Sooner or later, I knew this time would come. Ever since I began my doctoral studies, I have been warned–repeatedly–that everyone hits a wall. Everyone reaches that point when they are tired of the work and they are ready to be done with it.
I am at that point right now.
For the last two months I have grown tired of school, not because it’s unimportant to me, but because I am distracted by the future. Foolishly, I fix my eyes on the next big thing (or things) that I want to do, which makes me increasingly dissatisfied with the here and now.
What is the next big thing? For me, it’s writing full-time. In the last two years my writing ministry has grown a lot, and I am presented with more and more opportunities to write. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for them. Between being a mother, wife, and student, I only have so much time to give to my writing, which is not nearly as much as I want.
The thing is, I would love to be writing a book right now. Occasionally I squirrel away some time to work on ideas, but I can’t give it the time it deserves. In the mean time, I get requests to guest post on other people’s blogs and sites, and I don’t have time for those either (Incidentally, if you are one of the many people who has asked me to guest post and I said something like, “Hopefully soon!” and soon still hasn’t come, I apologize. This is why.).
All of that to say, I feel very unsettled. My dissertation feels like a tether. I can’t break free from it to run, to write. I desire to write full-time, but I also know that God called me to earn a PhD, and I want to finish well.
Simply put, I can’t have it all.
Amidst my wrestling with this tension, I began to look at characters in the Bible who, like me, endured seasons of waiting. God placed a call on their lives, but they waited years before the calling was realized.
For example, Joseph knew he was destined for greatness. God told him so in a dream, but he waited long and the waiting was hard. The circumstances of his waiting were, no contest, much worse than mine. When I think about his near murder, his imprisonment, and the years he spent doing menial labor, all before he became a powerful ruler…..suddenly my dissertation doesn’t seem so bad.
And then there’s David. David was anointed as the king of Israel, but he would not rise to power for years. In the mean time, he waited. At times he even feared for his life, fleeing from Saul and hiding out out in caves. As he crouched on the hard, dry dirt, feeling betrayed and praying for deliverance, he must have wondered what became of that divine promise.
I hardly believe that I am “destined for greatness” like David or Joseph, but I do believe God has a plan for me, and I believe it is good. I can see it, just out of reach. If only I could hit fast forward.
And yet as I look at the lives of David and Joseph–Joseph in particular–I see the importance of the waiting. God used those seasons of waiting to prepare them for the call ahead. It was as if the waiting was a part of the promise, as if the waiting was necessary for the promise to be fulfilled.
Perhaps Joseph would not have become a wise and benevolent ruler had he never spent time in prison. Perhaps David would have been a tyrant like Saul had he not been terrorized by a tyrant himself.
Of course we’ll never know, but the stories of Joseph and David give me confidence that God isn’t twiddling His thumbs while I finish my PhD. His plans for me are not far off in the distance, and He isn’t waiting impatiently to begin the real work of my life.
If Joseph and David tell us anything, it is this: every chapter of my life depends on the one before it. The woman I want to be in the future, she can only grow out of the woman I am today. So this time, right now, this season that I am SO OVER, it matters. It is here that God plants the seeds of tomorrow’s promises.
I really hope and pray that God is using this time to make me a better writer and a better disciple of Christ. When the time comes for me to graduate and write full-time, I hope to be a different kind of woman, a better woman than I might have been without this chapter of my life.
If you’re like me, and that promise or hope seems just out of reach, take heart my friend. God is not waiting for your life to start. Nor is He waiting to do a work in you. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 tells us,
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Day by day, every day, today, you are being renewed, made into a new creation. So don’t miss it. This current affliction–whether it be light, or unbearably heavy–is not a waste. True to His word, God will use this season. And if the cross is any indication, He will use it for something glorious.
Sharon, I’ve been there. And I’m one FB message/phone call away if you ever need a pep talk. 🙂
Thanks, friend. 🙂
Sharon, you are destined for greater things than David or Joseph could ever hope to accomplish under the Old Covenant. “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11.)
You are doing great things in God’s kingdom because God himself dwells in you and lives through you for his glory.
Thanks Tim. You are always such an encouragement!
I am feeling this discouragement too. I just want to be done with school and get on with my life. Thanks for the encouragement!
I needed to read this-I have been feeling particularly bogged down myself…thanks!
I feel ya! Lately I’ve been holding to: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14 ESV)
I’ve been especially noticing how WAITING is the emphasis, even above being strong & courageous. Praying for you this morning!
Oh, my, do I ever understand what you’re feeling! I often get stuck in what seems like the drudgery of now, but God has been reminding me lately that now…it’s precious. It’s important. I’m praying for you! Keep on!
“If Joseph and David tell us anything, it is this: every chapter of my life depends on the one before it. The woman I want to be in the future, she can only grow out of the woman I am today. ” Sharon, as one who is in a later chapter of my life I can affirm the power and truth of these words. You have hit the nail on the head; this gives so much courage to all of us, regardless of the chapter we’re in, to remain focused on God’s work in our lives. I have just moved my parents out of their home of 53 years-my childhood home–and God is teaching me so much about His faithfulness throughout every stage of life. In looking back at old chapters, reading them with eyeglasses whose lenses have a new perspective, I am so blessed by God’s fingerprint. I didn’t always see it then, but now I’m blown away by His sovereignty and goodness. I am humbled and thankful.
Hang in there and allow yourself to steep in the process. What comes out will be rich.
This is powerful writing, Sharon. I want you to know that even while you’re waiting for the next thing…God is already using your writing to encourage women like me. It is really hard to turn down opportunity, but you’ve said YES to His ministry in ways you probably don’t even know.
I so enjoy your writings and musings. You take a seemingly time of drudgery, expose the sentiment and encourage people like me who want to quit church because nothing ever changes and say OK God, have it your way. May God continue to work through you and blessings to you and Ike.
from a Canadian friend
Girl, this is exactly what I needed to read today. You spoke to my heart!
Thanks for this. I’m in a similar boat. I long to do ministry of writing and speaking – and have opps – just not in our now home church. I remember JD preaching a sermon on David about the “pasture time”. Its not a fun place to be. I’m trying to concentrate on gratitude. My MIL taught me about this last night while she was here visiting our newest!
Sharon, God’s “next work” for you is showing up in the desires, motivations, and longing that grow in our heart. Those writing ideas, light bulbs that explode, and heart tuggings are the current work of God. That is not the work of Him waiting to happen. It is currently happening! Life is not about waiting for the next thing, but listening to where He wants us to go when the start gun is fired.