“Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand and he will exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
~1 Peter 5:6-7~
Recently I tried to sit down and type out a few pages for my book. I know, I know, I’ve been talking about this book for a LOOOOONG time, but I’m committed to finally getting it finished. I think I can! I think I can!
Anyway, as hard as it is to find time to write and the fact it is an energy draining activity, I’m so thankful that I was writing a lot in my prayer journal during 2014. I’m finding things I had totally forgotten about (hence, the “draining activity”).
A couple of months ago I met with a gal I’m hoping will edit “the book” when I’m finished. She gave me a great suggestion for how to divide the chapters. Since it’s a story about my year of becoming a living organ donor, she suggested I make the chapters the months of the year. Brilliant!
So, I started dividing the text I had written into chapters by the months of the year. Everything was going great until I got to April and May. Nothing much happened during those months. Like N-O-T-H-I-N-G! There were no tests. There were no major happenings. There were no life-changing events. So, what was I to do?
Doubting His Voice
This “in-between” time is often the hardest time for believers. We “think” God has spoken to us and is directing us to do something in His name and then nothing. No more words of wisdom. No more snarky voices. Nothing.
To be perfectly honest, in 2014, I began to doubt I was doing the right thing. Maybe I really didn’t hear God’s voice. Maybe I just wanted to help my friends, especially when their lives were in danger. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe, maybe, maybe!
No! That was the enemy talking!
So, what can we do when we’re waiting?
As I began debating Him (like I could “debate” Him!) about what I was supposed to do, I still didn’t get a response. Life went on. I survived my second semester teaching at a university and I was settling into a life spent living in two places. Life was moving along pretty well.
Tom and I continued to pray for direction in what, exactly, I was supposed to do. And, although we continued to pray the same prayers, that didn’t mean God was really busy and one day He finally heard our prayers. He heard them the first time and every time afterward. It did mean WE were persistent in SEEKING Him. We were not giving up until we heard from Him!
In Due Time
All of this “waiting” or “in-between” time reminded me of the scripture in 1 Peter, “Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand and he will exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). As we consistently pray for things in our lives, we also need to humble ourselves before Him and submit to His ways, He will exalt us in due time.
I researched those words, “due time”, and found one definition that said, “eventually at an appropriate time”. At an appropriate time….. That really struck me as interesting especially now that I know the end of that yearlong story. At an appropriate time, may not be OUR time, but in HIS time because He knows when that is! We think we do, but probably not.
So, even though not much happened in the way of testing or approval of becoming a living organ donor during April and May 2014, something was happening. I just couldn’t see it. He heard my prayers and He was working things out for everyone’s good but in His due time.
Learning from Other Times of Waiting
Just like that time in 2014 I’ve been in other situations where I didn’t think I was hearing from God, so I need to always remember those situations and what I did while I was waiting.
One suggestion I always try to remember is to check my heart. I ask myself several questions:
- Where am I with Him right now?
- Have I been steadfast in my prayer life?
- Have I truly been “purposeful” in my prayers?
- Have I STOPPED and LISTENED for His response during my prayer time?
Many times, I might be “consistent” with my prayer life, but not “purposeful”. How can one be consistent, but not purposeful? Easy. We can get in a rut and just pray the same prayers we always pray just to say we’ve prayed or just hoping He will hear us this time.
We can’t always see this until we’re on the other side of an event. We may pray the same prayers over and over without really thinking about the words we are using and therefore the words become rote and meaningless. Not that they aren’t sincere, they just begin to not mean much if we’re saying the same thing with every prayer.
Another idea to remember is to objectively look at my struggles. I ask myself questions like:
- When have I struggled to find solutions to issues in the past?
- What happened in the middle of those struggles?
- What happened at the end of those struggles?
- What did I learn from those experiences?
Past, and present, struggles tend to get me down, at least for a little while. In the middle of a struggle, I often think there is no way out, but I’ve learned to seek the Lord’s will. If He’s going to supernaturally “fix” the issue, great! But if He’s teaching me something, I need to take note and realize what “it” is. What does He want me to learn as I’m in the middle of this struggle?
And lastly, I need to remember to learn from the struggles I’ve been through. This is similar to analyzing my struggles, but I have to look at times when I learned something brand new, not just when I was struggling with something I already know.
- When did I learn something new?
- Why did I learn it? (Work requirement or personal growth?)
- Who taught me this new thing? (The Lord himself or did He connect me with others who knew how to teach me?)
- Once I learned this new lesson, how did it help me in my life?
- What can I do now that I’ve learned this new thing?
Recently, I’ve experienced some “new” adventures by leading a small group in person and online (never thought that was even a possibility!) and taking over the art education responsibilities from a colleague getting ready to retire. Although I’ve done other small groups, I’ve never done one both face-to-face AND online. And, I’ve been teaching for over 20 years, but teaching these particular art education classes and being responsible for art education majors is all new.
Dark Night Psalms
While working on writing the book, I ran across an old blog post about the Dark Night Psalms. I had never heard of these Psalms before I wrote that particular post (ah-ha! I learned a new lesson!), so I was interested in what these Psalms were about. These particular Psalms are called the Dark Night of the Soul or the Dark Night Psalms. Evidently, the Psalms 13, 42, 46, 59, 77, 88, 92, 143 are considered the Dark Night ones. It’s basically a time when you don’t think you’re hearing from the Lord.
Although I ultimately did hear from the Lord during those dark nights in April and May 2014, the Dark Night Psalms serve as a great reminder for the next time I don’t think I’m hearing God’s voice. The Soul Sheparding website describes these times as feeling “spiritually dry and distant from God”. The author also describes it as a time of “trial” where God is working to deepen our journey of dependence on Him.
When I read that last sentence I had a light bulb moment! That’s EXACTLY what He was doing in me during 2014! I needed to dig in and not just go through the motions of prayer. I needed to really look at my past struggles and what I learned from surviving all of those. And, I needed to search for the lessons He was leading me through IN THE PRESENT MOMENT and understand what He wanted to teach me.
Hope for You
My hope for you is to also pay attention to the PRESENT MOMENT and work to understand what He wants to teach you. Many times, He will leave you alone wanting YOU to decide on your own. Other times He may send someone to assist you, and then other times He may just answer your prayers without much waiting. Whatever the choice, being aware of these possibilities will certainly teach you many things, including waiting to be exalted, in due time.