I realized today that God is not holding anything back from me. So often, I have conceived of my life with God as being a series of steps and long waits in between. The Holy Spirit would show me the next step I was to take, I would (ideally) take it, and then I would wait for the next step. Sometimes the wait would be very long. In these times, I have tended to think that God is training me, disciplining me, teaching me to wait.
In a sense this is true. Over the years, I have gotten more accustomed to this rhythm of stepping and waiting, trusting in God to provide the next step when the time is right. This path has been a training in trust, learning that God is reliable and will give me the guidance I need when I need it, as well as the spiritual sustenance that I need to survive in an often-dark world.
Yet, there has been a shadow side to this model through which I have understood my relationship with God. Often, I think I imagined that the Lord already knew what the next step was going to be, but that he simply held it back from me. I think I imagined God as a parent who forbid me to open my Christmas presents before Christmas morning. I wanted to open my presents, but my Father would not let me!
I do not believe that this is an accurate representation of God’s relationship with us. I do not believe that God holds back anything beneficial from us. If there is a next step that is ripe, I believe God reveals it to us. Why wouldn’t God? God loves us and wants us to experience the abundant life that his son came to reveal. When I experience times of darkness and uncertainty, when God seems to give no answer to my prayers, I do not believe that God is holding out on me, giving me the silent treatment. When I wait on God for guidance and nothing seems to emerge, I think it is because God is waiting, too.
Because we live in history, the path that Christ leads us in is contingent on the decisions of others. God responds to the choices of humanity, and the next step forward may depend upon how or whether humanity takes the step that is presently before us. Furthermore, the next step for me may be contingent on the decisions of other people. My service to God is in the context of community, and my work will look different depending on the condition of those around me.
If all of this is getting too philosophical, forget it.
To put this all far more simply: I love God. I believe that God does everything to bless and strengthen the creation. I am increasingly convicted that my failure to understand or appreciate how God operates is not a sign of God’s failure to treat me right. Instead, it is my failure to see that God has already given me everything that I need for the present moment. I pray for God to teach me greater patience. Remake me, Lord. Create in me a willingness to wait as long as it takes in order to be faithful to you and those whom you love.