Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Art of Waiting

Exactly two years ago, in November 2006, I embarked on my first overseas trip. I was blessed to have toured Germany for a week, visited Strasbourg, France, and attended a six-day international publishing conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I called it my journey of faith because I went through situations that seemed impossible had it not been for divine intervention. Many times, my faith in God was tested, and in those times my weaknesses and limitations were magnified, but the power and limitlessness of God was all the more manifested. I kept a journal as I embarked on that trip and starting today, I would like to share with you the memories and lessons I learned along the way, hoping that one day, you too, will respond to the call of a journey of faith. (If this is your first visit to this blog, you might want to start reading the entries starting November to follow this story.)
Howard Whitman said, “The art of waiting is not learned at once.” I usually think of myself as a patient person. But these past weeks, I realized I have not yet perfected the art of waiting. I am being taught though by, who else, but the most patient Person--God the Father Himself.

For the past weeks, I have been revising a Values Instruction module on the topic of “patience”. The definition and practice of patience has been all over the modules I’ve written and rewritten. Patience is calmly bearing troubles, hurts, and challenges; it is waiting without complaining. In the midst of writing this instructional material for public school students, I guess God found a perfect opportunity to test me and see which area of patience I would need further coaching.

You might have guessed already the area of my testing—my trip to Germany and Brazil. Earlier, I was ready to pay for my ticket when I learned that the rate has increased tremendously. At that time, I didn’t have enough to pay the new rate so I decided to book with other agencies offering a cheaper airfare. I did this without canceling my first booking. Little did I know that I was committing a big mistake. I later learned that Lufthansa cancelled my first booking (with all flights already confirmed) because of double booking. Now I have to settle with the agency offering the cheapest so far, but I am waitlisted.

All this time, I have been busy scouting for travel agencies, making calls, asking people to pray for the confirmation of my flights, updating my bank accounts hoping for a new deposit, meeting donors, rushing the Values Instruction modules, leading Bible studies and cell groups, studying Revelations for Adult Sunday School, doing household chores, watching our children’s inter-school competitions for several days, and recently, attending a book launching and sitting as panelist for a discussion on women’s worth. My body was tired, my mind was occupied, and my heart was failing. Every morning, I was crying before God and on top of my prayer list is the confirmation of my flights. My booking is for a Nov. 2 departure from Manila for Frankfurt, Germany and after about a week, I should be flying to Sao Paulo, Brazil either Nov. 10, 11 or 12 to be on time for the conference from Nov. 12-17, then back to Manila on 19. Some of the leg of my trip is confirmed already except for the Frankfurt and Sao Paulo leg.

I agonized over the thought that I might have made the wrong decision of switching to another travel agency. It seems now it would have been better if I just waited for the rest of the money and paid the first agency and presto!—I could have easily gotten the ticket, unlike now when I am under the pressure of waiting. On the other hand, I have always been asking God for guidance. I believe He didn’t let me out of His sight one second. God wouldn’t turn back on His promise to guide me. Or did I miss His instruction?

After being done with the Values Instruction module, I spent the whole day yesterday with God at home. I immersed myself in reading the exodus of the Israelites, especially the part where it says that instead of guiding the Israelites along the direct route from Egypt to the Promised Land, He took them by a longer route to avoid fighting with the Philistines (Exodus 13:17-18). Lesson 1: If God does not lead you along the shortest path to your goal, don’t complain or resist. Then the Israelites panicked because they were trapped between the raging Egyptian army and the vast turbulent sea. We know now that God parted the sea and made a dry highway for His favorite people. Lesson 2: Just when we thought we’re already at the edge and trapped, don’t panic but watch out because God is coming to the rescue to show His glory.

Determined to keep this recovered peace, I pursued God this morning and focused on His character and promises. I’ve already gone this far in the journey; surely He has a plan how I would get there in Germany and Sao Paulo according to His time. This morning, I pulled from the shelf a book someone is borrowing from me. Then I noticed from among the standing books one that is titled PSALMS NOW. I pulled the book and discovered it was a paraphrase of the book of Psalms by Leslie Brandt. I haven’t noticed the book before so I decided I would use that in my devotion. God led me to Psalm 139, to a line that says, “I could fly to the other side of the world and find You there to lead the way.” I immediately checked six other translations including the King James Version, and the Tagalog Popular Version which I am writing here in full: “Kung ako ay makalipad, umiwas na pasilangan, o kaya ang tirahan ko’y ang duluhan ng kanluran, tiyak Ikaw ay naroon, upang ako’y pangunahan, matatagpo kita roon upang ako ay tulungan” (Awit 139:9-10). Following the cross reference on the margin of the Bible, I found Psalm 40, a psalm of David that talks about waiting on God. There I received Lesson 3: Because God has gone ahead of me and promised to guide me in my trip, I should wait patiently. In fact, I should be happy because in this time of waiting, I am right in the center of God’s will.
Are you waiting for something or for someone? God is teaching me to wait patiently, calmly, joyfully, confidently. Maybe it’s about time you enroll too in His school and learn the lessons of the art of waiting.

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