Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Waiting - Part 2

In Part 1 I mentioned just a few biblical characters (real people) out of a whole host of people who have had to wait long amounts of time for prayers to be answered, promises/desires to be fulfilled, visions to come to pass, etc. Sometimes people have waited patiently. But so many other times, while they've been people who knew of God's faithfulness and integrity, they've also had fleshly (non faith-filled) times of uncertainty and/or impatience and have tried to take things into their own hands.

I can certainly relate in every way. Beginning here in Part 2 I have in mind some things from my own life in which I've waited faithfully at times and have been impatient and faithless at other times. I'll start with my relationship with my wife.

From the ages of about 16 to 22, I had many short-term relationships. I was always serious, albeit in a young and naive way, in the relationships. I was truly looking for someone to be with for the rest of my life. Two or three times along the way, in my late teens and early 20's, I thought I had found "the one." But obviously none of those relationships worked out. I was very impatient during those years as I wondered if I'd ever find someone. How much heartache I could've saved myself and others if I'd just been patient! Easier said than done, of course, especially when you're not trusting God.

Then in 1992 my "serious" walk with Jesus began. I met Tracey and her friends that summer. I got to know them over the course of several months and finally I was going to ask Tracey out. I thought finally I had met a nice Christian woman and maybe this could be "the one." It took me three weeks (an eternity) for me to work up the courage to ask her out. On the day that I was going over to her house to ask her out, I went over to one of our mutual friends' house - and he told me that he had just asked her out! They ended up dating for several months. I was downhearted - but yet this is something that aided in bringing me closer to my Jesus. In my heart I said that I'll step aside, and I'll wait and see what happens. I'll be happy for them no matter what happens and I'll continue on with my life. I was stunned at how well I took it all. But my walk with Christ was still new and I began to see that He was doing this work in me.

However, it wasn't all peachy. During the 'waiting,' I got myself into a bad relationship. Call it my Abram experience, taking things into my own hands. I knew it was bad right from the start, but I stayed and hoped it would work out. After a while, I didn't know what to do - and that's when I took the trip to Canada. My head was cleared while there, and I came back and ended the relationship. At the same time, Tracey's boyfriend also broke up with her. After a few more months had passed and we knew neither of us were on the rebound anymore, we began dating.

After all of that waiting, we were finally together. Or not. :) On this blog I've shared some of our past relationship problems, and I won't get into them here, but going back to the time we dated I had doubts about the two of us. All of that waiting... and then when it came to pass I wasn't sure if it was right! We broke up twice, but then finally got engaged in 1995 and were married in 1996. We've worked through so many things since then, and I can say today that there are no regrets, no doubts! And I will say that going through all of that - even back to the dating years - has only served to draw us closer to Jesus and stronger in our marriage.

Here's the thing. We are Christians. We have become partakers of the divine nature. We have become new creations. We have grown in faith and trust. We have the Spirit of God living in us!

But yet from time to time we've made fleshly choices. Sometimes it's caused a lot of heartache and grief. Sometimes we've been impatient when it comes to growing in our love for each other. Sometimes we've had doubts. Sometimes we've had anger. We've looked around at the various "perfect Christian couples," who are mostly putting on an act in public, as if they always see eye to eye and never argue or disagree, and we most certainly don't live up to that standard!

BUT... we've also had times of great faith, times of great joy, times of growing in trust, times of knowing that while we're seemingly completely different people, there are many great things about us being together for life. It has often been in the waiting that many of our issues have been worked out in our hearts. Not that I want to celebrate the fleshly things we've done in our relationship, but through it all we've found God to be faithful to us.

Some say it's love that keeps a marriage strong. Some say it's commitment. But I want to tell you that I know for sure that if it were up to my own resolve, or if it had been left up to my own worked-up love or commitment, it would have been a failed marriage. I hate admitting that but yet at the same time I glory in it because it has helped me to see that not only is it by GRACE that we are saved, but it is by grace that God keeps us! In our weakness He is strong and in our lack of commitment and trust, He remains committed and faithful to us. What I'm saying is that I love and am committed to Tracey more than ever, but it's been due to an obvious work of the Spirit - who we are One with - and nothing that we've done in our own fleshly strength!

Sometimes things seem so uncertain and painful in the waiting, but an overall picture is being painted and we can't see the whole picture but we know that while it may include lots of little (or big) shadows, it's nevertheless a beautiful and remarkable painting!

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