I’ve been thinking about the future (as one does, this time of year), and it’s ever so slightly depressing because if the future is anything like the present, it will involve more waiting.
And waiting sucks.
“Wait” is pretty much my least favorite word, like, ever. I think the hardest thing lately about waiting on God, waiting to find out about a job, waiting to see my family again, waiting for a husband, etc. is the wondering.
I get into “wondering spirals” in which I wonder what my future man will be like; what our story will be; if I will be a bridezilla; what my wedding will look like; if my marriage will be happy; what it will be like to live with a man; what kissing and sex are like; which parenting techniques I’ll take from my mom and which ones will be different; if my husband and I will still be attracted to each other when we’re old and frumpy.
Wonder, wonder, wonder. Any ONE of those things can make me spiral for hours. I’ve probably lost several cumulative months of my life just to the wondering about the future.
I texted a friend who got married recently and said, “One of the best things about being married has got to be that you don’t have to wonder anymore.”
Sometimes, I feel a responsibility to the wondering – like if I don’t wonder about it, I won’t be prepared for it, and I’ll make a mistake.
I was discussing this topic with a friend the other day, and I said, “I know what the problem is; I just don’t know how to fix it or how the Gospel applies.”
She responded, “The wondering has hooked you; you’re fishing without bait.”
As we discussed it, I realized that I was essentially fishing for satisfaction in a place that can’t provide it. When I get lost in the spiraling, my “fishing hook” is baitless.
WONDERING IS NEVER SATISFYING; IT NEVER PROVIDES ANSWERS.
In fact, my spiral-wondering often leads to sin. Not always, but much of the time, it’s actually harmful.
For instance, I wonder what my wedding will be like, so I spend hours in wedding magazines and on Google images to make wedding plans. When I finally look up from the pages or screen, I have absolutely no more answers than I did when I started, and I’m even more unsatisfied being single.
Or I wonder what being in love will be like, so I turn to novels or Netflix or whatever. When the fiction ends, I’ve spent hours steeped in unlikely, unrealistic stories that give me the wrong idea about what to expect.
SO WHAT WILL BE SATISFYING?
The Bible has some answers for that:
- Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
- I Peter 1:13 – Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
- Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Philippians 4:8 – . . . whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Ultimately, I know that Gospel is where I find satisfaction. I know that I’m supposed to think about life-bringing things, not hopeless, answerless things. But how? So I started praying, “God, show me how to ‘bait my hook’ with the Gospel.”
And in praying, I got my answer: prayer itself. Slowly, over the course of several days, as I caught myself on the edge of a wondering precipice, I instead started to pray about the subjects of my wonderings.
I wonder what my future man will be like – God, I pray that my future husband will be exactly the person he’s supposed to be when we meet.
I wonder what my future relationship will look like – God, I pray that our relationship will begin exactly in Your timing, and I that You’ll already be putting the right people into place to be able to speak wisdom into it.
I wonder what my wedding will be like – God, help me to realize that a wedding is not all about me; rather, it’s about Jesus’ relationship to the church.
I wonder what kissing/sex will be like – God, help me to make good decisions about how I spend my time, about the entertainment I fill my mind with. Show me how the absence of those things is best for me now.
On and on the list goes; there’s ALWAYS something to pray for in the wondering.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying the praying-instead-of-wondering technique, and I’ve noticed two things:
- I spend much less time praying than I did wondering. Apparently, it’s a lot harder to spiral-pray instead of spiral-wonder.
- I find more and more reasons to be thankful for this waiting.
IN REMINDING MYSELF TO PRAY, I HAVE FOUND SATISFACTION IN THE GOSPEL.
The Gospel is the story that the Bible tells about how we messed up and God saved us from sin and ourselves. In the early days of creation, all the living humans (all two of them) decided to disobey God; they decided to sin. In doing so, they separated themselves and all their descendants from God, who cannot be around sin. The price for this sin was the death of a perfect human, to bridge the gap between God and humans.
Because no person was ever perfect, though, God sent His only Son (Jesus) to earth as a human to become that sacrifice. God sacrificed His own Son so that we would not be separated from Him forever. Then, instead of staying dead, Jesus rose up from the dead to live forever with God. Because He is there in heaven, He takes His followers to be there with Him when they die.
I think one of the most wonderful things about the Gospel story is that God doesn’t just give us the hopes of eternal life and heaven after death. He also gives us Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit on this earth to teach us about Jesus and show us how to live like Him and become more like Him.
Perhaps one of the biggest things I’ve learned in the past year is how comforting the Gospel is, and how many things I don’t have to worry about or fear. What I’ve been learning the past few weeks is that, because of the Gospel, there are also heaps of things I don’t have to wonder about.
Because of the Gospel, I don’t have to wonder what it’s like to:
- be loved unconditionally
- have every one of my needs met
- pray, knowing that Someone hears me
- wait with the promise of a sure hope for my future
- be unafraid of death or poverty or loss or a host of other things
- know that God accepts me the way I am, worries and wonderings and all
A lovely transformation takes place when I “bait my hook” with the promises of the Gospel and the truths of my life with Jesus: I no longer find the waiting to be sucky and tedious. Rather, I’m discovering that it can be fruitful and productive and full of love and peace.
When I focus on the Gospel, I forget to wonder about:
- If I’ll be a bridezilla; I remember that God already knows what my wedding will be like, and He has planned an even better one for me in eternity as part of His bride, the church.
- What it will be like to live with a man; I remember that I live with Jesus, and He doesn’t leave His socks on the floor or fart in bed with me.
- What I’ll be like as a parent; I remember that God is the best parent in all of history, and He will never let my kids down.
- If my man and I will still be attracted to each other when we’re old and frumpy; I remember that human beauty is fleeting, insubstantial, and inconsequential compared to the all-surpassing beauty of Jesus.
While I generally shy away from New Year’s Resolutions, I think I’ll resolve in 2016 to try to “bait the hook” of my mind with the Gospel whenever I start to wonder about things that have no answers. Instead of catching more problems that will never resolve themselves, I would like to catch more of Jesus because He already resolved my greatest problem and given me the greatest gift: Himself.
BONUS QUOTE (wanted to use it, but couldn’t work it into the post):
If you’re trusting in the Gospel promise that the Lord is coming back to redeem his people, to redeem creation, to make all things right – then you can face the big decisions of life without fear, without thinking that your life is going to be ruined. You don’t have to fear that you’re going to get ripped off or that you’ll miss out on God’s best. –Matt Ortiz, pastor at Infusion Church