While You Wait...
In the Fall of 2014, I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to pray a specific and uncharacteristic prayer.
Before I lay it all out, I probably need to communicate what makes the prayer uncharacteristic. First of all, you need to know that I am not a visionary. Meaning, I’m not the one dreaming big dreams of the future with pie-in-the-sky aspirations. I'm more of a doer. I’m going to be the one in the trenches working hard to make someone else’s ideas happen. Second, I am perfectly happy with that. I like “the doing” just fine.
So in the Fall of 2014, while doing life and living my normal, I was surprised to feel the Lord give me a dream. For the previous year or so, my friend Hannah and I had been leading a group of women in Bible studies of our own creation. God had been very good to teach us how to study His Word on our own, so we just began to turn our own study into tools and directives for those in our lives.
Then I heard the Spirit whisper that these studies needed a wider audience, that what we were doing for our girls could be used by Him to impact more women outside of our small circle of influence.
It was a dream I don’t think I would’ve ever dreamed on my own. I had been content in being obedient on the small scale. However, once dreamed, the calling felt real and tangible, and I began to pray.
And I didn’t see an answer or even an inkling of direction to that prayer for over six months.
If you’re anything like me, six months is a long time to wait when you’re living in the trenches of life. The days creep by, and the questions come.
I began to wonder a lot of things. Was this dream really from the Lord or something I had conjured on my own? Was there something I wasn’t doing right or maybe was doing that was wrong? Was I even worthy of the dream at all?
I learned that the waiting for a calling to become fruitful is hard. Have you been there too?
If you follow along with the story of Nehemiah, he receives a distinct call from the Lord in chapter one. He hears that the city of Jerusalem’s walls were broken down, its gates burned with fire, and it was left open to attack from enemies.
In 11 short verses in chapter one, Nehemiah hears this jarring news and immediately knows he is the man for the job. He must go to his homeland, to the land of his ancestors, God’s people, and he must lead the charge to rebuild the wall.
You would think chapter two would open on Nehemiah with tools in hand, directing a crew of builders, or at least on his way to Jerusalem. But we quickly learn it is FOUR MONTHS later before he even gets an opportunity to address his calling with his boss, the king of Persia, to get permission to go rebuild.
Four long months to wait. But instead of wondering and questioning the calling, we see Nehemiah do a couple things that are worth emulating if we find ourselves in a similar spot.
1 - While he waited, Nehemiah prayed.
“O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Nehemiah 1:11
“Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 2:4
Just like Nehemiah, our true callings come straight from God, and they usually take the form of unmanifest dreams, things we mere humans may not ever conceive of on our own. These types of callings require a depth of faith and equipping that must only come straight from God.
What a reminder that I need to be on my knees asking for wisdom, direction, opportunities to learn after I feel God’s calling in my life.
I remember doing quite a bit of that after God gave me a dream for His Bible studies. As a doer, I was ready to GO and make some stuff happen, but I knew my plans would be fruitless without His guidance.
My prayers ended up being a lot of, “Lord, FYI, I’m still here, and I’m on board! Show me what I need to grasp, what I need to focus on, and my next step.” And it was crazy how much God met me at those simple prayers, showing me more of His character and His Word. My trust level grew, and I know now my faith was being strengthened for the next step.
In all callings, I need to be getting ready to act, but first I must be become closer to the director of the calling Himself.
2 - While he waited, Nehemiah planned.
“And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” Nehemiah 2:5-8
Nehemiah’s calling was to go rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, but God didn’t give him blueprints, maps, schedules, or recruits. That was up to Nehemiah. And we can see he had some ideas ready to go when he got to speak to the king.
Similarly, when I was called, I began thinking of all the different scenarios that might play out if these studies made it past our little group of lovelies. I chatted about it with my co-leader Hannah and some other trusted friends, asking them to join me in prayer. I wrote some more, trying to hone my skills. Basically, I made some plans about what it could look like if it all came to fruition.
When we are called, we will eventually start living the calling out. But before then, God may give us sweet time to get prepared for our launch date. To get out some trial and error. To do some research. To get some affirmation from others. To plan out the best way to make it all happen.
And then when opportunity comes to fulfill our calling, we must act!
Four months after Nehemiah began praying about going to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall, he gets an opportunity to speak to the king of Persia about it all. And we see in the above verses, that the king granted Nehemiah all parts of his request.
All that was left was for him to do was to move.
Six months after I felt the nudging of the Lord towards this dream of creating studies to help women study their Bibles, an opportunity arose.
A dinner with a friend turned into a planning session as we realized God’s calling and dreams had permeated her heart and life as well. Her steps of faith into the unknown had led her to already create ReachingHer.com, which was ready to hold all the resources and studies God wanted to use us to write.
I remember driving home that night a little stunned. A typical Friday dinner among friends turns into a simple conversation which turns into a manifestation of the callings of Christ. I looked back over the six month wait, and I saw the depth of its purpose.
I felt, like Nehemiah, that “the good hand of God was on me.” (Nehemiah 2:8)
It seems like a lot of this life on this side of heaven is filled with waiting for what’s coming next. I know it can be frustrating, but it can also be gratifying if we let it.
It depends on what you do while you wait.
“The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook