14 September 2009

Waiting With Clenched Fists

"God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."
-John Milton, On His Blindness 

I found these words a little over a year ago, when I spent the weekend with three wonderful women (Kirsten is the only one who still blogs regularly).

So much has happened since then, and yet I still find myself in this period of waiting. I see people around me being given significant tasks to do in the Kingdom of God. These people aren't very different from me: same age, same education, similar emotional and spiritual maturity levels. In fact, the only consistent difference I can find is that they are not me.

It's not that I don't see things I'd love to do, jobs that I could take and make my own and love and squeeze and call 'George.' It's that now is not that time for them.

I don't know how I know that, except I do. When I'm tempted to think that it's my own fear telling me to wait, all the doors of opportunity close. They don't slam, but they dissipate, like a morning mist as the sun rises. I can go so far, getting training and even degrees, but every step I try to take forward gets diverted. I'm left trying to grasp a handful of sand and wondering why there's nothing left in my hand when I open it.

It's frustrating. On the worst days, I ask God, "Do you want me? Am I somehow merely decorative in your Kingdom?" And all He does is smile at me. What in the world does that mean?

So I keep waiting, walking and waiting, because we have to move forward in life, through time if nothing else. One foot goes in front of the other, and I hope there's a culmination somewhere along the line.

I hope because I know Him, because even His decorations have a purpose.


sojourner said...

you are in a perfect position to learn the art of waiting! and God smiles because you are the apple of His eye!

kirsten michelle said...

Ah, yes.

A blogging friend of mine just blogged about the latter half of 1 Corinthians 12 where it states "God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose" (v. 18). She was feeling small and insignificant and was pointed to that passage by an elder godly woman.

I'm sharing this with you because I feel it too. It seems like everyone else has laid hold of the opportunities that I dream of from my gray-sided cubicle. Envy? Check. Daydreaming of another vocation? You bet. I admit that I feel tiny, wondering if, in the proverbial Body of Christ, I am the pinkie toenail.

At the risk of sounding churchy and trite (two things we both hate), He has placed you where He needs you. I'm not sure how our own wills factor into this, nor yet our obedience where His plan for our lives is concerned, nor yet why He plants in us desires that (sometimes) appear as though He has no intention of bringing to fruition in our lives.

A friend I visited in central Cali last week put it this way: some will be out front, recognizable, visible, and big. Others will be as flowers blooming in the desert. And when that flower blooms, it does exactly as God wants it to do.

I feel like this is a non-answer and it's not terribly comforting and offers no real direction. maybe you weren't looking for that anyway. But I think there's some value in hearing the truth that God has arranged the parts of the body according to where they need to be -- according to where He needs them, and that no piece of it is insignificant in His estimation.

Love you.

heather said...

Do you know how often I ask that question: God, do you even want me?

Joelle said...

My dear, some words from Hafiz:

the true nature of your

loving eyes
your every thought, word, and movement
is always, always

What better purpose than to be a decoration in God's universe? You are gorgeous!

Jen said...

I know what you mean about having dreams and not being in a place to pursue them and wondering what God has in store for you. I often feel the pressure of pent up creative energy beating to get out.

At the same time, when I read your sentence—

"I see people around me being given significant tasks to do in the Kingdom of God. [. . .] they are not me."

—I immediately thought, "Um, isn't bearing and raising a child one of the MOST SIGNIFICANT TASKS EVER, especially in the Kingdom of God?!?

A favorite quote from Chesteron:
"How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman's function is laborious; but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." (What's Wrong with the World)

If you haven't hear of it already, may I recommend Holiness for Housewifes (and other working women) by Dom Hubert Van Zeller? Recommended to me by a friend. Very convicting, affirming, encouraging, and, um, convicting. :o)

L.L. Barkat said...

and you... you are a lovely one indeed...

kirsten michelle said...

Something that stuck out to me reading through your words a second time was the word merely ... as in, merely decorative.

You, my dear, are not merely anything.

I know you have big dreams and desires. And perhaps that's at least part of what makes the fact that those dreams and desires are not your present reality make what is your present reality feel small-ish. Piddly. Maybe insignificant.

I wish you could ask your question and see the face of God when you ask it. I think if you saw His visage -- if you saw Him beholding you, and could see how He sees you, He wouldn't need to say anything but that every answer you really needed would be answered in seeing His face. You would know you are loved and valuable, that you are significant, that you have beauty and purpose, and that all your wondering and frustration and questing is not in vain. I mean, you would really know it.

