I cannot fathom how 8 months have gone by since I last wrote a blog post.
At the 2 month mark I attempted to write an update on every event from the prior two months.
…but my post ended up being novel length before I was half finished.
At the 6 month mark, I attempted to write something, ANYTHING! But I stared at a blank word document trying to figure out where on earth I should start…I never figured it out.
Now here I am…nearly 8 ½ months since my last blog post, I’m about to write one, and I have no idea how this post is going to end up.
I’ve made two resolutions to guide me for this post though:
- This post is dedicated to sharing what God has taught me the past 8 months.
- I am not leaving this bench on our veranda (unless it’s to refill my tea glass) until I’ve finished writing this post. I’m going to finish this time!
So here goes…
My past 8 months can be perfectly summarized by the poetic Charles Dickens in his opening lines to A Tale of Two Cities where he writes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,…”*
This season has been one of high highs and low lows; sometimes the next step can be seen clearly and other times, I feel in the midst of thick fog. It’s been a time of humbling discoveries yet encouraging growth.
Through all of this, God has taught me a great deal and that’s what I want to share with all of you.
Slow down, be patient, and wait– I hate waiting. No matter the reason I have to wait (whether legitimate or illegitimate), no matter the length of time (whether 15 minutes in a check-out line or months for God to reveal the next step for my life), I just really despise waiting!
I do everything quickly.
I’m a fast eater.
I’m a fast walker.
I’m a fast driver.
I’m a fast talker.
The list could go on…
Oftentimes, I don’t slow down enough. I don’t just stop, wait, be patient, and enjoy the moment.
However, God has been showing me there is a lot of value to waiting.
Seasons of waiting are actually seasons of opportunity; especially for growth.
I could use those 15 minutes in the grocery line to share the gospel with someone around me or spend time in prayer.
I can use those months I’m waiting to move forward with things in life to grow more spiritually and devote more time to God and His Word.
I can use the time I’m waiting for God’s plan to come to fruition to further my potential in the areas He’s called me.
Without these seasons of waiting in my life, without learning how to be patient, without taking the time to slow down, I would make (and have made) a lot of foolish and immature mistakes.
Whereas, if I utilize these seasons of waiting to grow in the Lord, be teachable, and learn, I’ll be much better off and have fewer missed opportunities than if I am impulsive.
Waiting is beautiful. It’s hard, incredibly hard, but beautiful.
I am not called to please people. I am a huge people-pleaser. I prefer to keep everyone happy and for people to have a positive opinion of me.
Not only does my attempt to please people reveal a deep root of pride in my life; it’s also an impossible goal to strive after.
Scripture has a lot to say about the pit of people pleasing (see Col. 3:23, Prov. 29:25, 1 Thess. 2:4b, Psalm 118:8, Eph. 6:7, and Acts 5:28-29).
Galatians 1:10 even goes so far as to say if we are attempting to please men, we are no longer servants of Christ…ouch.
Not to say we shouldn’t strive to live at peace with those around us. Scripture clearly says we should (see Rom. 12:18); but ultimately, God should direct our steps. It’s important we be sure of God’s will and calling before acting. Then, if we are sure of God’s leading in our lives, what people might think should never hinder us from doing His will.
At this phase in my life, when life decisions start becoming my own, is when my personal loyalty to the Lord is really put to the test. Am I going to willingly, loyally, faithfully, and wholeheartedly serve and commit my life to the Lord? Or am I going to surrender my life to the empty, hopeless goal of pleasing men and ultimately end up empty and lost?
I choose to serve the Lord; wholly and completely. It will have a cost at times; but as the chorus goes “I have counted up the cost, and You are worth it!”.
This is one reason why my next point is so important…
My relationship with God must ALWAYS come first! I know this is cliché and every Christian knows this; but do we really know it?! When times are easy and going great, when life is smooth-sailing, do we still put God first always? Do we only come to Him when we feel like we need Him; or do we recognize we always need Him?
What I have recently observed in myself is that I can sometimes only come to God when I need answers. “God, I have a really tough decision to make here! Can you help me make that decision? What’s the right path?” “God, please give me the words to say right now as I’m helping this person!” “Lord, Your Word is living and active! I’m so confused and broken right now. Please let the Scriptures encourage and help me!”
All those prayers are wonderful and good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT discrediting our need to seek God when we’re struggling!
My point is, how often do I wake up, even when I don’t have a “need” or unanswered question, and pray, “Lord, guide me through each moment of this day. Show me Your plan for my life today. I know these are my plans for the day; but help me to be led by You and be walking in Your spirit through each moment.”
Sadly, I don’t do this very often…
Our walk with God should be a day-by-day, moment-by-moment walk. It’s not an “Uh oh, I’m no longer able to do this by myself…let me run to God for help” relationship. It’s an “I can never do this on my own…God guide me through each moment” relationship.
My personal experience has been that even when life is going great, the road and directions are clear, the minute I make my relationship with the Lord secondary, the road becomes rocky and difficult, and I’m unprepared for the situation.
However, if I’m steadfast in my dedication to God, when obstacles arise and the path becomes rocky (which will happen!), I’ll always be ready.
I’m not as mature as I thought– When I was 14, I was at a cookout and a woman in her mid-20’s asked how old I was. I told her and she looked shocked and said, “Only 14!? Oh my gosh you act like you’re 22!”
However, now that I’m actually entering this scary realm of life called “adulthood”, I’m realizing I’m not nearly as mature as that well-meaning girl (or I) thought.
It’s easy to think I’ve totally got this “life thing” figured out; but I really don’t.
These last few months, with all the newness, decisions, changes, possibilities, opportunities, and uncertainties, I’m learning there is a lot I have left to learn and a whole lot I don’t know. And sometimes even when I “do know”, I fall captive to snares of impatience, people-pleasing, and thinking I can handle things on my own.
I have a long…Long…LONG way to go; which means I need to be teachable and a good listener (areas I could certainly improve). I need to seek wisdom from those around me through observation and inquiry and take to heart what I observe and hear; seeking God ultimately for His will.
As I reflect on the past 8 months, the highs and lows, the best times and worst times, the wisdom and foolishness, the hope and despair, I look back with gratefulness.
Have these months been easy? Not at all. At times they have; but for the most part, they’ve been crazy hard! But without all the struggles, without all the waiting, without all the humbling lessons, I never would’ve grown like I have.
As James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (NASB)**
Thank you all for reading! I hope to write more posts soon.
** “endurance” in this passage is translated as “patience” in the KJV.