When Beth and I knew that we wouldn’t be sticking around at our previous ministry, needless to say we began seeking out whatever God had laid out next. Even in the midst of the beginning of the transition, I was still hoping down deep inside that there would be a miraculous change, and that we would be able to see something amazing happen. It probably wasn’t fair to myself or my family to let hope linger, but I will always trust in what God can do beyond whatever I might see. But all the signs said it was time to move on, and so we began looking at what those new opportunities & options might be and where God might lead us.
When you pray and ask for an adventure, then there are a multitude of options that can open up in front of you. We were looking at Oregon, Washington, Texas, the Atlantic coastline, and we even had someone talking to us about going to work & serve at a refugee camp in Sicily. There were so many options that there were too many options. It became daunting.
As we looked, we considered, and as we considered, we dreamed, and when you start dreaming dreams in different directions, you’re going to wind up feeling very, very torn. You’re going to feel directionless. And that’s a tough place to be.
We spent many nights having discussions about the pros and cons of this area over that. We researched churches with open positions. We debated the merits of large congregations and small congregations, and knowing how to negotiate the purpose of each in their environments. We talked about the areas we simply didn’t want to go to, and where there might be the greatest need within the kingdom. There were so many options, and our wait within those options seemed to be a very long one.
Granted, we were still wrapping up our final season in that ministry, and we are always subject to the timing and will of God. We wanted to leave quickly, but God had intention for keeping us around just a little longer. Waiting isn’t often fun or pleasurable, but God always has something in store for us in it.
During one of my many meetings with other local ministers, I was talking about this time of transition, and our waiting within it. And I told him that I knew that God was doing some refining of me and my heart through this whole process, and that I didn’t want to miss out on it. I didn’t want to lose something that God might raise up within me. Again, it didn’t make the waiting easy, but knowing that there was growth to look for within it brought some measure of comfort.
In a previous post, I talked about the breadcrumb trail that God would lead us to, that helped to define this waiting for us, but it was still a struggle to deal with this amount of time and with this degree of feeling directionless.
In these seasons of transition, we must come back to trusting in God. There is a temptation to begin to doubt ourselves, to doubt our call to ministry, there are ample opportunities to listen to voices of discouragement, and to let the whispers of the enemy creep in. This is what he’s prone to do. Where we see options, he speaks into difficulty. Where there are decisions, he sows doubt. Where we are presented with the goodness and mercy of God, the enemy present us with insults that detract from where He is calling us and what He is doing in those moments.
You see, there is a deep degree of trust and faith that comes with a life in ministry. There are people who do not understand it, who disregard it, and who will act as agents of misery in that time. The enemy likes to sow division, to breed hurt and to create wounds as we wait, and there are people who claim Christ who gladly add to that burden. As tough as it might be, we still pray for them, over them, and we continue to do our best to point them toward Jesus in all of our actions, words and example.
Waiting is hard, searching can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean that we have reason to live in a way that dishonors Christ in the process. As we look in the Bible, we find ourselves in excellent company when we consider those who wait. We see Moses, Joshua, David, Ezekiel and other prophets who had to wait to see God’s next steps come about. There may have been choices to make, but there was waiting within those choices. This happens with Jesus, Paul, John and others in the New Testament, too. So don’t despair in your waiting. Don’t think that you are alone, or listen to the lies that God has abandoned you, or that He is somehow being cruel. God has purpose in our waiting, there are considerations to weigh, and lessons to learn in the choices laid out before us. Seek Him in them & trust in His timing.