Pillars and pauses

It is all start/stop here in the United Kingdom at the moment.

The government, in an effort to curb Covid, is trying all sorts of mini local lockdowns and soon another full-blown shut down is inevitable. It is a strange way to live. Just when you adjust to the ‘new normal’, the restrictions shift again and there are new perimeters to live within. The hopeful days of summer seem a long time ago now as freedoms that had been returned to us are now at risk.

The children of Israel knew all about starting and stopping.

When God led the people out of Egypt, He did so with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If the pillars moved, Israel moved; if they stopped, so did the people.

Imagine the relief God’s people felt as they left Egyptian slavery behind them and imagine the excitement they felt for their destination, a land flowing with milk and honey. Little did they know of the long, arduous journey ahead.

But, as hard as it was to walk those miles over hot desert sand, I think waiting to move was probably harder.

Certainly that has been true for me.

Obeying God can be very hard but waiting for Him to move can be excruciating.

But waiting is always an essential part of faith. Otherwise it wouldn’t say in Hebrews 6.12 that it is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises of God.

There are always moments between the trailhead and the summit when all momentum is lost, when its too far to turn back but still so far to go, when your faith-legs are tired and your enthusiasm has gone AWOL.

But the God who made us isn’t worried one little bit. He knows the value of a Divine interruption. He knows there is a sweet spot between every promise and it’s fulfilment. It is in this space, despite the frustration, that He does His best work, refining our souls like gold.

What is life like for you right now? Is it two steps forward and three back? Have exciting plans ground to a halt? Has ministry gone on hold? Have prayers remained unanswered? Have you lost your way in the waiting?

Well, as Mark Twain would say, ‘There’s gold in them thar hills.’

These times of waiting are rich veins of God’s goodness. If we mine them, they are abundant in a way that busy, doing times can never be. What we lose in forward motion we gain in the character of Jesus formed in us.

You see, God is far less worried about a loss of momentum than we are. That is because His Spirit doesn’t need momentum to work, He only needs a moment.

One day that cloud is going to move and you will be off and running again and you will be glad you didn’t waste the waiting because it will have produced something of great eternal value in your soul that cannot be produced in any other way.

And when the work starts again you will have renewed strength and wings like an eagle. You will run and not get tired, walk and not faint.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40.31

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