If you could choose to be anywhere in your life right now—certain goals achieved, contacts made, places lived—anything accomplished and checked off in your story—what would you have done by now and where would you want to be?
I’m guessing we all have something that would be different—or everything, maybe? For some reason, it is so much easier to live in this heightened “what if” and “I wish” stage than it is to be content and present in the right now.
We become distracted by the glamour of our “what if” lives and neglect contentedness in favor of dreaming about where we want to be.
Now, I want to clarify, because as someone who loves to plan and prep, I also have a list of things I would like to do and places I would like to be—mostly just because I love making lists. However, (and believe me when I say I am not good at this next part) we must hold these plans very loosely because it may be God has something really different for us—something better—but something different.
We are so prone to striving after what we want—giving no pause for what God wants—and forgetting how marvelous His works are. If we were to keep the Wonder of God more often at the forefront of our thoughts, interactions, decision-making, and planning, we would be much more inclined to hold loosely our own desires and be patient in waiting for God to fulfill His promises and plans for us.
I am also reminded, in the pursuit of my own goals and glory (both of which pale in comparison to the things God has promised me) that God’s understanding and experience of Time is so much more whole and Holy than my own. When I look at my life and think, “I’m not where I want to be.” God is sitting with me in the frustration and whispering, “Just you wait until you see everything I have prepared for you.”
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) God does not work on our timelines but instead calls us to wait expectantly in His. He can take something that takes years happen in one moment. Pay attention to the places where you feel like there is no progress, and ask the Lord what He is doing there. It is often in the places where we least expect God to move that He creates gardens—He likes to move in the least and the lowest. He exalts the Humble people and places.
We will plan according to where our Trust lies, and if our Trust is not in God, our ideas about where we need to be and what we need to do to be good enough are going to be way off target. When our Trust lies in the One Who created the Heavens and the Earth and our Hearts, we will be able to rest knowing that our identity is not found in what we do or how much approval we can get from the world but in Christ. We do not have to achieve anything to be valuable—we are valuable because we are Imago Dei. Nothing can take away or add to that truth—no burning failure or raving success can change our value as Children and Heirs Together With Christ.
“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.” (2 Peter 3:9). This verse is used to talk about the Second Coming of Christ, but it is equally as applicable when we look at the other promises God has made in our own lives. “You will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise.” (C.S. Lewis)
Waiting is Holy and is critical in helping us cultivate Rest, Hope, Trust, Peace, and yes, even Joy. We learn to Wait well when we Trust the Father. When we Trust that His plans and vision for us are far beyond anything we could ever ask for or imagine.
“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21) We can make plans outside of the Waiting and Counsel of the Lord, but there is no fruit there—only striving and exhaustion. Would our hearts be so bent on running fast after the Lord that we would lay down our dreams and desires at His feet, trusting that He will bestow what is Good and Holy back on us and that what He takes away is for the Greatest Good of both our own lives and the Kingdom of Heaven.
Laying down our self-serving desires is difficult but always worth it. In laying down our desires, we pick up our crosses and walk in the footsteps of Jesus, knowing that along with a cross, we have also picked up our true identities as More Than Enough because His Sacrifice has made us such. There is no striving here, so do not be afraid to sit in the uncertainty and let the planning be rooted in the Presence.