And I have to add agreement to what Jen said: "isn't bearing and raising a child one of the MOST SIGNIFICANT TASKS EVER, especially in the Kingdom of God?!?"

To that, I add my Amen.

Sarah said...

You've all given so much truth here, and I've gathered it for further pondering. I've responded to what I can, but there's definitely more mulling to be done.

Sojo-Do you mind if I call you that? Anyway, I know you're right...I just feel like I've been waiting forever!!

Kirsten-I've thought a lot about the body, too. The best way I can figure out to articulate where I end up is that I feel (and by "feel" I mean more than emotions--intuition, discernment, etc.)...so I feel that I should be functioning as X part of the body, but all the chances to do X disappear and I end up doing Y, Z, P, Q, R, or whatever else instead. And I pray and ask God to show me if I'm wrong about X, and he confirms it and still doors don't open.

That sounds really frustrated and the truth is I don't feel that frustrated. More confused, and wondering what the rest of the story is. Maybe it's the writer in me, but for this plot piece to make sense, it's one hell of an interesting story we're going about here.

Heather-Um...maybe. Though I have a feeling I can already guess it's "LOTS" by your answer ;) I love you, and I'm glad you're on this journey with me.

Joelle-Hmm...something to that. I don't have more of a response than that, yet, but there's something there.

Jen-You know, that's a piece that I couldn't figure out how to fit into the blog post but have also been pondering. I agree with all you say, and I still want more. I wonder if that's giving in to a culture that doesn't esteem motherhood, or if it's an honest statement of, "I feel that motherhood is part of what I'm doing here, but I have this other stuff that I'd like to do something else with in addition to being a mother."

Also, I see other mothers with doors I'd love to be able to walk though and I'm not sure what to make of it. Overall, more confusion.

LL-Thank you. There's truth there...I can feel it.

Kirsten-Thank you, from the middle of me.

Tammy said...

Hi Sarah
I have been meaning to get over here for days now. I have become a blogging sloth. I am just extremely busy these days...........it is unreal and exhausting.

Anyway, I see you are still struggling. I think waiting is the hardest thing. This blog somehow made me think of Abraham while he was waiting for Isaac. It always amazed me that this man was called the father of faith even though he goofed up and in his impatience Ismael came along.

He was thinking "God I am getting old, life is passing me by and I can come up with a better plan than this." (Loosely translated of course.)

That is probably what he really was thinking. He could not wrap his mind around the whole concept of God's promise. Some religious folks might interpret Abraham's decision to "light a fire under God's butt" and have sex with Hagar as a "God helps those who step out in faith" thing, or that cliche-- "God helps those who help themselves."

You know what I mean. You have heard all the quick fix solutions to things we can't grasp. I have concluded that part of successfully passing through this journey of life is learning to walk in the dark with Jesus while He is walking some where in front of us holding a flashlight. It prevents us from seeing too far ahead of us. In the end all we see is the same thing we caught glimpse of from the very beginning....Christ.

Here is a song you may know. It made me think of you.......

"Wayne Watson Walk In The Dark lyrics"

where are you taking me-why are we turning here
this road is strange to me-this path is not so clear
must be the place where my doubt turns to faith
where I close my eyes and take your hand

I'd rather walk in the dark with Jesus
Than walk in the light on my own
I'd rather go through the valley of the shadow with him
Than to dance on the mountains alone
I'd rather follow wherever he leads me
Than to go where none before me have gone
I'd rather walk in the dark with Jesus
Than to walk in the light of my own

I've made some plans you know-mapped out a strategy
Somebody tell me where did the seasons go-have you forgotten me
I've heard the darkest hour is just before dawn
And wherever you are the sun will shine


There will be shadows-but I won't be shaken
'Cause you've never forsaken a vow
You've never failed me before this I know
And, Jesus, you won't fail me now

Sarah said...

Thanks, Tams. There's so much more I could say, but I'm tired and have a headache and we just found out last night that we either need a new engine or a new car and meh. Your words speak to my heart . . . maybe I'll come post more in response when my heart can speak back ;)

Tammy said...

Oh Sarah, sorry about that car thing. That just sux. Car trouble just sux. Anyway you are still sunshiney to me. No matter what. :)

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Maybe God wants you to be a mommy.

I thought God had given me this gift of teaching music, of teaching kids, and that I had found what I was supposed to be doing...and I was wrong.

Sometimes even clarity blows up in your face. :)

L.L. Barkat said...

Just stopping in to say hi, to give a little wave at the window, to smile.

Sarah said...

Hi LL . . . thanks for your wave and your smile. Someday maybe I'll inhabit this space again.