It’s the first real Monday of 2020. The holidays are over. Routine is back. To me, January feels like starting a brand-new journal. Every page is white, ready for new words. The possibilities of what those words will say – of what adventure they describe – are endless. And that makes me excited!
My temptation is to quickly fill in that white space with my hopes and plans, creating a strategy for the year that will make God proud. But this year, I read something that has made me pause, and stare at that white space a little longer before I break the silence with my words.
In John 13:31-38, Jesus in a way, gives His disciples a piece of blank paper and then walks away, leaving them to figure out what to do next. Dishes from The Last Supper have just been cleared, and Judas has just left the room after Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”
The others had no idea what that conversation was about. Jesus breaks their wondering thoughts with, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going you cannot come.” (verse 33)
He continues talking but I don’t think Peter was listening. He was still processing that statement. When Jesus took a breath, Peter inserted, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus patiently repeated what He had already said, “Where I am going you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” This didn’t really answer Peter’s question, so he asked the question all good children ask, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (verse 37)
In my brain, I imagine Peter thinking, where in the world could this man go that I cannot? I will go anywhere with Him. He needs me to go with Him and protect Him! Why won’t He let me?
For three years Peter and the disciples have been following Jesus. That’s how Jesus first got their attention – Hey Peter…Andrew….Matthew….follow me! They’ve watched Him teach crowds of people, challenge the Pharisees, walk on water, heal the blind, drive out demons, multiply bread to feed thousands, have compassion on the hurting. This group of friends is close!
And now Jesus has just said that where He’s about to go, they can’t follow. Following Jesus is what they do.
It’s like when my kids were toddlers and Adam and I would go out on a date. They were always with me, followed me even to the bathroom. But when I went out with their Daddy, they couldn’t go. And they didn’t understand what was happening. As we walked out the door, they often screamed and cried, “Mommy pleeease don’t go!”
What the text says to me is, sometimes Jesus says things that don’t make sense. That don’t fit the pattern of how I see events going down. But unlike me, Jesus sees the whole the picture. He sees what’s on the other side of His words, and that’s why He can say with confidence, wait. Trust me. You’ll understand later.
I imagine it felt a lot like staring at a blank piece of paper for Peter and the others. It was uncomfortable. The silence of what-do-we-do-next almost deafening.
That’s how I feel like most of 2019 was for us. For the most part, it was a year of peace and calm. Praise the Lord for that, because the 20 years prior were everything but calm.
But we constantly wrestled with the question, what’s next? What am I supposed to be doing in the waiting?
As I stare at the blank 2020 calendar, the spaces beckon to be filled in. New adventures await! And I’m anxious to fill them in and get the action started.
But instead of quickly mapping out my plans and purposes, I’m pausing. Waiting. I want God’s plan for this year. After walking with Him a few years, I have grown to love what He creates in the white spaces better than anything I’ve come up with.
So if you find yourself starring at a blank space too, I encourage you to wait. I know it’s hard. Wait on God’s timing. Even if you feel like you know something He wants you to do, wait on His timing to carry it out.