Article: When Life Has You Waiting

This article was published in Dallas Theological Seminary’s Student Journal- Spring 2012. The main audience is seminary students/future ministry leaders. I hope you’ll be encouraged in whatever you’re “waiting” on in life, too. The PDF can be found here on pg. 5

I’m guessing you’ve been asked what your future plans are after seminary. Some students know they want to press on and get their Ph.D. Some want to be pastors, chaplains, missionaries, or serve in some kind of parachurch ministry.

Or you might be in seminary simply because you know you’re supposed to be, and that’s it. Your ministry has yet to be revealed, and you’re waiting.

Waiting is a Form of Suffering

Waiting on God’s perfect timing is a spiritual discipline that requires a great amount of patience and endurance. You may have God- given dreams that burn wildly in your heart. You cry out, plead, beg, and wrestle with God about those desires.

You might face criticism and misunderstanding from loved ones because nothing “significant” has happened in your ministry or career yet. You’ve waited for years and prayed for answers, but you hear nothing in return.

In her book, Faith that Does Not Falter, Elisabeth Elliot says,

Waiting is a form of suffering— the difficulty of self-restraint, the anguish of unfulfilled longing, the bewilderment of unanswered prayer, flesh and heart failing, soul breaking. These are indeed tribulations, and tribulation is the curriculum if we are to learn patience. We want answers now, right now, but we are required at times to walk in darkness. Nevertheless, God is in the darkness.

There’s no greater way to learn patience and contentment than to go through experiences that require it. Before coming to Dallas Seminary, my husband and I already had seminary degrees from a previous school. We both felt strongly about Jeremiah pursuing more training and education in God’s Word.

After applying to DTS, getting accepted, and moving, we served in an apartment ministry for the first two years of his schooling. In those years, Jeremiah desired to have preaching or church-planting experience but the doors never opened. After we moved onto campus and had our second child is when the tide turned.

An Unexpected Internship

In one of his preaching classes, Jeremiah met Craig Schill, a grad assistant and a local church planter. They developed a friendship, and Jeremiah started interning at his church, Lake Cities Community Church in Rowlett. He was given the opportunity to preach and teach several times and spearhead a community outreach event.

Jeremiah always desired affirmation as to whether preaching was his spiritual gift. In no time he was encouraged above and beyond what he imagined from the church body, through both verbal affirmation and emails. I’ll never forget the evening he told me that the sermon he’d just preached was the closest he’d ever felt to the Lord.

Okay, Lord, we’re getting closer to your plan, I thought.

While his internship ended a few months ago, we decided to continue investing at Lake Cities in our final year at DTS. We have fallen in love with the people, and we’re learning so much about servant leadership.

Lessons from Staying Faithful

Four years seems like a long time of waiting on God’s unique gifting for Jeremiah, but it wasn’t too long for God. God taught him so much through his classes and real-life experiences. If we had rushed or manipulated God’s timing, I think we would have missed out on a huge blessing.

As we approach graduation in May, I continue to remind myself that we are, yet again, waiting on the Lord to provide the next step. While it can be fearful at times, I’m trusting that God will continue to lead us where He desires.

As you continue to wait on God in your time at seminary, be encouraged that you don’t have to have it all figured out. He has a perfect plan for your life and ministry and, He is with you even in the darkness.

Don’t Tell Me To Be Patient

“I want to ride bikes, Mommy!”

My three-year-old pleads with me as we’re riding the elevator up to our apartment.

“Not right now, John. We have to put the groceries away.”

“Noooo! I want to ride bikes now!” He screams a little more and throws himself on the floor.

After a few minutes, the fact that we won’t be riding bikes settles in. He whines, gets up, and follows me into our place.

Even from infancy, patience isn’t a word that we quite understand. It’s not a practice that comes naturally. If anything, no matter how old we are, we often detest the very word and act itself.

I didn’t set any specific New Year’s resolutions this year (surprisingly because I’m typically very goal oriented), but I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to work on practicing patience in my life- simply because I feel like this is one of the hardest virtues and spiritual disciplines to live out.

I need the person standing in front of me to move out of the way because I have two screaming children and need to check out

I want God to lead and guide our family, right now, to the perfect neighborhood after our lease is up in seminary housing

I want my friendships to grow on a deeper level, now.

I want to see the physical results immediately from my strength training class I take every week

I need God to heal the broken and sinful areas in my heart, right now. Why does sanctification have to be such a process?

I want all my dreams to be fulfilled now because time is of the essence. Besides, I turn 30 this year and I’m not getting any younger!

Our concept of time is so different from God’s. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Timing doesn’t thwart His plans or throw him off schedule. Thankfully, He’s told us a lot about patience in His Word, one being that we have to put it on. He knew that patience wouldn’t exactly be a part of our everyday wardrobe.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… Col. 3:12

There it is. A command that we must follow and obey. And we are His children.

Holy. Chosen. Beloved.

He is taking care of me and I don’t need to fret about the things I can’t see clearly or the prayers that have been left unanswered. If I’m to put on patience, then that means I must take off any impatience, anxious thoughts, pride, irritability, anger, and more. Any sin that hinders me from living the life God intends.

In the book Faith That Does Not Falter, Elisabeth Elliot writes:

We want answers now, right now, but we are required at times to walk in darkness.

If God requires me to walk in seasons of darkness, then I know that eventually His light will shine through and prayers will be answered according to His good and perfect will.

When You Long for Transformation

Sometimes I wonder why God chooses to use me. While I follow Christ and aim to surrender my life to Him daily, I still struggle at times with pride, control, selfishness, anger, anxiety, fear, and more.

I often fear sharing my story and who God is to others because well, I don’t feel worthy because of my struggles. I try to carry unnecessary burdens and I’ve told God a few times:

“I’m so weak! Why do you need me anyway, God?”

In her book, Faith That Does Not Falter, Elisabeth Elliot says:

Jesus does not by any means disregard the sort of person we are when He calls us to do His will. He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He knows the weaknesses and strengths, the tastes and fears and prejudices and ignorance and experience of each of us. What He wants to make of us, if we are willing to be made over, is sure to bear a relationship to what we are when we first come to Him. It is within His power to transform. It is for us to submit to the transformation.

I feel so far from what I desire to be, but I’m so encouraged that if I’m willing to be transformed, God is more than ready to do His work through me. He can transform the anger and pride and anxiety into gentleness, humility, and trust. He can do so much more than what I ask. He already knows what I can’t even express.

He knows my weaknesses and still loves me. He believes I’m worthy because of his Son. He lifts the heavy burdens off my back.

So today, I believe the greatest stumbling block to me living a full, abundant, Christ-exalting life is myself. And nothing else. My prayer is that God would help me give up the rights to myself.

And no matter what it takes, I submit to the transformation.

What areas in your life need real transformation?

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