May 4, 2012

Checking My Heart's Posture

Hannah waited, even with a broken heart, even when the outcome seemed in jeopardy, but she receives God's gift after He brings her to a place of brokenness and barrenness. David is anointed as king, but then has to suffer and wait through years of being chased around the kingdom by Saul... This is an interesting thing about God to me. It seems like He really likes the waiting time. He likes the anticipation of fulfilling the promise, often dropping hints of hope along the way. Christ's birth was a moment He waited centuries to give the world and you can sense His excitement building all along the path of the Old Testament... unlike God, I don't like the waiting. I don't like that Jesus didn't come right away when Lazarus died, but purposely waited a few extra days. I don't like He has gone away and stayed away for thousands of years. -Christine Hoover, In a State of Waiting
I've had to come to grips recently with the fact that I'm in a season of waiting. (I know some of you are thinking, "Duh! We've been telling you that for months!") I don't know why I've been trying to tell myself it isn't so, but man, it's really been hitting me hard for these past few weeks. I think I'm just now starting to accept it. (I have issues with denial, so pretend you understand and play along.) Another desert season, but for a different purpose. A part of me is like, "Seriously God?! You sure didn't give me much of a time lapse in-between here and my last desert time!" Or maybe there wasn't an in-between lapse at all... and that was just my imagination. It's possible.

I'm in a spot where I'm dealing with so much longing, so many desires reside in my heart. Beautiful, good desires that would bring God glory and bless others. But I can't do anything with them. Not now. I find that incredibly frustrating. I feel entirely un-productive. I'm busy, but it doesn't seem at all productive. I feel stagnant. That word alone (stagnant) rubs me the wrong way. It's living in the "then and not now." I don't really feel like I'm "clicking" along with my life (that's partly due to my age though).

In many ways I can sympathize with Hannah. I'm not waiting, hoping, and praying for a child at this point in my life, but there are other things that I yearn for deeply. That I weep and ask the Lord for just as Hannah did at the temple. All that I'm waiting for rests solely in God's hands. I cannot make it happen. When God calls me to wait, I can easily grow weary, discouraged, and despondent. It's then that I have to search and check my heart's posture...

Am I Going to God to Fill My Deepest Needs? Am I Believing Truth or Lies? Am I Laying My Heart Bear Before the Lord? Am I Being Raw and Real? Longings and desires have a way of pointing us to our deepest needs. What can get me into trouble though is when I look to other "idols" or people to fill those needs, rather than allowing God to be the one to do so, since He is the only one who can truly meet and satisfy them. Christy Nockles gave a perfect analogy of this:
...the enemy wants to keep you believing you're an illegitimate child... he [satan] wants you in a constant state of orphan mentality. That you do not belong to God... that you're not really God's daughter... he [satan] wants you getting your God needs in illegitimate ways (paraphrase).
How true that is! I have a tendency to play spiritual hide-and-go-seek with God, which is a bit humorous since He clearly knows where I am, but at the same time, if you think about it, it's kind of pathetic and sad. Why do I do it? Because I'm prone to believe that God is angry with me, doesn't want anything to do with me, and doesn't love or care about me. (Don't act like you've never felt or thought those things before either, because I'm 99% sure you're lying if you say otherwise). How do I reach such false beliefs? For me personally, it all comes back to my past. The father of lies [satan] need only invite me to take a trip down memory lane to revisit some of my uglier moments in life. I'll be honest, I have problems with letting go of the past. (Although, I think I've gotten way better at than I used to be.) I can all too easily allow those memories to crystallize within my heart, which prevents me from viewing Christ as I ought to. Thus, I have to continuously lay my heart bear before Him, and be willing to be vulnerable. It's better for the heart to remain raw than crystallized.

Am I Going to Wait Well? Irregardless of whatever season I find myself in, Christ has asked me to abide in Him, as I am a branch, and He is THE vine (John 15:1-11). "Unless it [the branch] abides in the vine [Christ]" there will be no fruit produced for the harvest. Now is the time for me to cultivate my heart in such a way that that which I sow I shall be glad to reap. I'll be able to enjoy the fruits of the labor. Desert seasons and times of waiting can make one more prone to giving way to temptation, which is why I must be on guard and careful what I sow.

Am I Allowing God to Shape My Desires? Am I Receiving What the Lord Has for Me in Each Moment?  In Psalm 37 we're told to "delight [ourselves] in the Lord, and he will give [us] the desires of [our] heart" (verse 4). Growing up I was basically told that this verse meant that whatever my desires were, God would grant. The problem with that is that's not exactly what the verse means. We're to lay our desires and our hearts upon the alter, and God will take them and mold them so that His desires become our desires, and our hearts image His heart. The tough part about that though is being able to receive from the Lord in the midst of waiting. Trusting Him while longings and desires are not yet fulfilled. Trusting that no matter what, I am ALWAYS under His covering.
...so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine," says the Lord God. -Ezekiel 16:8
Am I Pressing on in Hope or Am I becoming Bitter? I can definitely share the same sentiments that Lauren shared in a blog post recently: "In my experience with waiting, I find others' fulfillment of what I'm longing for highlighted." Seeing all of Penninnah's children surly caused the same feelings in Hannah. It holds true for me. It seems like nearly everyone around me is being fulfilled and blessed in the way that I desperately long for. In the thick of this waiting, it's extremely hard for me to remain hopeful. Hope leaves room for disappointment. When hope is prolonged it really can make our hearts sick: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick..." (Proverbs 13:12). If you've been there you know just how unsettling and weighty that is. It can easily create and stir in me bitterness. Bitterness in a heart is never attractive, and I don't want to grow bitter while I'm waiting. So how do I fight against it? I haven't figured it out, but I think it involves positioning myself to worship and praise Christ. To remember His Hesed love for me. To let His words be the healing balm I seek. To fix my gaze on Him alone. The second half of Proverbs 13:12 says, "...but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." When this waiting season comes to a close, the fruit of it will be life giving
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. -Psalm 103:2-5
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The Lord is good to those who wait for him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. -Lamentations 3:21-27 
**Seriously, if you have the time here in the next couple of days, maybe take a few moments to listen to this message Christy Nockles gave on heart postures here.

7 comments :

  1. i feel pretty much the same way. the waiting, oh the waiting. i have to constantly remind myself that i will not be this way forever. !!

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  2. ohhhhhh that sermon by christy sounds amazing!!!

    "To remember His Hesed love for me. To let His words be the healing balm I seek. To fix my gaze on Him alone."....

    aaaamen.
    love that proverbs! <3

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  3. Natalie, thanks again for sharing from your heart! I needed to hear this too. Blessings...

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  4. Dear Natalie,

    Thank you for sharing this. Reminds me that I am not alone.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    I am so grateful that we have such a wonderful reason to wait--though it can be difficult at times.

    Your blog has been a source of great encouragement to me. Thank you!

    Love,

    Anna

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  5. I'm kind of glad I waited to hear this.
    I'm exactly in that same place and oh, how I dislike it. I always struggle with the doubt that maybe I'm here as punishment... no matter how many times I find myself in the wilderness, I don't like it. I don't even know why I'm here.

    And I'm growing bitter. Really bitter. I'm working on it. Or so I like to think.

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  6. this is so where i am at right now. thank you.

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  7. Your blog is fantastic, and the post really spoke to my heart, thank you.

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