The Call to Wait

I checked out Your Call is Waiting by Terry-Anne Preston from the Northridge library and it has blown my mind.

It’s a wonderful read about discovering your personal calling. However, what stood out to me the most was the idea that sometimes we are called to wait.

Wait a minute, waiting is a calling?

Yes. Yes, it is. God sometimes calls us to wait. And sometimes we don’t quite get it. We want to be ‘somewhere’, doing ‘something’. But often we overlook the opportunities God has placed where we are. God puts us in places for a reason. Even if we have absolutely no desire to stay or no understanding of why we go somewhere, God has a reason.

“Many of the examples of calling experienced by biblical characters testify to the fact that God prepares his people over many years. Moses spent forty years in the desert before seeing the land that God had promised him. Paul had to wait three days as a blind, fasting man before God set him free for a purpose. Even Jesus had to wait thirty years before being able to exercise his unique ministry, a ministry that lasted just one tenth of the time he waited. In each case, God took time to prepare the individual and the situation to which he was called” (96-97).

Moses spent 40 years waiting on his promise from God. Jesus waited 30 years to begin his incredible ministry. Jesus had to wait. If the son of God had to wait to fulfill some of his calling, I’m pretty sure that we have to wait sometimes too. And God can and will use this time to build us up and strengthen us for the road ahead. It’s a necessary step.

But that doesn’t mean we are good at it.

“So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:6-8 NLT, emphasis added

Even the disciples struggled with waiting. But God holds the power to set dates and times, not us.

We have to stop and think a moment sometimes to really process the power that God possesses. He made us. He made the world. He is above all. It’s quite mind-boggling actually.

“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.” – Jeremiah 10:12, ESV

God is sovereign. He rules over all creation. His timing is perfect and sometimes we have a hard time truly understanding that.

“Sometimes it feels as though little is happening. We feel as though we are in a rut. Life can become routine. But somewhere, somehow in the midst of even the most boring day of washing and ironing, paperwork or simple inactivity, God is at work. We may not see him. We may not understand what he is doing. We may not always feel his presence near us. But he is here, and we must cling to the truths of scripture, rather than our feelings, expectantly waiting for him to call us” (103).

I think we all experience these down times. I’m currently experiencing a ‘low.’ My life in Chile was full of incredible things. I grew so much and learned so much about myself and my identity in Christ. Coming home has been difficult. I’m living in a relatively comfortable place. And life is more routine. I go to school, go to work, volunteer, hang out with friends. Rinse and repeat. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut in the routine. It’s so easy to stop trying to grow spiritually. And I’ll admit, some days I do get stuck. I feel like I’m in limbo. Not growing. Not backsliding. Just existing.

But we can’t be stuck there.

“[B]ut they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31, ESV

“Wait for theLord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” – Psalm 27:14, ESV

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” – Psalm 37:7, NLT

God will strengthen us when we need Him the most.

We also shouldn’t run away. The story of Jonah illustrates the possible consequences when we run from our calling. (See the book of Jonah if you’re not entirely sure what happened).

“Being called away is not the same as running away. Running away, as Jonah discovered to his cost, is seldom helpful. Even when situations become incredibly difficult or painful, we need to stay and work through the issues until such time as God calls us to do something new. Simply being frustrated with our job, our church, or our ministry is not sufficient reason on its own to leave. We need to ask ourselves: ‘Where does God want me to be?’ and ‘What does God want me to learn in the present circumstances” (100).

God has a reason for placement. He places us where we are for a reason. Do we always know why? No. We don’t. And sometimes that’s more often than we like. And sometimes we wait. And most of the time that is difficult.

But sometimes that is our calling.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans 12:12, NIV

Be strong, my dear friends.

God is with you.

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The Chronicles of Narnia.

C.S. Lewis, you genius, you.

One week this summer I read all seven of the books in The Chronicles of Narnia. In order (of original publication). Straight through.

And what I read there really resonated with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved these books since I was a youngster, sent to bed without my precious book because I’d been caught reading under the covers long past my bedtime.

But sometimes you have to have a little more of life under your belt to get it.

And I know I haven’t lived that long. I’ll probably get more out of these books when I read them after 10 more years.

However, in order to speed up the process, I checked out a few books to give me some perspective.

Books on Books on Books

And one of them is brilliant. Thomas Williams’ The Heart of the Chronicles of Narnia: Knowing God Here by Finding Him There. I love this book. Everyone I’ve spent time with recently knows how much I’m learning from this book because I can’t stop talking about it. (Sorry small group friends). But I wanted to post some of the cool stuff I’ve learned and some pretty spectacular quotes.

Let’s begin with this gem:

“We ordinary, bumbling, sin-prone humans can be friends, of all things, with the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He cherishes us. He delights in us. He wants to be with us and longs to have us love him in return. In Narnia Aslan shows this love of God up close and personal in such a way that we cannot possibly miss the truth” (Williams 12).

