I have to be honest with you...you already know how ridiculously excited I am to meet this baby...but I'm really finding great peace and joy in this "waiting for baby" process. The first day or two felt weird, like I was "late" for something, the next couple days felt like bonus free time, and now I'm in the "savor and be still" stage. (Though I have my moments...particularly when the dreams get weirder and WAY more real! :)
Today I strapped on my more supportive Teva sandals and enjoyed an hour long walk (without waddling!) with Chai on our favorite trail. I savored the fascination of this full term baby snuggled and squished in my belly, being rocked to sleep with every step, and as physically close to my heart as he or she will ever be. I was overwhelmed in amazement that in a matter of weeks, (prayerfully!), I could be pushing this very baby in stroller, having to take breaks to make sure he or she is warm enough, fed enough, or changed. Even when it feels slow, life happens so quickly. So I certainly don't want to miss right now.
I was able to do some great thinking and reflecting about the times in my life I've had to endure the waiting...or the times of waiting others in my life are enduring right now. It's crazy how stories of others' experiences can at times be overwhelming when you're in the thick of pregnancy craziness...but now, when strangers ask me when I'm due and I tell them last Wednesday, their stories are actually the comforting ones, as so many tell me how long they had to wait! Makes me feel a little more normal, instead of like I'm missing the party or something.:)
Isn't it difficult at almost all stages of life to wait?? As children we struggle with waiting our turn, or sacrificing our own instant gratification for that of another, and waiting on our parents when they say, "Not now." (Actually, this is kind of true of adults too...yikes!) As teens we just want to grow up, be respected, be included, be loved. We think if we could just get out of that stage of life we'd get there. Then, if you're me, you go to college and wait to be pursued, or "wait" for all your dreams to come true and prayers to be answered. Sure, we try to follow God's lead and take the appropriate action steps, but often our hearts still feel like they're enduring the elevator music when we've been put on hold on the phone. Then we "wait" or endure the search for the just right job, or the next direction we're supposed to go. Or for the promised rental home you're waiting for while pregnant with your first child. Pray and wait, pray and wait...it can start to feel quite rhythmic if it lasts long enough.
But today, like so many times before, God convicted me with the richness that's to be found in the waiting process. It's the finite, one piece of the puzzle principle. We can and will only ever be able to see small pieces of the puzzle at a time, until it is complete and we can view with God the whole picture. Though often, when it is complete, it's a masterpiece and we feel silly for freaking out and throwing our tantrums because we couldn't see it sooner.
There's no doubt those times can be incredibly tough and pain-filled, sometimes demanding moments of grieving over unmet expectations or the loss of the ideal while we're in the throws of the wait. Times when it just doesn't make sense this side of Heaven, and it feels more than we can bear. Especially when it comes to waiting to conceive, longing to be married and have a family, waiting for a loved one to be healed, or waiting for healing yourself. This is when we cry out to God from our depths and have to get real honest with our desperate need for His peace that passes all understanding. I completed a bible study on Exodus this year called God-Seeker. At one point, after highlighting the amazing verse that says Moses changed God's mind when He became angry and wanted to destory the people who had turned from Him, (Exodus 32:14), she asks the reader, "Who are you storming the gates of Heaven for?" This entire pregnancy I have been more drawn than ever to "storm the gates of Heaven" for so many. Like little Kate McRae who is only 7 years old yet has battled a brutal and awful cancer for two years. Or my blog friend Amy, who has also battled this ugly disease for a year now, yet has remained so faithful and honest with her almighty God. And now a family friend and co-worker of Kevin's who recently began his fight with what seems like an ugly and unfair cancer diagnosis. And a family member who has been desperate to conceive another child, praying for God to hear their requests as they long to add to their family for His glory. The stories could go on and on...the waiting can seem and feel awful and heartbreaking. So gut-wrenching and difficult for any of us to make any sense of.
Our pastor shared a great quote a couple Sundays ago during his sermon on prayer. He said something like, "We shouldn't make requests of God when we're not willing to also take action ourselves." I have thought about this over and over, particularly when I am sharing my petitions with God and have to question what I could be doing to be available for Him to use in order to answer the request. Like if I see or hear about people who are hurting and am immediately compelled to call out to Jesus on their behalf. I now also start reflecting on how He might be wanting to use me to bring comfort. Though I know I must choose to be willing and take action.
