This place is slightly familiar. I have been here before. This place of hiding, of taking refuge. It’s a “bunkering” down and it happens often in a period of waiting. A time of waiting when God has simply and quietly whispered, “wait”. In this time of waiting, a storm of sorts can rage. A storm of the mind where anxiety, worry, concern, confusion and more ensue. Rather it may be a storm of the soul. Our soul is in pain, sorrow, bitter, or just deeply wounded. Or it may be a storm of the external where everything around seems to go wrong. Life and everyone in it seems to push against you. And this storm, then triggers the storms of the soul and mind.
Whatever the source of the storm, it remains that it is often the result of a period of waiting.
I read this passage this morning in Psalm 57, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.”
The Psalmist later goes on to say that I cry out to God, the one who will fulfill his purpose for me, the one who sends out his steadfast love and faithfulness.
Because He is steadfast, my heart can remain steadfast.
I wrote a journal entry several years ago - almost 4 years to be exact. My mom was in the throws of her battle with stage 4 cancer, and she was coming to live with us. In fact, this week marks 4 years exactly when she flew in to come and stay. We hoped during that stay, she would improve. However, this wasn’t God’s plan. She began to rapidly deteriorate. The cancer had moved to her brain, and she begin to lose much of her ability to function - emotional, mental, and physical.
This began a 6 month process - her living in our care, rapidly declining, and then God finally bringing an answer to all of our prayers. He brought her home to eternity. It wasn’t the answer I prayed for, yet it was an answer nonetheless.
Although I have had many seasons of loss and waiting, this particular time was one of the most devastating, scary, and confusing.
Yet, God was present. He was near. I wrote the following almost 4 years ago which ended up being a week before she passed away on March 13, 2012.
Hebrews 10: 36-37 - "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised. For, "In just a little while he who is coming will come and will not delay.” Persevere through the will of God and receive what is promised.
One of those standing precious promises is that "he who is coming will come and not delay." One of the footnotes for this scripture is found in IS 26:20 where it says, "Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by." This verse implies fury not toward's God's people, but the fury that he places on the enemies of his people (the Babylonians). It was his assurance that the storms of war would soon past, and there would be deliverance. He that is coming, would come and not delay.
This brings a striking sense of encouragement to us today, because it is yet another example of God's love and protection in the storms of life we face. It is our precious Savior telling us to go and hide ourselves in Him while He fights our battle, he will overcome and he will not delay. He is our rescuer, our defender, our tower, our fortress, our deliverer. And as the storms of life rage around us in whatever way, we can choose to hide in the shelter of his wings (Psalm 91, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”) We must remember, however, that hiding ourselves in Him is the key. We cannot step out into the middle of the storm or we will be caught in the fury of it - which is what brings worry, anxiety, fear, depression, confusion, doubt, etc. So we must hide in Him alone, so that we may stand firm and secure - hidden in him - when all around us the battle is raging and storm is great. ("Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah. Jehovah shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace, "Exo 14:13) His salvation is always promised for His word is firm and true.
It doesn't matter why He allows the storm to rage, it doesn't matter that he did not answer a prayer in the way that we desired. All that matters is if we persevere through what He wills, we shall receive what he has promised. And he has promised that He will come and not delay. Until He comes and we see his full deliverance (whether that be here or eternity) - we must walk in obedience and resignation to that will, and then hide ourselves in the shadow of His wings. What will we find in that time of hiding...we will find such an overwhelming sweet sense of his presence, his peace that passes all understanding, grace and mercy sufficient enough to walk through each day, provision in every area, security, hope, a future, joy, an undeniable sense of his everlasting love, forgiveness when we fail and so much more. And to think we receive all of that in the storm, yet we still have the hope and promise of his ultimate deliverance of the storm.
I am on the other side of that particular storm, and standing in full redemption and deliverance. It wasn’t because He responded to my time of waiting in just the way I had hoped. He simply and wonderfully worked gloriously in my heart and changed me from the inside out.
I read another passage a few days ago in Psalm 73:16-17. The psalmist is expressing a multitude of feelings regarding his specific situation. There is confusion, envy, anger, bitterness, and yet trust. He comes to a place in the middle of the Psalm where he states, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”
In essence, what he is saying is, “Nothing makes sense! I feel as though I am going crazy in confusion and pain. God, I can’t understand your purposes or plans. But then I prayed, I went into your sanctuary. I rested in your presence. And you begin to speak, and I regained perspective. I was reminded of your sovereign plan, of your faithfulness. And, I began to trust again. You reminded me that you are enough, my strength, all I need.”
Let me bring this all together. The time of waiting doesn’t mean sitting idly by. It isn’t hopeless or inevitable pain. In fact, it can actually be a time of much joy as we watch how God works in us.
God does much in the waiting, but we must HIDE in Him. My sister spoke this to me recently, “It’s time to bunker down.”
We must “bunker” down, hiding in the shelter of His wings until the season is over. This hiding is not passive. It’s quite the opposite. Our growing in faith and trust remains active.
- “Be merciful to me, my soul takes refuge in you”. It’s a time of repentance. It’s a time of soul surrender. In this waiting, it is a time to say “search my heart, O God”. It is a time where God shapes, molds, and literally changes us from the inside out - if we let him. If we are dealing with what is happening on the inside of our hearts during the times of waiting, we will be crying - “Be merciful to me, o God”! And we will have the joy of taking refuge in Him.
- “I take refuge in the shadow of your wings”. We spiritually hide, bunker down, rest, and wait in the shelter of His wings. And we are protected. We allow His sovereign purposes to be accomplished. We let Him fight for us. And we find peace, provision, and strength. Freedom is found in hiding in Him.
- “Until I went into the sanctuary of God”. We pray, fast, and spend time in His presence. In His presence is fullness of joy. He brings counsel and wisdom when we pray. Prayer is powerful and effective. It brings renewed trust in God’s faithfulness. Insight into God’s purposes and plans is often given, and our perspective is made right. Prayer changes things. If not the situation, it changes us. Always.
God longs for us to take refuge in Him, to find our full dependence up on Him. And He will respond, He is always faithful to do so.
It's not a physical hiding. It's a hiding of our soul, heart, and spirit in the shelter of his wings. A kind of dance. A dance where we lock eyes with our Savior, we follow His lead, and the world falls away. Everything simply fades and quiets in the light of His eyes on us as His children. There is freedom and extravagant love found in this dance of taking refuge in Him.
To read other thoughts on "waiting", visit here...