A year and a half ago, I kicked around the idea of going to seminary. The idea appealed to me as a way to enrich my writing, develop as a Bible teacher, and research to my nerdy heart’s content.
I looked into options and talked it over with my husband. We agreed that seminary would be worthwhile for personal growth, but didn’t see many opportunities to use the skills I’d gain. Without knowing the ROI for our family, we couldn’t justify the decision at that time.
Swallowing regret, I placed the idea on my Someday shelf, where it could collect dust alongside a half-dozen writing dreams.
Today, seminary has slipped farther from my reach. Between having a baby and navigating at-home education for my other kids, I have no margin for extracurricular activities. I admit, it’s discouraging. But it doesn’t feel crushing. As I pray and talk to the Lord, I don’t picture him handing me a rejection notice. He’s giving me room to imagine pursuing this idea down the road.
Too often, I think we misinterpret God’s “not yets” as “nos.” When our plans don’t come to fruition on our timetables, we assume he thought them through and dismissed them for good. We get frustrated with his refusal, forgetting he unrolls his plans over the landscape of eternity.
Should we stock our hope in an eventual yes? Not at all. If God turned down his own Son’s request to pass the cup of suffering, we have to accept that he sometimes answers us “no.” Jesus alone is our surest hope.
Yet when Scripture talks about waiting on the Lord, it holds possibility with an open hand. David wouldn’t have cried out multiple times for deliverance if he hadn’t thought God might rescue him.
It’s in this space of 𝘮𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 and 𝘮𝘢𝘺𝘣𝘦 that we come before our Father, believing he 𝘤𝘢𝘯 do anything and 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 do what’s best.
As you sit in silence, wondering if God heard your prayer for some longing – a husband, a child, a different job or opportunity to use an untapped gift – consider his answer might be “not yet.” Yes, you’ll risk disappointment. But you’ll also expand your view of the Lord as an all-wise, lavishly kind God who will never deny you his love.
Published February 8, 2021