As we wait

As we wait

While working toward my master’s degree at Missouri State University, I had the great privilege of being a graduate assistant/writer in the Publications office. It was a dream job with dream co-workers who were extremely talented and willing to share their expertise with me. Even mundane tasks, such as organizing a samples closet, were exciting.

The floor where I worked housed several departments. Somehow among the different media groups, I ran across old Ozarko yearbooks. As I flipped through one in particular, I found a hidden treasure of poetry quotes by Rod McKuen. One of which said, “This is the way it was while I was waiting for your eyes to find me.”

Cue the sappy dramatics, amiright?

Sometimes, maybe.

Probably.

More often than not, yes.

But in 2004, the words became a thesis for a creative writing assignment: “The Way It Is.” For more than 2,500 words, I included snippets of my life. What I was doing. What was happening. How I was feeling. Stories written down for my future husband to see.

Lucky for you, Brave Reader, the paper is still saved on an external hard drive:

“The reason for all of this – for my telling you this – it’s so you’ll understand,” I wrote. “I’m giving you a small glimpse into my life, my life before you. I’m allowing you to see what’s forming me – the me you’ll fall in love with.”

Ugh. How do you tell that young woman she will still be single in 2021?

For all but five minutes of my life I’ve wanted to be married. When I moved to Texas in 7th grade, I was placed in multiple classes with a girl whose name I cannot remember. In P.E. and at lunch, all she could talk about was the fiiiiine Texas boys we saw in front of us. Literally. Every boy. Every minute. Every which way. “Do you think he’s fine?” she’d say to me. “No,” I would say back. “He’s so fine. What about him?” she’d say. “No,” I’d say back. She was persistent. I was defiant.

I was also waiting. The Lord had given me a heart for more than just fine. I wasn’t able to verbally express the idea in middle school, but the Lord guides.

Somewhere along the way, I missed the point. Sure, the experiences mattered, everything from buying my first car at. a. dealership to being a no-go on top of Pike’s Peak. Since the original paper in 2004, I’ve added a lot of conversation starters to the list. But how did the valleys, the mountains, the green pastures, the battles, the victories shape me? How did I use those experiences to lead a life worthy of my calling? Can I say every good, bad or indifferent point on my timeline saves-the-spot of a moment in which I became someone who gives grace more often? Or who forgives more quickly? Or who loves bigger? Someone who uses times of grief and joy to better empathize with another?

December’s issue is about times of waiting. More than that, it’s about who we become while we wait. Jayme Rogers is being molded and refined and making progress. Morgan Copeland is growing in faith. Tara Hathcock is becoming a better listener. Taylor Corcoran is having a change of heart.

As a foster mom, Dr. Sarah Thornton is becoming more hopeful.

As a missionary who served in Ethiopia, Tammy Salmon is becoming more like Jesus and the Ethiopian youth.

In the biblical story found in Judges 20, Israelites went to battle against Benjaminians (my word). On the first day, the people of Benjamin killed 22,000 Israelites. The people of Israel went to the Lord and wept. Finally, they were able to speak, and they questioned the Lord: Do we fight again? Yes, the Lord said. Go against them. Again.

Day 2. Benjamin destroyed 18,000 Israelites. 

Israel again went to the Lord and wept. They fasted and offered burnt offerings. Finally, able to speak, they asked of the Lord: Do we fight or do we cease?

We talk so often of the battles, of the war the Lord will surely win on our behalf. We just have to fight, fight, fight, we say.

After I initially read this passage, I used it as a source to keep myself moving forward, to continue in the battle I was in. But as I’ve thought about it recently, perhaps what I should have taken more notice of was who the Israelites were becoming while waiting for their victory.

Scripture tells us the battle was hard. And, yes, the army stayed. And, yes, they drew their swords. And, yes, I’m sure they hoped for a win. But their focus was on the Lord. What do you want us to do, they asked. Benjamin killed 130,000 people in two days, people who were deeply loved. Israel was wounded on all sides of the equation. Yet. Yet they continued to speak with the Lord, trusting Him and His will, His purpose, His plan, His guidance.

Brave One, how are you waiting? Who are you becoming as time continues to tick? Let’s use the opportunity well.

Julie Johnson
editor in chief

Read our Advent devotions written by Maggie Watson, Piper Wright, Brenda Lei Casey and Allison Adler. New posts each Sunday, Nov. 28-Dec. 19.

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