Have you ever felt God calling you to something? How did you react? You could do one of two things: with good intentions, you could try everything in your power to fulfill the calling … or you could wait for God to give you specific directions. There is wisdom in taking steps of action, and there is wisdom in waiting on God to tell you where to walk. It’s all about finding the balance between the two. Think of waiting as controlled preparation, like getting ready to have a baby.
Moms-to-be don’t visit every pediatrician in their area several times a week or buy all the diapers on Amazon. Nor do they just sit at home waiting for the day of delivery. They take deliberate steps for months in anticipation of the big day. Mommas may change their diets to nourish their little ones and ask other mothers for wisdom. They definitely visit the doctor as necessary, buy maternity clothes, and pray (a lot!). As the due date for my firstborn crept closer and closer, my anxiety grew more and more. I organized and reorganized the nursery, drove the route to the hospital, and read What to Expect When You’re Expecting until the cover was permanently folded over.
The same is true for God’s timing and our preparation. Our job is to not run ahead of Him or lag behind. We should take natural, commonsense steps that are in line with His Word so we will be ready when He delivers our heart’s desire. As we step out in faith, He will show us the way by either opening doors or closing them. Sometimes that will require we do a new thing, and sometimes it means doing what we already know to do.
A friend of mine wanted to write a book for ten years. Every time she got serious about starting the project, something deterred her: her family moved, she started a new job, she had another baby. God continued to close doors on her. A decade after He called her to write that book, she finally did. My friend realized the move, job, and baby each held lessons that ended up playing integral parts in her message. As she waited in her pasture—tending her sheep—God was getting her ready to share His heart in her book.
Waiting in the pasture and tending sheep are difficult when we feel God has called us to something different. Many of us Jesus girls are doers, created with a nature to fix, nurture, and make things happen. Therefore, we don’t easily accept an assignment to hang out in our pastures and do the same old things when new things need to be done. And some of us Jesus girls are more cautious, created with timid hearts that seek confirmation.
Before we get discouraged or passive about hanging out on the hilly slopes of what we know, let’s revisit James 1:2: “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let [a test or challenge] do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (THE MESSAGE).
David was approximately ten years old when he was anointed king. He was not old enough or experienced enough to be king. Simply put, he wasn’t ready for the throne. However, his time as a shepherd had prepared him to be king.
Like David’s, our pasture experience will mature and develop us for the next season of life. Lingering in our field will teach us the trustworthiness of God and the vastness of His ways. If David had rushed to the palace, his kingship would have advanced quite differently. Yet if he hadn’t taken the steps to get to the palace, he may never have been crowned. Who knows—we might never have been blessed by his poetic artistry of the psalms. Regardless if we like it, it is necessary for Jesus’s followers to embrace the pasture and tend to our sheep, as well as be willing to take a few steps toward leaving our current pasture.
“My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials,”
James 1:2 NET
“Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,”
Romans 5:3 NET
“We wait for the LORD; he is our deliverer and shield. For our hearts rejoice in him, for we trust in his holy name. May we experience your faithfulness, O LORD, for we wait for you.”
Psalms 33:20-22 NET