Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"for Christmas..." part one

If you're kids are anything like mine, they start talking about their next birthday party about two weeks after their most recent birthday party. My lovely three little arrows also talk about Christmas starting in about mid January and in June the requests seems to get narrowed down. Every commercial, every time one of their friends tells them about the latest craze, as we peruse the aisles of Target, we start talking about birthdays and Christmas. To my surprise they have learned (and now even my three year old B has caught on), that if you want a big ticket item in the Roth house you will hear the phrase "for Christmas" or "for your birthday." Well, now that Christmas is right around the corner, 74 days to be exact, my kiddos are using the phrase "for Christmas" pretty much daily. Waiting is so rough, isn't it? Whether we are waiting on Santa or Jesus or our next birthday party, waiting is hard.

I have had two major "for Christmas" realities in my life. The first being something I waited 10 years to see come to God's fruition. Many tears, my health, tiring conversations, nightmares, many agonizing prayers and prayer requests were spent over those 10 years as I waited for God to do something. I lost relationships, lost my reputation, lost my community, lost my ministry, lost my prior unwavering faith in Jesus. You see someone I love dearly was being abused by someone else I loved dearly as well. I saw the warning signs, I spoke up, and by doing so I was called a liar, a manipulator, a hypocrite, a unbeliever and so much more. I was shut out by Christians that had been my family, my community and my life for many, many years. I have never felt so alone, defeated, abandoned, shamed, lost or broken. The relationships that were spared were not as strong as before and I felt the speculation as they were still in conversations and relationship with the abuser. As the years went by my faith was restored, I learned to trust Christians and Christ again, I found new community and relationships and yet the haunting reality that I felt there was no justice lingered everyday in my heart. I still had bad dreams about the situation, I still ran into people that were once my family and now it was awkward to even say hello. I avoided going into stores when I saw certain cars in the parking lot, I graciously learned to speak kindly about those from my past, and I struggled spiritually with the darkness that loomed. I would hear sermons that related to what I needed God to do, and yet the waiting would remain. I never had peace, there wasn't a day that went by when I wasn't reminded of the unsettled truth. It was a long long journey.

Fast forward to a ordinary morning 10 years from when the journey began. I received a call from the person who had been abused and she asked to meet with me. I hadn't heard from this beloved person in 10 years. I was shocked by that phone call and afraid for the meeting, Thank you Jesus that so many years down the road, I had found enough healing to say yes. The next morning she came to my home, sat on my couch and told me she was going through an amazing recovery program through her church, and that part of her recovery was to revisit people from her past that had been part of the abuse she had faced. My heart wept as she read to me the descriptions of the abuse she had faced and as the TRUTH spilled out all over my living room, I had no idea how much this would be the end to my waiting. The process of my healing was ending as hers began. 10 years later, 10 long years of thinking this dark time in all of our lives would never be restored this side of heaven. She was able to meet with the key players from that time in her life and because of that I was able to meet with people too. Forgiveness and truth and healing and restoration was happening and not of our own doing, but because of God's timing and faithfulness to all of us. Having this wound re-opened wasn't easy as it brought a lot of pain and anger up in my heart. In time though I was able to see how it was in God's timing and that it would set me free. Soon after, the dreams stopped, the daily thoughts of the situation stopped, the need for an explanation or justice stopped. God had taken us all on HIS journey to teach us in the waiting. It took 10 years, and some of the brokenness will not be restored until heaven, but the truth set a lot of us free. Now when my thoughts turn to this situation or I see a familiar car in a parking lot, I have not a moment of fear. God took care of all of us. Praise you Jesus.

Waiting is painful, scary, difficult, faith altering, paralyzing, debilitating......but we have a God that has so much more for us than we can ever imagine. In the waiting we learn to trust Him, we learn that He truly wants the best for us. We learn that what we think is the best for us is not always the real best that God has for us. In the waiting we have no choice but to pray, to cry out to Him every moment of the day when we want to give up. I would have loved for God to have brought this all to an end many years before He did, but it was not time. It wasn't time for the person who was abused, the abuser, the people who were wasn't all about me.

If you are waiting, God is working. If you are waiting, God is faithful. If you are waiting, wait with hope that God's plan is in action, He is in the pain. He is in the bad dreams. He knows.

It brings me so much joy come Christmas morning when my kiddos are thrilled with excitement opening the gift they have been waiting for. I'm sure it feels like a long wait when they started telling me their requests in the month of April. They are confident that I have heard their requests and my promise of "for Christmas" is something they can count on. They have no choice but to wait, even though they sometimes ask me to get them the toy or electronic gadget numerous times before Christmas. They've seen it on TV, been tempted or succeeded to throw a tantrum in the aisle of Target. They have learned that some of the fun is in the waiting, although it is rough. They enjoy the gift more because they have waited for it and pondered it so long.

What is it that you need from Jesus? Are you in the waiting?

The answer, the healing, the job, the baby, the spouse, the financial provision, the home, the friendship.....I promise you it will come. And God, your Father, promises you, it will come......"for Christmas!"

Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.
I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.
But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation My God will hear me.

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