Hebrews 11, Galatians 6:9, Psalm 13
I laid the card carefully on the bathroom counter next to the sink, where I knew my husband would see it. It was a folded piece of white construction paper, cut in half. In red ink, I wrote: To WB, I appreciate all the hours you spend working to support our family.
God gave me an image of a simple card made out of construction paper while my toddler was putting stickers on some a few weeks ago. I was trying to talk myself out of self-pity and frustration, and I knew in my gut that God wanted me to make a card. Part of what makes obedience so hard is doing what I know God wants me to do when I least want to. Obedience isn’t about feelings. Just ask my three-year-old.
I hadn’t seen my husband in roughly 48 hours days due to back-to-back 17-hour paramedic shifts. Sometimes absence does not make the heart grow fonder – just more aggravated. My son kept a steady hum of “Where’s Daddy?” despite all of my efforts to distract him. Bearing the burden of entertaining, disciplining, feeding and diapering for two days with no break was wearing me down, and yet God wanted me to write a note of appreciation to my husband, rather than complain to him. Ouch. So I made the card. My husband doesn’t like the long hours he is required to spend away from us as he serves others any more than I do, especially when he is not compensated well, which is why we are relying on government assistance. And what is our reward for a year of applying and praying for better paying jobs? Zero offers. Yet he continues to put on a brave smile and thanks God daily for a paycheck. And so must I.
Sometimes obedience means being still when everything in you screams to do something. Apply for more jobs. Network. Sometimes it takes a supreme effort to do nothing and wait. Like Joseph, son of Jacob, who was sold as a slave by his older brothers and falsely accused by Potipher. He didn’t perform any action, but maintained faith and a good attitude as he waited on God’s vindication. He did exactly what Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” And that’s exactly what happened.
Bible teacher and author Beth Moore describes a common condition called “LATER Syndrome” in her Believing God study. This is the time span between a specific act of obedience and the reward. It can be years. In our situation, we believe that our act of obedience has meant returning to the same place of employment where we left, maintaining a good attitude, and waiting on God to lead us to another employment that meets our financial needs. Maintaining a good attitude has been a struggle for me. God may want my husband at this ambulance company for reasons we don’t yet understand because we don’t see what God sees. And this is when Satan pounces because he knows that we are vulnerable to losing our sense of purpose.
“Only God effectively prepares, teaches, equips, and matures but you can count on him to often use the test tube of time in which to accomplish it. Time by itself does nothing but grow us old. What we do with time makes the difference. We tend to wonder why God waits so long, but we view time from a different perspective than God. We forget that God’s primary objective for us on earth is to prepare us for a city for which he is the architect and builder. In the meantime, God expects that our lives bear much fruit. He sees the whole picture.” (Believing God, Beth Moore, 2004).
What’s the best treatment plan for a bad case of the “LATER Syndrome?” Moore points out that remaining in close fellowship with God is critical. She provides examples of how all the Patriarchs of the Old Testament (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph) obeyed a specific command, believed a specific promise, and then endured years of waiting until the promise came to fruition.
Even more comforting is that even David, the man after God’s own heart, despite his incredible faith, went through times of despair, waiting and discouragement, expressed beautifully in Psalm 13.
Lord, I confess that I have not remained in close fellowship with you. I have fallen prey to the lie that circumstances alone will make me happy rather than trusting that you are on the move and are working out a more wonderful plan than I could ever imagine. I praise and thank you for your faithfulness to me despite my wandering heart and mind. Amen