Habakkuk 2-3 | Embracing the Wait at your Watch-post
“I will take my stand at my watch-post, and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. But my righteous ones shall live by [her] faith.”
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on high places.”
Did you know that Habakkuk was the long-awaited, prayed-for son who was miraculously born to the old Shunammite woman highlighted in 2 Kings 4…?
The woman had a vision: to bring forth a son, an heir. She was wealthy, of stature in her society, married, able to offer food and hospitality to the prophet Elisha, and comfortable as she dwelt among her own people. But, she lacked the one thing she envisioned for her life: a child. Not only was she old, but her husband was aging, too.
Elisha then says to her, “At this season, about this time next year [the appointed time], you shall embrace a son.” She essentially laughs and says, ‘You’re lying.’ But, lo and behold, “about that time the following spring,” she did indeed bear a son.
“Habakkuk” itself comes from the Hebrew root חבק, meaning “embrace”. Therefore, it is no coincidence that Elisha used this word, “embrace,” to thematically foretell of the male heir who would be born to the Shunammite woman!
If we believe that all scripture is “breathed out” by God (2 Timothy), then it should build our faith to see how God specifically spoke the word “embrace” through Elisha to prophesy of Habakkuk’s birth to the Shunammite woman. When he puts certain words in the Bible, there are always divine reasons and purposes behind them.
A year after the promise was foretold to the woman, she embraced her living, breathing, crying, hungry son Habakkuk. But, she had to wait until “the appointed time.” My friend just delivered twins: a precious girl and strong boy. She waited for those babies for a long, long, long time…and, her season of waiting was a difficult climb on the “high places” of prayer, triumph, pain, and faith.
But, she didn’t stop standing at her watch-post to see what God had in store. Yes, waiting for something or someone we want in this life can be painful, confusing, disappointing, and grueling at times…but, that doesn’t mean we leave our post and abandon our view from the tower to watch for whatever – and whoever – God is sending our way.
I am not embarrassed or ashamed to write about singleness (ie: the struggle for a Christian woman to wait patiently for God to bring “the One.”) I have never written about this topic before on my blog, but several conversations with girlfriends lately have given me a fresh yearning to encourage the women of God in my midst and city to not give IN to doubt, and not give UP to pray for God’s provision in this area of life.
The topic of singleness, I believe, needs to be fleshed out and not hidden away in the closets of our tiny DC apartments and row homes. While I have only lived in Washington for six months, I have felt the magnetic pull of this unspoken “rule” that single Christian females shouldn’t talk a lot about our struggles with singleness because we should be “content” and just busy ourselves with work, church, friends, networking, professional development, service and outreach to our community and neighborhoods, and just with generally ‘enjoying the single season.’
Yes – all of our unique careers and callings are noble and worthy of time and focus – I would be the first to admit that I am an ambitious person. I love my job, and with that zeal, comes a passion to be the best that I can be at it, work long hours, and pursue every detail 110%, sometimes to the point of obsession.
And yes – contentment is certainly a character quality we need to cultivate each day – and, again, I would be the first to admit that contentment can be a painful discipline, just like exercise, or dieting, or just doing hard things in life. But, are we busying ourselves so much to the point where we are exhausted at the end of every day and weekend…? Filling our days to the brim, leaving no time for reflection, quiet, prayer, and peace…? Living with FOMA (“Fear of Missing Out”)? Being afraid to just say “No”” Ultimately, have we left our unique Watch-posts for the pursuit of other immediate, temporal distractions…?
I am writing this post because I want to encourage all of the single, Christian women in this city, in my church, in my life, to Embrace the Wait at your Watch-Post. Wait like the Sunammite woman, with gumption, with audacious prayers, with boldness, with joy. I don’t know exactly how to perfectly do that, but in breaking down this passage, I believe it would follow in this vein:
1. Capture your Vision
Write down your Vision, your Ambition, your Dreams. Capture it – through written prayers. Think through what you envision for your spouse and marriage. Don’t be afraid of expressing your specific desires to God – but offer those “wants” with open hands.
2. Entrust the Appointed Time to God
The good news: there IS an appointed time. God doesn’t tell us the “when,” but He always offers details on the “who”: Himself, His character, His promises. As you wait, remember Spurgeon’s comforting words, “When I cannot trace God’s Hand, I must Trust God’s Heart.”
3. Wait Trustingly
Are you waiting as a Pessimist, or an Optimist? Christians doubt themselves, but they never doubt Christ’s ability to “do more than ALL we could ever ask or imagine.” Waiting doesn’t mean being passive in prayer or life or meeting others, or even making preemptive assumptions about yourself or others. Waiting Trustingly means that we BELIEVE in God and His promises (remembering His PAST provisions), and walk forward with courage and faith each day, being Watchful.
4. Live Your Life by Faith
LIVE your life BY Faith. Truly LIVE. One of my favorite authors and visionaries of all time is Elisabeth Elliott. She says:
“The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be LIVED — not always looked forward to as though the “real” living were around the corner. It is TODAY for which we are responsible – God still owns tomorrow.”
I am guilty of living in the future, and not in the moment. I have big dreams – and ambitions – for my life and career, and am constantly making lists and plans and steps on how I am going to get there. I forget that the “real living” is actually TODAY, February 9, 2013. It’s OK to dream, of course…as they say, ‘If you fail to plan, you’ll plan to fail.’ BUT, are we clinging too much to the maybe’s of tomorrow? If so, why? One of my friends shared with me last year, “Emily, go have FUN this year.” Maybe some have the opposite problem…but for me, this statement held a lot of truth to it. My eyes were so far forward, that I would miss out on the joys and laughs and memories of the moment.
I don’t write this today because I’m bashing on men, or am intensely discontent with not being married yet, or because I’m soliciting sympathy and violin-playing.
I simply write these words because I’m eager to encourage you to be like Habukkuk. Stand at your Tower, wherever that is. Wait at your unique Watch-post. You may not have a divine telescope, prophetic binoculars, or even perfectly clear skies to peer through. But, you have God as Your Strength, Your Joy, Your Guide for the High Places.