“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” [ESV]
“I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God.” [MSG]
“[What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” [AMP]
Those of y’all who’ve been following this blog know that I’ve been doing annual birthday posts [which you can see if you click on the age: 23, 24, 25, 26] for awhile. I’m a pretty sentimental girl in general, so I get extra sentimental around my birthday each year and like to reflect on the previous year. My somewhat silly custom is to find verses with my birthday number to claim for the year. Last year, I chose the following:
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord, forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” [Isaiah 26:3-4]
“For Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in Your faithfulness.” [Psalm 26:3]
And wow, how true they proved to be. Last year around this time, I was so torn over and filled with confusion about what God was doing in my life. Every time someone asked how they could pray for me, I asked for “peace and clarity.” Match Day was coming up and I had no clue how to create my rank list. Top that with some other “wrestling with God” heart struggles. My heart felt like a washing machine–thoughts spinning round and round and round. And then one night, I begged God to speak clearly. And He did. But He didn’t say what I wanted to hear. He said the opposite and then left the choice of obedience up to me. Can I just say–it’s one thing to hear the voice of God, it’s quite another to obey His voice. But once you’re sure it’s God’s voice, is there really any [wise] choice but to obey Him? And so that night, a few days after turning 26, I made this big decision and said, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
That led to a month or so of immense peace–knowing that I had heard the voice of God and knowing that I had obeyed Him brought me great peace after weeks/months of uncertainty and confusion. And then all of a sudden that decision became my reality…and suddenly hypothetical obedience became practical obedience and I realized how “not my will” this really was. The doubt and confusion and hurt came crashing in like waves knocking down my carefully constructed sand castle built on my well-intentioned blueprints.
What do you do when God asks you to do something you don’t understand and His top priority really isn’t to make you understand?
I sulked. I questioned. I regretted obeying Him. I looked every direction but at Him.
“For Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in Your faithfulness.”
Even though I didn’t realize it, His steadfast love was before my eyes–I just refused to look. Even though I was doubting Him, in His grace and mercy, He continued to have me walk in His faithfulness.
To walk (okay, drive) miles away to a new home, crying the whole way down and questioning whether I made a huge mistake obeying Him…yet He was faithful to give me parents who lowered me down to where God had called me, like the group who lowered their helpless friend down to Jesus. He was faithful to give me a goofy brother who could walk in the door of the apartment we shared and make me laugh even if I’d been crying all day. He was faithful to bring me to my new home and surprise me with a community of very different, yet very united people who have become family. He was faithful to reveal to me: “My child, obedience is for your joy. Don’t you think I know best? I’ve been a Father for a long time. ” He has taught me time and time again that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
I’ve heard from God in very specific ways at very necessary times. He has spoken as I’ve waited on Him. I mean, I’ve asked specific questions and He’s spoken specific answers to me. That’s insane–that the God of the universe would care enough to get close and whisper His answers as I waited on Him. Mind-boggling.
He has given me countless opportunities to love people, to watch Him work in their lives, to join Him as He loves people. He allowed me to watch Him bring an almost 100 year old women to salvation as heaven erupted with celebration–days before she passed away from this earth and joined the party in Heaven. He’s given me friends who have loved me so beautifully. He’s given me mentors who make time in the midst of their busy schedules to keep me accountable, love on me, and talk to me–some on the phone from across the country, some over dinner in the same city.
26 was the year I learned that God is a GOOD Father. He is so good. He is so loving. He is so kind. In my deepest need, He met me. In my darkest doubts, He stayed. In my confusion, He spoke peace. In my fear, He taught me love…and He showed me the unconditional extent of His love.
“What would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!” [and I really didn’t believe it…I doubted it…yet, He still brought me from death to life and lavished His goodness on me.]
“Hallelujah, You have saved me–so much better Your way. When I thought I’d lost me, You knew where I’d left me. You reintroduced me to Your love. You picked up all my pieces, put me back together. You are the defender of my heart.”
His way is not only better, it’s the best. “I want what You want, Lord, and nothing less.” So this year, I enter 27 with a confidence in my Good Father. I have a renewed understanding of His love. I know better now how deep His love reaches because I know it reached me when I was low. I believe that my obedience is for my joy. I believe that He speaks when I wait. And so I will wait on Him–He always shows up. I know that He will show up this year and once again go beyond my wildest dreams or imagination. This year, I will see the goodness of the Lord as I wait for and hope for and expect Him.
Faithful You have been, faithful You will be.
God’s grace in my life:
How gracious of Him to lead me when I fought Him, to love me when I left Him, to restore my heart when I broke His. It’s all grace.