7, and I began to meditate on why Achan disobeyed the command. Although I can’t perceive Achan’s heart in this situation, I can think of why anyone would disobey a command. Inherently, I believe it comes from a distrust, a lack of faith, in the person who gives the command. Achan could have feared that the Lord wouldn’t provide all that he needed, or maybe that he thought he needed more than what the Lord was going to give him. Either way, he took matters into his own hands. He took control of the situation instead of trusting the way God was leading him. 

I thought of the ways that I try to take control of my life. When I try to choreograph what my life will look like. In my sin, I don’t want to wait, I want to have what I want right now. Whether that is a thriving ministry, a relationship, or a sense of comfort. I tend to try to make those things happen for myself as quickly as I can. I am not patient, and it is because I don’t trust that where I am right now is good. In Joshua 1:9 God says, “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What a promise, the Lord tells His people that He will always be with them. Not trusting where God has me reveals how I think I know better. I think I know what my life should look like now. I have to examine myself in those times, do I think the Lord is not slow in keeping His promises as 2 Peter 3:9 says. So instead of attempting to maintain total control, in faith I wait on the Lord to provide all that I need.

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

So what does it mean to wait on the Lord? For the Israelites it was an active obedience. The beginning of Joshua is riddled with God’s promise that He has already given victory to the Israelite army. He has already delivered their enemies into their hands in order to fulfill His promise of delivering His people into the Promise land. Joshua, leading the army, receives this promise and leads the army into action. Joshua didn’t attack before the Lord commanded and he followed the Lord’s instructions in their war strategy.

Even in the battle of Jericho, despite the city being in an almost impenetrable fortress, the Lord had promised that they would have victory over Jericho. So when God instructed them to simply march around the city for seven days, Joshua obeyed. The walls fell, the Lord’s power and Joshua’s obedience led them to victory. Joshua could have tried to take control of the fight by relying on his own strategy, but instead he trusted that the Lord would fulfill His promise. Joshua exemplifies what it looks like to be a person who trusts in the Lord with all his heart and to not lean on his own understanding as Proverbs 3:5 describes. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

So I ask myself, “Do I trust that God is working for my good?”, “Am I being faithful and obedient to what He is asking me to do right now?”. 

These are the questions I want to continually ask myself as I fix my eyes on where I am now instead of where I could be in the future. Focusing on consecrating this very special season I have been given to glorify God in rest and in dependence on His strength rather than glorifying myself in my works.

The Truth About Feelings

If you got here from my update email, then you know that my name is Zoë and that I am in the middle of support raising in order to move to South Africa with a campus ministry.

This is a situation that I never thought and sometimes never wanted to be in, but I am truly excited for my time to come in South Africa and am enjoying support raising more and more.

Though, to no surprise, support raising has not been what I had hoped it would be.

I made the decision to go all in and to apply to join the campus ministry’s staff, no more than two weeks after I got back from a 7-week summer vision trip in South Africa.

Out of my grief for missing my friends in South Africa and deep desire to start the work that God had called me to, I decided that I wanted to launch in January after a mere two months of support raising. Although, at the time, I justified this desire because I felt that it made the most strategic sense for me to be back at the beginning of the school year, so why wouldn’t God think so too?

I thought that I knew what God specifically wanted to do with my life, I wanted God to use my life to show how great His power is, to be able to have a big story to testify that God does always provides, and He provides in big ways.

Though January has now come and gone, and I have had to face the fact that I was wrong and that I didn’t know specifically how God wanted to write my support raising story.

I still strongly believe that all those things are true, that God does always provide and that He does provide in big ways, but also in small ways.

But I can’t pretend to know what that is going to look like specifically in my life, I know that God will bring me to full support, that He knows that day that I will step foot back in South Africa.

I feel like I continue to repeat these things to myself because I know they are true, but I don’t always really believe that it is true. But luckily, even if I don’t believe the truth, it doesn’t change the fact that it is true.

But, my feelings affect my actions. When I don’t feel like the truth is accurate, then I don’t work for and towards that truth. I don’t step out because I don’t actually know if the truth is gonna catch me. That is what I have been doing these past few weeks.

After realizing that I wouldn’t get to go back to South Africa in January, I started to doubt if I would ever get to go back. I started to feel like God wasn’t going to provide and that He wasn’t going to be there to catch me. So, I started to sink into a depressive state. I didn’t want to spend time with God, I didn’t want to talk to people about support, and I didn’t think that God was actually working for my good. 

But at first, I didn’t want to find out the root of that depressive season. I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t trust that God. I didn’t trust Him with the perceived delay that He had given me. Because that didn’t seem Christian. I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling because I thought that I should be stronger, more mature than that and I shouldn’t need help to believe that truth. I was in a cycle of not trusting God and then feeling guilty about not trusting God, and then questioning why I was going through this, and then all the way around again.  

I felt stuck and I couldn’t get myself out of it.

Romans 8:39 says, “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”

By God’s grace, I am grateful to be in community with people who recognized my feelings and my guilt and reminded me of my identity in Christ. That I don’t earn God’s grace or His gifts, that they were a gift through Christ’s death and resurrection. His approval of me wasn’t based on my support percentage but who I am as His child.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul says, “But he (Jesus) said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ “because of this Paul continues, “therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Support raising has reminded me that I am weak, that I can do no thing a part from Him. That only God can lift me from feeling stuck and give me strength. That it is only God who will work in people’s hearts to bring me to full support. I have felt the weakest during this season, I have had to stand on the faith of others and hold fast to the truth that the Bible brings me.

That’s what makes the truth that much more important, because how I feel about truth doesn’t change the truth, but the truth can change my feelings and it can bring me strength.

Because the truth is that God is good and that He wants what is best for me, but I don’t always feel it, there is a disconnect between what my head knows to be true and what my heart is telling me.

Right now, I am weak. There are some days that I feel weaker in my faith then I ever have before. I don’t like it. I had always prided myself on being a strong independent woman who didn’t need help to get where she was going.

That’s not the case, I am in desperate need of the Lord. Everyday I need His graciousness and His comfort to get through the day. I am humbled and brought low by that idea. But above all I rejoice that He is the one who is helping me, the maker of heaven and earth guides me and strengthens me in each day.

So, though I grieve that I am not with my teammates and my friends in South Africa, I am grateful that God is mending that disconnect, in hopes that it’ll be stronger for any other battles with doubt in the future. That I am being reminded of truth from Jeremiah 29:11-13, Romans 8:28, and Psalm 139:16.

My feelings are still not fully aligned with what’s true. But faith isn’t knowing, it’s trusting. It’s stepping out onto the water, believing that He will catch my steps, just like He says He will. But that is something that I am still wrestling with.

My prayers have changed, from bring me clarity, to strengthen my faith to walk where you lead me even when I can’t see what’s in front of me. 

I have been praying more and more that I would have a strengthened faith in the God who says in Isa 42:16, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them. I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places new. These are the things that I will do, I will not forsake them”.

I am praying that God will use these words to encourage you as His spirit and words have encouraged me.

For His Glory,