I’ve been meditating on the perfect ways of God recently. My fiancé and I are going through our toughest test of faith to date, waiting for a visa that will allow us to live in the same country and get married. The website says the processing time can be anywhere up to 17 months. We are currently one month down. We can’t start planning our wedding because we don’t have a date, which everything hinges on. We watch as many of our Facebook friends get married and post about a wedding date countdown for 2018 and we don’t know if we will be able to do the same.
But instead of fixating on the time (the when, when WHEN?! will drive you insane) I am learning to fixate on the God of the timing.
“As for God, his way is perfect. The word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.” – 2 Samuel 22:31 (NIV)
I remember being arrested by this chapter in the Bible five years ago in a college laundry room, reading it over and over until it became one of my favourite passages.
Perfect. Who of us has perfect ways? Who can claim to be a person without error or folly, someone who has never made a mistake and has nothing to be embarrassed by? The idea is actually difficult for the human brain to comprehend.
I have neatly packaged timelines in my head that I would love God to adhere to, especially when it comes to the date of my wedding. If you had asked me when I was 18, I wanted to get married at 18. As the years changed, so did the ideal age. But looking back now, I was so immature and ill-prepared at 18, and my choice at the time would have led to devastation.
God in his goodness said no to my prayers. Said, “Not yet. Wait.”
That word we all hate, but as I looked through the Bible in this time of waiting for Jacques, I have realised (much to my disappointment) that waiting is indeed a very biblical thing. Many people in the Bible waited many years for God’s promises to be fulfilled (at least I don’t expect to be waiting 400 years to marry Jacques).
Because waiting builds character. And God loves to build character in his kids. It occurred to me some time ago that patience is not a lesson that can be learned quickly.
“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
I was stressing out and becoming so negative about our situation, feeling like everybody had it easier than us (of course focussing on the couples around me who live in the same town) and felt that I couldn’t handle the maximum waiting time for the visa, like I would explode.
It’s funny how people can talk to you for hours and then God can say one or two sentences and it completely transforms your mind.
“I am not making you wait for nothing.”
Immediately a peace rushed into my heart. Ahh. There’s a point to it all. One of the things that was getting me the most worked up was that it felt like an arbitrary wait time from the government and that they had the final say on our wedding date, but God reminded me that he is in control.
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” – 2 Samuel 22:33 (NIV)
He already knows the date of Jacques landing in Australia and our wedding. No government can thwart any plans of his. God also revealed that we were benefitting from the waiting, and I started to see all the changes that we as individuals, and as a couple, were experiencing monthly and even weekly.
I stopped focussing so much on the exact timing and the seeming unfairness of long distance, but the blessing in the wait, and the goodness and faithfulness of God. A friend encouraged me to prepare myself for the maximum processing time so that anything shorter felt like a bonus. God revealed to me that the question wasn’t whether I was strong enough to tough it out for 18 months, but did I trust that his grace was sufficient for me to wait 18 months if that was what he had ordained? It took the pressure off me and put it back on God, who can more than handle it.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
– Proverbs 18:21
My mum encouraged me to start speaking out positive words about our visa situation every time someone asked (which is often), even if I didn’t feel positive, and see how that changed my mind set. My thoughts began to change and I stopped crying so much about the visa. I now feel entirely different than I did even three weeks ago because of declaring God’s goodness over the situation instead of giving in to self-pity and defeat.
The thing about God having perfect ways is that when we trust in him, as opposed to leaning on our own weak understanding, he makes our way perfect too. Not that everything in your life is suddenly roses (we still don’t have the faintest inkling of our wedding date) but that walking with Christ, clothed securely in Christ, spending time with him and trusting, is the definition of godly perfection.
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48