So what if you have been doing all this—praying, pouring out your soul, praising through pain—but the silence on God’s end is still killing you? When we are navigating a waiting season and the journey takes unexpected detours, Satan tries to run his cruel soundtrack in our minds—God doesn’t like you; God is against you; God is not listening—but God has a soundtrack, too. Maybe it’s time to put together a new spiritual playlist. Let’s choose to fill our minds with God’s playlist: scriptures and songs that fuel our faith and protect our relationship. God is not silent, as He sometimes seems; He has already given us His Word to tell us how He feels and how He works. It’s up to us to use the Bible [and worship!] to fill in God’s half of the conversation.
Music and worship are powerful, God-given blessings that profoundly affect our spirituality, our emotional wellbeing, and even our theology. They can keep us connected to God even when He feels far away. Why not put together a worship playlist that ministers to you in your wait?
Here are eight songs on my waiting playlist. These songs have cracked open places in my heart I didn’t even know existed, given words to prayers I didn’t know how to pray. Some give me hope; some help me surrender; others help me praise God even through pain. I share them here with deepest gratitude to the writers and artists who gave them to us:
My mom has this funny prayer she prays whenever she comes for one of her always-too-short visits: “God, please make this visit feel like a long time.” At first I laughed—my delightful mom has the most faithful prayer life, and she prays about everything—but then I was like, “Oh, why not?”—and I started borrowing her prayer.
But you know what I’ve found? There’s something to Mom’s crazy prayer. Whenever we pray those words, time somehow moves a bit slower. Her visit, however short, feels long enough. Even if we only have hours together—a layover between flights—every minute feels fulfilling. Meaningful. Rich. When she leaves we may cry, but still we feel satisfied, knowing we made the most of what time we had. In the mysterious ways of God, he helps us stop and savor and be fully present in our fleeting, priceless moments together.
Sometimes we want time to slow down . . . but when we’re waiting, we want it to speed up and slow down at the same time. We want the wait to be over now,with no more time lost. We feel this pressure most acutely when we’re in the middle of one of those life-altering waits: The wait for a husband. For a baby. For a healing. Tick, tick goes the clock; flip, flip goes the calendar page—and you’re still stuck.
You feel your twenties passing you by, and you’re still single…
Your fifties are coming to a close, but still your adult child wanders . . .
And if you’re like me—always watching the clock, painfully conscious of life’s brevity—you can start to get paranoid: My life is wasting away. I’ll never get back this time. These are lost years.
But guess what? God is more powerful than time. Listen to this beautiful prayer:
“Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.”
Psalm 90:14–16 (emphasis added)
Do you get what the writer is saying here? He’s asking God to redeem lost time. To make up for lost years—to make Israel glad for as many days, as many years, as they have suffered.
Who wrote this prayer? Moses—Moses who spent forty years wandering in the desert, waiting for the Promised Land. Moses understood the pain of lost life and wasted years better than anyone. And yet he saw that God could still redeem that time, those desert years. In Moses’ eyes, it wasn’t too late. All was not lost. He knew the power of God—God who rained plagues and parted seas, God who appeared in cloud by day and fire by night, God who dwelled on the holy mountain. God could transcend time. God could make up lost years. God could make His people glad, so glad they couldn’t help but sing, for as many years as they had suffered.
We see God do this often in the Bible, showering suffering people with later-life blessings: Joseph. Naomi. Job.
I have seen God do this in my own life more times than I can count. After a tumultuous time in our church life, God provided a way for me and my husband to live in the same town as both our parents—we had never believed it possible, but we got to share eight happy years with both our families. We felt as though God went out of his way to comfort us after a time of trial.
After two years and nine months of infertility, God gave us three babies in…wait for it…two years and ten months. I can hardly see my computer screen for the tears filling my eyes—tears of gratitude, wonder, awe. It’s been eleven years, but still the joy of this blessing staggers me. Even now I ask God, “Why us, when so many others are still waiting?” I can’t answer that question, but I celebrate his gift even as I pray for others still awaiting theirs.
If you’re stuck on pause, mourning a delay, borrow Moses’ prayer. Remind God of the pain you feel watching time pass you by, and ask him to redeem the lost days. Ask him to restore joy. To make you glad for as many days—as many years—as you have suffered. I don’t know when or how God will answer your prayer, but I know he is listening. He is listening, he is concerned, and he is able.
