Maria's story provides hope to those of us in a disappointing season of life.
A couple of years ago, I asked my roommate’s mom to share with me what she was learning in her current disappointing season of life. This is what she said:
Well, well, well...where to begin! Yes, this is an unusual and difficult "season" that I'm in, and have been for about a year and a half. The Lord released me from the counseling ministry through our church a year ago. I'd been involved in some capacity of "formal" ministry since 1980! (That's since before you were born, I'm sure.) Even through raising four children, the Lord had allowed me to be involved in "ministry," usually teaching/speaking. And then, it all stopped. At first I was excited to see what was "next." I was able to catch up on a lot of projects—that took a couple months.
Then . . . nothing, except the same everydayness of life: laundry, dishes, WalMart, and meals; walk the dog, feed the cat, count the new blooms on the geranium plant . . . you get the picture. I felt very useless, and worst of all, very alone.
But now, I can see the Lord was only "leading me through the valley of the shadow of death," death to self, death to my visions and desires, death to my timeline. And now, at last I can say it's good and I'm glad to be "here," although not one single thing has changed, except me.
First of all, I am obeying and following Him, not running ahead doing my own thing. I have lots of desires, lots of ideas, but have been learning in past years that God initiates, and we respond.
In this "waiting," I'm in the Word a lot, feeding my spirit with Truth. In Jeremiah 17:5-6, the Lord has been showing me how hard life is when lived in the flesh, as opposed to living life in the Spirit (v.7-10). Yes, I've asked the Lord's "help" and blessing in my "service/ministry" in the past, but I believe much of it has been done in the flesh with the help of the Holy Spirit, rather than "in the Spirit," led and enabled by the Spirit.
My life verse for this season is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. I am consciously, intentionally trying to live each verse throughout each day, by God's grace:
"Rejoice always." Always, and for everything . . . the loneliness, the feelings of uselessness, the opportunity to serve my husband (regardless of whether we're alike or not); for the benefits of knowing Jesus now and for eternity; rejoice that I can see, hear, smell, breathe. You get the idea.
"Pray without ceasing." Pray for the people I hear about on the news; for our nation and leaders; ministries seeking to proclaim Christ; for unnamed children on a playground or school bus; for God's grace, wisdom, courage, comfort, provision, and protection for anyone HE brings to mind; cast almost every thought up to the Father in prayer; breathe in the Word, exhale in prayer. On my knees all day??? Not a chance. Pray like breathing.
"In everything give thanks." With every step, give thanks. Thank Him that, I can walk myself into the bathroom in the middle of the night if I need to; that I can pour a cup of coffee by myself; that I’m able to wash dishes and do laundry and be available to watch grandkids in order to give my oldest daughter a break. Thank Him for the long, lonely days, and endless hours. Thank Him for being "available" to my husband, his elderly and ill mother, my children, for waiting on the Lord to lead.
One day while looking at my keys, the Lord walked me through each key and what it represented in blessings, all that I just took for granted as I grabbed the keys to "go." If I were not "waiting" on the Lord, I don't think I'd have ever given those keys a second thought, past "where are they?".
"For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Right now. Today. As is. Alone, no ministry, “no purpose in life" . . . God is in control and this is God's will for me. I am not knowingly rebelling against the Lord, nor is there any known sin in my life that I'm unwilling to deal with. This is it. Me and God, and He is enough. So, rejoice, pray, give thanks . . . This is God's will for me. Do I have desires? Yes. Do I have God-given abilities? Yes. Has God provided opportunity to use them right now? No. So, I wait on the Lord, rejoice, pray, and give thanks . . . and actually mean it now.