On the way home tonight I heard “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller. You can listen to it here. Here are the lyrics:
It is a really great song, and its one that struck me once before, and inspired this blog (as viewed in the right side of the design). I’ll be honest with you guys, being a Christian isn’t easy. And like I mentioned in this previous post, I have really struggled with being jaded/disappointed/bitter since I graduated. I felt like my Christian University challenged my to have giant dreams, because we have a giant all powerful God. However, there were some important things about God, faith, and how God tends to reveal His plans, that they did not always share.
In my awesome Sunday School class we have been studying the Hall of Faith passage Hebrews 11. We’ve been looking at the one verse about each individual and actually studying their accounts in Genesis and other books of the Bible. The past month we have been studying the life of Abraham in depth, looking at how God grew His faith.
One of the things that I have struggled with in my Christian walk is understanding God’s timing. I felt like He put these giant dreams in my heart to change the world, and to love/mentor youth/teenage girls, and more recently help prepare people to be missionaries, or help them process experiences on the mission field. After I graduated, when I did not see these dreams/passions that I knew that He put on my heart, come to fruition I was depressed, disappointed, and jaded. In some instances I felt abandoned; I didn’t feel like I was receiving a lot of direction from God, and felt like I was not being used in the ministry career that He had directed me too. Through these lessons, I’m learning that it wasn’t like God forgot me, or built me up to let me fall; He reveals his plan differently than I understood.
Abraham’s life, despite his failings, is really an example of faith. Throughout Genesis you can see when God calls Abraham and tells him these giant heart fulfilling promises. There are multiple encounters (Genesis 12, Genesis 15, Genesis 17, Genesis 21, etc) and each time God provides Abram (or Abraham) with a little more information about His plan. When you actually do the math, you realize that Abram waited 25 years for this promise to be fulfilled by God. That is a long time (also consider the amount of time that Noah was building the Ark waiting for God to fulfill that promise), and I don’t know about you, but I like immediacy, I want to know everything so I can plan out my life completely, actually I don’t want to know now, I wanted to know yesterday or last week, thank you very much.
Previously (before these Bible study lessons) when I felt that God called me to something, and it didn’t work out immediately, I felt lied to even. In my limited understanding, I thought plans should happen in my time. I should be apart of awesome youth/women’s ministry now. I should have a perfect marriage with awesome communication, now. I should have an internship that is ministry related, now. Oh, God put a desire to counsel missionaries on my heart? This must mean that He wants me to do this, now, for my internship. Then, after googling and email stalking tons of organizations to be told that I needed to go overseas for a year in order to relate to missionaries, as well as all of these great retreats for missionaries that are in every other state besides mine. I felt frustrated and confused, didn’t God place this desire on my heart? He did end up using that desire in an AWESOME way in Italy this summer. I can’t wait to tell you guys about that story (I just need to ask the permission of the person it includes, first).
However, in looking at the account of Abram, you can see that God does place these desires, and little pictures in our heart, and often times He waits to fulfill His plan because His timing is perfect. 25 years is a long time, but you can see how Abram’s faith grew, through questioning, doubt, to ultimately trust. God wanted to wait until Abram had grown enough before fulfilling His promise. Because God knew the perfect time when Abram would be ready, we can read the account of when Abraham was called to sacrifice Issac. Abraham really trusted God at this point (Genesis 22), and this incidence is an account of faith. When Issac asks where the lamb will come from, Abraham replies “God will provide it.” Maybe Abraham did struggle and have doubts in that situation, but maybe he didn’t. His responses indicate a resolve and a deeper faith than his previous conversations with God.
In my life I can see other things that I felt abandoned about, and see how God worked it for His good amazing plan. My second year on campus I felt God calling me to be a Spiritual Life Director on the dorms. This position is responsible for mentoring the small group leaders, and developing the spiritual plan/teachings for their residence halls. I applied and was approved, then went through the interview process to find my hall. I ended up going through like 11 interviews. It was heart breaking and tear jerking, it hurt to go to all of these interviews to be told “We think that God has an awesome plan and place for you, but its not on our hall.” In the end there was no SLD position for me, so I was once again a Prayer Leader. I questioned God and was hurt, wondering why He had let that happen.
However, many years later I can see why. Not being an SLD made it easier for me to decide to move off-campus my senior year, and apply to be apart of an Xtreme Impact mission trip to fulfill my Youth Ministry internship requirement. In preparing to go to Thailand (a $3,800 trip, though a little less for me as a leader), I sent out support letters. Then, I felt crushed when no one from my family/church responded to those letters. I felt abandoned again, and almost was unable to go on the trip. However, that situation allowed certain special people to be called to give graciously to my trip, as well as I took the opportunity to help out for any trip credit task. Whenever there was an email from the office asking for volunteers to help fill/lick envelopes or other tasks I was there. This meant that when an actual position became available for several days a week, I jumped on it. And that, my friends, started out in various office tasks and led to becoming a supervisor who continues to lead trips each year. Due to things not going “according to my plan” I now have the best job in the world!
So, for everything in my life (though I’m sure I’ll fail and become impatient from time to time) I’ll wait, taking each step in obedience. Its amazing even, the way that God can use you to encourage someone, when you’re not even trying to do ministry. One day, God will show me the purpose and time for each desire that He has placed and called my heart to. :0)