This year has been hard on my heart. And by my heart, I mean that place inside of me where my hopes and dreams and visions are stored. Some seasons, they are alive and well, because I am able to cultivate them; other seasons, they wither, because I cannot. In the tension between what is and what will be, what will be puts up a noble fight, but what is eventually swamps it. And so, this year has been hard on my heart.
Let’s just say I’ve spent the past two months imploring God for snack crackers, something I wouldn’t have even considered the beginning of this year. In fact, by and large, the decisions I’ve made the past twenty months reflect a strong conviction in what God is calling me to do. The calling hasn’t changed in the past two months: I’ve just grown tired of waiting for it as what’s in front of me grows more and more appealing. So I’ve rid myself of any vestiges of hope in what will be, and declared to God, myself, and my closest friends concerning what is, “This is what I want.” And not for the first time in my walk with Him, God declares to me, “Okay, if this is what you want, I’ll give it to you. But then you will miss out on this calling.”
Honestly, friends, I know what God is calling me to is what is best. Furthermore, I know that if I wait, God is going to bring about the things He has revealed. Problem is, I am tired of waiting, the hypomone. I am tired of being in the same place I was a year ago, and I’m willing to do just about anything to make a move, any move. I don’t want another twenty months to go by, when I am more than happy to accept what’s right here, right now.
And even though God says, “Okay, Lydia, if you really want it,” He’s been sending things into my life that have the potential to revive hope in what He intends, as if to try and talk me out of what I’ve convinced myself I want.
He has resurrected my own words from more hopeful, focused times.
This morning I was reflecting on Israel’s transition from the wilderness to the promised land. I was thinking about how the wilderness journey is both applicable on macro and micro levels to believers. On the macro level, this entire life is temporary before we enter eternity in the presence of God. On a micro level, I think God calls us to something and then puts us in training for as long as He sees fit before bringing us to what He has called us to. (Re, Wilderness Adventure).
Not that we can’t open doors by getting our little battering rams out and blasting through them, because we certainly can, and sometimes do. I remain convinced, however, that when that happens God continues to block our way until we get so tired of doing it ourselves we look to Him. And when we look to Him, everything else fades away. We begin to see what’s important, what’s not. God redirects our paths to where we should have been all along. And the best part? He redeems that detour, that path we had no business on, for His glory and our good; it wasn’t a waste of time. (Doors, Wilderness Adventures).
He has sent dreams. I know some people don’t believe that God still speaks through dreams, and that’s okay (I guess), but my experience in the last few years has taught me otherwise. I’m not just referring to the stunning dreams He has sent regarding my call, but troubling dreams that have since come to pass. These dreams reminded me very recently and in a very painful way that what God reveals, He will bring about.
He has sent words through other people. Blogger Emily Rose Lewis wrote a post on the idol of food, and that got me thinking about the spiritual discipline of fasting, which I’ve largely neglected since college. Honestly, I hate fasting because when I’m hungry, I want my food NOW (hence the food analogy for waiting). Waiting for nourishment weakens me physically and drains me emotionally, because I’m accustomed (by and large) to having my needs met immediately. Waiting builds character, whether in fasting, or other areas.
I was also convicted by this quote from Elisabeth Elliot: “Don’t dig up in doubt what you’ve planted in faith.” There is nothing that has happened this year that makes me think I misheard or misunderstood God, just the passage of what feels like a lot of time. Yet, I’m more than willing to dig it all up because things just aren’t happening quickly enough for me.
God sent me a lesson about my personality this week. Apparently, I am an idealist, bent towards optimism. When I shared it with family and close friends, none of them were surprised, because I have always had big dreams for my life. (Example: I fully intended to be the next Peter Jackson until about five years ago). It shocked me to learn that I was optimistic, however, because I am often disappointed in my larger-than-life dreams (either because I grow discouraged with time or because they really are unrealistic), and I actually consider myself deeply cynical. In order to bypass a lot of disappointment over the years, I have short-circuited my inner dreamer and too often along with that, excitement and anticipation over the great and exciting things God is calling me to do.
Finally, God has brought His own Word to mind: precious passages that have brought confidence and comfort time and again as I’ve pursued His calling.
“We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 5:3b-5a). Hope in God’s calling is the result of time-consuming character-building and it is nothing to be ashamed of or back down from.
“It is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Desire and the ability to follow God’s calling come from God Himself.
“For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). God’s calling doesn’t change. I can fight it, or I can roll with it, but it isn’t going anywhere.
I want to embrace who God has called me to be and what He has called me to do, even those things that are not fully developed or perhaps not even here yet. I think that starts with prayer – prayer for the realization things God has revealed, prayer for continued revelation, prayer for more hope and desire and ability. And I think it continues in dreaming: anticipation and excitement and a level of planning for what’s coming. Not so much that I’m entirely future-focused and missing out on my present, but enough to cultivate God-honoring hope.