Tagged: patience

When You’re in the In-Between

Many of us are in the in-between of life. What do I mean by this?

We are in a season where we are waiting for something to happen. We are in a place that is unlike where we were, yet it’s also not where we want to be or think we should be. I call this place the in-between, and being in it often causes a perception or sensation of floating or not moving. In the in-between, it’s not unusual for us to look at the world around us and wonder why nothing is changing.

I myself am in the in-between.

I am a little over halfway through with my college education, but I still have several semesters of papers, homework, midterms and finals ahead of me before I graduate.

I am in my twenties and becoming an independent adult, but still live at home and am provided for as a child. I am transitioning, but not yet on my own.

I am engaged to the man I want to marry, but we’re not yet married. We still have at least six months to go with a wedding to plan and a joint life to prepare for.

I am working in a ministry I love and am passionate about, but still feeling like there’s something more out there for me. I have yet to solidify my calling, and I keep wondering when I will find that place where I fully belong.

I am nowhere near where I was when I first began following Christ, but in many ways I feel like I have hardly moved at all. I’m still believing many of the same lies and fighting the same battles. I can see the other side on which healing and freedom lie, but sometimes I feel like I’m not moving any closer.

I am in the in-between in almost every area of my life. And I’m realizing that the reason these times and places of in-between feel like the most grueling and challenging is because the in-between is where I most often look more at myself and less at God. I have allowed the in-between to hinder my vision of all things Kingdom-related.

It’s not because God isn’t here with me; it’s because I’ve become so consumed with getting OUT of the in-between that I have been forgetting to look for or acknowledge him.

I have been blind to the divine work happening around me. I’ve been feeling alone, wondering if my prayers are getting anywhere past the ceiling. I’ve been missing the life-changing work the Holy Spirit is doing, and I’ve been unable to identify the favor of God in my life that has been sustaining me and providing for me all along.

I don’t want to miss these things anymore. I’m starting to change my perspective and put my eyes back on the prize, and I’m now realizing that God is not waiting for me to get married, graduate, finish my book, or find my calling to begin doing miraculous work in my life. He wants to do things here and now.

This in-between I am in isn’t just an in-between to God. It’s a place where prayers can be answered, doors can be opened, and true life-changing growth can happen.

This season of waiting in my early twenties is still just as important of a time as my thirties or forties or fifties will be. The things I am investing in now are still worth investing in, even though they’re not the things I imagine myself investing in forever. The woman I am becoming is worth the work, time, and effort that has to be put in, and it’s God who’s crafting me into that woman piece-by-piece, day-by-day.

This realization is freeing. I’m beginning to recognize the fruits of the Holy Spirit being developed in me and I’m seeing the blessings of God that are enabling me to move forward with my dreams.

The same can be true for you today. You might feel like you’re always waiting for something, like you’re constantly in-between, and you’re not getting any closer to where you want to be. But my friend, feelings can be wrong. Your perceptions can be wrong. At the end of the day, you are all-faulty human and God is still all-knowing God.

Your inability to see the movement of God does not negate the movement of God that is happening.

God does not operate on your time schedule or your list of priorities, and he’s not waiting for you to get your life together to begin molding you into the image of his Son, which is his desire for you (Romans 8:29). Your Father is present and active in your life, whether you see it or not. And he still wants to use you for his glory here and now, whether you realize it or not.

You have to choose to look up.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning (Psalm 130:5-6).

Do you know what watchmen do? Watchmen keep watch of a city or fortress throughout the night. They are on a mission to preserve and protect, and they do not let down their guard until morning comes.

How are you waiting for the Lord? Are you remaining faithful and alert, as a watchman is until morning? Or are you letting your guard down, letting distractions consume you until you forget the tasks at hand and what you’re even waiting for?

Now is not the time to stop waiting for the Lord. And waiting for the Lord doesn’t mean looking the other way and being caught by surprise when he comes.

Waiting haphazardly is not God’s desire for you in this place of in-between; you are called to wait expectantly. 

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46:10-11).

While you’re in this season of stillness, do you know that God is God and what that means for your life? Do you know that his mission to bring himself glory through your life is true even today?

Look at Psalm 46:11: the God of Jacob is our fortress.

He’s the one we’re waiting for and the one we wait for.

Just as a watchman waits for morning because of the fortress they are charged with protecting, we wait for God because of God, because we know who he is and we desire his active presence in our lives. We are waiting for him to do the work only he can do.

