About 5 years ago, I (Dylan) had the privilege of leading a small group of women through a book called “The Wounded Heart” by Dan Allender. This group was brought together by a very tragic commonality – they were survivors of abuse. I don’t talk about this group often, for confidentiality reasons, but I think of them very, very often. Their stories of trauma and their courage to seek redemption shaped the next steps of my story in profound ways. But more than that, these women taught me what it means to wait -expectantly- on Jesus. We can’t heal ourselves or change our stories or even put an end to the devastating long-term effects of abuse. Sometimes all we can do is wait.
The approaching holiday season can be very difficult for survivors of abuse, particularly if the abuse happened within the home. This year I am reminded of my group of waiting-survivors as our family walks through this “season of waiting” while support raising. My heart longs to be in Costa Rica now, and I’m impatient! The two counselors currently in Costa Rica are working diligently to grow the counseling ministry’s impact within the church communities that they serve, particularly in areas where abuse runs rampant. I long to be right there with them. “Lord, why can’t you provide the financial support we need more quickly? Get a move on, God!” My heart reveals itself – impatient, demanding, proud – even in my attempts to follow the Lord where He calls me.
What I love about Jesus is that He knows exactly where we need to be and when, and He doesn’t let me mess it up with all my impatient demands. Five years ago, I needed to be in Georgia so that I could learn from this courageous group of waiting-survivors. Eight years ago, I needed to be in Peru under the care of thoughtful missionaries who helped me understand my own wounded heart. Ten years ago, I needed to be in Argentina, learning the Spanish language that opened many doors to future cross-cultural ministry. And today, I need to be in Birmingham, Alabama, waiting.
When we have to wait, we are forced to acknowledge that it is God who acts, who saves, who provides, who heals, and who redeems. We are forced to see that our efforts and actions can only be infused with eternal significance by the sovereign hand of the Father.
I know many of you on our support team are in seasons of waiting, too. Waiting for a challenging marriage to not be so challenging. Waiting for the pink line down the pregnancy test to finally appear. Waiting for grown children to make decisions that will help them flourish instead of hurt. Waiting for a job opportunity to finally come around so you can support your family. Waiting for this bout of depression to let up so you start to feel normal again. Waiting is so incredibly hard. Today we begin the Advent season – a season of waiting for the coming of the King. My prayer is that this season be one of waiting expectantly. Let’s wait with the hope and expectation that our Savior will actually show up for us, even in the most difficult of circumstances. And we wait with confidence, my friends, because He already has.