When God Says “Wait”hits bookstore shelves today! (Here’s where I stop typing and indulge in an embarrassing jig that can only be described as “Riverdance meets Rhythm Nation, but without the rhythm.”) I am SO EXCITED, but wow, what a long journey it’s been.
Fourteen years ago, a vicious case of jet lag kept me up all night and gave me a strange gift: an idea for a story I had to tell about characters I met that night, but felt I’d known always. By the time sunrise set the Atlanta skyline ablaze, I had penned the first two chapters of a novel and outlined the entire plot. By the time my fellow Atlantans were stumbling to their coffee makers, my career path had changed; life had changed. I was going to become a writer.
If you had told me that night that I would spend the next fourteen years pursuing that crazy dream (and seriously, writing is a crazy dream), I don’t know what I would have done. I suspect a truckload of chocolate would have been involved.
In the past fourteen years, I have written more hours than I could count (I suspect the hours actually add up to years of life at this point). Spent thousands of dollars on coffee and conferences. Run over one laptop with my car. (ACCIDENT. Seriously. I can explain.) Worked another laptop so hard it finally just choked and died.
Along the way I have indie published two books, The Thirteenth Summer and The Tender Years: Parenting Preschoolers (coauthored with my wonderful mom, Geri), and those valuable experiences taught me so much about hard work and the joy of simply sharing words, and life, with readers.
Meanwhile, after an agonizing struggle with infertility, Kevin and I had three kids in less than three years and lived to tell the tale. (The tale involved more poop and vomit than one sentence can describe, but even so, it was a life worth living. A tale (mostly) worth telling.) After a while we had a fourth child, because hey—what’s one more?!
Along the way I have discovered that my husband is THE BEST HUSBAND IN THE UNIVERSE. I always knew that, but now I know it more. He loves all of my work—even the stories aimed at twelve-year-olds. He has always taken this writing thing seriously, long before anyone besides him was ever reading my words. He generously gives me writing time. He sends me to conferences and views every dollar spent as investment, not expense. He tolerates my coffee habit, having accepted that creativity requires caffeine (and occasionally champagne). He doesn’t get hurt feelings when I trail off mid-sentence, lost in a sudden plot-twist revelation. When I get manic, he takes away my coffee and makes me take naps. And all the while, he’s just so daggum cute and funny and faithful.
Along the way I have found the greatest BFF-slash-writing-partner any writer could have, who knows what I want to say and how I want to say it better than I do; whose soul-stirring writing takes my breath away.
This is my writing partner, Emma, in Barnes & Noble yesterday, with copies of my book! This is the same B & N where we met and have shared countless happy writing hours! Also, I helped her pick those fabulous boots. 🙂
In the past two years I have discovered the joy of connecting with people through words and scripture and silly stories right here on Lizzy Life. I cannot describe the joy this community has brought me. How I have loved sharing life with you here—giving you glimpses into our wacky world and hearing how our stories intersect with yours. You have helped me not write alone, not learn alone, not live alone.
Along the way I have found joy in writing with God. I cannot describe the intensely intimate and transcendent spiritual experience it was to write When God Says “Wait” with God. Every day writing was a day spent in constant communion with Him. Every day I prayed, “Fill me up and empty me out.” Every day, mystical as it sounds, He whispered words.
Along the way I have had the privilege to work with godly people whose courage, excellence, and giftedness blows my mind: my agent-slash-book-warrior Jessica Kirkland, who fights on no matter the odds. The entire team at Barbour: Kelly McIntosh, who is ever encouraging; Shalyn Sattler, whose heart and talent echo through every email; Mary Burns, who laughed and plotted with me and Shalyn and helped make marketing fun; Liesl Davenport, whose gifts for detail and design had me nearly weeping with gratitude; Laura Weller, copyeditor and comma-wrangler extraordinaire; Ashley Schrock, who designed the brilliant book cover; Jeane Wynne, publicist, cheerleader, and inspiring go-getter; my book launch team, who have made the “preseason” of the book launch such a joy with their enthusiasm and generosity.
Amazing friends have taken time out of their insanely busy lives to read and endorse the book—their generosity with their time and words has meant the world: longtime friends Chip and Pauli Wade, who we met when we were newlyweds and they were both cheerleaders at Georgia Tech; now they serve God in multiple capacities, as talented designers and HGTV stars; Lara Casey Isaacson, a writer friend whose ministry, example, and transparency are inspiring; Andy Lee, a local writer friend whose book, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called is a beautiful blend of Bible and storytelling; beloved friend Laura Whitaker, who has shared so many waiting seasons with me, and whose work with individuals with special needs is heroic; and devoted friend Marilisa Schachinger, who has also shared my waiting seasons (she was even brave enough to babysit the three-under-three, way back in the day!), and now honors God with her work as a business owner and entrepreneur.
