It is so hard to not want to be in control, to lay down the ability to affect where tomorrow goes. It is painful to watch something you want to be happening seem stagnant.
But you know what?
As Joel Osteen says, “Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean that God isn’t working.”
But while you’re not seeing anything officially transpire, it’s so easy for your mind to conjure up the ways that it could be coming to pass. Or maybe what you could do to help that happen faster.
What if I said something? Or what if I just went to do it myself? What if I hurry up this project? Or what if I just give up, because maybe it’s just not meant to be after all?
In those moments it’s easy to get wrapped up in anxiety. What if it’s not going to happen?
I am an overwhelmingly type-A person of initiative. I pride myself on independence. And part of that comes with a dangerous pride of do-it-on-my-own. That can be an entirely not-good place for God to manifest plans. When you’re entirely in control, where is there any room at all to flex your faith and trust?
When I started praying over two years ago for a church home in Winston-Salem, I wasn’t really connecting spiritually with God like I had in the past. You know how sometimes you can pray with God and it feels like a two-way conversation? And sometimes you’re just going through some motions that have genuine intention, but your heart is off caliber.
Praying for a church was hard. And finding one was even harder. It became a science. Trying church after church after church after church….after church. Praying about finding the right one and the right environment and prioritizing the values I was looking for. An energy. I knew I would feel at home when I found the right one. And I started getting caught up in the debate of, well this one has a cross and this one doesn’t; this one observes sacrament and this one doesn’t; the people don’t seem very engaged at this one but they do at the other one.
But the more I visited, the more I felt like I was doing something wrong. Maybe I had already visited the right one. So maybe I should start over.
Talk about trying to solve it on your own.
Now, mind you–I was praying over this too. But was I really just doing all of the talking? Maybe.
A little over a month ago I took a time-out.
And instead of doing all of the talking, I just listened. And I just decided, I obviously can’t do this on my own. I’m not making this happen very successfully. Turn off the anxiety. Turn off that feeling of loss that I didn’t have a community grounding.
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.” Habakkuk 2: 3
It was going to happen, but I didn’t find my college church (for which I have been constantly searching for a comparison) from a spreadsheet. I found Cornerstone Summit because someone from that church invited me. It happened naturally. It wasn’t forced. It was really beautiful.
A month ago, I stopped. And the next week I got leads on two different churches. Two people invited me to one church, and I felt like God was pushing me — so that was the first one I visited. It was absolutely wonderful but a little farther away. (Again, that wasn’t a big deal . . . but I had a lead on another church too.)
Two nights before I visited the first church, I met someone who had also went to Cornerstone Summit. Wild. Most Cornerstone people know each other. I’m still confused how this has happened; but come to find out he also leads worship at a church downtown. Which, come to find out is 50 yards from my front door. Which, come to find out feels exactly like home.
After three services, I”m fairly convinced that I’ve been brought to the right one. And would you even believe that God has brought my college roommate Shanice there with me as an accountability and huge blessing.
And to think I was just looking for a comfortable crowd that would get into worship with me, but still get deep in the Word.
God has an awesome way of telling me: “Ashley, will you let me do what I do?” Seriously.
Two years and it feels like it’s right on time.
“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2: 10
Not a Sunday too soon, not a Sunday too late. But I feel good this Sunday officially checking off a 25 by 25. When you wait on God’s timing you will be so blessed.
Trust in God’s timing. And while you wait; don’t try to solve it. While you wait; don’t begrudge the waiting. Take the extra opportunity of time to try to listen. Save the questions, save the debate and just . . . be.
One of my very favorite quotes is from Joanna Weaver in Having a Mary Spirit she says:
“You see, when we doubt God’s ability to fulfill His promises to us and through us, no amount of explanations on His part, no signs and wonders performed for our benefit will ever satisfy us. And God knows that. So sometimes instead of putting up with all the questions, the cynicism, and the theological debate, He simply puts His hand over our mouths and shuts us up – “Shh…just wait,” He tells us. “You’ll see.”