Can we take a moment to absorb that? God wants to be our friend. Yes, he is our guide, our King, and our Savior. But he also wants to be a friend. How amazing is that? He wants to have a relationship with each and every one of his broken creatures. This is something that I find difficult to truly wrap my brain around, but am insanely honored by the privilege.

Also awesome to think about:

“a time is coming when we will be freed from our imprisonment in this fallen world, and we will be able to see face to face the Jesus who freed us. At that time you will feel exactly as [the] released lion did. You will be unable to contain your joy as you look on his dear face. At that moment you will see in Jesus everything you now see in your dearest beloved, but intensified beyond your wildest imagining. When you see him, you will know that he is and has been the One you have always loved more that anything else in your life” (13).

Sometimes I try to imagine what heaven will be like. What I’ll feel like. What I’ll do. (Cue music: “I Can Only Imagine). But most recently, my picture is that of a moment of intense and overwhelming joy, peace, happiness, awe, etc. all in one instantaneous moment. I’ll be enveloped by the presence of God. Wow. What a concept.

Sadly, we aren’t always so heaven-focused:

“Sometimes a mere scare won’t do the job, and it takes pain to get our attention. We become lulled by the comforts and philosophies of this under land we live in – the Shadowlands, as Lewis called our world – and forget the bright promise of heaven. Sometimes nothing but pain will clear our heads and shake us awake” (123).

This was one of the harder ideas to swallow. Not because I don’t think it is true, but rather that sometimes I wish it wasn’t. Ideally, we could follow God always and always in Joy. However, sometimes we get too comfortable with our lives. We start to forget. We sometimes need an awakening and a revival in our soul. Williams quotes C.S. Lewis soon after: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The world dulls our senses. Sometimes we need more than a gentle nudge to come back to reality and run back to God’s open arms.

More on God’s open arms and constant companionship:

“If you are honestly seeking God, you need not worry about finding him. He will find you” (148).

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8, NIV

God loves us and cares for us. We only need to cry out to Him and he will answer. (Psalm 18:6). God will find us. He is always there.

If we delight in Him, our lives will be full of delight:

“Satisfy your longings with substitutes, and you get only continuing emptiness. Satisfy them by loving God, and you get not only him but all his gifts as well” (176).

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 27:4, ESV).

Once we submit our hearts to God, He changes our hearts. We are filled with His desires. Therefore, once we have these God-given desires, He fulfills them. And a life with God’s desires is selfless and incredibly satisfying. However, if we chase after worldly desires, we are often met with despair and an unquenchable thirst for more. God satisfies and fills our lives with blessings.

How do we love God?

“The key to loving God…is to see God’s love in every good thing that happens to us, both the large things and the small, to make that awareness the lens through which we view our existence” (177).

This is hands down the most amazing aspect of how God works: how He speaks and shows Himself in the little moments. He has us read the exact quote we needed to hear. He leads us to the bible passage that calms our fears. He sends a friend with a comforting presence. He sends someone to speak the words your heart needed to hear. Something happens that shouldn’t have. A job offer comes out of nowhere. Funding seems to fall from the sky. You end up in a foreign country for four and a half months, not exactly sure how you got there. God works in every moment: the big and the small. He is for us and He is with us.

“This continual awareness of God’s activity in your life is a kind of ongoing prayer that will draw you closer to him and increase your sense of his continual presence” (178).

Have you ever taken a moment to sit in the presence of God in quiet reverence? Have you taken a moment out of your busy schedule and just allowed God to fill you with his presence and peace? Have you ever realized that He has been with you all along, it just took you some time to realize He was there? God is with us wherever we go, whatever we do. (Joshua 1:9, Deu 31:6, Matt 28:20, Psalm 139). He is there. Cry out to Him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcmUYDU-2DY

God also loves us so much:

“Think about the greatest love you have ever known; it is only a dim shadow of the love that God has for you. When you finally see him, you will know that you have just met the love of your life. You will know that he is what you have really been dreaming of and longing for in every desire you ever had. When you see him, you will want nothing more than to spend all eternity basking in his presence” (178).

How awesome is that?

And now we arrive at the author’s closing remarks:

“Everything in Narnia leads ultimately to Aslan. Everything in our world leads ultimately to God. Everything in Narnia shouts the love of Aslan for his Narnians. Everything in our world shouts the love of God for us. Just as Narnia has Aslan, we have a God who loves us and desires nothing for us but ecstatic joy. Aslan is an accurate reflection of Jesus Christ. He calls us through every created thing to find in him the source of all joy and love him in return, thus finding our own true selves in a relationship with the One whom we were created to love” (180).

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1, ESV

We are broken. We are needy. We are sinful beings.

Our God is evident. He is present. He is waiting with open arms.