The last few blog posts I’ve been inspired to share have dealt with this tortoise-esque season of life I’ve found myself in. I’ve griped about, complained about, whined about, and then embraced this time of slow and steady; monotony and regularity taking up space in my life where excelling and exceeding used to be.
So when I realized that God was also ready to orchestrate a women’s retreat, smack dab in the middle of my goal setting hiatus, I was feeling a bit confused. I had equated this time of waiting to that of a vacation, ready to sit back and watch all the other little worker bees build the kingdom while I put my feet up, opened my bible, and studied my way into heaven. God said wait so…I’d better hurry up and do it.
The funny thing about God is, just when I think I’ve figured out the plan, the plan unfolds a little bit more and I can’t help but be reminded of how terribly shortsighted my human mind is.
I know it was God who pushed this retreat into being because in less than two days of announcing the opportunity, the spots were filled and we had begun a ten person wait list. That kind of response alludes to a dire need. And a God sized need can only be filled by God Himself.
But how on earth do I dwell and do? How can I be still and move forward? How can I wait by taking action?
Is taking steps of faith that produce fruit disobeying the call to sit patiently, waiting for His orders?
I recently read a book that talked about this very thing. How easy it is to make things happen on your own out of sheer impatience when waiting for God to make things happen. And the paragraph gripped my heart. I don’t want the results of what I can accomplish on my own, I want to see God magnified by the way He makes things happen! Is there a chance that I took matters into my own hands out of boredom?
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
The truth of the matter is that God is infinitely greater than we are. He’s been an infinite amount of steps ahead of us from an infinite amount of time ago! There’s just no way on earth, in these limited bodies we inhabit, that we’re going to get it right every time. If His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, as far apart as the heavens are from the earth, who could expect that we’d always get it right; on the mark every single time?
This isn’t a free pass to do your own thing under the pretense of not knowing what He would have you do. There are many scriptures that are blunt in answering a lot of the questions that plague society today, and many more that give you direction as to the outcome Jesus would prefer if not the exact steps to take. God didn’t just design us to be incompetent and then not provide us with some sort of instruction manual.
But these personal struggles? These seasons that are uniquely yours, conversations between your heart and God’s, spiritual warfare taking place right above your head, battling it out specifically for your attention and devotion… this type of soul conflict isn’t necessarily decided for you in between the covers of the big book we’ve come to rely on.
This comes directly from having a personal relationship with Jesus.
This retreat idea was born in the middle of my “time off.” It was developed while I was still trying to wrap my head around having the energy to do it. It was launched when I was still figuring out how I’d ever be able to pull off my end of it. And it was filled before I could change my mind.
Am I out of the waiting period? Am I back into the doing side of the tunnel? Have I stepped from the wilderness of want to into the garden of going to?
Or have I just extended my heart, time, and focus to loving God’s precious daughters in the best way I know how while I continue to surrender to His plan?
The worst case scenario to my “acting on impulse”, perhaps disobediently, is that I get to spend a weekend with other women of faith, I get to speak my heart’s message into their lives, I get to hear their personal stories, share the burden of their personal struggles, and encourage them on with the gift of understanding and friendship.
And the best case scenario? The same exact thing.
Because even when we don’t stick to the plan, even though I may face a consequence in the form of re-learning a particular lesson I avoided, even though I get it wrong more times than I get it right; God doesn’t change. He uses everything. And His promises never waiver.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am among them.”
I can feel good about doing while I’m waiting because the retreat is not about me at all; not about what I’m capable of or able to accomplish. It’s about serving others. Providing others with a safe space to be accepted, loved on, and encouraged. It’s about God, about coming together to praise and worship His name despite the seasons we’re in, despite the circumstances we face, despite the troubles that are waiting for us when we return home. His promises reassure me He’ll be there, whether or not I’m supposed to be.
And perhaps the greatest reason that I can safely move forward in these plans during my time of wait, is that God is so much less interested in what I do than in who I become, anyways. If my actions lead me to closer to God, closer to achieving my one and only true goal on this earth, to be more Christ-like, then my actions (or non actions) are really irrelevant.
Francis Chan said it this way in his book Forgotten God: “I think dwelling on God’s plan for the future often excuses us from faithful and sacrificial living now. It tends to create a safe zone of sorts, where we can sit around and have spiritual conversations about what God might have planned for our lives. Thinking, questioning, and talking can take the place of letting the Spirit affect our immediate actions in radical ways. God wants to see His children stake everything on His power and presence in their lives.”
Waiting on God’s timing doesn’t mean a season void of growing, giving, and pursuing. It simply means surrendering your plans to His. And while that often means shelving grand dreams in lieu of small scale tasks for undetermined amounts of time, there is victory to be had in the day to day routines.
It’s when you’re quiet, waiting, open to receiving, undistracted by your own agenda, that you can truly be perceptive to His whispers (like a women’s retreat, for example) and accomplish more in your wait with Him than you could ever have dared to hope by pushing forward on your own.
How you could you stop focusing on what God wants you to do and begin to concentrate your energy on who He wants you to become?