I know the in-between is tough and you want a way out, but if you’re too busy looking for your dreams to come true, you will forget why you’re waiting. You will forget that God is still good and still working and one hundred percent worth waiting for.

The in-between is not an abyss. The in-between is a place like any other place — one in which God is sovereign and on your side. He is still for you. Even if you’re not for the current life you’re living.

I am praying over you and I the very prayer Paul spoke over the church in Ephesus once upon a time.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:17-21).

In other words:

God, give us your wisdom through the Holy Spirit so we can know you and see you better. We need enlightenment, Lord. We need heart knowledge of who you are and what you’re doing. This hope you’ve called us to is sometimes forgotten. Jesus, I’m asking you to help us remember. In these times of longing and confusion, give us the ability to not only recognize your great power, but to wield that great power in our own lives. The power of your love, grace, and sovereignty is far greater than any circumstances we find ourselves in or any scheme that is set up against us. You are with us now and you will be with us always. Thank you. We love you. Amen.

It Takes Time

The writing has slowed down.

You may or may not have noticed.

My summer in Clarkston is coming to a close and I feel like my heart has somehow decided to close itself, too.

No more, God. I’m done thinking. I’m done praying. Let me just stop and breathe for a minute.

I know life is meant to be filled with growth and change and learning. When any of those stop happening, we might as well be dead. Or so I’ve heard.

But growing and changing and learning sometimes hurts. And even though we’re told that we need to press on because it’ll be so worth it, that you can’t have gain without pain… well, I just don’t want to do that right now.

I don’t WANT to press forward with all I’ve got because it’s just super, super hard.

Doesn’t that sound so pathetic? But it’s the truth.

Right now I just want to sit. Forget carpe diem. Forget Paul’s running the race with endurance. Forget YOLO.

I want to curl up in my bed and sleep. Or stare at the wall and not even think about anything in particular. And then when I get up from my bed, I want to drink coffee, sit on the couch to stare at the wall some more, and ignore everyone who tries to talk to me. And maybe I’ll write some. But maybe I won’t.

Of course, my life right now doesn’t offer that “luxury”. I have a week left in Clarkston, and with being in Clarkston comes priorities and people relying on you. I can’t afford to just lie on the floor for hours on end (although I have been giving myself at least an hour of exactly that for the past few days). I can’t just “check out” and silence the world.

Life still happens, whether I want it to or not.

But what I have a say in is (and no, I’m not going to say any of that cheesy “you can choose your attitude” Pollyanna-esque stuff) whether or not I receive what is offered to me.

I know God wants me to grow. And change. And learn. He’s offering me things, I can tell. The doors are there. And stepping through one of those doors could mean the difference between wallowing in my self-pity and finding true freedom and joy.

But if I’m going to step through that door, I’m going to need to take my time. And I think He understands that. God is patient, you know.

He knows I’m not ignoring Him. He knows I’m not giving up. He sees my heart, how much it truly longs for Him and all the gifts He’s offering to me after all this time. It may be difficult to pray, but I still say hello. It may be tough to communicate with the world, but I still let myself be a friend to others. And it’s hard to call myself “happy”, but I know how to find joy in the little moments He brings.

It takes time for babies to learn to walk.

And I’m just a baby. I’ve been carefully putting one foot in front of the other for some time, but I haven’t let go of the ottoman just yet.

It’s okay, Jessie. You can do it. I won’t let you fall.

I know, Daddy. I’m getting there. I just need a minute.

I know I’ll get there. I know it because I have within me a spirit that is yearning for far too much to stand still for very long. It looks like I’m not doing anything right now (and you may be right), but what you don’t see is that every hour I spend in solace and silence makes my soul a very restless one indeed. And when the conditions looks a bit more favorable and I am able to get out of this bed, I will charge through that very same door I’ve been staring at for years. I know this because God loves me too much and I love God too much to stand still forever.

I’m not going to feel bad for not pursuing Jesus as hard as everyone else right now. I AM pursuing him, and HE is making up for the rest (and then some). This is not hide-and-seek or tag. This doesn’t even feel like a race.

No, this is a long and challenging stroll on the beach.

And as we’re walking hand-in-hand, looking out at the horizon, I sometimes get so overwhelmed that I just stop and have to take a minute to look down at the sand. It’s too much. But after a little bit of time, he lifts up my chin, gives me that understanding smile, and helps me take that next step. In some cases, he even carries me. And when I pass by people who are also struggling to take that next step, I’d like to take their hand and walk with them, too.

Before I know it, we’ll be at that boardwalk. That little speck in the distance that I thought (and still sometimes think) I could never reach.

And in that moment, I’ll know that it didn’t matter how long it took me or how many times I had to stop to catch my breath.

All that’ll matter is that I arrived and I didn’t let go of his hand.

If You Miss a Bus…

I just finished watching, “All About Steve”, a comedy featuring Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper. Most comedy movies actually contain some insightful knowledge before the ending. This one was no exception. I was barely through watching half of the movie when one of the characters, a helpful truck driver, said to Mary, played by Bullock, “If you miss a bus, I’m thinking maybe you weren’t meant to take it.” And right then and there I said to myself, “I have to blog about this.” So here I am. Don’t worry, there’s a point to all of this.

The reason why this quote stuck out to me is because I personally love metaphors. And this was such a major one! Hopefully, you caught onto the fact that it was a metaphor. If not… well, I’ll try my best to explain what this one means to me.

“If you miss a bus, I’m thinking maybe you weren’t meant to take it.” The truck driver could’ve been talking about missing a literal bus, but my mind dives deeper than that. To me, the bus symbolized an opportunity. If you miss an opportunity, maybe you weren’t meant to take it. We are all given chances and opportunities- reconnecting with an old friend, taking on a new job, getting hitched, or even buying an ice cream sundae from Dairy Queen on the way home from work. The funny thing is that sooner or later, we all miss chances and opportunities too.

You may have hesitated to make a decision, you may have waited too long, or you may have taken a different route. The point is that opportunities come and go and we are bound to miss some really good ones. The thing that most people don’t realize is that we can’t possibly see the big picture. We don’t know what circumstances are coming our way. We can’t predict our futures, and we can’t believe that every chance we get will be our only one.

God opens doors and He closes them too. He throws our plans into the garbage and makes His own. Truth be told, we really have no idea what God’s doing in our lives right now. His timing is not like ours. While we may get impatient after a few minutes of waiting in line at the cash register, God has unlimited time to spend! He knows what He’s doing.

You may have recently missed a great opportunity. The thing to remember, though, is that God has a specific plan for each of us. If things didn’t go the way you planned them, so what? It’s not yours to decide. Sometimes He allows us to miss out on opportunities because He has something GREATER in store for us! Sometimes we really aren’t meant to take them! If you have any regrets right now, let them go and start to trust that God’s doing something bigger and better than any of us could imagine. You may have missed a bus or two, but don’t worry. There are plenty more coming your way.

Walking in Step

Galatians 5:25: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Keep in step, it says. Walk at the same pace with God, meaning don’t lag behind or get ahead. But what exactly does this mean? How can we prevent ourselves from lagging behind or getting ahead?

Lagging behind means we aren’t putting enough effort to stay at the same pace. Basically, this means we aren’t putting enough effort to keep up with our relationship with Jesus. If you want to prevent yourself from lagging behind, you have to continuously seek Him and yearn for His guidance. When you stop to tie your shoes in the middle of a jog with friends, you may be left behind and have to put more effort into your step to catch up. This is similar to your walk with Christ. If you stop walking with Christ, or stop to tie your shoes metaphorically speaking, you will lag behind. To regain the distance put between you and where you should be next to Him, you have to step it up. Follow His plan for you, trust in Him, become once again entirely focused on your Creator and Redeemer.

Besides lagging behind, it’s possible to get ahead. As mere humans, we don’t see the big picture that God does. We don’t always know his plans for us, the things he’s going to do in our lives, and the things he’s already doing in the present. Sometimes this may result in losing patience. When you stop trusting God’s perfect timing and plan, you may start deciding your own. You might seek relationships that isn’t part of God’s plan, you might lose sight of God’s goals and purpose for you. You might make decisions without consulting Him, you might try to take shortcuts that will probably only end disastrously anyway. This isn’t what God intended. He wants us to walk in step with Him. He wants us to trust Him.

Take an evaluation right now of where your life is headed. Are you lagging behind or getting ahead? If so, you’re not the only one. Everyday, we must remind ourselves that keeping in step with Christ is the only pace that will bring us peace and contentment, temporarily on this earth and eternally in Heaven. Don’t lose sight of where God wants you to be- right next to Him.

“In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want youto get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.”   -Ephesians 4:1-3 (the Message)