Holding Patterns

IMG_0712  Holding patterns. Aren’t they great? Nearly everyone us has been in one if we’ve traveled by air more than once in our lives. Have you ever seen people disembark from the plane after they’ve been in a holding pattern? Aren’t they all like, “Wow, that was such a great time up there-we were getting ready to land, but then the pilot came on the loudspeaker and told us that we were going to have to stay up in the air for about half an hour or maybe more, while they figured out something on the ground. I loved it….I mean it was so nice to think we were about to land only to find out we were going to have to stay up in the air for an undetermined amount of time.”, said NO ONE.  EVURRRR.

 

Face it, holding patterns are just plain hard. Like when we’re about three miles back in a ten mile back up on the freeway: we don’t know why we’re stuck sucking in the fumes from the ten thousand other cars stopped with us, we don’t know when it’s going to let up, if ever, and all that makes us nervous. We fret over missed appointments, we silently (or not so silently) scold ourselves for having that last cup of coffee before we got in our vehicles, and we worry about our fates.  Sometimes we even get……angry. Perish the thought!

But the Bible has something to say about holding patterns; specifically that you can be renewed and that you can actually GAIN strength while being in one, IF you’re waiting on the Lord. Whaaaaat? That’s just crazy talk. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Furthermore, you’ll end up soaring like an eagle, you’ll have crazy good stamina (staying power) and you won’t get tired. (Like 5 Hour Energy only better) Isaiah 40: 31 (ESV) but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  My knee-jerk reaction is often, if I’m being honest and not trying to wow you with my deep spirituality, is “Ya, right buddy. I’ll get right on that”. And yet David, in the book of Psalms says in 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” That means experience God. Dive in, TASTE the life, get into what God says. Test Him, surround yourself with what HE says. God wants us to see that He is true to His word, He will NOT let us down.

Not only do holding patterns feel uncomfortable to us, they can be deceiving to outsiders. Maybe nothing’s going on with your career right now, but you know that God has been telling you to just hang tight, He’s got something coming up for you, but to others who only know you casually, or to those who haven’t bothered to get to the know the real you it may look like you’re just “phoning it in” and not really living up to your potential. In our case right now, my husband and I have assumed leadership of my dad’s faith based non-profit ministry that he left for me to run after he died. I’ve been on the board of the directors since its inception thirty years ago, we’ve been involved in a variety of decisions and missions over the years, I’m intimately aware of my dad’s convictions regarding the direction of the ministry and he told me he wanted me to run it and grow it after he was gone. The timing of him leaving this earth still seems incredibly unreal on most levels and still leaves me breathless and dizzy on most days if I’m honest (grief is a giant gnarly monster that must be dealt with every single day and you don’t get to choose the time or the place, but that’s for a different post), but I am doing exactly what he wanted and what he spelled out for me. And yet on some very real levels there are some holding patterns going on as we take care of some necessary legal and administrative details. To people in my extended family (I’m an only child, so extended family is all I have, or had, as is now the case) it looks as if we’re doing absolutely nothing with it at all. Much to my shock, most of my family has taken a mind-boggling adversarial role in my life and are actively hating on me. The death of my father, who meant far more to me than any blog post can ever do justice to, is one thing. Losing the relationships I had with 99% of my cousins has been nearly as painful and incredibly confusing. I cherish the two or three people who are still on speaking terms with me.

But through all this God has been incredibly good. During this “holding pattern”, when it looks to the world like we’re not doing a darn good thing (or anything at all) with this ministry, we’re seeing deliverance. We’re seeing recovery from addictions.  We’re getting work done on a building project (even if people can’t see it from the outside as they drive down the street). We are being faithful in the little things. We are seeking God in ALL things. The Lord has protected us from someone trying to steal the organization out from under us.

It’s actually been “good”. We are tasting God everyday and He’s coming up true and steadfast, just like He says. I truly believe when the circumstances of life are the most painful, that’s when God shows up with boat loads of mercy and grace. And miracles. Like the not-so-small miracle of being able to survive and thrive painful rejections.  God’s got this and He’s bigger than all of life’s hurts combined.

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