There used to be something so sweet about summer break. As a little girl, summer was the only thing that got me through the long days of school and the “stress” that came with it. When summer finally did come around, I would do everything I could to slow it down and savor that sweetness as long as humanly possible. Dread would set in as August approached, leaving me disappointed that I didn’t have more time to hang out with friends or go to the beach. Back then, the only exciting part about going back to school was the knowledge that I would get to go shopping for new clothes.
With the end of summer fast approaching, I feel the opposite of dread. Today, I find myself wishing for the long summer days to go by faster. It’s an odd feeling really, I have all this time just waiting around to go back to school. This has been awfully frustrating to me. It feels like I have put my life at school on pause and stepped away from my community, one that I had grown so used to and fond of having around me all the time. All summer I have received countless texts from friends, filled with wishes to get back to school or excitement over what is to come this next semester. I keep hearing the same things from friends and coworkers at other schools, wishing for summer to end so that this next year can start already. It seems like most of us are in the same season of waiting.
It is really easy to wish away the waiting. It is easy to feel like this is a waste of time that is unnecessary for our growth as human beings and Christians. I find myself frustrated with God that He has me in this season. In these moments, it's not difficult to think, “My life will get better once I get back to school.”
In reflecting on these feelings, I came to the conclusion that this season of waiting is simply a taste of the many moments all of us will have, sitting in the waiting room of life. Maybe it’s waiting on the right time to pursue a dream of yours or for the answer to your most desperate prayer. In those moments it will not be difficult to think, “My life will get better once…” Many of these seasons will likely last longer than a summer. When it comes to this waiting it is so easy to give up and give into the mundane. It is effortless to turn on Netflix, tune out the Holy Spirit and leave our bibles on the shelf. Now, this is not at all an exposé on how Netflix is of the devil. We all have to unwind a little, but I know that I often use it as a tool to avoid engaging with God. While this may not seem detrimental at first, these distraction techniques keep us from the joy that comes with fully living in what God has for us.
So, how do we combat the desire to wish away the waiting today, in hopes of what may come tomorrow?
I think it can be harmful to tell ourselves to slap on some patience, put on our “big girl pants” and keep going. While patience is 100% a godly and good principle, it is so important to understand that patience is not something we can or should do on our own. Perseverance is not something we can think into existence or a pill we can take. It is a unique and exceptional gift that the Lord gives us in order to sustain us. That being said, we will not receive patience with a mindset of passivity, but rather we receive it by coming with expectation, in preparation for what God has for us.
James 5:7-8 puts it wonderfully, “Be patient, therefore brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” To keep with James’ farming analogy, we must prepare our fields for the fruit that is to come. God is doing a good work in you now, even if you don't see it. Think of all the ways you have grown this last year. In the moment you couldn’t see it, but you do now. He will use this time for more than you will ever know.
Instead of mindlessly rewatching Friends for the 18th time, choose to be deliberate with God. I found that my perspective on this season shifted when I picked up my bible and reached out to Him. Engaging intentionally in the habits and relationships that point me to God shifted my focus from impatient frustration to joyful preparation. When we prepare our fields in these seasons, He is able to do incredible things. There is this great quote from Steven Furtick that says, “Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.”
So my friends, when the season feels long and you’re drained from this waiting, chose to lean into obedience today with the assurance that God will use it tomorrow. You will find joy in the preparation, you will bear fruit, and you will get to where you’re going.