“That sense of newness is simply delicious. It makes new the Bible and friends, love… and God himself.” ~ Temple Gairdner
The life of faith involves a lot of waiting. How do we break the monotony of boredom and restlessness while we wait?
Last summer, my three year old son experienced the thrill of riding his bike — free from training wheels. Every day leading up to that moment was filled with excitement and drama. He couldn’t wait to hop on his bike and practice, practice, practice.
I didn’t realize how much the experience meant to TJ, until he sat listless at the breakfast table, with his spoon in hand and Raisin Bran growing soggier by the minute.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I wish I could learn to ride my bike again,” TJ sighs.
“Why? You already know how to ride your bike.”
“I know. That’s the problem… I wish I could do it for the first time again.”
There’s something about conquering a big challenge or reaching a goal. It makes us feel accomplished and productive. But, it can also make us feel like we’re in limbo until we taste the thrill of victory.
There’s nothing wrong with being focused and intentional about our priorities, but can goal-setting and goal-capturing also become an addiction?
What’s The Difference?
I’ve been thinking about this question, since I made a recent trip to the local bookstore. I was looking for a book about writing that was categorized in the “Self-Improvement” section. As I scanned the book titles, phrases like “power of positive thinking”, “transformation”, and “finding your purpose” dotted the shelves.
What makes a person of faith any different than a practitioner of self-improvement?
As our lives have increasingly gone online, we also see the effects of a social media saturated lifestyle. We are constantly inundated with data, about who is doing what and how much is being experienced. By other people.
How much of our drive towards productivity and activity is tied to self-worth?
As people of faith, our world jarringly clashes with these messages. Our priority stands in stark contrast. We value a relationship with God that exceeds all importance but is also invisible. Not only that, God’s timetable and purposes are inner, while the world is focused on the outer.
It’s a battle we all fight. When I find myself stressed with some progress of whatever-it-is God has me waiting on, I know I need a realignment.
I had forgotten —
– if I have God, I have everything.
– if I’ve neglected to intimately spend time with Him, I have nothing.
– my heart’s true joy is discovering new things about God, not the temporary highs of achievement.
Waiting is sort of like hitting the play button on my DVD player.
If God has me waiting, I know that God is at work in my life, not me.
God wants me to put my faith in play, not my strivings.
In contrast, if I work so hard to make something happen, that I’m more frustrated than at peace, it is an indicator that I’m not exercising my faith. I’m walking by sight.
The Way We Were Made
There’s no guilt or shame when this happens, I’d like to point out.
God knows that this dying to self is the very process of spiritual renewal.
It is a wonderful opportunity to respond to God in the way we were made:
surrendering the instincts that draw us away from Him, so that we can walk in the new life that’s found in Him.
As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
God’s-type-of-new is completely different than the world’s-type-of-new. The world’s version looks improved, more accomplished and easily draws attention.
On the other hand, new to our Lord Jesus is far more valuable and highly prized.
The Greek word used here, kainotes, conveys a quality that only comes from the Holy Spirit.
New From Within
We are new from within.
This the kind of change impacts our everyday lives.
This new actually changes our perspective, beliefs and feelings about seemingly ordinary and difficult circumstances.
After all, who needs a new attitude if things are going well?
This may be one reason we are all vulnerable to setting new goals ad nauseum, never feeling satiated whenever some are met. New ones must be rectified to take the place of the old one, to fill the hunger that life here on earth gives.
How easily I forget what truly satisfies.
Thank God, it’s just as easy to find that He does.
It’s just like riding a bike.
Once you’ve learned how, you never forget it.
“I move on toward the goal to win the prize.
God has appointed me to win it.
The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself.”
~ Philippians 3:14
Can setting goals become an addiction?
How do you respond to the season of waiting?
Share your current journey towards the goal of experiencing Christ.
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You ask some excellent questions, Bonnie! I am a goal-setter (as a way of preventing time from being washed down the drain, which I have the ability to do) but it can be a ‘fix’ we need, for sure, having always, always another big goal out there….to put out there in front of others so it SOUNDS like we’re up to something important and meaningful????
The thing is….If God has me in a waiting room, it is NOT time down the drain. 9If I am being lazy and not tending to next steps He has shown me, THAT is time down the drain.)
God’s waiting rooms have so often been fraught with needed respite, infilling, inspiration. It often takes me a long time to settle into it and get with the program….HIS program.
Excellent, excellent points, Marilyn. A lot of wisdom here! The combination of acting while resting is such a spiritual work out.
