Wait on the Lord. Be courageous, and he will strengthen your heart. Psalm 27:14
Have you ever been traveling by plane and been put in a holding pattern? The pilot has already turned the seatbelt sign on and announced your descent into such-and-such a city, but then the landing just doesn’t happen. A further announcement reveals that “air traffic control has put us into a holding pattern due to heavy traffic.”
So you wait.
You are in the middle.
You are no longer where you departed from, but you are not yet where you intend to go.
You can see the city and the tiny cars driving below you; you can even see the landmarks sometimes.
I was put into a holding pattern over Washington DC once. It was like a mini-tour of the monuments, and it made me SO excited to land and see this new place!
I’m no longer on the Navajo Nation. I think of it, and its people, ALL THE TIME though. Last night, Delbert texted me that they miss me more than fry bread. This morning I read the Navajo Times online and smiled at a story about how the entire government shut down to honor a solar eclipse. I texted for a long time with Sonny earlier this week about teaching out of Proverbs and about standing firm in Christ when he calls us to serve him. I miss the place and people I left, and I’m sure I will visit, but it will never be the same as it was when I lived there. I’ve left.
But I’m not yet where I will be. I’m headed into full-time work with Josiah Venture, and I CAN’T WAIT! I want to start tomorrow. Orientation gave me an overview of the exciting things I will be a part of, and it stirred up in me such a strong desire to be there. But I’m not there yet. I still have a team of monthly supporters to gather, and I’m pretty sure (since God hasn’t yet provided in this area) that He has work to do on me too, before I start.
The tricky part is what to do with this waiting-in-the-middle time.
I suppose it could be wasted in the wanting of what comes next. I feel myself sliding that way sometimes. Wishing away moments, working so hard to get to tomorrow that I miss out on today. I went back to reread a post I wrote last summer on “A Thankful Life” when God was teaching me to live life in the moment.
“I want to be thankful for the people right here. Enjoy flowers while there are flowers and dust when there is dust.”
Enjoy THIS day. THESE people. THIS job. Take joy in the simple things that God brings your way during this holding pattern season of life.
So I faced this week armed with thankfulness, and it was an incredible one! My favorite part was speaking to two totally different groups about where God and I have been and where God and I are going next.
The 1st group was the Young at Heart senior ministry at NECC, a church I used to attend, and still love, here in Fort Wayne. They were lamenting their small numbers this week, but as we sat around a table and shared I was glad for the intimacy.
I like to people-watch when I speak for a group. I think I’m fairly awful at sharing and I need to just get out of the way and let God do his thing, so when I share I like to try to register the response of people. It helps me not be so nervous!
As I shared my story of stepping into the unknown and finding God alongside me all the way, I watched these dear older women smile and nod and even give each other “knowing” glances. They have done this part of the journey already. They have walked in faith and seen God answer prayers. They have chosen Jesus over the world and all it offers. I’ve tasted the joy of surrender to my King, but they have lived it.
The 2nd group was a collection of about 20 middle-school aged kids at my friend Mary’s church. She invited me to share about my adventures with God. She began with the question: What is a missionary?
Silence, and then finally a tentative hand from the little boy beside me.
“People in Africa that teach about Jesus?” *smile*
We had a great time of talking through what it looks like to follow God into whatever he calls us to.
I told them one of my favorite stories about how to hear God’s voice, and I watched them as I talked.
In China, they have a valuable stone called “jade”. It is very expensive, and people make counterfeits to fool people and make money. Because of this, it is a very important job to be able to tell real jade from false. One family decided to start their young son in classes to train him for this profession. They sent him to an old, wise teacher. The teacher put a piece of jade into the boy’s hands and then began to teach on all sorts of other things. He asked the boy questions about his life and his family. At the end of the class, the man took the jade back and sent the boy home. The boy was confused because he hadn’t learned even one thing about jade, but he decided to just wait and see. Each week after that was the same. The boy grew to really know and love the old teacher, but he never taught him anything about jade. One week, the boy finally asked the teacher when he would begin to learn about jade. The old man smiled and placed a piece of jade into the boy’s hand as always. The boy immediately exclaimed, “This isn’t jade!” and the old man smiled and said, “All those weeks, you held that jade and felt it’s weight and texture and saw its hue. Now when you hold counterfeit jade you recognize it!”
This, I explained, is how we know God’s voice from all the other voices and ideas around us. We spend SO much time with him- reading his word, praying, walking, living with him, listening to him- that when another voice speaks we immediately know it is not God’s.
I watched them. Some of them played with their shoelaces and some giggled together at inside jokes. But some watched me and listened. I wondered what God would call them to do someday. I wondered if they would obey him and sacrifice what they want for what he wants. I remembered being there, listening to the adventures of others with God and wondering where he and I would go together. Hoping he wouldn’t send me far from home.
Again, I’m in the middle of this journey- not where I was, but not yet where I will be.
I’ve learned to hear God’s voice and to walk this life with and for Him, but I don’t yet have the quiet, confident faith of those beautiful older women.
Maybe we are all in holding patterns of some sort, in some area of our lives. I’m just so thankful that as we wait, our Savior waits with us and whispers hints of what is yet to come in this life with him.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10