And then there are our parents, Sam and Geri and Bill and Glenda, and our delightfully quirky family members, who have not just tolerated, but supported and encouraged, from the beginning. They have fasted, prayed, babysat, read drafts, given ideas, and picked me up off the floor a thousand times over. My sister Alexandra was enduring a horrific waiting season of her own the entire time I was writing, and her struggle inspired and guided me as I wrote—her spirit, too, is on every page. I could go on for pages about every single family member, but I am every day thankful for every one of them.
And my fiercely loyal friends, who have prayed with me and chosen to walk this journey with me even when the whole process was just so weird and confusing, and they secretly thought I was nuts (and of course they were right). Every girl should be so lucky to have such friends.
And my church family, who have prayed and listened and cheered me on for years, who have not made comments when I showed up to midweek wearing sweatpants, a hat, and crazy eyes. (Sorry about that.) They even let me share their poignant waiting stories in the book.
Much as it pains me and humbles me to say it—this is me, eating my words; Father, are you reading this?—these past fourteen years have taught me the value in waiting. I have seen that good things—maybe even the best things—truly come to those who wait.
The victory is all the sweeter for taking so long. The joy all the richer for following so much rejection, heartache, and doubt. The satisfaction all the more meaningful because it has been shared by so many—and it would not have been shared so meaningfully had it not taken so long. I recognize that; I celebrate what unparalleled joy it is to share joy. The thousands of prayers others have willingly offered on my behalf are staggering. Humbling. Overwhelming. I owe a prayer debt I could never repay.
Above all, I am so grateful to God for allowing me to write this book with Him and for Him. It’s all for you, God… do with it as you will.
Want to check out the book trailer, starring my beautiful friends, and put together by my brilliant brother-in-law? Here it is!
Want to order the book? It’s available anywhere books are sold: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, even in your local Lifeway. I’d love to hear what you think when you’re through—I deeply appreciate every response, every story, every word you send my way. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
You guys! Or as we say here in North Carolina, y’all!
My newest book, When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, Or Your Mind, is now available for preorder! (Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance! Okay I should sit down. People in Starbucks are inching away from me.) I can’t wait to share this book with you. You can order it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.com. Take your pick. 🙂 The book officially releases March 1, 2017, so unfortunately, you’ll have to—well, wait a bit before your copy arrives. But I hope you’ll feel it was worth the wait. Okay, I’ll stop being punny now.
Author Lysa TerKeurst has called writing a book “a sacred adventure with God,” and how true that is. Every day writing this book was a day spent in constant communion with God, asking him to fill me up and empty me out again. I’ve written books before, but this was a different experience. A spiritual rebirth. Exhausting and exhilarating, mind-blowing and life-changing. I will always look back on the experience of writing this book as a “before and after” moment in my life.
So what is When God Says “Wait” about?
Here’s a sneak peek at the summary from the back cover:
A job, a true love, a baby, a cure . . . We’re all waiting for something from God. And the place between His answers can feel like a wasteland where dreams—and faith—go to die. When we’re waiting, we wonder, “Why?”, “Why me?”, and “How long?”
But the truth? . . .
When God says, “Wait,” He doesn’t tell us for how long.
When God says, “Wait,” we face one of life’s greatest tests.
When God says, “Wait,” we have decisions to make.
When God says, “Wait,” we can control only two things: how we wait, and who we become along the way.
Author Elizabeth Laing Thompson invites you to walk alongside people of the Bible who had to wait on God . . . imperfect heroes like David, Miriam, Naomi, Sarah, Joseph, and others. Their stories will provide a roadmap for your own story, helping you navigate the painful, lonely territory of waiting, coming out on the other side with your faith, relationships, and sense of humor intact. They might even help you learn to enjoy the ride.
This book is about the journey of waiting, the space between answers, and the people we become while we live there. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.
If you’re super-dee-duper excited about this book, and you want to apply to be part of the book launch street team, please send me an email at alizzylife at gmail dot com. I’ll keep you posted as we put the team together!
Here again are the preorder links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com. (And if you’re wondering, YES, preorders are definitely helpful to authors, and to the book’s future. So if you plan to order the book anyway, I’m grateful if you go ahead and place your order now! 🙂 )
Sending you lots of love and heartfelt thanks for your prayers as I was writing.