By Susan Lawrence
Sometimes we think we’re done. It’s time to move on. We’re ready to be finished with a season because we’re exhausted or we see a better offer. Things aren’t going well, or things are going exceptionally well. For whatever reason, we assess (or rationalize) that God is prompting us to take a step away from where we are and move on to something else.
When this is the case, and we’re ready to go, it’s hard when we sense God saying, “Wait just a minute.”
It happened to Simon in Luke 5. Simon and other fishermen had been trying to catch fish all night. They were done. In fact, they were washing their nets, which wasn’t a simple task. They definitely did not want to dirty them again and restart the cleanup process. It’s like having everything wrapped up for the day, all accounts reconciled, notes written, reports submitted, electronics shut down, doors locked . . . and then someone asks you to open up and get everything started again.
Only Jesus didn’t ask. He stepped into the boat, began teaching, and told Simon to fish.
Simon felt the need to tell Jesus fishing any more that night would be a waste of time.
I can hear our similar responses:
• But God, these people just don’t respect me any longer. In fact, I’m not sure if they ever liked me. Don’t ask me to stay. It’s just not going to work.
• I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do. I finally find myself wrapping everything up. It seems like it’s time to move on. Let’s not spin our wheels and waste time—yours or mine.
• Can’t I just start over somewhere else? I’ve learned some lessons. I’ve put in my time. I deserve to move on, don’t I?
Sometimes God lets us know something is going to change, so we expect it to change immediately (or at least in our preferred, convenient timing). But everything he reveals to us happens in his time, not ours. Other times, we project our will onto his will. We want something to change so badly we determine he surely agrees with us. He wants what we want, because he wants us to be happy, content, and fulfilled, right?
And that’s often where our distortion of his will and timing begins. We then respond to him with hesitancy, confusion, denial, and stubbornness.
Simon set an example for us. He reminded Jesus why fishing might not be a good idea, but in the same breath, he said, “But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). Simon trusted Jesus more than his own experiences and understanding.
What Can You Do?
So, what can you do when you believe it’s time to move on but God is keeping you where you are, directing you to remain in a place you prefer to leave behind?
Follow God’s instructions. No matter what your preferences and understanding, continue to honor God with your obedience (Proverbs 3:5, 6).
Pray with thanksgiving. Questions and requests have their place in your prayers, but don’t let them overshadow your gratitude for God’s presence and provision (Philippians 4:6, 7).
Practice godly perseverance. Set your heart and mind on God’s will, not your own. Be diligent, not stubborn (Hebrews 12:1, 2; Job 11:13-18).
There is a season for everything, but you don’t get to decide what season you are in and when the season changes. However, you do get to decide how to respond as God leads you through each season. Whether you like it or not, he knows the outcome better than you do. You can trust him.
Susan Lawrence serves local and national ministries as a ministry consultant, speaker, and author. She serves with Taylorville (Illinois) Christian Church. Connect with her at PurePurpose.org.