Flick couldn’t back down. After the triple dog dare his fate was sealed. He leaned forward. His tongue gingerly touched the frozen pole and Christmas movie history was made.
Lines from movies often punctuate my thoughts, humoring me in a “it’s funnier in my head” way while providing plagiarized lines for the screenplay of my life. When I need some tenacity, in my mind I am Scarlett O’Hara standing with raised fist vowing, “As God is my witness, I will never go hungry again.” When I recall good times with good friends, I hear Rick in Casablanca: “We’ll always have Paris.” Even Jar Jar Binks, “My give up,” runs through my thoughts when I feel like, well, giving up.
But lately, it has been Flick’s cries that echo in my head.
“Thtuck? Thtuck! THTUCK!!!!”
I’m stuck. Waiting. Life chewed me up and spit me out. Broken and defeated, it took all my strength to roll onto my back, look heavenward and gasp, “Help!” I envisioned my future as a long walk-by-faith journey punctuated by God’s provision and miracles aplenty. I hadn’t counted on this faith thing being so hard. And frustrating.
Why is this taking so long? I am weary. I want answers. I want direction. I want a break from bad news and disappointment. Two years ago I felt I lost everything. But I was wrong. The losses have not stopped. I’m stuck.
“My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3)
Oh David. I can count on him to have already written what my heart longs to say. He is the original blogger, writing what I didn’t know I felt until I read the Psalms. And in this verse he says what my heart is crying out to God: Are we there yet? In my mind I might actually be kicking the back of the seat when I ask repeatedly: Are we there yet?
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary.” (Isaiah 40:28)
That is such good news. I get weary, but God does not. With my tongue frozen fast to the flagpole, the simple knowledge that God does not grow tired or weary gives me something to think about beyond my discomfort, my pain. But there’s more to those verses in Isaiah.
“And his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases power to the weak.” (29)
I am weary but God is not. Which is a “good for him” truth that becomes “good for me” when he promises me strength and power.
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (30-31)
According to Isaiah, for the Lord to renew my strength, all I have to do is hope in him. Another translation says, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” Either way, when I’m weary God asks me to hope and wait.
In the midst of this long journey, God has alternately told me to wait, have faith, hope, and trust. Some days it’s easier to do all those things than other days. There are periods of time when I grow accustomed to the status quo. When I know what to expect, even if it’s difficult, unsettled, or painful, I seem to manage my emotions better. But when new losses occur, it feels like I’m starting all over and it’s frustrating. Why am I still swayed by circumstances? After all God has done, how can I doubt him? How can I let my emotions run away from me and drag me into anxiety and despair?
“Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit faints with longing. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for to you I have lifted up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:7-10)
Oh David, my spirit faints with longing too. Lord, answer me in the morning. I don’t actually know if David got his answer the morning after he wrote this. But David was a great man of faith…who grew weary and, it appears, impatient for God to do what he promised. Are we there yet?
“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’” (Isaiah 43:15)
So there it is.
God created and formed me; he has redeemed me and called me by name. But what I find hopeful in these verses is God promises to be with me. He doesn’t promise to prevent bad things from happening. In fact the bad things are “when” not “if.” My circumstances drag me down. God is with me. And this is the best part for a highly emotional, and often angst-ridden girl: God is with me because he is the Lord, my God, the Holy One of Israel, my Savior. He doesn’t keep me from being swept downriver or consumed by flames because I keep my emotions in check or don’t panic ever. He does it because he is God. That is one thing that never changes no matter what I face. No matter how I feel about what I face, whether weary or stuck. Hopeful or patient.
How long, God? Are we there yet?