Bonnie, I really needed to be reminded to walk by faith. As a recent college grad with no job, I’m in a waiting period. I can get myself worked up trying to make a job happen for me, even when it may not be what God has for me. When you said: “In contrast, if I work so hard to make something happen, that I’m more frustrated than at peace, it is an indicator that I’m not exercising my faith. I’m walking by sight.”, I was a reminded that this is a faith walk I’m on. Thank you so much for your blogs of encouragement 🙂
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Some Thoughts Needing Attention =-.
Jennifer, I know how you feel. I know God will open that door for you. He’s led you so far, He’ll be faithful to lead you all the way.
What great thoughts here, Bonnie. I’m definitely goal-oriented, and at times, it becomes difficult not to be my own worst enemy when I fail to reach those goals. This is a nice reminder to turn torward Him and be patient.
.-= Heather Sunseri´s last blog ..An Uphill Climb =-.
I just read your post “An Uphill Climb” and it’s an encouraging post on making the choice to try. Great encouragement to not quit when God gives us direction and inspiration. Thanks, Heather!
There is a sweet peace when we surrender — when we let go. And constant goal setting and the ensuing pursuit leaves God out of the equation.
So onward and upward we go, but we must walk by faith
Surrendering helps us differentiate… constant goal setting to the point of breaking down our faith vs having clearer goals as a result of our faith in what God’s doing.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Glynn Young, HisFireFly, Maureen Doallas, FaithBarista, FaithBarista and others. FaithBarista said: Ever feel in limbo? A life of faith involves a lot of waiting http://bit.ly/bEBtcc Can Setting Goals Become An Addiction? […]
Bonnie…I know this all too well. My 14 year career was all start up. Starting up programs, departments, divisions. Constantly. In 14 years, I had 8 jobs and moved up each time in what was my dream job. God jerked me out of that so hard, its all a blur now. I’m still blinking my eyes to figure out which part is a dream. Now or then. I’ve been home a year and the transition has been hard, dull, uneventful at times. He showed me what I was really seeking with all the career moves, He exposed so much of my heart that I almost had to look away. BUT God has been restoring through and through in this waiting room of life. It’s like the previews at the movies…we wait with anticipation of what’s to come. So I’m anxious at times, but one of the first lessons God showed me was to REST in Him. And for four months, that’s what I did. No internet, no phone, just Him. Never have I grown so much…..
Every post of yours is so encouraging and challenging. Keep writing, sister friend!
.-= Melissa | Madabella: made beautiful´s last blog ..Living Near the Fault Line =-.
Previews at the movies… great analogy. I’m familiar with that 14 year span of “career’ing” as well, and I’m still in transition. I’m realizing this is a transition has become a life-long spiritual pursuit — that resting — “just Him” — you described so well. It’s the way of His Spirit. Thanks for sharing so poignantly, Melissa! Faith is the good stuff — Amazing!
I used to be a goal setter. At least more of one. Priority A, B, and C and all that. Now I’m going more with the flow. I need to find a middle ground, I think.
My 7-year-old granddaughter (2 months shy of 8) JUST gave up her training wheels. All in good time. 🙂
And in the waiting room? Play. Have fun. At least that’s what my daughter and I used to do as we spent lots of time in waiting rooms–giggling, peeking around doors, goofing off. 🙂 I think that could be transferred to the spiritual realm.
.-= Sandra Heska King´s last blog ..Never Too Late To Laugh =-.
I love it, Sandra! I guess that’s why it’s so awesome to find faith friends, as we all wait and play together. 😉
What an excellent post, and one I really needed today. This dying to self? I have to do it over and over and over, it seems. And each time I think, What took me so long? There is such sweet relief in trusting Him with our lives.
Thank you for reminding me.
And the book club? We had a blast! Getting ready to start a new one in the fall. Perhaps you will jump in? It’s always fun…
.-= Laura´s last blog ..Today =-.
I know, I know. It’s getting there. And then… smile. Everything is as it should be. And it’s going to be okay. I’m okay. 😉 Happy to see you!
#1 – while a disciplined lifestyle is a good thing, we certainly can go overboard – especially if our goals are performance-centered
#2 – I have a hard time “waiting” but as I wait, I have to continue to meditate on the grace of God – trusting in His faithfulness – so the wait will have meaning.
#3 – my current “goal” is to meditate daily on His Word, apart from my sermon preparation, so I’ve committed to doing so through daily blog entries about the scriptures I am reading, and to keep me honest, I’ve submitted myself to a community of bloggers.
.-= herbhalstead´s last blog ..kingdomexperiment6 =-.
