Waiting On God (And Thriving In The Transition)

Waiting On God (And Thriving In The Transition)

Have you ever felt like you closed a big chapter of your life,
And the next one hasn’t started?

Although some of us may experience this more than others,
I think most of us have had this feeling at some point.

Personally, I feel like I’ve had many of these “in-between” phases.

In fact, the past 15 months have felt like that.

A massive 15 month gap in my (and my family’s) life where it feels like we’re just… waiting.

Waiting to see what God wants next.
Waiting to push forward in and into whatever He has.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still doing everything God tells us to do:

Working hard at our jobs and business
Serving at church
Raising our kids
Taking every opportunity to use our giftings, treasures and talents that God has given us to serve Him and love others
And sharing Jesus’ Gospel whoever we go

But life still feels… stalled.

Like we’re in-between “missions” in a sense.

God has obviously given all of us plenty to do,
But sometimes it can feel like you’re not moving “forward.”

That you’re simply serving and obeying Him while patiently treading water.

If that’s you too, then I want to encourage you that it’s perfectly fine to be in that situation.

It can feel wasted and useless at times,
But if it’s where God wants you,
Then you shouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Again, for the people in the back

If you are in a season of feeling wasted and useless,
but it is where God wants you,
Then you shouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Waiting In Scripture

We see many examples throughout scripture of people who had to “wait” on God in their lives.

And, interestingly enough, we read that God’s purposes and plans often depended on these transition times for the purposes He had planned.

Joseph had to wait about 22 years to see his first dream come to reality (after becoming a slave, wrongfully thrown in prison, etc)

Abraham had to wait about 25 years from his first calling to actually seeing his “son of the promise” to be born

Moses waited 40 years in the wilderness before returning to Egypt to rescue the Children of Israel

David waited about 15-20 years after being anointed to become king before his actual coronation and finally becoming king (and dealt with a lot of grief from the ruling king Saul during that time)

Elijah had to wait through a 3 year drought with a widow in the middle of nowhere in the middle/end of his prophetic ministry

Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to wait 9 months after the angel’s visit to see Jesus born… and then another 33 difficult years to then experience the most difficult day of her life, and then another 3 days to know that the last 34 years were all worth it

Jesus waited 30 years before beginning his public ministry. Can you imagine being God in the flesh and having to generally “keep quiet” and live a normal life when all you really want to do is share the good news and free everyone from their sin? Instead, Jesus waited for what The Father had deemed the precise time for Jesus to enter the public scene.

The Beauty Of Contentment In Waiting

One of the false assumptions we have is that if you’re not doing something big for God, or in direct process of doing something big, that you’re doing something wrong.

But as we see in all of the examples above, God has His plan and purpose (and it is often very different from the plans we make for ourselves).

In a book I recently read (and shared some quotes at this link: “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment”), Jeremiah Burroughs shares an interesting idea:

If God wills for us to be “in the game” and doing “big things” for Him, that’s great.
And if He chooses to “bench” us for a time, for no apparent reason, that’s great too.

And, we can actually glorify God in our waiting just as much as in our doing.

To have contentment in God just doing the small things,
While being on the sidelines,
Shows where our priorities are.

Being content in the times of waiting shows that God, and our relationship with Him, is enough.

The times of “doing” and “moving forward” are great.
But they can also cloud our priorities and our heart.

And it’s in the times of waiting that our faith and relationship with God really has to be tried.

If God wants me, or you, to wait,
Then enjoy Him in the waiting.

If God wants me, or you, to move forward,
Then enjoy Him in the moving forward.

Thriving In The Transition

One of the best things you can do in the “waiting” is to simply enjoy God (as mentioned above) and to also prepare for what’s next.

I’ve known many people who felt called to lead different ministries, move to different places, or even pastor or start a church…

But not yet.

And you knew what they did in those times of quiet?

Prayed.
Fasted.
Studied.
Got out of financial debt.
Instilled good habits.
Built lasting friendships and support systems.

They prepared themselves for whatever God has next.

Because although waiting is good,
God always has something “next”.

And you need to be ready when He shows you what that is.

Preparing For God’s “Next”

The best example I have of people who properly prepared in their time of waiting is found in Daniel 1:8-21.

