Jani: Hello, everyone. Thank you for tuning in to our podcast, He restores My Soul. I’m Jani Ortlund, and I have a special guest with me today, my wonderful husband, Ray. Thanks for joining us.
Ray: I’m glad to!
Jani: I’m really glad you’re here. Ray and I are at home quarantined during the Coronavirus pandemic as many of you are, and ,Ray, we’re both well, aren’t we?
Ray: Yes, but we’re not really enjoying this. This confinement is more difficult than I expected it to be.
Jani: Yes, we like to be out there working, don’t we?
Ray: We sure do, but God has a purpose of grace in this. We trust him for that. We look to him to fulfill that purpose.
Jani: Yes. So we look to him.
Our First Question: ”How to patiently endure while waiting?”
Jani: Well, today we thought we’d take a chance to answer some of the questions you sent in. Thank you all of you who send in questions to us. We love hearing from you, and I think how we’ll handle this today, darling, is why don’t you ask a question and I’ll start it off and then you guide me and correct me, and add some theological…
Ray: …Oh this is great! I get to your sidekick.
Jani: Oh, my goodness.
Ray: Alright, here’s the first question, and we’re so thankful for this:
“I’m in a season of waiting and patience. There are longings and things I want—a lot of things I need to decide on. At times, I want to rush and have things my own way. But I know deep down, God wants me to trust and wait for him. So my question is, ‘How do you patiently endure what you’re going through while trusting and waiting for him?’”
Jani: Wow, what a good question.
Ray: It’s a great question. All of us are asking that question at some level.
Jani: Yes, that tension of wanting to please the Lord, wanting to trust him totally and be at ease with where he has us, and yet that longing to be somewhere else.
Jani: Well, I guess I would say that most of life is waiting. When in life are you not waiting? If you’re waiting to hear from the college to see if they accepted you, then, once you hear, you’re waiting to go and then you’re waiting to graduate and then you’re waiting to get a job, and then you’re waiting to marry, and then you’re waiting for children…I mean, there’s so much waiting.
Ray: Gosh, we hate that.
Jani: We do! We just hate waiting, don’t we?
Ray: Yes, we’re not good at patience.
Jani: We’re not. I wonder if that’s why the Bible speaks to it so often.
Ray: Amazon Prime is counting on us not liking patience.
Jani: That’s right. They’re making millions on our impatience, aren’t they?
Jani: But how do we, especially as women, walk along that line of trust in patience while the longing and yearning are still there? One thing that helps me, honey, I don’t know if you want to speak to this, as well, but one thing that helps me is those longings turn me toward God. That desire makes me come to him and say, “Lord, I have this desire. What do I do with it? Help me, will you answer it?” And then I have to wait until he answers it. That patient endurance. There’s a sense in which endurance takes real strength, doesn’t it? Otherwise we’ll tend to collapse in a puddle of tears and throw a little tantrum of “I want this now!”
Ray: Resilience is a very important part of maturity, and God builds it into our experience of life for that purpose. It’s dignifying, actually.
Jani: Ah, that’s a good point. You know, when you think of the woman in Proverbs 31 she’s “clothed with dignity” and impatience is, in a way, making a demand of God. I want this now, Lord, and that’s not dignifying at all, is it? We want to continue to ask the Lord for our needs and desires and, at the same time, hold them with open hands and say, “Lord, if you will, when you will, would you please?”
Jani: To me, the most helpful thing for me to do when I’m impatient is to spend time in the Psalms because I see the longings of David’s heart all throughout the Psalms.
Ray: That’s what they’re there for.
Jani: Yes, he talks about waiting patiently for the Lord.
Ray: Then there’s Isaiah, 40:
“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”Isaiah 40:31
Waiting is a surprise package. Instead of exhaustion and depletion, what awaits us there is renewed strength.
Ray: I remember reading Elizabeth Elliot, sweetheart, she quotes Amy Carmichael saying, “In acceptance lie in peace.” We come to the place where we deeply accept the way life is right now as opposed to the way we would like life to be. We deeply accept the way God has arranged our reality right now, and we stop fighting him. We deeply accept it. And when we go there to that place, that’s when we discover renewed strength: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” They shall be resilient and that isn’t a failing in God. That is just part of the drill. Even Jesus had to wait, so it’s not a failure of God’s love; it’s not a failure of God’s power. You were just reminding me, is it in Colossians 1, honey, where he talks about God’s strength enabling us to wait?
Jani: Yes, Colossians 1:11 (I love this verse):
“…being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;”Colossians 1:11
It takes strength, but he is the one who gives us the power for that strength of endurance and patience.
