“I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 41:1 ESV)
Are you waiting on the Lord?
The New Year always brings me such hope. The Christmas season seems to be a reset button of sorts – it’s not that I think I’ll morph into a new and better person overnight. But all the good (and the bad) habits that I’ve been cultivating get set aside in anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth.
For a few days this year I didn’t worry about what we would eat or what we would wear. I had time to contemplate the things I wanted to focus on in the New Year. Now, a month into the New Year, I can see a few of the things I set out to accomplish might have been a little more ambitious than reality will allow for – but one can dream.
What about those things I can’t change? What about the ache in my heart for the circumstances beyond my control? The ones that no amount of self discipline, not one more minute of sleep denied or ounce of sugar surrendered will change?
My husband and I spent years waiting on the Lord for a home. As of March, 2017, we were packing 7 of us into an 800 sq. ft. house. We had tried various ways of finding a more suitable home to raise our family, but the door just kept closing firmly on us. When the winters are long and cold, the days feel endless keeping a handful of children occupied. There was always a sense of urgency – we needed to find a larger home. I wrestled with the Lord on more than one occasion, demanding a reason for our circumstances. It came to me slowly and gently,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 2:9, ESV)
What if I could live joyfully, right where I was? What if I could live with hope for things unseen, even in my circumstances that seemed so overwhelming? It started off small enough – each day I would thank the Lord for the gifts He had given me, and at the top of the list was our little house.
If the Lord never provided a bigger home, would I still love Him? Would He still be enough? Would I still be His beloved daughter? And the answer was always, “Yes.” Over and over, I came back to the same conclusion, “If not, then He is still good.”
The waiting became a time of rejoicing. You can’t hide from messes in a small home – wherever you go, they are right in front of you. The beauty of a small home is that it is quick to tidy up! Roll up your sleeves for a couple of hours and you can have the whole place spotless. I could stand in one spot and see into every room and see each of my beautiful children growing and laughing. I could open the windows and watch the breeze blow through the house, curtains rippling like in a dream. The Lord worked a change in me as I had asked Him to!
When we moved into our new home I found it hard to leave the place where we had brought 4 out of 5 newborns home. I prepared for all of my married siblings’ weddings in that home. I baked many, many loaves of bread, poured many cups of coffee, shed tears, and shared side splitting laughter with so many beloved friends and family there.
And in an ironic twist of divine comedy, the house we bought was nothing like what we were looking at or thinking of. It is still on the small side for a growing family of 7, but God gave us extra blessings *we hadn’t even dared ask for* because we felt they were too out of reach. Unmerited grace.
An eternal dwelling
Friends, even now, I am preaching to myself. I am reminded that even when we receive our heart’s desire, we are still messy sinners in desperate need of grace. A new home did not change my sinful heart – it never could. Only Jesus could – the spotless Lamb who came to pay the price for my sin.
The Lord keeps bringing me back to Psalm 91,
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge, and my fortress,
my God, in who I trust.” (v. 1-2 ESV)
My truest rest and comfort, the only place I can eternally dwell, is in the shelter of the Most High. What a relief! No amount of house hunting, no amount of worry, anger, bitterness, no mansion or mole hill, can ever change that.
I find myself again, in another season of waiting. There is another life circumstance that I cannot control, that has caused great pain. My hands feel useless and empty. I watch dear loved ones struggle with burdens I could never lift.
Maybe you do, too? I am left with the resounding sense that the only one who can lift us up has said,
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30 ESV)
Alyssa Donovan is a wife to an outdoorsman, and tames tangles on the heads of their five beautiful children. She’s grown up on the Alberta prairies, and captures wild yeast from the air to bake bread. She loves Jesus because He first loved her. Alyssa drinks coffee, homeschools, sweeps the floor, and dreams of one day having chickens.
Alyssa also serves on the WE advisory board and is the blog submissions editor. You can connect with her on Instagram @mrsalyssa.