Finding passion and purpose in the process.
A Smelly Mob
Hundreds of teenagers crowded the wooden altar. The mob smelled like typical teens in the 90’s – a blend of cheap cologne, Country Apple body spray, and the occasional stick of Teen Spirit deodorant.
I didn’t even care. I was wrecked, and I was ready. The presence of God poured over me like a waterfall, and all I could muster through hot and salty tears was a resounding, “YES.”
The next morning, my sixteen-year-old self was ready to seize the day. I was on mission – God gave me a Word, and I fully expected that to come with the authority, permission, and resources of my new title – CALLED. In the coming weeks, months, and even years however, I learned much too quickly, too painfully, that the fulfillment of that call was far from immediate.
The Furnace of His Process
I’m a visionary, a planner, so I blazed forward in the assumption that I could help God make my purpose transpire. I assumed my passion and fervor for Jesus were meant to unfold God’s plan for my life, and although I was radically wrong, the grace of God led me on a journey to placing that drive and ardor into the furnace of His process. Here I am, two decades later, waking up with willingness and embracing that four-letter word we all know and love: TIME.
Truth be told, anything significant requires time. Time can be painful. It can cost us something, if not everything (2 Samuel 24:34). It takes a heart of surrender to wait and to be content in the waiting. God reminds us in Genesis 8:22 that “there is no shortcut from seed time to harvest” (Genesis 8:22). Our time in the middle, from birth to death, from call to completion – every season in between contributes to our growth and God’s perfect plan for us (Isaiah 25:1).
[In the middle] of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus. Never restrain or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit. And don’t be one who scorns prophecies.1 Thessalonians 5:18-20a
We can easily scorn the prophecies of God by living in frustration and despair rather than walking in faith and trust. Many times, I’ve been so focused on the future that I didn’t even get to experience and enjoy the present. I’ve had to intentionally choose to let God orchestrate events and unfold promises in His timing so that I don’t “restrain or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit.”
Content in the Middle
And let’s get real – the culture we live in does not promote the lifestyle of being content in the middle. I recently saw a quote that read, “Don’t let the Internet rush you. No one is posting their failures.” Our culture does not celebrate the middle; it does not endorse the beauty of the process. Society loves to highlight the mountaintop in all of its Photo-shopped glory, and it’s hard not to cringe with discouragement when picture-perfect montages mock our unanswered prayers.
God is fully aware of how destructive comparison is and calls us to “examine [our] own work, and then [we] will have reason for boasting in regard to [ourselves] alone, and not in regard to another” (Galatians 6:4). Albeit, social media may make that difficult, but it’s why we have to cling to the truth of the Word rather than the lies of comparison.
Don’t Hurry God
If I could go back and change anything, it would be my posture while I was waiting. I’ve spent many seasons longing for God to hurry up with my destiny. How naïve of me to think that the God who loves me so much would skip the process of which my calling depends so much on. God was always more interested, and still is, in the development of my character, my walk with Him, and the internal work that no one sees. In fact, I am writing from a place where many of my inner victories are tucked away in the secret place. Man can’t see them, but God knows every intricate detail of my process. I am not forgotten or hidden from His sight.
Finding Purpose and Passion in the Middle
Have you grown impatient while waiting for the promise? Take heart, for it is not in God’s nature to break a promise. It is not in His nature to withhold good from His children (Psalm 84:11). Learn to hand your feelings over to God in exchange for His truth – that He is good, His timing is perfect, and His promises never fail.
It’s in that exchange where you will learn to live passionately in the middle, to live on purpose in the middle.
It may just be the most significant thing you ever do.
Elizabeth Demarest grew up in the Amazon Rainforest as a third-generation missionary. Her mission now is to speak life and healing and purity to young women, including those whose trust has been violated. She addresses her induction into this involuntary sisterhood in her book, Amazon Girl: Dare to Dream. Also, in her second book, Kissing Toads: A Christian Girl’s Guide to Dating and Falling in Love, Elizabeth gives practical tips on how to date well, encouraging girls to choose purity–against the cultural norm –believing that every girl can have their fairytale. Find out more at elizabethdemarest.com.