Few things frustrate me as much as my daughter’s temper tantrums when the answer to her question is actually “yes” but comes with “just wait” attached…
I know it’s hard for her to understand that the answer is actually yes when the results haven’t been produced yet… her little mind can’t really comprehend anticipation if she doesn’t see evidence of the result being produced… not yet.
So when she asks to play outside, and I don’t immediately open the door for her, she’s okay with it if she recognizes the actions that are happening in the meantime as actions that lead towards that open door. When Mama gets out the sunscreen, she connects that action to her desired result… the door WILL open soon.
Or when she asks for a snack, and sees preparations being made in the kitchen, she is able to wait… even clapping her hands in anticipation, and doing a little dance, or jumping, or grinning wildly…
When my child asks me for something, she is consumed by her desire for that thing. Her whole world is a brighter place when she gets what she has asked for. Likewise, her whole world is devastated if Mama answers “no”.
If I won’t let her play with my cell phone, she can’t think of an alternative activity…. in her mind, she has met the end of recreation indefinitely.
fortunately, she is fairly easily distracted. Her “baby” or “bubbles” or a drink of juice quickly fill the void in her life.
but “wait”… now THAT is a hard answer.
We are in the car, and her water bottle has slipped from her hands. All she can think of is how she NEEDS a drink of water. i hear a hopeful little voice implore from the back seat, “more?” “peesh? more?”
and I say, “yes baby, but Mama’s driving, just wait one minute”
this response is met with a cry of indignation… and then she tries again
“more? peesh Mama? more”
and I say, “it’s coming sweetie, just wait a minute”
now my daughter is a perceptive child, and she can see that I am making no moves to retrieve her water bottle for her. She doesn’t really believe that “wait” is going to lead to the fulfillment of her desires.
she begins to thrash, and kick her legs and yell… and these tears rapidly dissolve into heartbroken weeping, as tears stream down her face, and trickle into her mouth, taunting her thirst with with their saltiness.
Finally I arrive at a red light, reach back and retrieve the water bottle and hand it to my sweating child. she looks at me with a look of betrayal and gratitude all in one, and takes the water bottle. sometimes she hugs it for a while first… its presence seeming to serve as a comforting reminder that Mama did listen… other times she drinks greedily to satisfy her thirst… and then throws down the bottle in indignation… because her pain or anger at being “ignored” has still got her upset at her Mama.
Last weekend, as my daughter cried when I did not immediately produce grapes out of my purse after she had finished the last one in her hand, I realized that I am exactly like her. She asked for more grapes, and the answer was yes, but in order to get them, I needed to first shift her on my lap into a position that she would not fall to the ground, and THEN I would be free to reach into my purse to get the grapes. She did not see this action as leading to “yes”… she was hurt and angry at what felt like a “no” to her.
and how often am I not exactly the same?
When God says yes, it is delightful. when God says “no” it is hard… even mystifying. but when He says wait… that’s different.
Sometimes I can see that there is a progression of things happening here… in my heart, in the world around me, in the people and things that may be affected, before “yes” can arrive. It’s easy to hold on to hope and faith in the promise of “yes” in these times.
I once informed God in a fit of anger that I was going to plant a church that he was going to *like* (the tacit condemnation being that the church I had just stomped out of was an affront to God’s righteousness)
God, in His tenderness blindsided me in His response, such that it derailed my judgemental attitude, and confounded my rant. He said, “yes, you are. But not until you are doing it out of love and not out of animosity”
After a long, humbled pause during which I looked at my bitter and resentful heart, I asked Him almost mournfully, “how long is THAT going to take!?”
and He didn’t give me an exact timeline, but he showed me specific things that needed to happen to prepare my heart.
This “wait” is easier to have faith in, because I see things unfolding. I see the preparations happening in my heart… I see the promise coming closer… (and frankly, sometimes I desire it much less these days… as my piety gives way to humility and I recognize and live the responsibility of ministry!)
Other “waits” feel impossible. where God tells me, “THIS I have promised to you. Just have faith.”
For example. Another time, I had to walk through a series of false accusations. God showed me what He wanted of me. He told me that I needed to walk with integrity, and speak not a word in my defense. And He even warned me that I would lose sight of Him, and implored me to have faith that He would be walking right beside me through this season.
Even THIS was not the hardest “wait” I have received… because He did give me this clear promise. but I did walk through a DARK season… and I did lose sight of Him. In that hopelessness, it is hard to believe His promise that I would be restored.
But the hardest “waits” have been the ones where He simply says, “yes. but wait” and the waiting is indefinite, and it seems like nothing is moving towards the fulfilment of the promise and some things even seem to be moving away from it.
I am an imperfect parent. But when I tell my daughter to wait, it is nearly always because something else needs to happen first. It is much better for her to wait for her water bottle than for her to get hurt or worse in a car accident because Mama was turned around finding the water bottle.
It is better for her to have sunscreen on as she plays outside than to have a sunburn but be free to play outside immediately.
She can’t see the cause and effect all the time.
I can’t see the cause and effect all the time.
But just as she learns to trust me that when I say “yes, but wait” she WILL experience the “yes”, and be content in the waiting, I want to learn to trust my Father, than when He says “wait”… no matter how indefinite the season, no matter how bleak, insufferable, or hopeless it may seem, He has not forgotten about me… He ALWAYS fulfills His promises.
And without Him saying, “wait” every once in a while… How would my spirit ever learn the life-giving disposition that is “HOPE” ?