Hey Herb! Awesome points. “the wait will have meaning”… I think that is one difference between a person of faith and another without. The latter has only the results to qualify the time of waiting. I also love how you’ve placed blogging in the context of drawing closer to God’s word.
Waiting is such a rich topic to explore, and thanks for digging so deeply into it. You really hit me with this line: “if I work so hard to make something happen, that I’m more frustrated than at peace, it is an indicator that I’m not exercising my faith. I’m walking by sight.”
I am SO guilty of working hard, trying to make things happen. It certainly is hard to wait for God to move, especially when I already know what it’s supposed to look like. That’s not faith! I’m not sure what that is… control perhaps… but it’s not faith. Thanks for this challenge today. I needed to read it.
I love it when God’s language of faith reaches across cyberspace. It’s so encouraging to know He speaks to us as individuals and also find His encouragement uniform in community. I sense we are all hanging out at Jesus’ feet.
I think sometimes the goals become our idols and that’s a big problem because He’s a jealous God. Whether it’s writing a book or planting a church, God isn’t interested in the outcome (which in Him is secure) as much as what He wants to do in and through us along the way (which of course brings us to HIS desired outcome). Are we seeking His Kingdom first or glorifying ourselves and our goals? It’s so hard, but I know I don’t want to accomplish my goals outside His means and grace because it ends up hollow and can’t stand. It’s wood, hay, and stubble. I want gold refined in the fire so I have to stay close to Him.
Thanks Bonnie. Great way to jump start our thinking today.
.-= jasonS´s last blog ..5 Things I Don’t Get- Laughter Edition =-.
I really got encouraged & zapped with this line: “God isn’t interested in the outcome (which in Him is secure) as much as what He wants to do in and through us along the way (which of course brings us to HIS desired outcome).”
Being reminded that God’s “outcome” is a person — US — helps me focus on the right goal — a person — CHRIST. Love. it. Jason!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this… I’ve got a blog post in the works on this very topic!
I’ve been convicted in recent months of my need to “plan” spiritual formation. While I can’t do the work (that’s God’s role in the equation), I need to put myself in places where I’m open and willing to be worked on. Spending time working through the spiritual disciplines and such puts me in a place where I am most susceptible to the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
It’s like Philippians 3.14 says – “I press on”. If I’m not “pushing myself” to excel spiritually, then I’m not in a prime position for growth. I like the idea of goal setting, but only with the understanding of the ultimate goal in mind!
.-= Ashley´s last blog ..Top 10 Things I Need to Submit to God =-.
Oh, I really love this addition, Ashley. What if we put as much energy into “goals” as finding places where we can be more open to God’s work in our hearts — the spiritual disciplines? Love, love, love the Phil. 3.14 passage in the context of today’s topic. Thanks, Ashley!
Thanks, Bonnie. This post was a relief to me. All around me I see bloggers constantly trying to get up new posts, trying to get more followers. Having projects and contests. Many persons lament that they don’t spend enough time with God, but are busy with a public lament rather than just resting. Reading about other people’s energetic pursuits and aims can make me feel left out because I “can’t do” the satisfying fulfilling things they perceive as necessary. I can’t follow the goals-oriented life. My own personal goal is to be able to stay alive and somewhat functioning this day, rather than to see how many things I can do or self-change.
When we’re bored by already having learned to ride a bike, we may need to look for another dream to ponder on, realizing that seeing new possibilities is more enjoyable in the long run than finishing a series of projects or self-improvement. Maybe in this society we’re too fulfillment oriented when we could be just enjoying the journey. God wants US more than he wants our DOINGS for him.
Kingfisher — enjoy the relief… 🙂 and keep that relief protected from what the world wants to say. Remember Jesus said the faith of the widow who put a “penny”/mite into the offering box? Jesus said she gave the most… God sees all that you are giving just to get through the day. It is your ALL. And the Lord cherishes and finds great treasure in what no one may see, but He does.
Wow…Kingfisher…just enjoy the journey! Now…that’s freeing. Each day can be a blessing if we just let go and enjoy the movement and beauty of the day!
Excellent post, Bonnie!
I too am in a waiting period in my life, and trying to stay receptive to God’s will for me.
As for blogging, when I just blogged for its own sake, for the sake of sharing what was up for me, I really enjoyed it and it felt meaningful, but once I started worrying about “getting” readers/followers, the joy seeped out of it. It became a busy chore instead. I fell away for quite a while and still haven’t gotten back into the practice of writing posts regularly, although I feel there is much to share in my life right now, in this open period of listening. I hadn’t thought of it this way, quite, before reading your post and the thoughtful comments that follow it.
