Waiting (for an Academic Position)
by Steve Huerd
Within the pages of Scripture, we find many saints who had to wait upon God to fulfill their life calling.
The Wonder of Waiting. Abraham had to wait for a son, Joseph had to wait to see how his dreams would be fulfilled, Moses required forty years of preparation, Caleb finally conquered Hebron after waiting forty years for an entire unbelieving generation to die in the wilderness, and the list goes on and on. Waiting is one of God’s primary tools he uses to shape us into the kind of men and women he desires us to be. God often gives us dreams, aspirations, and desires of what he wants to do through us to bless others. It is during these years of waiting where God builds Christ’s character in us (Rom. 8:29) through sifting and pruning us (John 15:1-5) that we might truly know him and become even more fruitful.
The world and many who wish us well continually tell us, “You must do this and that” to get to where you want to go. You need to complete your education, be published, attend the right types of academic communities, intentionally build strategic relationships, and so forth in order to make yourself the best candidate you can be possibly be. Granted, there must be a balance between the waiting and preparing oneself, and these two need not be separate entities (though often it seems that even with the best of human preparation, there remain long seasons of just waiting upon God)
Tony Stolzfus, who serves as a professional pastor’s ministry coach claims:
In God’s economy, the power of your ministry is a function of the depth of your processing. In other words, the more deeply Jesus’ character gets worked into you, the more you have to give. The more years God has to sift you and refine you and prune you for greater growth, the more potential you have for world-changing impact.”
The Divine Perspective About Our Academic Careers. The biblical examples mentioned above along with particular verses seem to affirm these truths. For example, the Psalmist declares, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1-2) David also claims “And in thy book, they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Paul states that, “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10). These and other verses surely affirm that God has prepared a specific place for us to accomplish the good works he has prepared for us. God sovereignly works on both ends, both for those seeking academic positions and for those seeking to fulfill them, to accomplish his agenda with the person of his choosing.
Often we fret and worry, becoming impatient with God and demanding for him to grant us the position we feel we deserve. Yet even in waiting, there is danger as Stoltzfus states, “It is so easy to end up resisting the very thing that will take us where we want to go! We are protesting and squirming and trying to get out from under the knife, while God in his mercy is saying, ‘If I let you go now, you will never become what you are capable of becoming.’ If we truly demand release, God will honor our request and let us go forward into a shallow shadow of our call, but He is in no hurry to release us from the wilderness.”
Pondering upon these thoughts causes me to rethink my perspective and relax knowing that a loving God is working behind the scenes in ways I can’t see. It causes me to read again Andrew Murray’s classic book entitled “Waiting Upon God,” while journaling my thoughts and prayers.I find that I have to continually remind myself of this perspective time and time again when I become anxious and insecure. When I do trust in him, I can take one day at a time, experiencing the peace he promises in Phil. 4:6-7. I want to yield myself fully to the Master Surgeon, giving him full access to all areas of my life letting him take the time he needs to shape me into the professor that I believe he is calling me to be.