Forty years. Forty, long years Moses waited in the wilderness for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Why is it so hard to wait no matter how many lessons God teaches us on patience and trusting His timing? I only hope I would have waited 40 years with a patient and trusting heart. Do you feel God calling you to something? Do you feel like He is not opening the right doors to help you get where you think you need to be to accomplish the task He has called you to?
Isaiah 40:31 reminds us, “but they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Prayer and waiting go hand in hand. Although waiting is not easy, God uses this time to sanctify us and strengthen our faith, equipping us for what He is calling us to do. A dear friend of Joni and Friends Knoxville recently shared some encouragement on the topic of waiting. Allow me to share her story with you—I hope it brings you encouragement as you see God’s faithfulness and timing slowly unfold:
Our friend was attending a church for several years before she realized they had a disability ministry. As a previous behavior specialist, a member of the congregation approached her to help expand the ministry. She learned that the mother who started the ministry had waited for three years before a space was available for this purpose. Once the church finally agreed to create a space specifically for those affected by disability, nobody showed up. The disability program finally began with one woman in the congregation who was affected by disability. Someone saw the need and the urgency to minister to her and they ran with it.
But what do you do when you say yes to God’s call to something, and then it seems to fall apart?
A few weeks after the disability ministry began, the woman affected by disability moved to a different city causing her to leave the church. Once she left, nobody else showed up for an entire year. Volunteers were recruited and trained, but there was no one to serve.
Instead of giving up or closing the ministry, the leaders and volunteers decided to use the time God was giving them. … They prayed. They learned more about disability and how to effectively evangelize and disciple those with a disability. They engaged other volunteers with a heart for disability. They added the program to the church bulletin boards. They made announcements and tried to seek out families affected by disability. They prayed some more, asking God to reveal His plan.
From the time disability ministry was laid upon the heart of this faithful congregation to the day families affected by disability finally began showing up, it was a total of four years. Now the church actively serves children and adults with disabilities on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Along with regular church programs, they also host a day program three days a week for young adults affected by disability. The church’s day program grew quickly and now has a wait list.
One person heard the Lord’s quiet call to love those with disabilities. One person trusted God when all their original plans fell apart.
If God has you in a difficult season of waiting, do not give up. Do not stop walking where God is leading you. His timing is so much richer and sweeter than our own. God used a mother’s plan of a dedicated Sunday School class for young adults and grew it into a church that serves those with disabilities in tremendous and inclusive ways. Trust that God is using you in the midst of your waiting.
Psalm 105:4 encourages us to “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.”
Alexa Johnson is the Administrative Assistant for Joni and Friends Knoxville. After graduating from the University of Tennessee in 2015, with a bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy, Alexa planned to go on to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. After serving as a Young Life Capernaum Leader for 5 years, Alexa’s heart was left in disability ministry and ministering to the entire families of those affected by disability. God brought Alexa to the ministry of Joni and Friends where she loves using her educational and Young Life experience to serve and fulfill Joni and Friends’ mission.