waiting

Why did God wait to teach me about joy?

Joy.

What does that word really mean?

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Let’s backtrack. Two weeks ago, I blogged about my first major ‘lightbulb’ moment of this year. To sum it up in three sentences: multiple people I’d looked up to really let a lot of people down. I was mad. God helped me forgive them (a story for another day) and I realized what my life would be like without God—and the amazing difference He makes in it every day.

That’s had multiple effects on me over the past six months.

First, it cleared up that whole lingering doubt that you can read about in last fortnight’s post.

Second, it unlocked a whole area of joy and thankfulness for me.

Every time I get mad, I think of what it would be like, and I’m just so glad that didn’t happen.

When I have a flash of fear that I’ll always be single, or life is stressful, or my book edits seem to be too much for me, I remember what He’s saved me from.

Do I skip around singing about daisies all day long? No. But a sense of profound thankfulness does fill me, because I can clearly see two Jessica’s in my head and I’m just so glad that one of them isn’t me.

The thing is, ever since I was 18, I’d picture my life without God, wondering what it would be like. And it was never a pretty picture.

But that was different to this. I still struggled with joy, trust and doubt.

But in March, where all of a sudden I could imagine ‘alternate universe Jess’, it was so clear, and the gratefulness was immediate. It was like God flicked a switch in my brain.

Why did He take six years to do it?

I have no idea. I don’t think it was because I was doing anything wrong. I have pursued God my entire life.

All I can say is, He decided the timing would be six years. And how can I argue with that?

All I can say is, if you doubt, don’t walk away to figure it out. Keep the conversation with God open. You can be mad, sad, whatever. Just keep searching, keep pursuing, keep talking.

 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:8-9 NIV

I know, sometimes it doesn’t feel like he plans to answer. I waited six years. I’m sure others have waited longer.

But there was encouragement along the way, in those six years. He sustained me. He taught me things. And now I’m getting to use the things I learned in our new church plant.

So my prayer for you today is, no matter how long it’s been, don’t give up on God. He’s not gonna give up on you.

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The Waiting Begins…

It’s been a big week!

As well as starting work on my next novel (YAY!), I have entered my first novel, Open Your Eyes, into the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis contest for unpublished authors. I have to wait for ages (until May/June) to get feedback from the judges, but I can’t wait to hear their opinions on how I can improve my writing. 🙂

I also have a guest post up today at Cherie Burbach’s awesome site, Working Writers and Bloggers. Her site is one of the best I’ve found, so I’m pretty happy I get to be a part of it.

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I Am Here

Do you ever feel forgotten? Alone? Insignificant?

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Sitting in my office each day, typing out stories that no one has read yet, I do. And that adds pressure. I feel pressure to finish and get published as quickly as possible, so that all this effort will mean something. I want people to read my work and hopefully come closer to God. I want to accomplish His work and please Him.

And I’ll admit – though this doesn’t sound spiritual at all – I want to get paid. I love my part-time job and I feel like God is telling me to stay put and keep writing. But that doesn’t mean I don’t worry about the financial implications.

It looks like getting published will solve all these problems. But the other night, God reminded me of the truth.

I AM HERE.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn my post, ‘Waiting, Self-Doubt and Heroes’, I talked about people in the Bible who have had to wait – Abraham, Joseph, David and Jesus included. Yet while I recognized that waiting is normal, even an honor, I still felt like I needed to accomplish some ‘success’ before God would be pleased with me. I felt like He wasn’t with me in the waiting.

I should have known better. Actually, I did know better – in my head. Sometimes it takes a while longer to trickle down into my heart.

Almost a week ago, God dropped this one on me: “I am here”. And now I feel so relieved. God is here now. Not when I get published, convert a friend or do some other good deed. He is beside me in the present. In the waiting. And if my heart is in the right place – seeking Him – then He is already pleased.

The implications are enormous. The pressure is off; I don’t need to rush. I can let go of my frantic drive to accomplish something and embrace His peace. And it’s good.

With my previous mindset, I was limiting God. I didn’t think He was working because I couldn’t see it. So I strove to get myself to a place where God would use me. And I ignored the fact that God’s work is often unseen, and that it is always happening. Even in the waiting.

So now I’ll ask for His help to remember His truth: He is always with me and is always working. And I’ll pray that He keeps showing me areas where I need more reminding.

Waiting, Self-Doubt and Heroes

You are wasting your time. No one will see or appreciate your work. You’re failing.

Photo by Alex E. Proimos, sourced from everystockphoto.com.

Photo by Alex E. Proimos, sourced from everystockphoto.com.

Even though I haven’t been consciously thinking those discouraging thoughts, they’ve definitely been on my mind over the past few weeks. Self-doubt has been infecting me. Quietly hovering on the edge of my subconscious, a general feeling of failure and foreboding has been like that sticky black goo that covers Peter Parker in Spiderman 3. Strong, dark, evil, and hard to get rid of.

Why?

Part of it is my addiction to affirmation. God’s weaning me off it, and this novel-writing venture is certainly stretching me. It will be a very long time before an agent, editor or reader tells me, “Good job!”. In the meantime I must plot, research, write, read, re-write, edit, edit, edit, re-write and so it goes on.

To put it simply, the waiting is frustrating. Alone at my computer, sometimes I feel insignificant, unworthy and foolish.

But then God reminded me of something I should have known all along: everyone has to wait.

Abraham stayed childless for decades. Joseph served time first as a slave, then as a prisoner. David was chased from cave to cave. Even Jesus spent years building tables and chairs. I’ll bet they were all tempted to feel forgotten, useless or alone. Yet when the time was right they founded nations, ruled empires and saved the universe.

The book of James opens with the words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds”. (James 1:2 NIV, emphasis mine.) Pure joy? That’s right. Because God is teaching me perseverance; giving me maturity. Same as He did for them.

It’s a little humbling. Suddenly I almost feel proud that God is asking me to wait. I’m sharing in an experience that all the greatest men and women of faith have gone through. It’s an honour, really.

And so is God’s reminder in Psalm 139 that I’m not alone. Even when it’s been just me and my computer all day, God’s actually paying pretty close attention.

Blog 136 O LORD, You have searched me

and You know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

You know it completely, O LORD.

Psalm 139:1-4 NIV

 

How about you? How do you feel when you’re stuck waiting? What do you do about it?