And Moses said to them, “Stand still, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.”
~Numbers 9:8 NKJ~
Lately, I have been so caught up in finding my way that I’ve let the continuous search interfere with the probability of reaching my destination. The need to know that I was heading down the right road overrode my desire to just go ahead and serve God. And so, I noticed after a period of time that my joy was quickly evaporating under the stress of not being certain that my efforts were going to lead to the kind of life that He wants me to have. I forgot somewhere along the way that He already knew that I was going to encounter this particular dilemma. He knew that I was going to be so sidetracked by my own insecurities that for a time, I’d be paralyzed into a state of inactivity. This was not a period of quiet reflection. It was a period of utter confusion brought on by my failure to place my trust in His leading and just do the thing.
From what I understand, everyone goes through something like this at one point or another. It’s the times when we get stuck in them that become our defining moments as Christians. Do we wait to hear from Him even when it seems like our whole life has passed us by without a good word? Or do we go ahead in our own power, keeping our fingers crossed that what we are doing is close enough to what He would have told us to do? Is there any middle ground that is safe or even makes sense for a believer? There would almost have to be.
It probably isn’t so much that He isn’t speaking to us or leading us, but more that we just aren’t hearing Him. It took a long period of trial and error before it dawned on me that He had told me more than enough about what He wanted me to do; I just hadn’t done it. Sign after sign passed in front of my face until one day I started to think, “Maybe He really has no purpose for me. Maybe I’m just not someone He can use.” I considered all of the projects I had been working on and what had motivated me to start them in the first place. Some things were the product of necessity; like working. Some things I had started because they were therapeutic; like writing. Some things I had taken up for health reasons; like walking. Some things I had done for my sanity; like getting more involved in church. But there were a few things that I couldn’t explain. Like going back to school after I had already finished my degree.
The things that were now haunting my to-do list were all the product of projects I had started to accomplish what I once thought would be good for me. As I began to reap the benefits of those activities, I started to doubt whether or not I should still be doing them. It hadn’t occurred to me at the time that these things might be stepping stones to some other projects that God wanted me to work on when I was ready. The steps I needed to take to get to what God knew was good for me. So when the truth of things started to reveal itself to me, I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found. I had always thought I was in control of what was going on until I entered into this relationship with Christ and then I had thought I was doing the right thing by standing down and waiting for His signal. The only problem with that was that I had my own ideas about what His signal looked like and what I wanted to hear Him say rather than what I needed to hear in what He was telling me.
So when people I had once trusted started to betray me, I didn’t hear Him saying, “It’s time to see things as they really are.” And when doors began to close on things I’d started to lean on, I didn’t hear Him telling me that I had learned enough to do something with that experience and my time there was finished. And when significant relationships began to deteriorate, I let the sound of my heart breaking keep me from hearing Him say, “It’s time to move on.” In all these things, He was speaking loudly and clearly. I just hadn’t wanted to hear Him.
After a time of reflection, many things began to make sense and the idea that I could do more than what I’d been doing quickly began to take root. He had been working on me for a long time and He had faith in me. All the time that I’d spent saying how much faith I had in Him wasn’t reflecting that I actually did. In fact, my actions had been saying quite the opposite. The reflection I’d been giving of my relationship with Christ was one that showed others I didn’t have much faith in what He’d promised me. And that was unacceptable. For as much as I love my God, He certainly deserves better than that. And so, my next steps are these: Pray, do something, pray some more, do some more, wait, pray, do. And when I don’t know what to do next, I need to keep doing the thing He’s told me to do until it is no longer able to be done. That’s how I’ll know it’s time to hear Him. That’s how He’ll know I’m finally listening.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.
~Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV~