“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:16 (NLT)
Don’t you love those times in your life when you can tangibly see progress you are making? Whether you are becoming more patient, loving, self controlled, disciplined? Whatever it is you are working on (or God is lovingly teaching you what needs to be worked on) and you are seeing results?
I’ve been in a period of holding for the past three months. Wondering if I’m not listening hard enough to God, wondering if I’m where He wants me, and wondering if I need to change directions because it seems like nothing is happening. Through His grace, He has recently shown me that I’m in a period of preparation. Those periods are very necessary, though sometimes frustrating. You see, I believe God had me in a preparation phase approximately eight years ago, but I argued with Him back then, telling Him I was too busy to obey what He wanted me to learn and I would have to wait to learn it until my schedule got less hectic and I had more time. Well, guess what? My schedule hasn’t gotten slower and I don’t have more time. I have one more child, one and one half jobs, and I’m more mature now to realize when God wants me to learn something, it’s smarter to learn it the first time He presents it to me than waiting eight years and having to fix all the mistakes in between.
I’m so glad, though, the God I serve is patient with me. I sure need it. And so, this time around, I’m trying to just obey, without arguing and enjoy the time of preparation He has given me. During this time I need to work on my priorities, my health, my household routines, and my schedule. I need to clean and organize, keep what works for our lifestyle. donate what others would find beneficial but we have outgrown, and solidify a routine that will make our house run smoothly while taking care of my body so it will run effectively and meet the demands that will soon be placed upon it. Because, you see, even though I’m in the “hold” phase or preparation right now, I have faith I’m being prepared for something. Therefore, I can’t procrastinate, but I need to get ready. I’m excited to see what exactly God has planned. Do I think He will wait indefinitely for me to establish a workable routine? I know from experience He won’t. He has an overall plan, and I’m just one piece of that puzzle. When He’s ready for me to start using my piece for His glory, I’ll be called to serve whether I have used this time wisely or not. I want to take full advantage of the time He’s giving me instead of wasting it as I did eight years ago.
So…back to seeing tangible progress. I received a phone call from a great friend the other day. She had terrific news to share with me. My first reaction to her news was utter and complete joy, and surprisingly, peace. You see – her news affected me also. By her receiving great news, I received less-than-stellar news. And you know what? That was okay with me. Absolutely, completely, okay. What I found even better than my honest “so happy for you” reaction was how God had prepared her a few days earlier to receive her great news at the same time as He was working in me, revealing that now is not my time. And, because of His love and that preparation, my reaction to her wasn’t a fake, tight-lipped “Congratulations” before going off and licking my own wounds. Nope – it was an honest, full-out “Snoopy dance!”
That kind of a reaction, my friends, can only come from the peace that God Himself gives. I take no credit for it, but give full credit to my wonderful Savior.
He loves us all so much that He will lovingly prepare us ahead of time to either fulfill His plans in His time or to receive the news waiting for us, even if it’s “no” or “not yet.”
Have I been guaranteed by any earthly avenue that I’m in a “hold” pattern and my time is right around the corner? No. But I do have a close relationship with the God of the Universe who has given me a peace while I’m resting, waiting, preparing for whatever journey He wants me to take. Do I have the journey mapped out and programmed into my GPS? Again, the answer is no. But do I trust that God is in charge of the directions and He will let me know if I’m veering off course? Absolutely! Until then, I will continue to prepare; not just my career path, but my health, my relationships, and organize my house while working on perfecting our household schedule.
As happy as I am for my friend (and I’m elated for her!), I’m excited to think about where God might be leading me, and peaceful while I wait for His timing.
Copyright 2013: Cheri Swalwell