I’m not a big fan of waiting for things. Whether it’s the line at Costco, traffic on the highway, or the crowded doctor’s office, there’s something about sitting idly while time floats away that reeeaaaallly frustrates me. I’m wired to produce, to maximize my time, get things done and keep things moving. When someone or something interferes with that, well, let’s just say… it’s not pleasant. In those moments, I’m not the happiest person to be around.
But sometimes it’s God who messes up my plans.
How do I deal with that?
How do I respond when God interrupts by schedule, re-orders my steps and re-directs my life?
This is a lesson I learned, and continue to learn – sometimes the hard way.
Ever since Gregg and I married, we felt God calling us to plant a church. Over the years, we assisted with several church plants and sensed that someday we would lead a church planting team.
Our close friends busily pursued their career dreams with great success – some in ministry and some in the marketplace. But for us, our dream seemed distant, never quite within our reach.
There would be times when I would get discouraged and plea with God asking,
“When, God, will you say ‘yes’ to us? Have you forgotten about our dream?”
Ten years ago during a season of transition, Gregg and I were presented with several good ministry opportunities. There was an option to plant a church, an opportunity to pastor a pre-existing church and another option to serve in a new ministry role with our national ministry team.
“Finally, it’s our turn!” I thought to myself. But after much prayer and discussion with Gregg, we both felt the best decision for us in that season was the ministry role with our national office, a role which required us to move our family from Los Angeles across the country to Nashville.
Why, after years of waiting and other good opportunities available, would God’s best for us in this season clearly be to move our family to this foreign land of country music and cowboy boots?
Knowing that just a couple of years later, most likely, we’d turn around and move back?
It didn’t make sense.
It would be hard.
It would be stressful.
We had a lot of stuff. And a lot of kids. And pets. Just the thought of moving again was overwhelming.
Yet, we both were convinced of our need to put our church planting desire on hold – again – and embrace this season as God’s best choice for us.
In Acts 7, Stephen recounts Israel’s history, reminding them of their heritage and God’s faithfulness to His people. When Stephen gets to the point of Israel’s history where he’s telling them about Moses, he emphasizes the call of God on Moses’ life from an early age – the wisdom, stature and leadership gift Moses possessed. Yet, Stephen reminds them that when Moses stepped out and exerted his leadership amongst the Jewish people, they didn’t receive him.
Moses assumed his fellow Israelites would realize that God had sent him to rescue them, but they didn’t. Acts 7:25
There’s so much in this little passage that we could delve into, but here’s where we’ll stay for now. Moses knew what God had called him to do, yet when he stepped out and initiated, God said, “Not yet.” His people didn’t receive him and he was forced to flee to Midian for forty years.
How discouraging for Moses! Did he “miss God”? Why would God call him to something and then make him wait for a really long time, with no promise or security of it ever happening?
Why does God do this to us? Why does He birth great dreams in our heart and then make us wait, while we watch the years pine away? Has he forgotten us?
While God’s reasons and ways vary depending on the person and the situation, God has not forgotten you; He is preparing you.
God spent forty years developing Moses into the leader the Israel people needed – a leader they respected, a leader they could follow. Instead of a moody, temperamental, impulsive man with anger issues, Moses matured into a leader whose faith had been tested and proven, whose heart had been humbled and refined and who was equipped to lead God’s people with God’s strength and confidence.
“So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. 36 And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years. Acts 7:35-36
Looking back, two years in Nashville was exactly what we needed. We experienced a different culture and learned new words like, “y’all” and “fixin’”. Most importantly, we grew as people and were equipped and prepared for our current ministry season in ways we never imagined. Many of the relationships we made there developed into lifelong friendships and continue to be sources of mentorship and encouragement to us.
Bypassing our experience in Nashville and taking one of our other options would have been good, but what God did in us during that season was even better. It’s hard to see clearly on the front end because it doesn’t always make sense and look the way we thought it would.
What should you do during those seasons where you find your picture perfect dream messed up and you’re left waiting to see what God will do?
- Your dream of getting married?
- Your dream of having a family?
- When you find yourself waiting for the job you desire?
- Hoping for God to heal you?
Here are some things I’m learning to do when God messes up my neatly organized plan…
- Embrace your present season.
I love how Stephen reminds us in Acts 7:29 that in Midian, Moses was married and had two sons. Sometimes we get so discouraged and disheartened by God’s delay and we fail to see the beauty, blessing and provision of God in our current season.
- Continue to learn and grow.
Lean in and learn all that God has for you, wherever He has you. Allow him to shape you and prepare you. It took Moses forty years to be ready, I can only hope I won’t have to wait that long.
- Trust God with your dreams.
Psalm 21:2 reads, “You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.” This isn’t a magic prayer that manipulates God into doing everything we ask. Rather as we truly seek to know God and honor God with our lives, He changes us, making his desires, our desires.
And his plans are always amazing.
What helps you navigate through seasons when God messes up your plans? What are some things you have learned in the waiting?