Are you in a busy season of life? Summer, the holidays, homeschooling, life with little ones; though they are full of joy, these can all be busy, hard seasons. Perhaps you’re waiting on God… waiting for healing, answers to prayer, or for an easier season. Maybe, like me, you’re looking for peace in the pauses.
Our lives have been so busy lately. In April and May we kept very busy finishing up our homeschooling before the summer break, and we spent every possible evening and weekend working on the chicken coop. It turned into a much bigger (and more expensive) project than I had anticipated, but I’m so pleased with the way it turned out! I promise I will post more on that very soon. We also had a family wedding at the beginning of June in which every member of our family took part. It was so fun and special, but it took a lot of our time and energy too. And to top all that off, I have two doula clients due this week!!
I usually try not to have so much busyness in our lives; mostly because I have an introverted personality that is easily overwhelmed by a lot of “doing”, but also because I think it’s important to build space to breathe in our lives. A quote I read years ago has really stuck with me: “God created us to be human BEings, not human DOings”. I believe that it’s only in the pauses that we can truly hear His voice, and that’s what I want to write about today.
Pauses in Our Lives
The pauses. Have you noticed them in your own life? The times when we are in between tasks, but perhaps more noticeably, in between stages. My family has been in our own kind of pause for three long years. Month after month we have waited for answers that don’t seem to be coming. It has been a long, often painful time, in which life seems to be both suspended and rushing forward. In addition to this slow heartache we’re nursing, I would also really love to have my own acreage. Urban homesteading is not what I actually want to be doing – I want land! Space! Privacy! Maybe you can relate? But God has been clear that it’s not time for either of those dreams to be fulfilled for me yet. I am in the midst of a Pause.
Long Pauses in the Bible
I’m thankful that God in His infinite wisdom has offered us so many examples of pauses in the Bible. Sometimes they’re hard to see because it’s written as one long narrative, or maybe we see them but don’t feel the weight of them.
Take David, Joseph, and Abraham and Sarah as just a few examples. David was anointed as the next king when he was just a teenager, but he had to wait years – and even fight for his life in those years – before this promise became reality for him. Joseph had a very long and no doubt difficult pause as he waited years in a prison cell, probably wondering if God saw him at all. Abraham and Sarah we are very familiar with; after waiting a decade for God to fulfill His promise to them, they decided they needed to help Him out a little – with disastrous consequences. Then they had yet another long wait ahead of them before their deepest desires were truly fulfilled.
In our Bibles these pauses amount to a few verses or maybe a few chapters at best; we just have to keep reading to see how the story turned out. But for the people who lived them – the people desperately trying to follow God’s will, but who did not have the ability to see the end result like we do – these were long, hard periods of waiting and learning to trust God.
Short Pauses in the Bible
There are other pauses we often miss in the Bible, shorter ones – pauses not marked by years but by moments, when I can imagine the writer lifting their pen, taking a deep breath, and pausing before moving on from their last thought. Many are found in the book of Psalms, as David and other writers struggle to see God’s goodness despite their less than ideal circumstances. Some are pauses of joy and praise, others are pauses full of questions and tears. They can be found in the advice written in Proverbs, and in Jesus’ words on the cross. And of course, God gave us the example of pausing each week, of taking a Sabbath day of rest. The Bible is full of pauses, we just have to look for them.
The Biggest Pause of All
The pause with the biggest impact on me, however, can be found in these verses:
“He [Jesus] told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” ~Matthew 26:38-39, NLT
Did you hear it? The most heartbreaking pause in the Gospel? Jesus is begging here. He is desperate, knowing the agony ahead of Him. His face is literally on the ground and He’s crying tears of blood. If you have never had your soul crushed with grief to the point of death, you may not understand. I have been there. A couple years ago, after yet another miscarriage, this is exactly how I felt. As I poured my heart and tears out to God, this verse came to my mind, and I finally understood the heartbreak Jesus experienced. I finally saw the pause.
“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me!
Yet I want YOUR will to be done, not mine.” [emphasis added]
How long was that pause? Seconds? Minutes? An hour or more? It was long enough for the disciples to get bored and fall asleep. I fully believe that no one, not even Jesus, casually and immediately sets aside what they’re asking God for when they are crushed to the point of death. Jesus is begging His Abba for a way out, an answer… a reprieve. As He sat there in the pause, waiting, I believe a stillness came over Him, and a peace that passes understanding entered His soul.
Because you see, the pauses? Those are the moments of surrender.
Those are the spaces where our human souls recognize the sovereignty of an awesome God. That’s where His will has a chance to slip in quietly, to settle in our hearts and become OUR will. But this can only happen if what we want more than what we’re asking for is to surrender our desires to God, trusting that He knows and wants what is best for us. This is how we find peace in the pauses.
Waiting on God’s Plan
The Gospel of Mark phrases Jesus’ words this way: “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” ~Mark 14:36a, NIV
Have you ever felt the weight of that statement? “God, you can do anything. Why won’t you do this for me?” Of course in Jesus’ case we know the answer to that. God did not take the cup of suffering away from him, because God had a better plan. God had the best plan.
We can be sure that God has the best plan for us, too. If you’re waiting for something, for an answer or a blessing that has not come yet, then I can promise you that it’s because God has a better plan in mind for you. Someday we will see the big picture and understand, and we will be in awe of God and all His goodness toward us in making us wait for just the right moment.
So, in this pause of life, I’m trying to be grateful. I’m trying to put my hands to the work in front of me, and my heart to the people around me. Some days this comes easy, and on other days it is much more difficult. I’ve been reading a lot on waiting lately, and oddly enough I’ve taken comfort in Bible stories about those who struggled with heartache – about Hannah, who wept with bitterness before the Lord; about Elijah, who begged for death; and about Jeremiah, who lamented the sin of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem. We know the end of their stories. We know it all works out eventually. The truth is though, we know how our stories will end, too. Whether or not we find answers for our questions, we know God is for us. We know that one day He will have the final victory.
We can have peace in the pauses.