Hi there. It’s been a minute. Sometimes life goes from 0 to 60 in one second flat, and it’s all you can do to hold on for dear life.
Just two weeks ago, I was practically begging for a free moment to breathe, write, and recharge. Well, thanks to a global pandemic, now I have it. Be careful what you wish for.
So where were we?
Ah yes, 2020. What a year. We’re halfway through March, and you don’t need me to tell you about everything that’s already happened. In many ways, this year has been exceptionally challenging.
But 2020 is teaching me more about God’s perfect timing than the last 10 ever did. My word for this year — something I’ve never chosen before but wanted to do as we kicked off a new decade — is Listen. Listening better to others and to God and watching for the work He’s doing behind the scenes.
I’ve started paying more attention. And let me tell you, God has a lot to say.
There are a couple stories I’m longing to share; some of them are still being written. This one in particular has been sitting in my drafts for a couple months, and I believe it’s never been more relevant than right now.
I remember lying in bed one evening last August, just days after moving from my north campus condo to a house in Hyde Park. The boxes had all been unpacked, the walls were no longer bare, and it was finally beginning to feel like home.
I was on the verge of sleep when I had a thought so loud it was practically audible:
You need to move out.
Thankfully, I had the good sense to know it was God. Only God would be so direct and so clear and so dang inconvenient. I was in a different place in my faith at the time, and I was stubborn. So I answered Him with a resounding No way.
Move out?! I had just moved in! I couldn’t bear the thought of moving again. After 5 moves in 4 years, I was done. Sorry, God. Maybe next year.
But of course, I couldn’t push the thought away. You need to move out. You need to move out. You need to move out. It felt like an Abrahamic “Go” moment. But unlike Abram, I did not obey and go. The best I could do was give a conditional “yes.”
I told the Lord that I would move out if and only if:
1. He provided a place to go and
2. He gave me roommates to move with and
3. Someone took over my current room in the house.
By mid-October, the place to go and the roommates to move in with had fallen seamlessly into place, which I took as confirmation that this was actually something God had called me to do. Everything was right on track. All I had left to do was find someone to take over my room. Easy, right?
Throughout the last quarter of 2019, I desperately tried to sublet my room. I listed it in as many places as I could, and a few people even visited. But no one would commit. The weeks rolled by, and my confidence began to wane. I finally decided to table my search until after Christmas. Thankfully, the lease at my new apartment didn’t start until the end of January. I had plenty of time.
And then, on Friday, January 3, I got a call from the leasing office.
Turns out, if a lease starts within the month, leasing offices want you to sign that thing stat. They informed me I had until the following Monday to sign or they’d have to move forward without me. I still didn’t have anyone to sublease my room, and I couldn’t afford rent on two places. All of a sudden I felt very trapped and very stressed.
What gives, God? Didn’t You call me to do this?
I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I knew the Lord wanted me to move — after all, He was the one who initiated the whole thing in the first place. He’d already provided roommates and a place to go. This was the only missing piece. But I’d been looking for someone to fill my room for months; how was I going to find someone in three days?
The leasing office informed me of the deadline that Friday morning. By midday, a potential subletter messaged me on Facebook asking for more details. They visited that afternoon. By 10 p.m. that night, they committed to moving in three weeks sooner than I’d hoped.
So why didn’t I find someone months beforehand? I think there are a couple reasons:
For one thing, it was a great trust exercise. Even though I put stipulations on my initial “yes,” God still used it to grow my faith. I heard His call and decided to follow, albeit conditionally. How much more can He use a wholehearted “yes” from the beginning?
Second, it was a very tangible reminder of my dependence on Him. I exhausted all my efforts until God showed up and did what He does best: He finishes what He starts.
I couldn’t do it on my own if I tried.
The process of finding someone to take over my room felt like just a glimpse of God’s perfect timing. In reality, if no one had filled my spot in that Hyde Park house, I still would’ve had a place to live. It was a pretty low-stakes situation, one that was centered more on obedience than necessity. And yet He still showed up in His perfect timing.
Sometimes we find ourselves thinking that when God “delays” His answer, He hasn’t heard our prayers — or worse, He’s ignoring them. But I’m learning that the pauses are purposeful, every single time. The patience, dependence, trust, and intimacy that develop with the Lord as we wait are invaluable. Even if we are confident something’s on its way, it may not be immediate by design.
While my housing search is a small and even trivial example, this principle has been a great comfort to me over the past couple days. Right now it feels like the entire world is on pause. Everything is cancelled, so much is uncertain, and it can be easy to view this time through the lens of panic, fear, confusion and isolation. But as we wait for answers, I believe we can find purpose in the pause.
For me, that looks like taking this time as an opportunity for some much-needed rest. It may look different for you. But I encourage you to identify the purpose and lean in.
In the midst of a global pandemic, we can choose to trust that God is working. We should absolutely exercise wisdom (hand washing, social distancing, etc.), but this is an unprecedented moment for the Church to rise up and exhibit love, peace, and unwavering faith in spite of chaos.
Where can you find purpose in this pause?
A Benediction for Uncertainty
May all your fears be covered in peace.
May all your anxieties be calmed.
May insecurity be doused in provision.
May your health be completely restored.
May this virus be totally eradicated.
May you find the purpose in your pause.
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.