It can seem like the whole world has it figured out. You know, that whole life thing. Where they’re going, how they’re going, what they’re about. And you? Well, you’re kind of plowed into the sand. Stuck. Surrounded with a bunch of not-yets and maybe’s and head-scratching huh’s.
I was going to be a missionary in Honduras, bouncing along deep-rutted jungle roads with international teams with a notebook and a camera and a steady stream of chatty Spanish. I was going to be the storyteller, the photojournalist writing down the ways in which God was moving among churches all over Central America. We were going to be sent and supported by our home church. Our home would be used as a furlough house for other missionaries, a place of blessing. And then it all sort of came apart.
We were alarmed and saddened by changes in beliefs in our home church and had to make the painful decision to part ways. Our mission board had to let us go from our assignment (you sort of need a sender (home church) to be sent). Suddenly here we are, here for the foreseeable future; Dustin, I, and our four children with one on the way, in a three-bedroom house. I’ve gone from planning how to use the house for guests to playing furniture Tetris trying to figure out how to fit all these littles into these few rooms.
We looked for a bigger house, preferably with some acreage so that I could exert some of my other latent dreams, like raising dairy goats and chickens and such. Time and again we’d find great little farmettes, out of our price range or too far from Dustin’s work or the kids’ school. Oh, God, couldn’t this dream come true either?
I take walks in the yard to clear my mental clamor. I watch the bees sipping in the bucket pond I made for them, sitting on the water hyacinths, their abdomens pulsating slightly as they drink deep. I watch them chattering to one another at the hive entrances. I smell the tomato plants and take in the full beauty of a nasturtium bloom. I rub the fuzzy skin of the hard little peaches on the tree, and the thanks start tumbling out. And the surrender, that too. Surrendering daily my wants, my desires, my dreams, saying “yes” to God’s will and reaping peace in the process.
Oh yes, I really have prayed, “God, I’ll still love and serve you even if you never let me have chickens.” Because whatever our hands hold tight to can be fashioned into an idol by the mere compression of want. The crush of desire. I don’t want my hands full of idols; I want them lifted and open, worshipful. I want the dreams of God for me, which are way too big to fit into my clenched hands.
So, when you’re stuck…
1. Take a walk, in your yard or your apartment or your city block, and visually see your blessings. Ramble on some thanks.
2. Name your dreams to the Father, spread them out on paper if they are many, and surrender them. Hold your unclenched hands up in worship and ask for God’s dreams for you to claim first place in your heart.
3. Realize that you are in a place of waiting, which is not the same thing as being stuck. More like God saying “wait here”. Waiting is hard, but aren’t we made to do hard things? How else are we to grow up in our faith? Or are we impatient children who stamp their feet and demand their prize “NOW!” We must remember that God’s purposes are worked out in His timing, not ours. Wait well.
4. Keep hope alive by keeping near to the Father in prayer and scripture study. Seeking His presence daily will remind your soul what it is made for most; worship, delighting in God and being loved thoroughly by Him. If that fire is kept burning, your external circumstances lose a bit of their weight, a bit of their immediacy, and incessant noise.
We may feel stuck, but we truly aren’t; this waiting place is large and wide and there’s work for us to do.