By Greg Stokley / @GregStokley
So as I’m writing this, I am waiting on a very important phone call.
Most of us know what anticipation feels like. The excitement of potentially receiving the very thing you have waited for, paired simultaneously with the dread that the very same thing will never come, snatched away from you before you could even get your hands on it.
This is what I feel like right now. But if I’m honest, I have felt this way for a very long time.
I’m a writer, teacher, and preacher. My calling in life is to preach the gospel and pastor the people of God. I have wanted nothing more than to move into that part of my life. I have been called to the ministry since I was fourteen years old. Eleven years have passed. Want to know where I am now?
I work in a shipyard and I live with my parents. Most people see this delay as a type of failure, constantly asking me “Are you sure you’re gonna do that? Maybe you just need to try something else”. I have asked the same exact questions myself. Yet every day, I fight that backward ideal. While I’m sick of waiting, and while I am doing everything in my power to do what I can to make this wait go by, all I can do is just that.
I hate that word.
Yet I often find solace in the Psalms. David knew a lot about waiting. Psalm 27:14 tells us to wait for the Lord and be strong. We are told this again in Psalm 31:24 to wait and be strengthened. Most of all, when I find myself trying desperately to take matters into my own hands, I am reminded of Psalm 46:10.
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
For someone who is as energetic and antsy as I am, this is a hard word to hear. However, I know that in the times of waiting when we’re ready to go and the times of being still when we very much want to move on, God is working things out on our behalf. We don’t see it, but He’s working to bring about the very things He has promised us in His word. Patience is a virtue, but a very hard one to hold to. I know that most people feel like, when it comes to their faith, it’s nothing but a game of hurry up and wait.
But remember those who went before us who had to wait and do things OTHER than what they were destined to do. Jacob worked for the promise of Rachel for fourteen years. Moses was forty and tending sheep in the middle of nowhere before he came forward as the deliverer of Israel. And if you need another reminder, Joseph waited thirteen years before he held power in Egypt, Abraham waited for the promise of Isaac for twenty-five, and Jesus was thirty before he performed the miracle at Cana.
The truth of the matter is, we can’t have everything right when we think we’re ready for it. This is probably because our readiness doesn’t look like God’s. I read a quote once that put it like this:
“There is nothing more dangerous than for a man to succeed before he is ready.”
We must remember that God’s timing is perfect and, though we have His will and purpose in mind, our desire to serve is imperfect. Just because we have been waiting a while doesn’t mean we missed it. It may very well mean that if we receive the very thing we want right when we want it, it will be harmful to us because we are not truly ready to handle it. We greatly run the risk of biting off more than we can chew.
So while I am waiting for a phone call that may propel me into full-time ministry, I hear one simple phrase going round and round in my head.
Patience is not failure.
Greg Stokley is a ginger from southern Alabama. He loves reading, writing, but not arithmetic. He serves in youth, college, teaching, and preaching ministries. An amateur theologian, he's not afraid to point out bad doctrine, with love of course. He also writes at his own blog, To Be Prophets and Priests. You can contact Greg on Twitter at @gregstokley or at his email firstname.lastname@example.org.