How long Lord?
We’ve all been that impatient passenger in the long car ride of “wait” where we’ve been wondering, wringing our hands, inquiring of the Lord,
King David asked the same question:
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 13 1-6 NIV
Nobody has been given immunity from the wait. There are no fast passes to the front of the line. There are no side streets to bypass the bottleneck of “wait”.
Like little children relentlessly asking in the back seat of a long car ride, “Are we there yet?” God’s answer remains the same. “I’m neither behind, in a rush or in a hurry. Be not dismayed in the wait as arrival to your destination is always on time.”
So then we wait.
In a world where instant gratification is found in the drive-thru lane, a few seconds in the microwave or a swipe of the credit card.
We lose our patience when matters of the heart find us waiting day after day, looking over our shoulder, checking the mailbox or voicemail for any glimpse of a breakthrough, yet still we find ourselves asking,
“How long Lord?”
Five years might as well been a lifetime waiting for God to complete my singleness with a mate, yet the answer remained a cliffhanger, having me wait with bated breath, suffocating in a bubble ready to burst in frustration.
It’s comforting looking backward after the wait and the detailed transcripts of the wait have been revealed. I find that God was faithfully working on my behalf just as His promises said he would be. I stand amazed in wonderment the lengths my Heavenly Daddy went to, the events that crossed paths in the intersections of my life. God was at work all along, never off the clock, yet in his silence I assumed and lost confidence and hope that God had forgotten me in the wait. If only we would hold onto these truths for the next wait.
During the first year as a single mother living in a government subsidized apartment with my two small children, I convinced myself that God’s big reveal for me would arrive before a new lease needed to be signed.
Living in subsidized housing was less than desirable as concrete floors weren’t covered with carpet. Blinds weren’t furnished and we moved in minus some furniture. With confidence in God’s speedy answers to my deep need for a mate, I felt no need to make our “house a home” and delayed purchasing carpet, furniture or custom blinds for the windows.
To my deepest sadness the lease had to be renewed again, and again for the next three years. After year two, an unwelcome tenant was added to my apartment lease named “hope deferred”.
I wasn’t feeling “hope sick” just yet, but my heart began exhibiting the signs. Every year after another lease renewal my hands did the signing, yet my tears did all the talking,
“How long Lord?”
I think of the children of Israel and their forty year journey in the desert. Mile after mile and the endless walking for the millions of people, herds of animals and pulling all their belongings as their itinerary took them the long way home to the land they were promised. Surely Moses grew tired of Israelite’s constant whining,
“Are we there yet?”
I imagine I would have grown weary of the limited menu of manna and quail and no coffee in sight (would have been my gripe) and probably having a good hair day wasn’t even a consideration after the reality of the first week.
But God’s provisions were found faithful throughout their forty year wait.
A pillar of fire kept its post at night and the cloud was faithful to its position during the day. The Israelite’s shoes never wore out. Meals were never missed. Consistent provisions were their road signs along the pathway for encouragement,
“The Lord your God is faithful.”
God was beyond faithful to me during my personal wait of five years. We never lacked. The cupboards weren’t full, yet we never went hungry. The bank account balance was low, but the bills were paid every month on time. The car I drove was a few miles ready for the junkyard yet another would be provided.
My heart beat to the empty song of loneliness. I could barely stand the midnight hours alone. The years were adding up and the finish line of “wait” was nowhere near within my sight. God comforted though through the prayers of my friends, encouragement cards from my pastor, Friday night time with my sister, her best friend and kids. God was a true friend through so many people in my desperate time of need.
Year four was a game changer for me. I grew tired of the shell of the house we were living in. I longed for carpet under my feet, furniture to enjoy and pretty windows to look through.
After four long years I surrendered to the single life and purposed to make our subsidized house a home. Year four, everything came together. Carpet covered the concrete floors. Coordinated blinds and curtains were hung and furniture was purchased, completing our home.
That Thanksgiving, my heart was full to the brim of contentment. I raised a white flag of surrender to my singleness. I rested in the idea that maybe it was just going to be God and me. The question “How Long Lord” seemed to be answered in the peace of my heart, “We’re here now.”
Isn’t it interesting that when we exhale, let go of our hopes and dreams and fall into the arms of Gods, we hear those words we gave up thinking He’d ever say, “Ok kids, we’re here.”
When I least expected and with whom I least expected him to be, God introduces HIM, my man, my completeness, the love of my life.
The wait was over.
I couldn’t believe how perfect my storybook ended.
But before our “happily ever after” began, God had great words of caution, the same words He had for the children of Israel before they entered the land they were promised forty years prior he warned:
…. Praise the Lord for the good land he has given you…
…DO NOT FORGET the Lord your God…
… Remember Him when your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied OR your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt…. (Deuteronomy 8:10-14 NIV)
God tells us not to forget what He has brought us through, a journey endured by His strength, and not our own. It is in this remembrance that gives us hope in the next wait, the next time we’re tempted in a long car ride to ask, “How long Lord?”
Currently, a brand new wait of almost three years has taken us down the long road of the familiar. The scenery hasn’t changed. We fight succumbing to the sadness of “hope deferred”. The unknown and weariness of the wait still tempts the question, “Are we there yet?”
Yet that hope of remembrance from twenty-five years ago sustains us.
We hold onto that reminder from God to NOT FORGET His faithful promises, and we haven’t.
We repent many times in wanting to hear God turn off the car keys at our destinations arrival.
But God wants our dependence on Him. He wants to show off in our big reveal. As in all “waits”, we must surrender to it. We must rest in the unknown of “How Long”. We must trust that God is working it out for our good.
Interestingly, I was reminded in a recent Facebook memory of mine posted nine years ago regarding God’s faithfulness to me:
In fifty years of life, thru good times and bad, thru employment and unemployment, when living in government housing and in our own abode, thru high paying jobs and starting over again and anything else I have missed, God has never let us down. He is always faithful and always on time. God does his best work when times are the worst. Thank you God for being who you always said you would be. I have never doubted it. No reason to.
While wishing we knew “How Long Lord” for this current wait,
We are confident as we hope in the remembrance of God’s promised faithfulness, the promise that sustains us in the wait.