The Suddenlies of God
Ever noticed how agonizingly long seasons of waiting can feel? The uncertainty can nearly make you come unglued. When you’re waiting, there is such ambiguity. Will things ever fall into place? Will the door to the next season ever open? And if it will, how much longer will it be? How long will the uncertainty linger?
There’s a temptation to speculate during the waiting – to brainstorm and figure things out. We grasp for clarity, for a sense of certainty about the future. At times, God’s voice seems painfully silent during these days of waiting. He allows the tension of ambiguity to remain.
This was my season in the years leading up to grad school. God planted the seminary seed in my heart during college… and then upon graduation, rather than showing me which seminary to attend, he very clearly led me into a full-time ministry job instead. There was no doubt in my mind that it was his doing.
So I embarked on this ministry experience right out of college and ended up sitting seminary on the shelf for a while. Soon though, seminary crawled right off that shelf and was back – front and center – in my mind and heart. The thing is… the door to seminary was completely closed. It simply wasn’t time to pursue it.
So here I was with this tension – knowing on the one hand God was the one who first put seminary in my heart…but knowing on the other that he had led me to a full-time job that, in my eyes, was now preventing me from pursuing school.
Around two years into this ambiguous season, Andrew and I decided to sell our house. Selling our house would allow us to downsize, cut our cost of living, reduce our need for my salary, and eventually make a way for me to go to school. It was an excellent plan. Now, all we needed God to do was sell our house quickly so we could move forward with our excellent plan. [:)]
Well… sell our house quickly he did not. Three months passed, nothing.
The wait was agonizing. A year and a half – nothing. I felt overlooked, like I had somehow fallen through the cracks of God’s oversight. Remember me, God? Remember how you told me to go to seminary? Remember our excellent plan to make seminary happen? Don’t get me wrong: my ministry job was a beautiful season in many ways and brought wonderful people into my life. There were joys along the way… But I couldn’t get away from this deep desire in my heart. It was like a baby kicking inside.
That kicking often frustrated me because though I felt it, there wasn’t anything I could do about it. And from my limited perspective, I couldn’t see how my being on this job was a stepping stone to seminary. I was disappointed with the time I felt was being wasted. It was especially hard when I encountered people who seemed to be moving forward with their dreams. I felt stuck – like I was spinning my wheels.
And then, over time, something shifted. My heart began to change. My waiting began to humble me. God, in his patience, started dismantling my elaborate, overly planned future. He gently began erasing the schedule I had mapped out for my life. At first, it was painful to let him do this. I feared that my yielding would steal from me. But despite my fear of what was going to be taken from me, I yielded anyway.
The Father patiently worked within me, creating a blank slate – a totally yielded heart. Before, my mind had been set on how quickly I could quit my job and start school once our house sold. But after he began this work, I let go of what I was determined to do.
I finally got to a point where I honestly told the Lord that I would stay at the job, that I would wait on seminary, as long as he wanted me to. Even if that meant going to school later in life. For all I knew, maybe he wanted me to raise children first and then go to school in my forties or fifties. I had no clue what his time frame was, but my heart was finally okay with whatever it happened to be. And not just “okay with it,” but completely willing to submit to it and to trust that his way really is best.
I learned that it’s his story- not mine- that my life is telling.
So in this new found place of trust, I told the Lord that I was going to keep waiting on him even when our house sold. I wasn’t going to jump into pursuit of seminary or anything else just because the breakthrough came. I was simply going to listen for my Father’s voice.
Just weeks after this shift took place in my heart, our house finally sold.
Suddenly, our prayer was answered.
A two year process of dashed hopes was suddenly ended as we closed on the sell of our house. We downsized to our 600 square foot cottage, and I kept waiting on the Lord. I realized that he had been after my heart the whole time. He wasn’t holding out on us; he was cultivating a right heart in me – one that could handle a new season.
And when I finally yielded, the breakthrough came so easily. What’s more – that initial breakthrough started a supernatural domino effect that catapulted us into our long-awaited new season. One month after the close of our house, Andrew came home from work with the news that he had been promoted. With this promotion came a raise…a raise that equaled the amount of my entire full time salary.
Speechless. Ecstatic. Awestruck at God’s goodness. These are all pitiful understatements.
Suddenly, my salary was no longer needed. It had been fully supplied by God’s extravagant generosity.
It was his way of writing it on a billboard: the door to seminary was wide open.
Months later, I left the job and shortly thereafter embarked upon full time graduate school at Gordon-Conwell. A four year season of waiting suddenly gave way to desires fulfilled.
God’s suddenlies change everything. They are trees of life (Proverbs 13:12). They establish faith. They burst onto the scene with explosive joy.
But you know what I’m learning? The reason his suddenlies hold such power is because they are rooted in our seasons of waiting. Sudden breakthroughs don’t appear out of thin air. They are the fruit of processes – oftentimes long, painful, uncomfortable, uncertain processes. Seasons of intercession. Seasons of hiddenness. Seasons of sacrifice. Seasons of preparation. Seasons of remaining faithful in the seemingly smaller tasks God has put before us to do. Seasons of warfare. Seasons of obedience. Seasons of waiting.
The suddenlies spring from our waiting.
And it’s the waiting that makes them so fulfilling when they come. It’s the waiting that ensures God’s glory rather than ours when they burst forth. It’s the waiting that drives out pride, that keeps us from inflating when our breakthrough comes.
And you know what else?
These suddenlies infuse us with fresh grace to keep going further, higher, deeper in God. They re-establish our awe as we watch him quickly, effortlessly transform our waiting into fulfillment. The joy that comes with their arrival assures our hearts of the beauty of his story. The suddenlies of God grace us for our next season of waiting. Because you see, we will never stop waiting.
Our Father is ever patient and refuses to give us things before our hearts are ready. If he did, they would destroy us. So waiting will be part of our journey until we arrive home – and experience the ultimate Prize of our waiting. He’s worth the wait.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.