After Jerusalem fell and the king of Babylon brought many into his kingdom. Daniel and his friends were faced with eating food God had made clear for them not to eat.

In this time of “waiting,” they could have easily turned away from God, but they instead continued to prepare for what was next.

They sought to obey God fully and nurture their relationship with Him.

By the end of the chapter, we see that God had begun raising them up as leaders in the kingdom because of their steadfastness.

And we see throughout the book how they held onto God’s will for their lives even when nothing important seemed to happen for years on end.

And when God had something planned for them,
They were ready.

Daniel’s friends faced the fiery furnace in a godly way,
Daniel was rescued from the lion’s den,
Daniel was given interpretations of many dreams,
And God continued to be able to use them though-out many years.

Because they remained faithful and prepared during their times of waiting.

Good And Faithful Servant

I don’t know if you’re in a season of waiting.

I am.

I don’t know what’s next, but I know God does.

And in the meantime, I’m going to continue preparing and serving and drawing near to God in any way I can.

Because today I am waiting.
And I need to enjoy the stillness and the ability to prepare that waiting allows for.

But I don’t know what tomorrow brings.
Only God does.

I pray that when my life is over, that God would look at my times of “moving forward” and my times of “waiting” and would say: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

May we seek to receive that commendation from Him.

In our doing.
And in our waiting.

The Birthday Of a Friend Who Has Passed

The Birthday Of a Friend Who Has Passed

This last Wednesday was the birthday of a friend of mine.

He was one of many recovering drug addicts and homeless who my wife and I invited into our lives when we very first moved down to Florida to help start a church.

For a time, we had a small group of people that met in our apartment. There were a few consistent people and many who would pass through over time. We would also end up spending Christmas mornings and other holidays with them as so few of them had family who live down here.

This friend is one of the first of many who we got to lead to Jesus and help in their recovery and homelessness.

He was the first of those friends to die.
And last Wednesday would have been his birthday.

We’ve thankfully only had one other close friend die from overdose, but for some reason (I don’t know if it’s time of life or something else) I have experienced more family and friend death in the past 7 years than ever before.

He was one of the first.

And when he died, I made a decision to keep his birthday in my calendar, and I’ve chosen to keep this habit with everyone ever since.

Simply Loving People

His birthday held special memories for me, which led to this new habit.

He, like many of the addicts we met down here, rarely got to celebrate his birthday with close friends or family because of his addiction. As we held a small group at our apartment, we held many birthdays and it never ceased to amaze me how much people appreciated it, addicts and non-addicts alike.

In a world where everyone gets well-wishes on Facebook, the simple text or phone call means so much more. And, to actually sit in a room around simple cupcakes and sing ‘happy birthday’, is almost unheard of.

These small birthday celebrations and times together in our home led to many experiencing God’s love and hope in a way I couldn’t have replicated in any other way.

And God used simple moments like these to save multiple people in our very living room, and I’ll never forget them.

The Importance Of Remembering

Part of the reason I keep people’s birthdays in my calendar, even after they have passed, is it helps me remember them, and more importantly, the things I learned from them.

Specifically: many of the people in my calendar remind me that God is not done. So many of them seemed like “lost causes” yet many of them experienced massive life and heart change by the grace of Jesus, and I never want to forget that.

Whether homeless and drug addicted,
“Old” and “Set in their ways,”
Argumentative and seemingly impossible to reason with…

Many of them found Jesus before their last breath.

And it reminds me of the many birthdays in my calendar who are not long gone, but may one day turn to Jesus as well.

Life Is Short

The 3rd and final reason I keep friends’ birthdays in my calendar, even after they’ve passed, is simply this:

It reminds me that tomorrow is not promised.

One day, you and I will breathe our last and will stand before God and eternity. And as David wrote in Psalms:

“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

Every month, as I look at the people who used to celebrate birthdays in that month, I am reminded that the things I do today will have an eternal impact, and I don’t know when my story here on earth will end.

And I want my days to count.

You might find my habit weird, but I’m happy I started it. And if nothing else, I hope this reminds you…

To simply love people today,
To keep hope that God can work in even the most desperate situations and people
And to live life to the fullest of God’s calling on your life, because you don’t know when you will meet Him face-to-face.

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