I often find the time frames for events in Scripture to be absurd. I complain about the 2-3 years it took to get to Papua New Guinea only to realize that it was years between Moses leaving Egypt before being able to return again to be a part of freeing Israel. And when God did miraculously rescue them, they had 40 years of lesson learning while wandering in the dessert. If I had been Moses, I would have pitched a fit. If I can’t handle waiting for a coat of paint to dry before applying the next, I just know I would have failed wandering in the dessert with a mass of whining people.
I am impatient. I like to start something and be done with it as quickly as possible. None of this waiting for paint to dry nonesense (I am pretty sure you could find some of my art projects under “Pinterest fails”). I am finding, however, that God has a very different view on time. He doesn’t rush me from one task to the next. He gives me spaces of time for different reasons. He is at work and really doesn’t care how much or little time it takes. I think if I took a step back to get an eternal perspective, I would realize that God is doing so much more than just the task I am focused on finishing.
Our goal since moving here has been to become proficient enough in language and culture in order to begin our jobs. In the spirit of completing a task and the impatience that often drives me, this space of time between arriving in country and beginning official ministry jobs has, at times, felt like waiting for paint to dry. I forget that this space is equally important to any other task. Following Jesus is everyday and moment by moment. It is in these “paint drying” spaces that God often is able to accomplish more in my heart and life than when I am neck deep in official ministry. And this space must be honored if I don’t want to miss out on what God is doing.
I must wait for the paint to dry.
As I reflect on this time of language learning, I realize that it has been filled with opportunities for relationship building. Brian and I have had space to get to know our citizen neighbors and co-workers and it has been AMAZING! This lays ground work for relationships for the years to come and it would be foolish of me to squander this time in my impatience.
I must remember that no matter what the day may hold, my work begins everyday when I open my eyes and decide again to follow Jesus. My days are numbered and I don’t know how many I have left. Even in the seemingly small and mundane events of each day there is an eternal importance and weight. Whether washing dishes, flying, being a mom, translating the Bible, working at a desk, trecking through jungles or honoring my marriage – at the end of the day it is not about WHAT I accomplished, but WHO I was seeking to serve and honor in the midst of those tasks.
So, as I find myself in this time, I am reminded that my work, our work, has already begun. I am reminded that this space is just as sacred as any other space; past or present. And so, I move forward praying that I will honor the space in which I find myself so that I not miss out on what God is accomplishing. I pray that I become someone who appreciates and values the “paint drying time”. Because while it may seem like something to just “get over” it is instrinsicly important to the process. God is always at work, but sometimes I’m just too busy and impatient to see it, thus requiring me to learn the same lesson over, and over and over and over.
I now have a revised goal. It is no longer to simply become proficient in language and culture in order to begin my job. Rather it is to be fully present in this time. It is to love others well, build lasting relationships and have future opportunities to share the incredible love and work of Jesus as clearly as possible. It is giving time for the paint to dry.