"Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."
It's been two Thanksgivings, very soon will be two Christmases, and one missed birthday since first seeing her face. Since hearing her story and picturing her as ours. A different kind of waiting than the kind that comes after a first ultrasound glimpse of the one your heart will embrace long before they'll ever reach your arms. But you still embrace. As you lay your head on the pillow at night, just a staircase away from where you hope she'll one day sleep, you wonder where she lays her head now and what dreams join her there. Does she dream of a family as we dream of her joining ours? There is no guarantee in this wait...at least not the kind that means we can count on bringing her home to that bedroom just up the stairs. The phone call yesterday was a reminder of that. There are decisions being made this week, entirely out of our control, that will determine whether our arms will ever hold the one our hearts already do.
So what is with the waiting?
With Christmas around the corner, and the Advent season upon us, I've been reminded of another kind of waiting. The definition of advent is "the coming or arrival of something or someone that is important or worthy of note." Those who celebrate or recognize this season of Advent do so because it is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Christ's birth. While we can predict the end of our "waiting" by looking for December 25th on our calendar, such was not the case for those who anxiously awaited the promised one who would "release the captives, cause the blind to see and set the oppressed free." (Isaiah 61:1)
400 years is a long time to wait...a long time to wonder whether God has forgotten...
400 years of silence passed between the Old Testament promises & phophecies and the birth of Christ. Centuries during which God's people waited, longing for their rescue, for what was promised. They lived in the land of promise, but lived a life of slavery as a result of time and again turning their backs on God and refusing to recognize Him as their provider and deliverer. Faltering when they demanded what they wanted, when they wanted it, in the time they deemed best-rather than the right time. A pattern that began not long after they started their journey as freed slaves from Egypt.
"But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. 'Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in this wilderness?' they complained. 'There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!'"
They despised and ignored what had been provided for them as gifts from His hands...to sustain them in the waiting. The seemingly endless waiting was not something they had counted on or envisioned, so they doubted whether God Himself could be counted on. Longing for what was not yet fully in view, they made new plans and settled many times for something far less.
"But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them...in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night. You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!"
Nehemiah 9:17, 19-21
The rest of this chapter in Nehemiah narrates the back and forth of a people who became comfortable and arrogant in the blessings provided them by a loving God. Who turned their backs on Him when the living was easy in the land He'd led them to, only to cry out in desperation for His rescue again in their time of trouble that always came after their rebellion.
"But in your great mercy, you did not destroy them completely or abandon them forever. What a gracious and merciful God you are!" Nehemiah 9:31
The angels start their whispering
About the One they're welcoming
No one knows what's soon to be
Angels start their whispering
They sing glory
In the highest
Come now our King
Come now our King."
(Come Now Our King~Chris August)
"But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children." Galatians 4:4-5
Christmas is a reminder that God makes good on His promises. God will fulfill His long appointed plans for us. He is always working for His glory and our good. Even in the silence of waiting. Nothing is wasted in the waiting.
"God's way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect." Psalm 18:30-32
So how do we wait?
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
I may not fully understand in this moment of waiting what it is that God has prepared in advance for our family to do. I may not know what the working out of the desires He's placed in our hearts will ultimately look like. Though it's my hope, it may not involve being able to run up a stairway to calm the fears that may come in the night to a girl we long to bring home.
So what do I do with that? How do I wait well in the silence?
I will choose to place my faith in His promises during the wait. His promises can be trusted even if what we envisioned doesn't come to pass.
"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act." Psalm 37:4-7
I can trust the desires of my heart when they line up with His own.
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27
What I can't trust is how my humanness attempts to come up with what those desires should look like in the here and now and in the timing I'd prefer.
"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9
I trust His promise that there are things He's prepared in advance for me to do...even when they are not fully in view. I trust that He cares for me. I trust that He cares for the one that I long to be a mom to.
Please, God. Let me be her mom?
The truth is, apart from Him, I could never be what she needs. There is nothing in my own resources, strength or abilities that could ever meet her needs like that of her Heavenly Father.
"...in you alone do the orphans find mercy." Hosea 14:3
I can't share her name here, but I can share the meaning of her name that has become so special to me in this period of waiting. The name her birth mom gave her means "holy oil". In Scripture, oil is recognized as a symbol of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has annointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come." Luke 4:18
This very verse is the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 61:1 that those who had rebelled themselves into a life of slavery clung to as they returned to the Lord and waited for hundreds of years through His silence for Him to make good on His promise. I trust that He has a plan for her future...even if that plan doesn't include her being here with us. The reality is, we are already a part of that plan, even if she never knows who we are. Her face, her name and her story have inserted themselves deep into our hearts and though she may never know it, we and others have been praying for her by name for quite some time now. Though we wait in the silence, our requests on her behalf are being heard.
"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." Proverbs 23:18
"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we afirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise." Hebrews 10:23
"This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary." Hebrews 6:19
"...in quietness and trust is your strength...the Lord longs to be gracious to you, he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
Isaiah 30:15, 18
I am most deceived when I interpret the waiting to mean that God is not good. It is in fact His goodness that sometimes brings us to periods of waiting. In our waiting we learn that He is all that matters. That His silence does not mean He is not near and at work. If 400 years of silence culminated in the birth of Christ and His eventual death and resurrection, our only means of redemption and adoption as his children, can I not wait for one hour...one day...one year...one decade...watchng for that same Savior to show up in a miraculous way as we walk this journey of adoption today? To shatter my perceptioms of what "should be" and open my eyes to what is? My biggest fear is not that what I want will not come to be. It is that I might get distracted by what I want and miss what He's already prepared in advance. I do not want to merely exist in the land of promise, enslaved by my selfish desires, and miss out on the blessing of His provision and presence.
If He chooses to close this door, I will watch in hope for the Lord to shine a light on the path He's already laid.
"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me...though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light." Micah 7:7-8
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6
"You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness." Psalm 18:19
"The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength." Isaiah 58:11
"It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:26