Back in early May, I wrote about waiting and the value of it in our lives. I wrote, with regard to ministry planning for the 2020-2021 school year, that I was willing to wait on the Lord to reveal his plans for us. Now, just two weeks before the start of the school year, I am still waiting. The University has yet to specify what campus life is going to look like, or how organizations like Campus Christian Fellowship will be allowed to function on campus. By now, typically, we are readying the implementation of our plans. As I told one colleague, we are literally walking by faith and not by sight.
None of us bargained for this. We thought back in March that there would be several rough months and then things would slowly get back to some normalcy. That is indeed not happening. Countries that seemed to have the COVID virus under control now, once again, are seeing increases in positive tests, hospitalizations, and deaths. Two steps forward, one step back. This is how it feels. There is a confidence that is feigned by some leaders in different areas of life, be they politicians, CEO’s, University administrators, or sports teams’ owners, but there is a sense of unease and uncertainty behind the façades. So, parents continue to wait, as do students, teachers, employers and employees, and campus pastors. It is uncomfortable. It may be exasperating. But it does not appear that this time in our lives is going away anytime soon. For the foreseeable future, it seems, we will be dealing with considerable uncertainty. Our worlds are shaken and they will be long in settling down again.
One colleague remarked to me recently that he could handle the disruption we experienced for the final two months of the school year, but he was not sure he was prepared for an extension of this disruption into the next one. In general, isn’t this how we all feel? We can handle difficult situations that are short-term, but the ones that appear they will go on and on, not so much. This is when impatience sets in and we are tempted to take matters into our own hands. We’re done waiting.
I am currently feeling those temptations—the temptation to panic, the temptation to throw plans together, the temptation to just act as if things are normal. But I am still resisting because what I’ve learned over my years of following the Lord is that he is never early in showing up nor is he ever late; he is always right on time—his time. And his time is the perfect time.
So, I am still waiting. Not that I am doing nothing. I am praying and reading the Word, for that is the best activity in times of waiting. We are taught by our culture that times of waiting are times for distraction so as to make the wait shorter, like scrolling on your phone while waiting on a bus or to see the doctor. So while the economy has been hard on so many businesses, streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus have seen dramatic increases in subscribers. Distractions are not necessarily bad, but to use them continually to cope in hard times is indeed a wasted opportunity.
What we are experiencing is what the ancients referred to as a desert experience. These are times when our moorings have been shaken, we’ve been removed from our comfort zones, and the Lord seems distant. The desert can be a lonely place, but as Jesus found, it can be a place to gain much strength.
In this time, it may seem God is afar, but in reality he is near. And rather than continually seeking distractions, he wants us to seek him. In so many ways, this pandemic is a gift. It is providing the time and the motivation to seek the Lord more intentionally and more intimately. It is providing the opportunity to reorder the priorities of our lives. It is not easy, but I have found over the course of my life that the greatest spiritual growth has come when life is hard.
None of us chose this pandemic and the myriad of negative impacts on our lives. Yet, I believe many of us will look back years from now and mark this period of time as one of significant spiritual growth and experience with the Lord. This is why I am okay with waiting. I know the Lord is at work and, despite all of the negatives we see, I know he will bring much good out of this, just as he promises.
So, while continuing to wait is uncomfortable, I have confidence in the Lord to show up at the proper time. He knows exactly what he is doing.
© Jim Musser 2020 All Scripture references are from the New International Version, 2011