In a Holding Pattern

Just waitingAnyone who travels by air frequently has no doubt experienced the dreaded runway “holding pattern.” I personally know at times, I can experience a wee bit of anxiety as a plane is held up while awaiting clearance for take-off. The first few minutes are not too bad, but then the patience begins to wear thin and the excitement to “get on with it,” can be overpowering. This I understand is especially true of the “Type A, go, go, go” person, or so I have heard. I myself, as most of you know, tend to be more low-keyed. Yeah, right.

During one of our recent trips, when we were flying out of DIA, there was an extraordinary amount of traffic on the runways. So, we were delayed from take-off for a longer than normal period of time. I was fine for a while. I just sat there looking out the window at the cloudless sky (a blessing for any travel coward), and holding my guy’s hand. As the minutes ticked by, I began to squirm in my seat, stretch my neck, thump my Mickey Mouse watch to see if indeed time was still moving and mentally ask, “Are we there yet?” It was not a pleasant experience for a person who typically feels like being and doing are interchangeable terms.

When we finally took off and started our long-awaited trip, I relaxed a little and sort of repented inwardly of my tendency to always need to be moving. Then, God and I began a little chat. I tried to blame Him for making me this way because after all He is the potter and I am only the clay (out of context you say?). Once in the air and supplied with my complimentary soda, I took a different line of reasoning altogether. Instead of being defensive about this character trait, I thought it a good idea to see if I could learn anything from the situation in general.

I realized that sometimes in my spiritual life I am called to sit and await God’s instructions. How tough is this when I have been taught I should be going and doing at all times for the family, the home, the job or even (gulp) a church? What makes the waiting and sometimes inactivity worse, is when I buy into the teaching that the only way I can truly live a life of faith is to avoid being considered a slacker because others cannot see a demonstration of my mission or ministry efforts. The message seemed very clear. I need to always be doing something or looking like I am doing something. Perhaps I needed to revisit this particular philosophy. After careful examination over the last few months, I have come to reject this teaching and here is why.

My life has stages. Sometimes I am called to be knee-deep in ministry and sometimes I am called to sit calmly and let God call the shots, direct and/or redirect me and be, well… God. Sometimes I am jetting down the runway on a destination and sometimes I am held up and awaiting instructions prior to proceeding.

At this point in my life, in several areas, I am on the runway, awaiting the okay from the tower to proceed in the direction that I believe has been designed for me as mission. There certainly are other voices weighing in and trying to help me define and “get on with it.” But I now see it is okay to tune out the agendas of others and just sit and wait for the only clearance that matters.

There is much to do all around me. There is a hungry, hurting, homeless, ill, lost, frightened world that needs help on many levels. And with all the needs facing me, I often get overwhelmed and feel guilty that I am not doing enough or am not measuring up to what others consider enough. What sitting on an airplane for a long period of time taught me is that those in charge of air safety and traffic see a picture bigger than what I see outside my little porthole window. Proceeding without clear definition and direction, just to be moving and keep others happy, can be unproductive and downright dangerous.

I am beginning to understand that although hands-on work is a part of my faith and is very important, sometimes the bigger demonstration of my faith is being comfortable in waiting for the voice that tells me when it is okay to take off. Today as I write this I am waiting for the voice, the direction and the clearance to take flight once again in a ministry I am passionate about (albeit perhaps in a different direction). And friends, I am telling you that it is okay and in fact I believe endorsed by our Lord, to just sit, rest and wait on His instructions, even in this pressure-cooker world that demands activity and results. As I write this blog message, I cannot tell you how richly blessed I feel by allowing my “go-go” mind to take a back seat to my “wait and listen” soul, as together they sit on the runway, awaiting clearance, in the holding pattern.

Copyright June 2012
llpadgett
Lakewood, CO 80401

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