I recently graduated from college and began pursuing a master's degree. That decision was partly due to the fact that I thought I saw God piecing together a relationship that would lead to marriage. I eagerly pursued this person with the intent of marrying her — basically courtship — but when the relationship turned long-distance, it just didn't hold up. I didn't want it to end but it did, and I got discouraged.
My parents and I agreed that I would move back home. I've been working on the things God has shown me during this time. However, I don't see how I'm going to get from this point to my final destination. I want to be a missionary, but it seems right now I'm just stuck at home doing the same thing every day. I am able to help with the youth department here and would love to be the youth pastor because I really like these teens. Unfortunately, one of the prerequisites required by my church is that the youth pastor be married.
I've tried posting my resume and finding a youth pastor position, but the whole not being married thing seems to be a cause for concern to many. I don't want to just go to the mission field alone, and I can't right now because the organization I'm with says I have to be 25. So in the meantime, I'm just working a dead-end job that barely pays for my vehicle and vitals. I'm wondering at what point I wait to find a spouse and pursue the mission field, and at what point I go out and try to find whatever I can.
Every person at one time or another — and often several in a lifetime — has been, or will be, where you are. At least with respect to feeling stuck in what seems to be a “dead-end” place with little purpose and little hope for change. So my first thought is, “You are not alone!”
Here's what is so important to understand about this season: If God is who He says He is, then nothing about your life is random — nothing.
Our nature is to think that if we're not “doing something” and “being productive” (usually informed more by western culture than Scripture), then we're not “accomplishing” (see previous parenthesis) anything.
But when we look at how God shaped and refined the men and women we read about in Scripture and throughout history, we see this recurring theme of “the holding pattern” — a season of seemingly “random non-productivity" where God is at work.
David of the Bible, one of my all-time favorite people, is a perfect example of what we're talking about. To a young guy, what does shepherding sheep have to do with anything? If anything was boring and “dead-end” for a teenager, it had to be being stuck out in the lonely fields slinging rocks at predators. He was one of hundreds of boys doing the same thing. A speck in the cosmos.
But what seemed ordinary and humdrum to David was critical in God's economy. It was there where David began learning of God and gaining revelation of Him unmatched in that day. It was there where David's heart became one after God's own. It was there where David learned to be still, and know that God is God.
We see it as a season of preparation, but for David it was just life as he knew it. And for all he knew, it would always be that way. Might as well get to know the God of the universe in the meantime.
David didn't see the season as preparing to be king, or preparing for anything. For all he knew he was doing what he would be doing for the rest of his life. But he touched eternity out there in the “holding pattern,” and it set his desire and hunger for his entire future.
Moses, Paul and countless others (Jesus himself didn't start His public ministry until his third decade of life) right down to our day, could tell the same story of the holding pattern. It's during these “seasons of winter,” when nothing apparent is going on above ground, that the roots are growing deep.
What feels like your dead-end right now could be the most critical season for what lies ahead. Now is the time for you to touch eternity. Get to know the One you desire to serve. Let your roots grow down deep so that your ministry flows from intimacy. Turn this season of apparent waiting into one of embracing Him who calls and equips.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little,” Jesus said, “can be trusted with much.” This job and season might seem little to you — as little as slinging a rock seemed to David. But that rock-slinging wasn't little to God. It was absolutely essential on multiple levels.
Being still and waiting might not be the favorites of present-day society, but they are still critical priorities in the Kingdom of God. This time in your life is fertile ground for God to shape Christ-like character, growing roots that have the strength to hold a tree and the fruit it bears. It may be that the only way you could waste it is by wishing it away.
Copyright 2010 John Thomas. All rights reserved.