Last year, in the beginning of my final fall semester at Columbia College, I believe that God told me I was rushing through school. You can understand how hard to believe this was when you take into consideration the fact that I was going on 31 years old, and had been at Columbia for six years already. That’s four moves, a new house, and two kids worth of time. But I felt it, I knew inside that I needed to stop rushing, because I was going faster than I needed to be. So what did I do?
I ignored it. I went right on racing through school, leaving full sinks of dirty dishes, piles of unsorted messes, baskets of dirty laundry, and attention starved family members in my dust. After all, I was 30! Come on, that’s just… too old. I hired a nanny for my last semester, pulled up my boot straps, and dived in head first to finish the race I had started so long ago. Now I know that most people would be cheering me along, “no pain, no gain!” Or “sacrifice for a better future!” And I heard it all. People were rooting for me and excited for my final semester.
Three weeks in, I stared at myself in the mirror, with my acne covered, greasy haired, dark circled, tired face, and asked God why Columbia had always been so hard for me. Why did I not have peace there? Why did I forget who I was? How did I so easily forget my reflection every day?
Because, let me tell you, Columbia wasn’t easy for me. I felt alone, i didn’t fit in with the photo kids, I wasn’t inspiring, inspired, I felt like I had nothing to offer. I was insecure and soft spoken. I wasn’t me. And that day in the mirror, I heard one question:
“Are you in My will?”
When God asks a question, He isn’t unaware of the answer. The answer isn’t for His sake.
The full-steam-ahead engine finally broke down that day. And all I could do was repent. Because I knew. I had known for a long time. So on that day I told God that I wanted His will. And that semester I was told “two years”.
Wait, two years what?
Sure, I had an idea, I knew deep down what two years meant. But I didn’t fully understand it.
So here I am, six months after graduation, loans kicking in, diploma framed in my office, and no sign of a green light from God to go out and get a job. Now, I don’t believe that everyone needs a green light to go out and get a job. But I do. It’s what me and my Father talked about. His will, His plan.
Don’t get me wrong, tons of opportunities have come my way. And I’ve said yes, I’ve jumped aboard, I’ve planned ahead for the future. And every single door has closed in my face. Some the night before, some weeks after starting, some never took off.
Each disappointing “No” leaves me restless, seeking God’s arms, and each time He tells me the same thing, wait.
The funny thing about God is that He never leaves you there confused and alone, His voice is still there, it’s just quieter. Not very long ago, God brought me to this verse as I was asking Him what to do while I wait:
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Verse 3 is pretty much the anthem of my life, I’ve had it taped to my mirror for two years now. It’s one of those sentences that you read over and over, and it doesn’t quite stick, but you can’t move on, no matter how hard you try. All I knew was that I wanted to be the one who is like a tree, planted; that was my longing.
I never grasped it’s context though, because the one who is like a tree is the one who’s delight is in the law of the Lord, who meditates on it day and night. I was always missing those first verses, and those verses are key.
Ok God, I read you loud and clear. I will wait, in you I will delight, in your Word I will find life.
It’s not easy, waiting, sitting around asking God why other people can just jump and follow their dreams, why they don’t have to second guess, why they don’t have to wait. I am watching my friends careers blow up, I’m rejoicing in their successes and seeing their hard work produce bountiful fruit. They’re not sitting around asking God if they can, they just do.
God should I send out my resume? No.
God should I look for work on the weekends? No.
God should I be updating my site and promoting myself? No.
One night I was up until midnight trying to update my website to include photography from weddings and events I had photographed. My plan was to apply to a Wedding photography company; their site said that I pick my hours and work as much as I want. Perfect! As I was changing the entire layout of my website, my daughter woke up. She had a nightmare and wouldn’t settle back down. She was hysterical and I stood in her room with her for an hour until she fell back asleep.
And then I heard God say,
“You need to be waiting.”
I wasn’t waiting, I was planning, I was preparing, I was getting ready, I was applying. But not waiting.
But we need more income God.
But I can work, I want to work.
But none of this makes sense!
Sigh. Fine. I’m coming to realize that I really suck at waiting. I’m kind of a brat actually. But at the end of the day, if God says wait, why should I be afraid? Every fear I have comes from an external source: I’m too old, everyone is so successful already, I don’t even have a foot in the door, my life looks so boring, I’ve achieved nothing compared to everyone else, I need more money to buy stuff… did I mention that I want more money?
But inside, when I meditate on God’s word, and sit with Him to talk, I feel free. I don’t have all of these external problems. I’m assured and confident in God’s promises and His word in my life.
In 1 Samuel 16 it says:
11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.”
When God anoints David to be king, he is the smallest of his family, he is most likely the weakest of his brothers because it was very common for the weaker family members to tend to the sheep. But he is also not even considered. Jesse doesn’t think for a moment to go call in his younger son, because surely it can’t be him. But there’s more in this small sentence that God wanted me to know.
One writer put it like this, “David was out tending to the livelihood of his family.”
David was making sure that his family’s livelihood was secured, protected, and tended to… that’s me. That’s what I’m doing. Those words were for me. And God was confirming that I am right where I need to be.
My family needs me.
We are in a place in history where self comes before all others, where we give our talents, our callings, and our gifts precedence over even our children, and definitely over our marriages, because God gave us this and we can’t just sit on it. We have to reach the nations, we have to sacrifice even our mothers and sons, our calling is too great. I’m too creative, I must work, I can’t live without doing this, insert any other phrase that we so commonly use when excusing our absence in our family’s life.
And what did David do after he was anointed as king?
He kept right on tending to the sheep, until King Saul called him to play an instrument that would soothe his tormented soul. David didn’t jump right into kingship. He had to wait. About 20 years, after being anointed, until he was finally King over all of Israel.
And that’s about as far as I am in this waiting period, and researching David’s waiting period. I plan to write through this season of my life, and if it goes somewhere, or not, that’s OK. I will simply plant myself next to the stream of living water, and let fruit grow in it’s season.
That’s my whole plan, that’s all I am sure of.
David wrote a big part of the psalms in the bible and as I read through his own words while he waited, I am relieved to know that I am not the first person who has experienced God’s plan through waiting.
Psalm 27: 13-14
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!