The summer quickly flew past me as I was busy writing resumes, looking for a place to live, starting a school program to improve my skills for getting a job. So here I am still playing the waiting game and wondering what plans God has for me. I had never expected to be jobless and waiting for someone to get back with me about the countless applications I had submitted all while a pressing deadline looms overhead. “Lord, I need you to really intervene in my life right now!” has been my cry all summer. However, I have come to learn that patience is being perfected in me. God does not operate on my wishes where I rub my Bible and He is obligated to grant requests.
Hardship weighs me down and my joy can be stolen in an instant of mere words from someone who is trying to encourage me or give me advice (sound or not) on living life. Sometimes it feels like Job’s three friends have come calling and I have to check my heart before responding. Answering the question of “How are you?” when asked can become hard to answer without giving them the entire story of what is going on inside. Through this journey and by God’s unfailing grace and faithfulness there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Tunnels come in various sizes and may be longer than the previous one but God is gracious.
Comparing myself to others “great lives” comes in large waves and the pity party can over take me momentarily. God steadfastly is working and won’t leave has been my daily thought medication. The sin filled thoughts of doubt and distress still reign free but what God commands is obedience when He says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3)
I am to obey in-spite of the circumstances and to be patient. If you know me I am not a patient person. (I know there are far worse trials people have encountered in the world than not having a job or home. However, this is the path that I am on for the present time and God is working on my heart.) I like to have things immediately and get a job done well and quickly.
So how do I count it a joy to wait through testing? Believing that joy was all about feelings of happiness as one grimaced inwardly was my original thought, however, that is not true joy. True joy begins and ends with polishing my perspective with faith filled eyes towards God’s agenda of gospel work in my life.
I know keeping my thought life under control is key. So three things have helped me polish my perspective on this journey of joy filled trials. They are:
Time– the only word that can be actively moving on as you are reading it! I remember just sitting at the edge of a crisp blue lake surrounded by sunshine and wildlife admiring the beauty of my surroundings until the thought, “Your time is fleeting. That moment you just had a few seconds ago will not return to you.” The thought greatly distressed me as I began to think of countless moments which continued to pass on without much consideration. I know life is short. I am reminded of it every day as things continue to change.
Presently, I am learning what it means to place my time (all of it) in God’s hands even when a time bomb is about to explode. That is where I realize I am not the one in control. I have to stop and actively entrust my time and plans to my Creator. God provides in unexpected ways so why do I desire to control as much as I can?
Do you ever feel like your time is running out? You have a pressing need and it just seems to take forever for the Lord to intervene in the situation.
I know He will provide but why can’t it be earlier and on my time-table. My self-focused needs revolve around me (shocking!) and my time table. However, God cares about growing patience in me more than anything.
Who do I look to when the moments are hardest? Is my heart so concerned with my selfish reasoning; I forget God can use this moment to refine me or to give Himself glory through the circumstances that I now face? Maybe the time spent waiting will be an encouragement to someone else later in my life and God knows about those details. The facts are these;
- I am not in control.
- I am confined by time but God understands this dilemma.
- He sees the bigger picture and gives me hope when I humbly come before Him confessing that I have once again taken things into my hands and become impatient
- I often miss out on so many joys when I rush ahead of God.
The Lord reminds me of who He is through Isaiah 49. Let’s take a look!
Some background on Isaiah 49 before we get to the verses. God was giving hope to Isaiah that Israel would be restored after their captivity. God’s judgment was coming to a rebellious Israel. Yet, even though they had sinned God was still merciful and had a plan to redeem them. He had not forgotten about His promises to the generations before about the Messiah coming and the promised land. So let’s look at the verses of hope from chapter 49: 14-16,
“But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And my Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.”
God holds time in His hands but my name is inscribed on His palms! Because I have accepted Christ my name can never be blotted out from His book. My days have been ascribed and are protected by God. How does knowing theses eternal truths impact my daily life?
First, my time is God’s time. My time is not so short or so long that God is not in control of it. I have all the time I need because time and life are God’s gracious gift to me. Even when I walk through dark place and the moment spent that seem irrelevant to me are all according to the purposes of God who does not forget about me. He gets the fact that I am confined by time because after all He invented the 60 second clock!
Time is the element of no return but a return on an investment with moments spent seeking out (or crying out in my case) to the One who holds eternity (my eternity) in His wise hands.
So for me polishing my time perspective is asking myself these questions:
- In light of how God holds my times in His hands how am I going to respond to my current state of affairs?
- Just because I need something quickly doesn’t mean God is going to do my bidding. He is going to accomplish His purposes for me which are far greater than anything I could think up. So am I going to accept His time-table or fight it?
- Lastly, am I having a hard-hearted moment towards God or people when I don’t give freely of what God has given me even when I don’t “feel” like giving of my time.
What questions do you ask yourself in regards to the time God has given you? Do you need to remind yourself that your name is in the Book of Life regardless of how much time you have? If you are not sure your name is written in the Book of Life, then I would encourage you to ask a different set of questions. I would love to hear your thoughts on how time impacts your perspective in trying times.