The Mean Time12:17 PM
She got the text at 4:02 PM:
I'm not doing so great right now. I don't know where all this pain is coming from but
it won't stop bleeding.Then her voice on the other end: "So...what's up?"
"I don't know." I said it quiet. "I'm trying to wait for God, but He's not coming through."
She told me I'd been all over the place for the past few weeks -- giddy, giddy, giddy then crash the next second. Literally. She said I was being emotionally tough, holding everything in, not daring to let myself feel anything in case I missed God's will. I hadn't felt this way since last summer: bottom-of-the-pit living, facing weeks of spiritual agony and separation, nights of wanting to cry myself to sleep and never having the release to do it. I had vowed never to go back, back to where God wasn't there, back to waiting for God instead of waiting on God.
I didn't want to go back.
"Bailey," she said, after long pauses and stutters from my end, "you're not that deep in the pit. You're not. I honestly feel -- no, I know -- that this is an attack. Of course Satan's going to freak out that God's using you so powerfully. Don't you see it, what God's doing through you?"
To be honest? No. Yes. Sort of.
We didn't know what to do -- where the button was that rolled the burden away, how to release the spiritual tension, how to climb out of the pit. So she prayed for me -- forty-five minutes. Actually, she spent most of that time thanking God for what He had done and was doing, for the fact that He was here and loved me now and had conquered through the cross. Over and over again, she said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you." And when she got to the Amen, I realized something I knew but kept missing: God always works in the present.
I waited and waited and waited for God to come in. A year ago I lay curled up on the cold floor in the dark and begged God to be real to me. I pleaded with Him to give me an all-consuming fire that burned with passion for Him. I couldn't do this on my own. And that wasn't trite piety -- I honest-to-goodness had no clue how to catch the Obsession.
On the one hand, I "knew" what to do -- pray, read my Bible, be obedient, submit, die to self. But it wasn't working. It was all me. There was too much me and too little God. Still, I was trying. I was trying so hard -- and where was God?
I hear this soul cry from so many of my close friends and acquaintances, my brothers and sisters in Christ: they want God so bad, and He's not there. They try so hard, and nothing happens. They want to do His will, and He is silent. In short, they wait. They wait in darkness. They wait in confusion. They wait in pain.
There's another thing we all have in common: we hate waiting. The meantime is mean time.
I haven't figured out how to avoid the meantime, because it can't be. Nor do I have a magic formula for getting out of it. Some days we hurt all over, and we will for a long time until time heals wounds. But I am learning that God always works in the present -- especially in the times I can't see it.
Even in the pain. Even in the tears. Even in the confusion. Even in the darkness.
It's when I'm broken that He binds up the wounds. It's when I can't hold anything back that He holds me close. It's when I am weak that He fills me with strength. God loves us now. God hears us now. God works in us now. God heals us now. Not when we feel spiritual or comforted or better. Now. We don't always see it, but that's where faith comes in -- "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).
God doesn't abandon us when the going gets tough. It's the biggest lie Satan perpetrates against God's righteous ones -- that the second we lose our bearings or trip up or drown in tears, God flees. No.
God is there. Reach out and grab hold. Here in the mean time.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.
The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he will not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.