Last week I received an unexpected email. It was a follow-up to a job application I completed two months ago, and the hiring manager informed me that I’d made it to the second round in the process. I was elated, but also confused. I had never expected the process to take so long, and assumed they’d offered the position to someone else. After praying to God and asking him to open doors according to his will, I concluded that this job must not be part of his plan for my future. I never stopped to ask him the honest question, “Is this a closed door or a distraction?” I thought I already knew the answer, and moved on.
Now, this isn’t just any job. It’s the type of career I dreamed about in college when I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree. While I love writing books and articles, one of my greatest passions is editing. Helping other writers refine their work and release it out into the world brings me deep joy, and satisfies a place in my soul that writing my own pieces doesn’t. But when I approached my college advisor about pursuing editing jobs, he told me my grades weren’t good enough. He said publishing companies wanted to see a 4.0 GPA, so for over twenty years, the girl who wanted to be an editor has been a distant memory. Until last week.
But weeks ago, I thought it was a done deal. I was already looking at other options for part-time, remote work and picking Canva templates to update my resume.
Sometimes the biggest distraction to our persistence with God is waiting.
Our culture doesn’t like to wait, and each day we’re given a reason not to. We can order our groceries online and skip the checkout line. When visiting Disney and other theme parks, there are lightning lanes and VIP upgrades to avoid long wait times.
None of us come to God with the desires of our heart and say, “God, I really want this * insert desire * but if you want make me wait a year or two, that’s okay.” And yet, over and over we see men and women of the Bible waiting for him to fulfill his promises. We see them persisting through years of silence, persecution and trials before watching God intervene in ways only he could.
While there are several examples of barren women in scripture who waited for God to answer their prayers for a child, Hannah’s story is one of my favorites. Perhaps it’s her humble spirit in the midst of mockery and rejection. And how many other mothers would give up their firstborn for the Lord’s service after years of childlessness?
In Hannah’s story, scripture immediately tells us of the stigma that burdened her. She had no children. And as a Jewish woman living during the eleventh century B.C., this was not a favorable situation. Hannah was not only barren, but ridiculed by her husband’s other wife, Penninah. Year after year, Penninah reminded Hannah of her affliction.
But Hannah did not become bitter or resentful toward God in her waiting.
Instead, she allowed this long period of waiting to soften her heart toward God, and to remind her who was the giver of life.
“And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.””
Hannah not only prays. She pours out her soul. (verse 16) The priest, Eli, thinks she’s drunk. But Hannah hasn’t been drinking. She is going to her secret place with the Lord, allowing him to see a place in her heart she hasn’t revealed to anyone else.
Instead of assuming that her years of barrenness meant God had closed the door of her womb, Hannah made a bold request to the Lord. With a faith made bold through years of waiting, she went to him with the deepest desire of her heart, and God honored her.
What if we viewed waiting as a space for us to seek God’s heart?
Rather than assuming God has closed a door, what if we saw it as a chance to go to a place of deeper intimacy with him? What if we came to him and asked him, “God, is this a closed door or a distraction?”
If he shows us it’s the latter, he will also equip us for whatever lies ahead.
Instead of allowing her long period of waiting to become a distraction, Hannah chooses to go deeper. The wait becomes a path to intimacy, and turns into a legacy of faith that will be passed on for generations to come. Our wait can have the same result. When we see it as an opportunity instead of a roadblock, life change and miracles happen.
Back to that email. When I saw the hiring manager’s response in my inbox, God showed me he was still working in the midst of the wait. As I followed the next steps outlined in the correspondence, I sensed him saying, “Keep pursing this until I tell you to stop. Keep moving forward until the door is clearly shut.”
And this is what I did. I don’t want to assume God has closed a door because I lack persistence or follow-through. I want to keep knocking, keep waiting in faith and hope, and move forward when he says go.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it impacted their life and helped them see how God was working in the midst of a hard season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“Shift invites us to redirect our focus from our problems, stressors, and fears of the unknown and to set our gaze upon the certainty of God’s character and his faithful word. The best part is that Abby doesn’t talk about faith from a theoretical perspective; she gives us practical tools and shows us how we can know God’s presence in the middle of the the mundane.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience Jesus outside of a Sunday worship service, this book is written just for you.” -Amy
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.
“With a faith made bold through years of waiting, she went to him with the deepest desire of her heart, and God honored her.” – Abby thank you for writing this piece as its hitting my heart right on target. Especially the piece about writing not being your thing right now. I so identify with your positioning at this season of my life.
Distractions are a thing I’ve been praying about since Easter 2022 and my prayers have been answered in that front but I must admit something else here:
That meeting entailed discussions of things that are 180 degrees from REST, IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH, resolving feelings of OVERWHELM and FURTHER responsibilities.
I’ve been burned out on thinking, doing and now I’m starting to get burned out on caring Although I’m rather good at waiting I’m praying that God OPENS THAT FLOOD GATE on my unspoken prayer request because I need help ASAP and not in another 51 years.
Please lift that in prayer – this is as real as it gets….
Abby McDonald says
I am so glad to hear God used this post to speak to you. Praying for you now.
Rebecca Jones says
Writing was my dream and though I got a lot of rejections I still pursued it and am pleased with my blog and knowing I help others. It was never a closed door but there were a lot of distractions and I will pursue it with peace.
Abby McDonald says
Amen to that, Rebecca. God will use our obedience, even if it looks different than we envision. Good for you!