“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (AMP).
Those of you who regularly read my posts may have noticed that I have been missing in action for quite some time. Not only have I been absent here, but I have been absent in life. I have physically existed, of course, but I have been absent mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Many of life’s challenges are crippling, which makes it difficult to regain our footing and continue our race. Oftentimes in life, we find ourselves as mere spectators rather than active participants. It was there, on the sidelines, that I recently found myself. Can you relate?
As I sat thoughtfully contemplating my present situation, I began thinking about the seasons. In life, as in nature, we have seasons. The Bible says there is a season for everything in life (see Eccl. 3:1-8). If only we could embrace the seasons of our lives as willingly as we embrace the seasons of the year. Recently, I have been reminded that God has planned the seasons of our lives with infinite wisdom. He has ordained each one, knowing exactly what fruit is to be harvested at what time. I believe that since His desire is to do us only good, He enjoys each season He plans for us (see Jer. 29:11). So why are we so prone to resist the season we are in?
If I were to make a list of my least favorite things to do, waiting would rank in the top five. Few things do I enjoy less than remaining in that agonizing place of staring my hopes and longings in the face and wondering how, and when, and if God will ever allow them to come true. Oftentimes, I find myself grumbling … tired of waiting …tired of trying to hang onto hope … as the months and years slip away and so many questions remain unanswered. I long for a breakthrough in a career decision that sparks life into my heart. I struggle to find a meaningful purpose to center my life around. I look inwardly at all the healing, growth, and freedom I have yet to experience and wish God operated on my timetable instead of His.
So many times I have begged God to finally reach down from heaven and move, speak, act, shine a light on my path. As is often the case when I go to Him with my questions and restlessness, He does not reveal anything instantly. Yes, He brings hope. He renews my faith. He gives me strength to keep going. But, in that gentle, quiet voice, He also speaks the words I have heard over and over again . . . my daughter, wait.
And so I wait. As time goes by, I am finally beginning to realize it is in these seasons … like my current season of waiting … that God does some of His greatest work. It is being still before God … pouring out our heart before Him … that we find peace. It is in the desert … the wilderness … the quietness … that God can restore hope and vision and deepen our character. It is in waiting that we get to know God’s heart more intimately and finally begin to realize He is our life.
Allow me to share with you a few things I am learning as I continue to walk through my own season of waiting.
Don’t Try to Do Life Alone
There was a time when I struggled through life on my own. I was too afraid and stubborn to allow anyone in. Although meaningful relationships were the one thing I longed for above anything else, I was terrified of rejection. I became known as the girl who never admitted a need and who never burdened anyone with my problems. If there were tears to be cried, I cried them behind closed doors. If there were hurts and fears to be dealt with, I waited until no one else was around. I was the one everyone came to with their problems, but rarely would I risk letting them see the wounds in my own heart.
Thankfully God did not let me stay there. It has been a long, slow, painful journey to realize we were never meant to walk through life alone. God actually designed some of His most powerful work to happen in the context of community. If it is growth, freedom, maturity, wholeness, and restoration we are after—then people …the right people … are going to be one of the biggest tools God uses.
I do not know how I lasted so long trying to do it on my own. I see now that time spent waiting for God to shake things loose is never wasted if we are staying vitally connected with people who help us not to lose sight of who God is and what He is doing.
Look Back at What God Has Done
It is so easy to lose perspective in a long period of waiting, but looking back and seeing God’s faithfulness gives us the courage we need to keep hanging on. If He has already brought us this far, why should we doubt that He will keep leading us in the future? Why should we think he is not going to finish the work He started? Sadly, I am all too similar to the Israelites who wandered around the desert and who quickly forgot how God led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, gave them manna to eat and water to drink, and rescued them from their enemies. I do not, however, want to lose sight of everything He has done, even though the next thing seems so far away.
Figure Out What Makes You Come Alive
I have come to realize that even in waiting and wondering, our hearts can be alive and growing. Every day we can pursue joy and growth and opportunities to really live. Find joy in the little things … a picnic in the park with a loved one, the occasional, lazy day filled with movies and obscene amounts of junk food, or tucking your child in at night. As long as there is life in our hearts, we can keep waiting, trusting, and hoping for the day when God will bring answers to our deeper questions.
Learn to Rest
“Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NASB). I cannot count how many times that verse has made me stop in my tracks and realize that all my hard work (and all the self-help books in the world) will never bring about the kind of lasting change I long to see in my life. It takes God speaking those simple words for me to realize (again) that instead of laying out ten quick steps to becoming a Godlier person or burdening us with more that we need to do, God is inviting us to rest. He is calling us into relationship with Him. He is asking us to get to know His heart and His character. He is speaking to us of His love, of His delight in us, and of His desire to sit with us for awhile and talk.
I am extraordinarily good at letting the trap of busyness consume me. Only when I step back from all of the hard work and finally rest will my thirsty soul actually be satisfied. Only when I rest will peace and balance be restored to my striving, unrestful spirit.
Yes, the season of waiting is difficult. It is during this season, however, that our roots go down deep as we wait and trust and hope in God. So whether you are waiting for guidance in a major decision, waiting for a broken heart to heal, waiting for love, or waiting for a clear career path to unfold, know that Jesus longs to walk with you right here, right now.
© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.