Thursday, January 17, 2013

Waiting and Preparation

We have just come through Advent, a season of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Soon we will be in the season of Lent, the season of preparation for Easter. Waiting and preparation permeate not only the Christian calendar, but also our lives.

Biblical examples of waiting can encourage us in our own waiting.
  • Abraham and Sarah waited until he was 99 years old for the son God promised them.
  • The Israelites waited forty years to enter the Promised Land.
  • Elizabeth and Zechariah waited years to have a son.

These are just a few examples. I am sure you can think of more.

Waiting is not always a welcome activity. However, waiting provides time for preparation. Waiting changes us.

Early in 2005, I began to be restless. I had worked hard to build an accounting practice. I had amazing employees and loyal clients. Our firm had achieved local and statewide recognition, earning numerous awards. Life was good. But after returning from a mission trip to New Orleans four months after Hurricane Katrina, I was berated by an angry client because I had been out of the office after Christmas and was unavailable to meet with him for year-end tax planning. Having just spent a week working with a family that lost all their material possessions and yet witnessed to our team because of their faith and peace, I was stunned at the reaction of this man who blamed me for the predicament caused by his own procrastination. I began to ask myself, “Is this how I am to serve God?” After months of prayer and listening and waiting, I sold my accounting practice, thinking that I would focus on helping small business owners develop practices to run their businesses more effectively and thus improve their emotional well-being.

I learned that God’s ways are different than my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). My plans were stymied, and instead, I was given the gift of Sabbath (although at the time it didn’t feel like a gift). Out of that Sabbath, a book was born, and doors opened for me to share God’s work in me with a wider audience. Instead of speaking to business audiences about time management and business development, I was sharing about God and God’s living word.
I sensed God calling me to a ministry of spiritual direction, to walk with others through their questions and experiences of God. Participating in the 2-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation and the Spiritual Direction program at Perkins School of Theology, I have experienced the affirmation of that call. During this time of preparation and waiting, I put my accounting skills to work for a nonprofit organization. The stability of a regular income allowed me to pay for my studies and the flexibility of my work schedule allowed me to continue writing and presenting programs for various groups.
But during Advent, I realized it was time to devote myself fully to this call of God on my life. I’ve left my job, fully committed to the path God has placed in front of me. The waiting is over and I am beginning a new chapter in my journey of discipleship. Thanks be to God!

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