When I was called into full-time ministry I was given a gift. I had a growing heart for ministry, though I hadn’t acknowledged that yet. I was just happily busy serving at my church while living my life with a job, a cute house I was renting, and a steady beau. (Ah…the simple days, the favorite days of my life.) Just before I turned 20 I was at a retreat and during a prayer time I received a specific vision which was the call on my life. I remember it well—still. It messed up my soul and three months later I left my simple life and started my college education going to the college the vision directed me to go to. It was that specific.
This is why I consider it a gift. The specifics of this vision has kept me directed and moving fiercely forward. Especially when I had college professors tell me that I was not called into full-time ministry. Especially when I lost love relationships because of this call. Especially when “men in the church” disparaged me. This vision was so real that it has kept me in the ministry now nearly 40 years.
I followed the steps and was not surprised at all in the direction these steps took me. I had basically seen it in that vision. I finished every one of the steps, but one, by the time I turned 30. Which led to a life crisis for me. I was 30…now what am I to do with my life?!!! What is my next step?!!! I kid not about this life crisis. At age 30. You do have permission to laugh at me. This became a wrestling season in my life. I needed steps. What I got was “continue on, it is good.” And there still was this one last step.
Twenty-four years later of continuing on and I still have this one last step which I have not yet see come into fruition. Not without trying. I believe I have faithfully “knocked on all the doors” possible to help this come into being. I believe I have kept myself ready. I believe I have kept myself worthy. I believe I have done all that is within my power to see this to the end. Yet nothing.
I won’t even share here what it is because I don’t want to be embarrassed if it never happens. Though I believe it will. Everything else in that vision happened exactly the way I saw it. So why not this?! So when?!!!
This one struggle has been the one struggle that rocks my husband John’s faith. He’s my husband of over 20 years who has a faith just 2 years older than that. He’s walked with me through all of our kids’ struggles and has been bravely wise and held me together. He’s had his own life crises and walked through those like he’s walking in a field of flowers with occasional obstacles to punch down or just walk around (though he prefers to punch them down). Yet this one rocks his faith. He wants to “fix” this for me so badly. Of course he does. But like me, he’s done all that he can do in his own power to fix this and still nothing.
It’s been 24 years of disappointment with God. Yet I bravely walk forward—while acknowledging the disappointment. There have been many fists-in-the-air prayers over the years.
I can do this because I trust the Promiser. Even still.
In every relationship there are occasional (or not so occasional) gaps or lapses. There are gaps between promises and performance. There are gaps between expected behavior and actual behavior. The problem comes in what do we do with those gaps.
Our brains innately fill those gaps in with something. We can’t help ourselves, it is how the brain works. In filling those gaps we have two directions we could go in: trust or suspicion. You either believe the best or suspect the worst. It always goes to each extreme, never something reasonable in the middle.
It is this gap that I’ve named holy tension. On each side of that gap there are certainties. Life is the way it is “supposed to be.” Then life hands us these moments and nothing seems certain any more. Literally nothing seems certain any more. This is so uncomfortable. To get out of the discomfort and back to certainty, we do something to fill in that gap, like choosing trust or suspicion. The hard truth is it is best to just sit in that gap for a season. What we more often tend to do is scramble to fill that discomfort.
It is easier to sit in that gap for a season when you trust the Promiser.
Even if it is for 24 years. Yes, I am disappointed in God’s handling of this. I could easily use this true disappointment in God to be full of suspicion—increase my doubts about Him or increase my doubts about me (maybe I should strive more…maybe there is a hidden sin…maybe I remember the vision wrongly…maybe I’m stupid to be waiting this long…). I see how much easier it is for me to trash me than for me to disparage God. Maybe this is you too? Maybe you would rather disparage God? I know I have trashed myself enough already. I know that is my tendency. Which means I must choose trust. I must choose trust that God still remembers me in this and will see it come to fruition. The option of suspicion is not an option for me. It is not a brave option.
So I turn to the Bible and tell myself this: Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Of course this verse—still. I was given this verse from a wise woman in my church when I was wrestling with this vision way back then. This exact verse. The truth of it lit me up inside back then. And it does now. I choose to trust the Promiser. I don’t understand much but I’ve got a faith of over 40 years to fill in this gap with trust.
This is the brave option.