Ray: Yes. You and I are not subscribing to any health and wealth prosperity gospel that says that you’re going to have your best life now. We read in Romans 8:24-25, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen”—right now—“is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” That’s Christianity.
Jani: That’s beautiful, Ray.
Ray: And the other end of that waiting is an amazingness that will not just be a patched up version of you and me. It’s going to be a whole new universe with a glorious resurrected you and me and all of our friends listening right now, that is really worth waiting for.
Jani: Oh, that’s a wonderful assurance! Thank you.
Question 2a: “How do we make the most of our single life?”
Jani: Well, I know many of our listeners, who are single, are saying, “Okay, I want to wait with patience. I know that in the end, heaven is going to be glorious but what about right now?” Don’t we have a question from listener like this?
Ray: We do. This is a very honest and vulnerable question. I really respect this:
“How do we make the most of our single life and trust God with our longing for a spouse? And when we are dating someone, how do we know he’s the right one?”
Jani: How do we make the most of our single life?
Jani: Well one, I think, is by doing all things without complaining or murmuring. If our singleness is a source of deep complaint and discouragement, that’s not making the most of our life right now. But if it brings us to the Lord with eager expectation saying, “Lord, I want to be married, I want a husband. If it would please you, would you bring him to me? Please, Lord.” And then we go about our day. Then he doesn’t bring him to us today. So tomorrow we wake up and we pray the same thing. “Lord, if this is your will, maybe today would you bring him to me?” With that eager expectation, that openness that any time God could answer that prayer. But in the meantime, I’ve got work to do. I have a life to live. I have people to serve. I have a life to give to the Lord wholeheartedly now. I’m not half of person because I’m single. I am all God wants me to be right now for today.
Ray: Yes, life right now is fully worth living whatever that life is. And when God withholds what we’re asking him for, he is not withholding more of himself. John 1 says “…in him was life.” So, I mean, sweetheart, you know very well how disappointing a husband can be!
Jani: Oh, darling, that’s awful to say….
Ray: …but it’s true.
Jani: It’s true, and also for you, how disappointing a wife can be. Marriage is not the ultimate human experience.
Ray: Right, we just trade one kind of a disappointment for another kind of disappointment and wherever we are, married or single, we’re right where the Lord wants us and we’re looking to him to be our all-sufficiency.
Jani: Yes, married people need patience as much a single people do. They just need it in a different way.
Ray: Yeah, we’re all in this together.
Question 2b: ”HOW DO WE KNOW HE’S THE RIGHT ONE?”
Jani: Now, Ray, she had a second part to that question:
“How do we know when we found the right person?”
Ray: Yes, you’re dating someone, how do you know he’s the right one?
Jani: Oh, my goodness. Well, do you like him? Do you think he’s pretty special? I would run it through a few grids.
Jani: First of all, what is his walk with the Lord Jesus Christ? Does he speak of him easily and often?
Ray: …or do you have to pull it out of him?
Jani: Yes. Could you as a woman, follow this man in God’s call on his life? If he said, “Honey, I think the Lord is calling me to open this factory in Montana.” Could you trust him with that? It’s very important in our role as women supporting the men God brings to us, that we can fully and wholeheartedly embrace that man’s walk with the Lord. So the first thing has to be: “Does he know Jesus, intimately, beautifully and personally?”
Ray: That’s the first thing I noticed about you. I mean, well, actually, it’s the second. The first thing I noticed was your amazingly gorgeous. That was obvious. The second thing that I found out about a month after meeting you was you really love the Lord. So here was a woman who really caught my eye; just so lovely and delightful. And secondly, I saw you have standards, you have integrity, you put the Lord first. And then thirdly, you said yes when I asked you out. I mean, this is not rocket science. You get those three things together and that’s a killer combination!.
Jani: Well, it’s a little different for a woman because she has to get the guy to ask her out. But I agree that once you’re dating someone—you’re going out with someone and you enjoy him; you can see that your future together could really be better serving the Lord together than singly—well, then he could very well be the guy for you. Now I also would pull in friends and family. If your family is a believing family and they are saying that they really think he’s a great guy, listen to them. But if they have strong reservations, listen to that as well.
Ray: Yeah, that’s good.
Jani: So does he love Jesus? Do you like him? Is he fun to be with? And do those people in your closest sphere of life agree that this is a good fill for you.
Ray: The people that know you best and care about you most.
Jani: Yes. Then go for it, and enjoy your life together.
Question 3: “How do I Balance Commitments when single?”
