Category Archives: peace

What Do You Do When God Says “Wait”?

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red light

Photo courtesy of freefoto.com. Used by permission.

One recent afternoon, road construction turned a ten-block drive in downtown San Diego into a thirty-minute adventure in impatient frustration. The following Sunday our pastor mentioned a smartphone app that not only guides drivers from point A to point B, but also suggests the best route given current traffic conditions. I readily downloaded the app. You see, I don’t much like waiting; anything that will keep me moving more and waiting less is worth trying because unless I am feeling particularly patient, I would rather keep moving then sit at a stop light. Obviously, any movement is progress, right?

The same rule tends to guide my life outside the car: movement equals progress; sitting still is bad. But sometimes—and probably more than I realize or would admit—moving forward merely gives the illusion of progress. Sometimes, in fact, it is impeding the progress. And that principle, too, applies to life outside the car as much as it does to navigating congested streets and highways.

For a while now I have been living at a stop light, waiting for it to change. I don’t like it. I have had a couple opportunities to turn but that didn’t seem the right thing to do so I just sat here, waiting. I have also tried to inch forward a bit—you know, like you do in the car when the light seems to be taking too long; you think if you move the car forward, it will be sort of like raising your hand to an inattentive waiter at the restaurant…you will catch the light’s attention and it will change. That works better with waiters than with red lights, by the way.

I tried mapping a different route, too; not much different, just a parallel street a block over. But the light stayed red and then I noticed the “no turn on red” sign. So I just sat here, waiting. If I only knew what God was up to, why he has me sitting at this red light, then all would be well, I could wait in patient peace. At least that’s what I tell myself.

God, in his grace, has given me with an uncharacteristic sense of peace at this light, but it’s being tested. He’s convinced me that he is trustworthy, but I still don’t want to be here anymore, I want to move forward. Or left or right. I just want to move. I want to move on. I’m tired of waiting. I am fairly certain I have learned everything I could possibly have learned from this recess! Yet a good friend and mentor—one who has been by my side over these months—reminds me: “The wisdom of the ‘wait’ often comes in the following season. But, the depth of the wisdom is earned IN the wait.”

And so I sit here, waiting.

Peace That Doesn’t Make Sense

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Recently a friend asked me a question that went something like this: In the midst of all the uncertainty you’re facing, how do you still have peace? To be honest, I have often wondered the same thing, because “peaceful” isn’t a word that I would typically use to describe myself. But for some reason I have experienced an uncharacteristic peace over these past months—what Paul described as “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and what I like to call “a peace that doesn’t make sense.”

In just a few weeks, I’ll have…

  • a house but no job
  • expenses but no income
  • a calling but no call
  • a journey but no map
  • a destination but no direction.

Not exactly peace-giving circumstances!

But I will also have then what I already have now: a God who cares for me, and who has proven himself faithful; not only in the pages of Scripture—which, I confess, can seem a bit too easy at times—but also in my own life. Five-and-a-half years ago, a lamenting phone call to my parents introduced me to a stranger who became a pivotal contact for landing in the pastoral role I am in today. Six months later a desperate prayer spoken with too little faith was answered as clearly and explicitly as any I can recall.

God has not always answered my prayers quite so clearly or immediately. He has not spoken to me as plainly as he seemed to speak to people in the Bible. In fact, I am not entirely certain what to expect if God were to speak as plainly; after all, as I read through the Bible I see him speaking through burning bushes, talking donkeys, women and men; I hear him speaking in whispers and bellowing voice, at midnight and midday and midmorning; he speaks through angels and through dreams and visions. The only thing usual about how God has spoken in the past is that it is almost always unusual.

So how is it I can have peace in the midst of uncertainty? How can I trust in a God I can’t see and sometimes don’t hear? To be honest, I can’t. Not on my own, anyway. But God has given me a gift: the gift of peace that doesn’t make sense.