For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. – Psalm 27:14a
I don’t know about you, but I love a good mystery. There is just something so intriguing and wonderful that happens as you follow all of the twists and turns and unexpected surprises around every corner. If you are a fan of the BBC series Sherlock, you know what I mean! Benedict Cumberbatch is masterful in his portrayal of Sherlock–painstaking in his sleuthing, artful in his delivery, and filling every line with snark and wit. Sometimes I feel bad for poor Watson! He picks up a few clues here and there, but it takes the mastermind, Sherlock, to fully reveal how each of the pieces and clues fit intricately together to solve the whole mystery. But that is the key: to fully enjoy a good mystery one must start at the beginning and stick with it until all is revealed.
Sometimes, however, I watch a mystery drama and get tempted to fast forward to the end. Do you ever think that the storyline gets painfully slow and imagine what you would do if you were the director? “If I directed this episode, I would fast forward the action, leave out those random conversations with the stranger on the platform and jump straight to the important bits!” It is certainly tempting at times to fast forward through the dull or seemingly unimportant parts. However, we must remember that each and every detail is excruciatingly important to the solving of the whole picture–hidden symbols, chance encounters at the pub or café, conversations with strangers in line at the grocery store.
In our own lives, we are often tempted to become impatient with the minutia of everyday life. If we could only direct our own lives, we would fast forward to the action–to the exciting, flashy moments! Graduation with honors, honeymooning on the beach, a white picket fence with 2.5 kids and a dog, recognition and respect for how much we have achieved and accomplished in our careers. We forget that the ordinary details of our daily lives are incredibly important, that every interaction we have with others forms part of the greater picture. We are God’s handiwork on display to those in our dorm, in our classroom, in our neighborhoods. He is using those experiences to form us into the person he has called us to be, for the good works he has prepared in advance for us to do.
Throughout the Bible we see many examples of great men and women who waited courageously on God to bring about what He had called them to do. God’s promises seemed to be delayed and in the meantime, each person went through many unexpected twists and turns!
- Abraham was promised that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars, and then waited more than 20 years for Isaac, the fulfillment of that promise.
- Moses was called to lead God’s people out of Egypt, and then faced an angry Pharaoh, 10 plagues, a trek through the desert and the parting of the Red Sea before seeing deliverance.
- David was anointed and called to be king and then spent more than a decade tending sheep in the pasture, faced Goliath, and was chased by Saul in fear of his life before becoming king.
- Ruth faithfully followed Naomi to a land and a people, worshipping a God unknown to her fathers. She became the mother of Obed (the father of Jesse, the father of David), from which the Lion of Judah would come to redeem the world from their sins.
- Jesus was despised and rejected by men, but for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising its shame. And now he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding on our behalf, and will return in glory one day.
As you look to the future and to unknown challenges in your own life, remember to wait for the Lord and be strong in the power of his might. When you are tempted to rush the process and wish you were already ________ (done with the semester, graduated, tenured, married, having children, well respected), remember that God has called and is calling us to something beyond ourselves, something that is a part of his greater purpose. This waiting time might be God’s advance preparation for what he is calling us to do!
So let your heart take courage, wait upon the Lord. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. The rest, as they say, will become elementary.
Questions and Action Item
How are your current experiences shaping and preparing you for the future? In what ways can you encourage one another to see the hand of God at work in ordinary and everyday occurrences?
Share with your Bible study an experience that you have had where God used an ordinary or an unexpected experience to prepare you for a future calling.
Father God, please remind us that we are your handiwork. Remind us that each and every circumstance in our lives is being used by you to shape us into the person that you are calling us to be. Help us to have the courage to wait on you as you are calling us to the good works prepared in advance for us to do.
About the author:
Kelly Seaton lives in Durham, North Carolina (go Duke!), where she is an HIV vaccine researcher. She is a graduate of Messiah College and Penn State University-Hershey. Her cross-cultural experience includes studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, as well as traveling to Haiti and South Africa. She loves the movies Emma and The Shawshank Redemption. Outside of work, she loves hanging with friends, playing volleyball, and any and all outdoors. Her post Finding a Postdoc in the Sciences: Nailing the Interview is the most visited ESN blog post.