It is not easy for me to take time off for myself. But this week, I am on a solo vacation in a quite little town in Michigan. It has been a great time to gain perspective and get some much needed rest. I wonder if this is why the Israelites were often called away into the desert to worship the Lord. Stepping aside from the daily grind can do wonders. But it also makes one think.
And recently I’ve been thinking about God’s timing. I am one year into my newest educational endeavor (something I thought would never happen!) and loving the things I am learning. When I was doing my first round of graduate school, I loved the topic, but didn’t engage with that I was learning. Looking back though all the course work and subsequent job searching, it turned out to not be the right fit anyway. This often makes me wonder why God allowed me to go through that program (and spend all that money), when four years later I would be drawn to something different and seemingly more fulfilling.
In thinking about all this (for probably the millionth time), I stumbled upon an article entitled “When God Seems Silent” on the Desiring God website. It’s probably the best piece, and most clarifying perspective, I’ve ever read about “waiting for God.” The author put it this way:
We may complain about God’s timing for a multitude of different reasons, but the fact is, it is the process that God has designed for us to walk through. Unfortunately, we are often blind to this. It is as though we are walking through a dark tunnel, just trying to get to the other side. But the beauty of God’s timing is looking back and seeing how He has led, what He has led us through, and the impact His faithfulness has had—not only on our own selves, but the lives of those around us.There is a pattern in the design of deprivation: Deprivation draws out desire. Absence heightens desire. And the more heightened the desire, the greater its satisfaction will be. It is the mourning that will know the joy of comfort (Matthew 5:4). It is the hungry and thirsty that will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). Longing makes us ask, emptiness makes us seek, silence makes us knock (Luke 11:9).
When I stop and take the time to think about it, I am amazed at the masterful interweaving of people, time, and space that God has used throughout history to fulfill His purposes. I am reading a great book about this right now—Catherine Marshall’s A Man Called Peter. In it she recounts her late husband’s story of faith, in which he once imagined God saying, “I have all the circumstances planned and all my helpers designated, to make sure that my plan does not go awry.” Peter Marshall was no stranger to challenges and obstacles, and he soon learned that the Hand that firmly shut one door was God’s, not mans. And more importantly, it was God who would be the one to open another.
There’s a quote floating around Pinterest that goes something like this: “If you’re waiting for God to open the door, praise Him in the hallway.” It sounds a little too easy and cliche. But we do so often neglect to have thankfulness in all things. Let us remember to praise Him for His perfect plan, for His faultless timing, and for the “longing which makes us ask, the emptiness that makes us seek, and the silence that makes us knock.”