I will never forget the moment my persepective on "waiting for a husband" changed pretty dramatically. I had longed to be a wife and mom my whole life, and I felt like it was what I was created to do. I prayed and surrendered over and over, and I believed God placed that desire in my heart and wanted to answer my requests. But I couldn't see far enough in front of me to really get it. So I kept making choices and looking at my life in my early and mid twenties in terms of, "Well, in 2 years I'll probably be married, so I should or shouldn't choose this." And I'm even talking little stuff like buying a set of dishes, new silverware, (instead of using my mom's old), or investing in the comforter cover I really wanted. (Bright colored multi-striped!) I would think, "Well I wouldn't want to get something my husband wouldn't like, so I'll just wait." Crazy!! This is the perfect, (even if seemingly ridiculous) example of fixating on only a small piece of the puzzle. I think I was about 24 or 25 when this realization dawned on me, and I immediately decided to take a different course of action. I decided to savor the moment and live now. I bought a set of white IKEA dishes that I loved, and the comforter cover and shams, (and pink sheets!) from The Company Store I had really been wanting, so I could finally make my bed and decorate like an adult. And wouldn't you know it...3 or 4 years after that, God brought the amazing man He had for me into my life and we got married. And up until last week we have used that bright striped comforter cover! Ha! Turns out it didn't even matter! (Don't worry, I have worked hard to create a sacred space for us - without that cover - in this new home. :) Also, we are still using and love those white IKEA dishes as our only set. We didn't even register for dishes because of them!
Those might be minor and silly examples, but they will always be a huge lesson for me. During the years I was feeling the most discouraged about wanting to be married, Kevin was not even yet a Christian. I wouldn't have even considered him as a potential husband. Yet today he is a phenomenal and God-seeking man. God has done a powerful and amazing work in his life, and I am changed so grateful for it! He leads our family well, disciples others as his job, and is more than I could have ever asked for or imagined....and I asked for and imagined a lot!
What's on my heart that motivated this post is this: God is sovereign and we are not. He is our Creator and we are His creation. He loves us more than we can imagine, but while on earth, we will never not be small and human. He knows how the puzzle fits together and why. We would be foolish not to trust. Which reminds me, we also just recently had to make a tough decision about my job. Very long story, but at the end of the day, we prayed and were at peace with me making the difficult decision to walk away, regardless of the potential for circumstantial fear that might pose. Wouldn't you know it, a few days after that decision was made on our part, the family took a new position and relocated to California! Ha! Thank you God for confirmation of that decision.
It amuses me how theoretical and analytical we can get about life...and it must amuse God how often we try to understand and explain the details of why things are the way they are...rather than surrender and savor what He has for us in the middle of it. Which is what I'm doing now. I don't know when this sweet baby will come. But I know he or she will. I don't know what he or she will look like...but I guarantee you I'll say this baby is the most beautiful creation I've ever laid eyes on. I don't know how labor and delivery will go, but God has known since He started knitting this baby together. I do know that I have confidence in Christ, I trust Him, and I am praying fervently to Him about the whole process. Even when it's hard, I know He is in control and I just can't be. I am praising Him for the depth and richness He has given me while reflecting during these "extra days" of waiting. The Israelites wandered and waited in the desert for 40 years. And not without grumbling and wanting to give up, I might add. Sometime I'll have Kevin do a guest post on how much God has taught him during these 9 months through that story. If they had known what the Promised Land would behold, don't you think the waiting would have been so much easier? But then again, they would have never had to trust. They would have missed out on seeing the magnificent beauty of God's provision and answered promises...and they would have missed that He is to get all the glory.
Check out this admittedly heavy but ridiculously rich quote I just found in C.S. Lewis' article or sermon, The Weight of Glory, referring to how we think about God and how He thinks about us:
"In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised. I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us. It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God...to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness...to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is." WOW. (I just came across this, but will be reading it and reflecting on it so much more!! I can hardly wait to read the whole sermon!)
My doctor just left for vacation today. Much of the reason we chose this doctor is because she does whatever it takes to deliver each and every one of her own patients. Yet when she hesitatingly told me last week this might happen, it surprisingly didn't phase me a bit. For whatever reason, it seemed like I knew it was coming. God has done a real work in my heart during this pregnancy, squeezing out any desire of mine to be in control. I am constantly reminded that He is everything, and I am nothing without Him. And Kevin has reminded me, we have prayed the whole time, and God knew this scenario and how it would play out from the beginning. I've been reminded that my faith, hope, and trust for the growth and delivery of this baby has never been in the doctor...it is in God alone. That is the only way that He gets what He deserves...all the glory.
So my encouragement to you while you wait...or while others seem to be anxiously waiting for you ;)...give him all the glory, right where you are; be grateful and savor whatever He has to teach you in the unknown. I pray you'll be joy-filled in simply knowing that you are delighted in by the One who made you. And when the tears come because it seems too painful to bear...let them fall. That's often when our Hero and his love shines the most.
Psalm 115:1 - "Not to us, LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness."