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Never Stop Laboring, Never Stop Travailing (Part 2)

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Journal Entry-Tuesday, February 15th, 2022 (6 days after my dad had passed away):


"Wednesday was the worst day of my life (up to this point), and yet I find myself wanting to go back and relive it."


I first spoke these words to my brother Stanton, while standing in my parents' tiny kitchen just a day or two after my dad left this world. I can still mentally visualize the look on my brother's face—a look of complete understanding and agreement because he had witnessed, had experienced, the same as I had. Actually, a whole houseful—children, spouses, and grandchildren—had witnessed and experienced as well.


If someone were to interview each of us about that moment, while, understandably, we would articulate the experience with different words and, perhaps, various degrees of understanding, I'm certain we'd all convey the same underlying reality: Just minutes after my dad was ushered into Heaven, something extraordinary occurred—a supernatural outpouring —as the Spirit of the Lord powerfully manifested Himself in the living room of my childhood home.


God's presence and God's glory consumed that room, as a resounding proclamation of praise flowed from my mother's mouth. This lasted for 10-15 minutes.


All the hoping, all the waiting. All the laboring, all the travailing. All the enduring time and all the enduring faith that it took to finally witness the triumphant, Christ-exalting antithesis of Satan's desire—that Stanton Sifers would die lost in his sins—poured forth from my mom in what will be forever remembered by me as Kiska's Song. It was an exuberant declaration of God's steadfast faithfulness—past, present and future—in

our family's life. Like Miriam"s and Moses's song in the Old Testament, and Mary's Song in the New, this uncontainable victory anthem gushed out, even in the midst of death's sorrow.


For my mom, who'd been married to my dad for almost sixty years and had lived a solo-Christian married life for more than fifty of those years (from the time she had accepted Christ in her late twenties)—and who had gone through some very arduous times and seasons throughout much of those years—it was as if all the exertion, all the toil, all the labor pains that had been endured and overcome in the spiritual realm found full release from deep within, in a commanding solo-orchestration of praising, praying, preaching, and prophesying. The 4 P's—a Spirit-moved heavenly score, in the presence of the family who knew best the spiritual battles that had been fought, and the promised territory that had been won.


For the children and grandchildren—the future generations—it was a heart-branding experience.


At present, this is the only way I know how to describe what welled up within my mom, just minutes after my dad passed away.


After all those years of laboring and waiting, the baby had been born!


And when that 13 day-old babe in Christ breathed his final, labored breath in his broken down earthly lungs, the angels instantly transported him to God's eternal Heavenly Kingdom.


SATAN DID NOT WIN!


Oh praise the name of the Triune God who kept offering the gift of salvation!

So relentless and merciful was He!

 

Last week, while my mom was still ruminating Part 1 of this blog (posted on January 28th), (https://www.athomeinthepromisedland.com/post/never-stop-laboring-never-stop-travailing-part-1), she sent me a lengthy text. In it, she attached several pictures of scriptures she had written out, all verses that pertained to waiting on the Lord. Along with these, she sent a picture of an acrostic she had constructed with the word WAIT; and with each letter's representative meaning, she listed some corresponding verses.


I suppose the January 28th blog had stirred up contemplations, and she had been reflecting that day about exactly how she had been able to wait upon the Lord those fifty plus years.


The following day, when I took some time to absorb the contents of her text, it struck me that, though my mom had simply sent a personal text to her daughter regarding what she had been contemplating about her own wait on the Lord, she had also given valuable instructions on how to wait on the Lord. In a sense, she had communicated, "Yes, daughter, I had to wait on the Lord, and this is only way I was able to do it." There have been many times that I've heard my mom say that she so appreciates it when a preacher, teacher, or writer of the Word not only tells the Christian what needs to be done but tells the Christian exactly how to do it. "Don't just tell me what to do but tell me how to do it," she'll say.


Now, I have to relay right here (because I know she'd want me to) that if my mom were sitting right now at your kitchen table, and over a cup of coffee began telling you her story and maybe you began telling her yours, she would be the first to admit that her wait, so often, wasn't a patient or peaceful reality. She'd be the first to admit that while the Holy Spirit was targeting my dad, the Holy Spirit was working with her as well, as she waited all those hard years for my dad to say yes to Jesus. She'd be the first to admit that she often battled her own flesh-driven thoughts and perspectives and emotions, the flesh's way of over-speaking the voice of God's Word. But through it all, despite her own internal battles and shortcomings, she kept conversing with God and going back to the truth-declaring, life-giving Word.


Most assuredly, had it not been for prayer and the Lord's grace and the gift of His most precious Word, my mom and my dad would have had a different story.


And, presently, I wouldn't be typing these words.

 

Dear sojourner, the first five Scriptures listed below are ones my mom texted me that day, and the rest that follow are ones I have added. So, if you're in your own delivery waiting room and have been for quite some time, and if your thoughts are battling with hopelessness and your heart's strength is waning from discouragement, I encourage you to spend time meditating on each of these truths. Then, choose one that especially speaks to you and write it out and post it on your bathroom mirror (or refrigerator or vehicle's dashboard, or wherever you'll intentionally see it each day). Meditate on it. Memorize it. Go to the Word and examine this truth in the context of its surrounding verses (perhaps, even surrounding chapters). And be open to the Holy Spirit's counsel and guidance, and submissive to His leading.


Write out my mom's acronym for WAIT and spend some time meditating upon the accompanying scriptures. Even do your own search for additional verses related to each principle, and then put this plan into daily practice. What will result, I promise you, is the Spirit's strengthening presence and sustaining peace. This is what happens when we put into practice the Bible's tried and true precepts.


W-watching and praying
(Matthew 26:36-46)
A-abiding
(John 15:1-10)
I-increasing
(Isaiah 40:27-31)
T-thanksgiving
(Psalm 107:1)


"For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (Habakkuk 2:13)
"But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." (Romans 8:25)
"The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth." (Lamentations 3:25-27)
"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, because You have done it; and in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good." (Psalm 52:8-9)
"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near." James 5:7-8
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning." Psalm 130:5-6
"From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)
“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes” (Psalm 37:7)
"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:13-14)
 

I so appreciate how the Word sometimes uses pregnancy vocabulary to describe the hard process of what not yet is, to what will be (Isaiah 54:1; Galatians 4:19, Romans 8:22). Something in the heavenly realm is conceived, a seed is planted, a promise is issued, but then time marches on. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years, and the years keep proceeding on. And still, in spite of the laboring and travailing, there's no birth of the new. No desired answer to the prayer prayed countless times. No desperately needed longing fulfilled. No hope in the promise of God's Word brought to realization. Even so, all throughout the Bible, scripture conveys that waiting on God is a believer's reality, something we must do; and that it's a very good thing, a most-rewarding action, when we do it because hoping and waiting and seeking, for however long God allows—even if year after year after year—demonstrates faith.


Our family lived this reality in my dad's long-prayed-for, long-awaited salvation story.


 

A final thought:


While the Word uses pregnancy vocabulary to describe the waiting process, the Word also uses such terms to convey the judgement of God (Isaiah 21:3; 26:16-18; Jeremiah 4:31, 13:21, 22:23, 50:43). Oh, how grateful I'll forever be that a seed was miraculously conceived inside the virgin's womb. How grateful I'll forever be that when "the fullness of time had come had come" (Galatians 4:4), Mary gave birth to the baby and gave Him the name Jesus, for "he [would] save his people from their sins" (Matthew 12:1). How grateful I'll forever be that this baby grew into a man who sinlessly walked this sin-drenched planet and dwelled among humanity,


Then, in the greatest act of love the world has ever known, the Savior died the cruelest sinner's death so that sinful humanity could escape the righteous judgment of a Righteous, Holy God.


Oh praise the name of the Triune God who offers the gift of salvation!

So relentless, so merciful is He!









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