Sometimes I get stuck. I know that God is with me, yet I have no idea what He is doing or where we are going. It seems that everywhere I turn, the answer is “wait” and “not yet.” I realized over Christmas break while painting our children’s bedrooms that I am not a patient person. I hate doing the same thing twice. It seems so redundant to pain the wall the same color twice. I have never read a book twice; seems silly when you know how it’s going to end. I go insane when my house monkeys undo all the tidying I have done. I’m not very patient, and I really don’t like waiting. Sometimes I think that once I have an idea of where God is taking me that it’s going to happen fast. I’m not sure where I get that idea, but it’s not from the Bible.
God usually makes people wait. Remember Paul had an amazing personal encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. But that was just the beginning of what God had for him. God’s divine intervention in his life left him blind. His friends, who were speechless after the blinding light, brought him into Damascus. “For three days, he was without sight, and neither at nor drank.” (Acts 9:9 ESV)
According to our American version of the gospel, after Saul’s amazing personal encounter with Christ, everything in his life is blessed and he becomes a kind, humble person, and lives happily ever after. Right?? Wrong…for three days Saul was in the dark. He didn’t eat or drink which tells me he was probably depressed. Even after his personal encounter, it seems he is clueless about his purpose or what to do next.
How many days have you been in the dark? Some of you have been anxiously waiting a long time to hear God’s purpose for you. In our instant, have-it-now culture, I get bored waiting, and I reach for my smart phone anytime I have a few minutes to kill.
For the Ice Queen, waiting doesn’t usually fit into her timetable. Waiting feels weak and passive. Ice Queens value doing and taking action, and waiting just doesn’t fit. She will wait as long as she thinks is an appropriate time to wait. And then she will act, whether she has heard from God or not. I used to determine God’s will by starting off in the direction I thought was right and praying that he would hit me upside the head with a two-by-four if it was the wrong direction. I would rather be doing something, even the wrong thing, that sitting around waiting. When I do this, I declare that I don’t believe that God is big enough to accomplish the something without me.
For the Orphan, the waiting often produces more self-doubt and spirals her into toxic shame. Because she has been waiting so long, she begins to believe that she missed it or that she messed it up. She thinks that she is not even worthy of hearing from God because her tiny little problems don’t matter to a great big God. She becomes angry with God because it feels like he is withholding good things from her. Her waiting leads her deeper into despair and hopelessness. She is paralyzed by fear and can’t make a decision, even when it is time to act. Sometimes I get tired of waiting and find other counterfeit things to give me immediate purpose or just distract me (books, television, shopping, etc.). At least I feel good and feel like I’m accomplishing something, even if it’s not God’s big something. When I do this, I declare that I don’t believe God cares about me because if he did care, he would make things happen now.
For the Princess, waiting is very difficult and sometimes painful. She understands that waiting is not passive, but active. As she waits, she is constantly praying, constantly watching to see where the King Father is at work. She anxiously waits with eyes of faith trusting that the King will tell her when it is time to act. She is not like the Ice Queen who runs ahead of the Father, nor is she like the Orphan who is paralyzed even when it is time to act. The Princess waits and acts only when the Father says that it is time. She will not proceed until the King says “Go!” This is how we see Jesus living in relationship with the Father in his time on earth. There were places the Father would not let him go and times that he had to wait. Yet he trusted the Father and sought only to please him.
What will it take for you to come out of the dark? Relationships. God uses relationships and people to get you where he needs you to be. God used Ananias to help bring Paul out of the dark. God has put people around you to help you see your gifts and talents. Your gifts and talents were meant to be used in the context of community, not in the context of you sitting alone in your basement. Now I have to warn you that relationships with other imperfect, broken people get messy. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Paul was never promised easy. In fact, suffering was also a part of his purpose. But Paul knew that he was not called to please men, but to only please God. He chose to trust a the loving Father and sought to please only him. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the gospel he preached was the true gospel. He lived out his purpose with courage and boldness. When I hear about Paul and other characters in the Bible (Moses was in the desert for 40 years waiting), I realize I have not been waiting nearly long enough. So I will choose to wait, not passively, but actively praying and seeking him. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” (I Peter 5:6 ESV)