I’m an achiever- it’s part of my personality. I thrive on accomplishing things, getting things checked off the list, and seeing outward signs of my hard work. I like to see input equal output, and I like for things to make sense. I would rather do a million things other than wait. Yet here I am in a perpetual time of waiting, for almost 18 years now. I’m still having to do very hard work, but for this, the outcome isn’t in my control. Talk about a space of growth for me!
The research that I do is very difficult, and as research goes, there is no such thing as instant gratification. It’s months and years of work that sometimes appears fruitless. The hardest part is that my health is waiting on this research, so my natural inclination to achieve is multiplied exponentially. It’s hard to explain what I do, and to some it can look like I’m wasting my time, as I’m not better yet. However, I’m sure that God is asking me to do it, even though I don’t like it. I have prayed so much about this, spent time in adoration, read books about discernment, talked to spiritual directors about it- all that’s left for me to do is trust the plan. Oof! Ask anything else of me, Lord!
A little over a week ago, I had another piece of my case come together. I was excited (and still am), but it’s more general. I still need to nail down the specifics, and that’s been harder than I anticipated. My feeling of hope quickly gave way to frustration the past few days. On Saturday my mom and I went to the adoration chapel right by my house. I poured my heart out to Jesus there and was in tears. Because I don’t see results in the way I want to see results, I sometimes question what He is asking me to do, and fear can creep in as I wonder if I have completely missed His direction. Did I completely miss the boat? Even though I’m praying and discerning, what if my whole life is on hold because I’m completely oblivious to the fix He is trying to show me? Am I in the way of His plan unfolding for me, even though I’m seeking His will?
That’s what was running through my mind as we left the chapel. Instead of taking the U-turn closest to my house, I randomly asked my mom to go down a couple more U-turns just to have a few more minutes out of the house before getting back to the grind. If you think about it, that didn’t make much sense- as if 2 more minutes in the car was going to refresh me in some way that the chapel did not! For whatever reason, I said it, and my mom said ok.
I kept talking to Jesus in the car, begging Him to show me what I am missing, what I’m supposed to be doing. I asked Him to spell it out much more clearly in case I just wasn’t getting it. I literally kept asking Him, “What do I do?” And then, 2 U-turns later, He spelled it out to me. I asked my mom to turn around because I had stuff to get done at home. As she made the turn, my jaw dropped, I laughed, and I sobbed. We pulled up directly behind an SUV with the large image of Divine Mercy on it. “Jesus, I Trust in You” was directly in my face. If we had left the chapel 5 seconds sooner or later, or if I hadn’t had this “random” draw to go down to another U-turn, I never would’ve seen this, so it certainly was not of my doing.
What was even more amazing was that the SUV made another U-turn and went in the other direction- it made no sense. The vehicle went in one direction initially, but then turned around in the other direction. It made no stop at any business or establishment in the meantime. Where this vehicle went made no sense to any human mind, but it made so much spiritual sense to me, as it brought me a message I desperately needed to see. My heart needed this.
Jesus is asking me to trust! That’s what I’m not doing enough. I’m doing the work He is asking of me, but when the results don’t match what I expect, I’ve been holding back on trust. I started laughing because only He could pull off something like this with this SUV, and I just imagined Him up in heaven orchestrating this sign when I was feeling like He was doing and saying nothing.
Jesus’ public ministry lasted just 3 years. From where I sit, 20 years of public ministry from Jesus would have accomplished more than 3 years of public ministry, but that’s not true, and it wasn’t the plan. From where I sit, I would accomplish more if I was healthy than if I was still sick, but that’s not the plan at this time. What I’m working on is trusting in the plan even when it makes no sense to me.
I’m tempted to think that nothing good can happen in the waiting- that I must “get to it” in order to get anything done in life, or even spiritually speaking. But I’m realizing that Jesus is showing me something different. Lent is about waiting, and Lent rolls around every year liturgically- it’s that important. Growth happens in the waiting, preparation happens in the waiting, understanding grows in the waiting. The waiting, while unpleasant, is not fruitless. It’s a different season- albeit a less desirable one- but a season that is so important to our spiritual growth that it rolls around every year liturgically. It allows us to empty ourselves and focus on the bigger picture, aside from the benchmarks of daily life. It rolls around in our lives too- maybe not in as extreme of a way as in my life, but I think everyone has felt that uncomfortable waiting to some degree during Covid.
If Jesus could wait- if that was in the Father’s plan for Him to wait to start His public ministry- then certainly I can wait too. If Jesus Himself wasn’t exempt from a “Lent”- from His time in the desert- than I am not exempt from that either. If the waiting and quieting, if the “Lent,” was a crucial part of Jesus’ life, then how much more important and crucial is it to me, a person with no divine nature. I shouldn’t resist it like I do. I should see value in it rather than seeing it be just time that has gone by.
Yes, God is asking me to continue to work like I do, even though I don’t like it. Yet even more than that, He is asking me to trust, which is sometimes even harder to do than the work that I’m doing. If I’m following His direction, the outcome is not up to me- it’s up to Him. When I don’t understand the outcome, He is asking me to trust, not to understand. And that is one of the things I’m working on this Lent, surely hoping I grow more in this regard by the time Easter arrives. Can I continue to execute and trust when I don’t understand? Do I only see good measure in His works when I can understand them? Can I find value in the waiting? Easier said than done, but He’s asking me to go beyond my human inclinations.
Jesus, I trust in You.
5 thoughts on “Lent: A Purpose in the Waiting”
“They also serve, those who only stand and wait” is one of my favorite rules to live by.
Beautifully written!!! In the Bible I have a favorite verse. It is Proverbs 3-5/6
Trust in God with your whole heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
Amen! I love that verse. Such wisdom.
What an experience! I don’t believe in coincidences…this was meant for you to see..at that particular moment. We all can use a lesson in trusting God completely. Thank you for sharing this. Jesus said, “…and know that I am with you always until the end of the ages.” Matthew 28:20
Amen to that!