“I’m trying to be patient while I wait,” she told me.
She smiled, and yet I could see the disappointment. My friend was ready to be moving overseas. And instead, she seemed to be stuck stateside.
when waiting is Not a Strategic Move
I was reminded of my own season of waiting before we moved overseas. We had been living in a metroplex, surrounded by diversity, different cultures, different religions, and international students. We knew we wanted to head overseas in a few years.
In order for my husband to gain more work experience for the job he would do abroad, he decided to work for his dad’s firm.
This required us to move to a much smaller town. Very little diversity, much fewer cultures, hardly any different religions.
This did not seem like a strategic move.
Talk about disappointment. Here I was full of excitement about our first baby coming and getting our family to a point where we would be ready to move overseas.
I was young and optimistic, with energy and motivation to engage. Then I was placed in a location that did not seem like it would help with the preparation, the engagement of cultures, the developing of cross-cultural skills.
Even in this time of waiting, God was preparing me.
News flash: God does not need strategic locations to develop our hearts. He doesn’t need diversity to teach us to love.
He will use those situations to grow us.
The truth is, He will use any situation to grow a willing heart.
“So I Guess I Need You to Show Me The Plan”
I think during those first few months I spoke to God and said something like, “This is not what I would have planned. [Insert big sigh] So I guess I need you to show me what you have planned.”
It turns out God had big plans during that time of waiting.
I wanted to do things with my hands and my words, to engage in ministry for others and learn how to do cross-cultural ministry effectively. God wanted to do things with my heart. He wanted to show me the blind spots in my love for others. He wanted to show me my pride.
In His mercy, He wanted to teach me to love from humility, rather than a sense of calling.
In His mercy, He quickly revealed to me some of my pride that I didn’t realize had grown in my heart about our desire to go abroad and serve overseas. He wasn’t going to let me go without first learning to invest and love right where I was.
See, He knew there would be rough times ahead. He knew there would be times when it would be difficult for me to love others out of a sense of sheer calling.
He knew the only way I would love others well was if I loved Him first, and through Him loved others.
I needed to trust Him with my time not just the minutes in the day to get tasks done, but the months and years.
I needed to trust Him in His purposes and do my part by investing well, loving well, and keeping Him first, even if I didn’t know the plan. Even if the situation seemed like a backward step or if I could find better ways to fill our time.
Waiting: When Plan B Becomes Plan A
The time of waiting ended up being a precious time for our family.
Friendships grew in the soil of waiting that still encourage us today. God showed me my blind spots and gave me time to work through them, time to seek understanding, time to find appreciation for other perspectives.
When the time came for us to move overseas, I had to grieve leaving the small town that had become home as we invested and sowed with love.
Don’t Waste the Waiting
Dear one, if you find yourself in a time of waiting, know that this does not need to be a wasted time. God’s purposes are not for empty, wasted time. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, lift up your hands in surrender, and ask what need be done in you or around you.
And let even the time of waiting be precious.
Sarah serves in Egypt with her husband and four children. You can catch her blog here.