At church today, a female physician described a calling that she has sensed to serve in Afghanistan. Now in her mid-thirties, she explained how God has been preparing her for years to help meet the medical needs of those in what is an extremely dangerous and potentially lonely place. Her calling is confirmed by her eagerness to immerse herself into this perilous, yet humanitarian, adventure. For her, the waiting has been excruciating. When “silence” lingers to limbo, one begins to wonder when the testing will ever end, and whether fruitfulness will spring forth from its cleansing waters.
We all experience times in life when our efforts to move forward are delayed or stymied. Sometimes, the struggle is simply part of a longer process. The larger the undertaking, the more substantial is the preparation. Sometimes, we may be unwittingly off course. Our extended silence may feel like aimless wandering in unfamiliar surroundings, waiting for the Light to illuminate the ground and to shepherd us to our assigned path. Without exploring for progress, however, we would remain lost, stuck in a barren land.
Debbie and I have been feeling our own eerie silence lately. Here we sit, in a no-man’s land of our own making, awaiting the official publication date of Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast. The waiting has been filled with activity. Yet, daily, we’re left wondering: where’s this project going? God has blessed us with a story that will bless others, but His plans for this book could take several forms, some less grandiose than others.
Publishers set a book’s publication date for when they anticipate a profitable collision between preliminary marketing and the book’s release to stores. It takes months after completing a reviewable draft for industry reviewers to weigh in. A positive review by a high profile reviewer can translate into book sales. So can a positive news story by informed media–and the bigger the better. This timeframe also allows time to print the books and to distribute them to stores. Ideally, the publication date arrives with books on bookstore shelves awaiting their primed readers.
Eventually, the “book gods” will pass judgment on Two Are Better. In the meantime, we’re giving it the best shot we know how, certain that God can take our comparatively meager efforts and choose to do with them as He sees fit. We’ve sown many seeds. Time will tell whether review copies sent to industry groups, media, and even celebrities will spawn growing interest in our story. Regardless, it’s been an adventure of a different kind, and the prospects are positively thrilling.
Has your eerie silence become deafening? Have you been planning for months–even years like the good doctor described above–and still find yourself in limbo? Do you feel like you’ve done all you can do, and that your fate awaits circumstances beyond your control? When silence becomes deafening, it’s likely that God is working behind the scenes. He spends a lot of His time there on behalf of His people. And He wants you to trust Him completely, and to wait for His perfect timing. He may not be concocting the blessing you’re hoping for, but rest assured He will bring forth good. And much of what He’ll bring forth will be within you. If you escape to the other side of limbo, you’ve just been promoted to another grade in the school of character. So, stay the course. Graduation day is coming!