The comments have been INCREDIBLE. We’re sharing a spiritual space together. So good. Julie, your open heart and conscious listening is glorifying to God and an encouragement! Whether you blog or stop, God gives us the freedom to go either way.
“God knows that this dying to self is the very process of spiritual renewal.”
I wish there was some other way but there’s not!
Great post Bonnie!
.-= Kevin M.´s last blog ..3 year blogiversary celebration and 3 giveaways =-.
“if I have God, I have everything.
– if I’ve neglected to intimately spend time with Him, I have nothing.
– my heart’s true joy is discovering new things about God, not the temporary highs of achievement”
Bonnie, I loved those lines, which leaped out at me. So very true.
I just came home from our writers group, where two of us seemed “stuck” with a book ready to go “somewhere” but not sure of the next step and little energy to take it if they knew. We encouraged them to rest in God, knowing that he has an agenda and plan for those books. It is counterintuitive to stop striving.
.-= Belinda Burston´s last blog ..Who Knew =-.
It is – that is how we can encourage each other as you have done with your writerly friends. Put a proverbial hand on a friend and assure them that they can rest, seeking God in that confidence that He’ll guide and lead.
Hey my dear – been awhile since I have been over. Thanks for continually giving words of encouragement to set the course of the day.
Hope all is well – saw your picture as you commented on Maureen’s poem for One Shot. If you ever get a chance would love to have you share a poem or two there.
Love from the Moon
I would love to go and visit with you there, Leslie… Thank you for coming by for a visit. I enjoy it much, friend!
I have been trying to set goals without God giving me anything to work towards. What I mean is that I know God has something in the works for our family, but He hasn’t revealed it yet. I’m getting tired of waiting so I keep trying to make a plan. But there is nothing to work off of. I’m just supposed to wait.
.-= Melissa Brotherton´s last blog ..He Restores My Soul =-.
You are on a journey that only God can lead you through. And it won’t work any other way. It’s hard to imagine anything changing in that moment, but God orchestrates everything so we find knowing Him as our only worthy goal. And then,He moves us. You’re walking it, Melissa!
In this period of waiting, I’ve tried getting to several graduate programs and applying to several job…not in Florida. Then I got a permanent position where I am. I tried going back to school and it didn’t work out. All of these were meant to produce something and they didn’t produce anything. I keep setting goals so that the fire I once had will be re-lit. It wasn’t working.
Then you challenged me to ask ‘what if’ and I went to a new church. Not expecting anything more than feeling the Spirit of God move where His people were gathered together. Now, I’m becoming the core of something new. I’m in a choir, like I’ve always wanted to be. I’ve hugged more strangers than I have in my entire life. Usually I want to blend in instead of stand out, but I am actually considering stepping up to roles I would have normally shied way from. It may not be the fire I was looking for, but something is definitely beginning. I asked one little question and it’s made such a difference in such a short time.
.-= Kristine´s last blog ..A Turnip Seed =-.
Kristine, now that is a gift from God, directly from Him to you. I love how you didn’t expect anything except the Holy Spirit. And voila. Look at where that got you. 🙂 Inspires us to do the same!
In the past, I’ve had trouble setting goals–always just been surviving. Recently, I have begun to set goals for myself. One thing I did a little fearfully I’ll admit was joining a writing group–the opportunity kind of fell into my life just when I was wondering what I was to do next to develop my true self. It is so exciting how this group seems tailor made for me. But…I know how it feels when you’ve accomplished something and then the excitement passes. For me, I begin to doubt my success and that’s not good. In the waiting time or the lull times, I meditate and continue doing what needs to be done because I’ve learned life is full of lull times. Sometimes, I look back in my journals (the ones I haven’t burned) to see how far I’ve come. That gives me a different perspective. But I know the bite and the down of the waiting. It’s then that I remind myself that some things take time, so I get busy during the waiting and eventually I move on to another level of understanding and growth.
Dee, this was beautifully expressed. Just wonderful. Thank you.
I’m learning discipline in all things right now like keeping to a writing goal, reading His Word regularly (it does help that I intentionally sign up for bible study blog tours!), working out every morning even when I don’t feel like it, and trying to bake so I save money on snacks. I love baking, but all the other stuff has eaten up some of my time. So…tommorrow I am baking…alot…so I’m stocked up for the following week with goodies and snacks.
[…] and spurned by a poor economy, people are riding the growing wave of goal-oriented minimalists. It’s a head turning cultural phenomenon, shedding as much as possible. […]
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