When we find ourselves caught between where we’ve been and where we’re going, we can start to wonder if we should go back where we came from. The door in front of us is taking longer to open than our patience can tolerate and we begin to ask ourselves if we made a mistake – if what we left behind was as good as it gets and if what is in front of us is even worth the wait.
This space between our past and our future – that stillness that we get stuck in – is a holding pattern. It is a place where mental and emotional struggles occur and where that double-minded man in James 1:8 makes frequent appearances. One day we trust God, the next day we don’t. It is our opportunity to grow and the enemy’s opportunity to creep in. It is a bit like a boxing ring in that battles are both won and lost here.
Let me clarify something though: just because everything is still in the holding pattern, that doesn’t mean we have permission to be stagnant. While a natural holding pattern is a state in which no progress is made but instead the plane goes round and round awaiting permission to land, a spiritual holding pattern is a place of preparation. Think about it – if we were truly prepared to land, God would give us permission to do so. The fact that He has not simply means we are not ready.
If anyone in the Bible knew a thing or two about this subject, it was Joseph. His story begins in Genesis 37 when, at the age of 17, he had a dream that he would one day rule over his brothers. In an effort to prevent the dream from coming to pass, his brothers sold him into slavery and told their father that a wild animal had killed him. I won’t get into the details of everything that Joseph went through but I will let you know that in the end, his dream did come true – it just took 13 years. However, through all of the ups and downs, through false accusations that led to imprisonment, God was with Joseph and He gave him favor in all that he did. While waiting to see his dream manifest, Joseph had many reasons to grumble and complain and question God but he didn’t. He served, he carried himself with integrity and he grew in wisdom, all of which prepared him to bear the responsibility of being second in command over all of Egypt.
Let’s not resent our current state. We should spend less time thinking about what’s on the other side of the door and spend more time thinking about what’s on this side of the door: us. Me and all of my issues and you and all of your bondage, hurt and incompleteness. This is our chance to recover from our injuries and the damage we did as a result of going places we weren’t supposed to go and doing things we weren’t supposed to do. That God allows us another chance to take hold of what should have been a missed opportunity is a blessing all by itself. But rather than allowing us to take hold of it before we are ready, only to completely destroy it before we ever have a chance to enjoy it, our faithful Father locks us up. If it feels like torture then that just means we’re doing it wrong. This is where healing happens – where deep-seated issues come to light, losing their power to cause us to continue to make bad decisions that later develop into behavior patterns that do not serve us well. The holding pattern is a gift and it is evidence of God’s love and wisdom. He knows what will happen if our blessing is released prematurely – if we are released prematurely.
Not having all of the details about the situation on the ground and why it isn’t safe to land can make us feel like we can’t trust God – like He might be hiding something from us. The truth is He is protecting us. We can’t see much from our viewpoint but He can see everything and only after we come in for landing will we understand why He had us up there all that time. Until then, circulate but don’t stagnate.