When I asked Lisa at The Manitoba Mom Blog if she would write a guest blog post, I wasn’t expecting the wonderful piece that follows. Maybe I think it’s wonderful because it hit me right where I needed it, but I have a feeling there are a lot of other people out there who need it too.
My blogging buddy, Lisa Howeler, said something recently that caught my eye. She said that writing novels was a way for her to do something other than waiting for the next season of her life to begin. I knew exactly what she meant.
Have you ever had that sense of: “You’re done here.” – before you were actually done? A feeling of finality. Like a premonition: the book is going to close. You’re in the last few chapters. Maybe even the final pages. And you know in your bones, it’s going to end, and you will be starting another book. But first, you have to finish this one.
There were two times in my life when I knew this very suddenly. Both of them were job/career-related. I remember exactly where I was at work when it hit me, and precisely what I was doing. The moments were, otherwise, insignificant. (One time, I was going to the bathroom.) The knowledge came as a surprise – like someone dropping a bowling ball in my lap. And at once, I knew: “Oh! I’ll be leaving this place soon. And I won’t be coming back.”
It wasn’t sad, or mad, or even exciting. It was just… “Ok. Thanks for telling me, God. For preparing me. For giving me this knowledge; this advance warning.” And on both occasions, it was correct. Within months, I had moved on to some other stage of my life.
Sometimes, though, it’s not an abrupt sense, or only a matter of months, is it? The time in between books, or seasons, can stretch to years – becoming seasons entirely of their own. Seasons fraught with obscurity, darkness, disappointment, lack of influence, confusion, and perhaps, even doubt. You may feel that your hopes are left hanging, and your hands empty.
I have come to think of this as “dead time.” Not because we’re (necessarily) dead, but because there seems to be little happening. It’s lag time – a period of quiet, delay, or waiting. There is something that you are bound for, but you see no guarantee. Something you are supposed to do, or have, or be…you think. But you’re not there yet.
“Dead time” is the tomb, the prison, the belly of the beast. It’s the long stretches of Bible stories that we may overlook:
- Noah, spending several decades building the ark.
- Abraham, waiting until the age of 100 to finally have his son Isaac.
- Joseph, during the 10+ years in Potiphar’s house and in prison, wondering what had happened to his coat and why he had that silly dream.
- David, waiting 15 years after Samuel’s anointing to become king.
- Moses, living for 40 years as a fugitive in Midian, while his people suffered in slavery and probably forgot he existed.
It’s Jonah in the whale, and Lazarus in the grave. It’s Jesus – lifeless, still, and quiet on the cross, and His followers aghast.
It’s necessary. It’s not time to forget the promise or throw away the dream, but to hold it before the One who gave it to you, with an open hand. To draw in, get close, and let Him rip you open if He has to. He’ll remove cancerous sins, fallacies in your thinking, and dualities in your heart. He’ll refine, sharpen, and purify you. He’ll fill you with pleasures, if you’ll let Him! Such that the dream you had may pale in significance by the time it is fulfilled, and you realize that the promise wasn’t even the best part. It was all He was doing in the meantime.
Perhaps this is why Jesus said of Mary, as she sat quietly at His feet, that she had chosen “what is better” (Luke 10:42). There’s a time to work like Martha, but usually before that, there’s a time to be silent, like Mary.
During these apparently quiet, uneventful times, the Lord is busy. He is working in you, so that you will be fit to work for Him. There’s no need to rush. He has plenty of time.
“He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.” Psalm 105:8-9
“…and he sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.” Psalm 105:17-19
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21