Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fullness of Time

I have a friend, my age, who is married. To most 25 year olds, this is not surprising. But I mean what I say, that I have ONE friend who is married and my age. So she holds a special place in my row of confidants. Loving her has never been hard, and envying her is unthinkable. Her story is beautiful, and I treasure it.

The tale her life weaves is different from mine, and that is good. She was married 4 and a half years ago, but she remembers before. More than once she has encouraged me to embrace the days God gives me, as He gives them. Before she was married, she spent time on tour with a Christian conference, interning with a youth ministry, and on a mission in Thailand. She doesn’t regret ending those things to become a wife and a mom (a busy mom – 5 kids!), but she values them for what they were to her, and values them more for being special to that season of her life.

Just this month, out to eat delicious Italian food and celebrate that significantly frightening birthday of mine when I turned 25, she repeated her exhortation. This time she made clear that she doesn’t think the only way to make the most of one’s singleness is mission trips. Her life isn’t the only way. Her story is hers. In fact, she said she rather likes having me live close! “One day you’ll look back, and this time will seem short. You’ll wonder why you worried.” I didn’t tell her I worried. Good friends don’t have to be told, I guess.

But I pondered for a moment. The waiting hasn’t been short. I don’t ever want to forget that, because that cheapens this time. For years I have been enduring hope, striving for hope – and patience and faith. This has to be for a reason. God is doing work in me; I haven’t stalled in this in-between season of singleness. And He is doing work around me, through me. Living at home, I have an impact on my family. Being single, as my friend said, I get to spend more time with friends. And who knows what God is up to with the man who will be my husband some day.

Though her time of singleness was short and cram-packed, mine is long and also full. I don’t want to call this time fleeting, not only because of all that it contains, but because of what it represents. There is a sacredness to waiting, something to be attained through practicing it. Without delayed gratification, there is no hope. If one has everything one wants before you think to desire it, there is no desire.

But hope and desire were not made merely to serve romance. Experiencing hope and desire and something about time that I still don’t understand – these train me for my walk with God.

We use words like thirst to describe how our souls long for God because God made us to sense need for water. “God deals with us as with sons” – “for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” If God had not given us fathers willing to spank us, how would we know to relate to God this way? So also, this yearning time, and stillness time point me to the yearning I ought to have for God. Do I put my trust in His action? Am I catching my breath every day thinking that He might come? Is my imagination captivated by His promises?

This turns back again and says more. I’m not the only one waiting. God is waiting. Just as He chose to love, and chose to suffer, and chose to be tempted, and chose to be born and to die, He has chosen to wait. Eternal God has put Himself in time. And time is not yet full. In exercising waiting and containing myself to hope, I am learning about God’s hope and God’s waiting. He has patience.

There is a praise song that alights on me like a vision of radiance. “We will dance on the streets that are golden: the glorious Bride and the Great Son of Man…” Think of the joy with which the Bridegroom will dance among His Bride, with which He will feast with her. If that will be his joy, this strangeness called time will be part of his payment. He knows that future and is waiting with eager expectation for the day and hour only His Father knows. Somehow to think of God’s joy makes me want that more than I want it for myself.

Jesus is no Peter Pan, who lives only for the moment, forgetting past and future. No, to live with an eye on the future that can only be reached by walking the present, that is grown up. It is mature and sober. But the joy it produces is most free and most giddy. There is nothing unsure in the joy, even the excruciating joy of this waiting. Peter Pan might enjoy the moment, but that is all he has; he must be ready for a turn of events. The joy of Christ – and His Bride with Him – will be everlasting.

To God be all glory.


A Joyful Chaos said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Thank you for commenting.


Waiting is hard for me to write about, even though it is something of which I am often thinking.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn