There are many faces to this “Soul Coach” named Waiting. Some faces of Waiting are those of a blessed soul companion who teaches the spiritual pilgrim about such things as dependence, trust, self-emptying, and the evisceration of pride. Then, there are other faces that Waiting shows to the soul sojourner… these faces taunt, mock, and belittle in effort to test the pilgrim’s resolve and learning through the season of wait. These are faces I have come to know during this past year.
While I have counted myself blessed to have this season in my life, the lessons and the experience are not easy. The price of learning to be dependent upon God and learning to really trust Him is very exacting. Pride’s roots run deep. The desire to achieve, compete, and consume are so deeply intertwined in my earthly DNA that to have them removed means that I very literally lose myself. And, the “aha” comes… this is what is meant by self-emptying.
These spells come and go like a tempest at sea; it’s almost as if I can see it coming upon me like the darkened and angry-brooding clouds swirling to gather into a storm on the ocean’s horizon. The same is true when the ravages of Waiting descend upon me. Fortunately, I have learned to be prepared for these seasonal downpours and I’m learning how to navigate the taunting waves and mocking winds when Waiting showers its wrath.
Waiting can be the most intense and poignant of all human experiences—the experience which, above all others, strips us of affectation and self-deception and reveals to us the reality of our needs, our values, and ourselves. -W. H. Vanstone; The Stature of Waiting
I am learning things with Waiting that I cannot learn anywhere else. No other teacher, no other university, and no library of books can teach what this “angel of God” named Waiting can teach me. Waiting is not only stripping me of me. Waiting is also stripping me of my self-created images of God. The course of my four and a half (plus) decades has created many versions of God and not one of them is even remotely close to the GOD who exceeds and rules over all man-made images. What I’m learning is this: not only do I have to be re-imaged, but my images of God have to be de-imaged. If I am to walk in deeper relationship with the True God, all images of God I have created must be stripped from my memory and revealed for the crutches and stumbling blocks they are.
Even the theologically sophisticated (person) can be helped by the reminder that our images of God are just that—images—and as we see their limitations, we outgrow them. The difficulty comes when we forget that they are merely images and think instead we have outgrown God. The spiritually stagnant are able to live in a state of denial, but the seeker after God may panic: “Perhaps I have gone too far! I should have been content with the God I had!” At its very best, this is an unsettling place to be. The ground no longer feels firm beneath one’s feet and, as one down-to-earth seeker has said, “Everything is up for grabs.” –Margaret Guenther; Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction.
And so, I will close this little confession with a prayer of David:
1 O Lord, I give my life to you.2 I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. 3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. 4 Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. 5 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. 6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. 7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord. 8 The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. 9 He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. 10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands (Psalm 25:1-10).
But it is good for me to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge (Psalm 73:28). Amen.
Consider all loose items on deck as being secured and all open hatches locked down tight…I’m ready to ride this storm out.