Ray: All right the third question, sweetie. Now this is from a single woman as well, but it’s a different angle on the question.
“I’m single and striving to live every day for God’s glory. I like to serve and be a blessing to others. I’m struggling to balance taking time for myself to rest and restore when I always feel like I should be doing something to serve. So, what are some words of wisdom, particularly for single women, on balancing time of serving and then also time of rejuvenation and how to think through ways to best use this season in life?”
Ray: What a great question.
Jani: That is a great question because sometimes single people have more opportunity to serve. They’re not as busy at home, and therefore they feel they should be serving more.
Keep a Sabbath Day
Jani: You know, Ray, you might not know this, but before the pandemic kept us here in quarantine, Heidi and I were going through the 10 Commandments in this podcast. We broke the series right in the middle of the fourth commandment about observing the Sabbath, and I think that speaks to balance not only for those of us who are single but for those of us who are married as well, although we can tweak it a little bit for those who are single.
Jani: My question to this listener would be, “Are you taking a Sabbath each week?” If you are, that is the balance that God has prescribed for us in his word: six days of serving the Lord, working hard, giving it all, and then a day of joyful refreshment, worship and rest. So that’s the first thing you need to ask yourself, in that life of balance, “Am I taking one day off a week to rejuvenate and refresh myself?”
Ray: By the way, sweetheart, my memory is that in the ancient calendars of the pagan world during the time of Moses when the 10 Commandments were given, the seventh day of each week was considered a day of bad luck. It was like a Friday the 13th every week.
Jani: Oh really?
Ray: And God said, that’s the very day that I’ve set apart for special blessing. So the Sabbath is not constrictive and confining and life depleting. It’s just the opposite. It’s the best day of the week, and we get to refill and turn our eyes to the Lord, enjoy fellowship with other people, read a good book, take a nap, take a walk and so forth, and get ready again for the big push in the next week. It’s a great day.
Jani: It is. I love that, either the pagan day of bad luck or our Sabbath. Isn’t it like the Lord to give us that?
Jani: So, first of all, make sure that your weekly schedule is such that you’re not going day after day after day after day, all throughout your month exhausting yourself.
Good Sleep & Nutrition
Jani: Secondly, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep and good nutrition. I mean, if you’re offering to babysit for your married friends five days a week and you’re not getting home until eleven and then having to get up at five to get to work on time, that’s not going to work. So if you’re starting to struggle physically, that’s a good sign that you’re not in balance.
Check the state of your emotions
Jani: Thirdly, dear woman, I would ask you look at your emotional state. Are you enjoying this service or is it a burden that you’re having to make yourself do? I think that there’s joy in serving the Lord. He calls us to rejoice in all things. So if you’re struggling emotionally like “Oh, no, I should say yes, but I just don’t know if I can do it.” It’s okay to say no. That’s all right, that’s not a problem. The question is, “Who am I really serving?” Am I serving the Lord, or am I serving others opinions of me, or am I serving myself? And if we take all three of those in, I think you can walk that line of balance. What do you think, Ray?
Ray: Well, Francis Schaeffer used to teach us that we do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way. That is, by his strength and by his grace, looking to him moment by moment. I have found that two indicators alert me that I’m not doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way. One is self-pity, and the other is ingratitude. When I don’t have a thankful heart and I’m spiraling down the death spiral of self-pity, that just alerts me, “I’m not doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way.” The issue is not my schedule. The issue is, “When did my heart depart from the Lord and why?” What decision did I make five minutes ago or five days ago that repositioned me for misery now, and I need to go back and rethink, “Why I am doing this?” As you just said, sweetheart, who am I serving here? Is this really about me? Is this about my self-pity and martyrdom and grandiosity? Or is this about the privilege of life that I have been given the privilege of life to serve the Lord and live for things that will matter forever, including just doing the next right thing for the next person in my life. That’s actually an amazing privilege, and it’s always a reason for gratitude.
A prayer for us all
Jani: Yes. Well, darling, we’ve been talking about very important things: endurance, patience, what to do with our longing to be married and how to best serve the Lord. I wonder, would you pray for our listeners and me today? And we can close this podcast that way?
Ray: I’d be glad to. Let’s pray together.
Lord, thank you for this precious time together. It is such a grace from above and we ask you to take whatever insights are needed in each person’s case and give them as a gift to each one. Speak to each listener very personally. Comfort them, encourage them, strengthen them and give them a courageous resilience to face whatever is next with spring in their step and sparkle in their eye and steel in their spine. For these gifts, Lord, we thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”