The Bench.

Ethan just graduated college and his degree is already tucked away, gathering dust while he is waitlisted for grad school.  In the meantime, he waits tables and makes sandwiches at his father's restaurant while his friends begin their lives, receiving amazing job offers and ministry opportunities.  Maybe God doesn't have anything special for him.  Maybe he was meant to make sandwiches for the rest of his life.  

He just wishes he had known that five years and thousands of dollars ago.

While talking with an old professor about life after graduation, Ethan shares his struggle.  Sighing, he says, "It's like everybody else is in the game and I'm just sittin' on the bench.  I mean, am I not good enough for God to use?"   

Yeah.  Am I not good enough for God to use?  My own thoughts reflect Ethan's honest question.  Standing still was difficult when God asked me to let go of my own plans and embrace His unclear direction, but that was four years ago.  And in the meantime?  While I've been waiting?  It has felt like nothing more than season after season of sitting on the bench while everybody else played the game.  

Friends are graduating college.  I'm waving from the bench.

Friends are getting engaged and married.  I'm sending my good wishes from the bench.

Friends are having babies, following passions, finding their place.  My butt's getting numb over here on the bench.

Have I been forgotten, God?  Do You remember me over here?  Am I ever going to get out there and play the game?!

But Ethan's professor doesn't even blink in the face of such a difficult question.  "How do you know He's not using you?" he asks.  "I get that you feel like you're on the bench while your friends are in the game, but if that's where God has you, then you just sit on the bench in obedience.  I promise, somehow, what you're doing will work into what He has for you in the future."

Ethan shakes his head as if he doesn't like what he's hearing.  And I can't blame him, because I don't like it very much either.  This bench that is seemingly stitched to my rear is nothing but a very painful reminder that I am falling behind, that I am 22 and losing daylight and I have nothing but a stupid bench seat to show for my efforts.  

How am I supposed to be okay with that?       

And although Ethan doesn't voice my exact thoughts, they play across his face and seep through his tone as he sadly responds, "Makes sense in my head.  Just doesn't make sense in my heart, you know?"

But, once again, the professor is ready with wisdom and faith.  "Trust in God's timing," he says.  "Until then, all you can be is..."

And Ethan and I both shake our heads and close our eyes and smile against this word, against this bench, against this waiting and this plan we can't see.  And we mumble, "Obedient."  Because it's the truth.  Until God moves us, until He changes our direction, we're here on the bench.  But we're here on the bench in obedience, and that is what makes all the difference.

We're not here for lack of inspiration or motivation.  We're not being lazy or slothful.  We are sitting on the bench because God has us here.  Whatever His purpose, whatever His reasons, He has lovingly placed us on the sidelines.      

I can't explain it.  I've tried for four years to put words and meaning to this period of waiting, to this ache for my time in the game.  But lately I've been thinking that maybe it's not about what I'm doing or not doing, but about who I am becoming here on this bench.  For the more time I spend here, the more He carves out of me and into me and molds me into the woman He created me to be.

No, the longer I sit on this bench, the more I realize that not one nanosecond here is misplaced.  My obedience here brings more glory to my God than my disobedience in a foreign nation or any position of great power.  I can trust the Creator of time with the time He has given me.  One day, He might call me off the bench.

Until then, all I can be is obedient.      

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it interesting that when we are waiting it feels like we are doing nothing? Yet, we still have that verb in there-- waiting--. Somebody once told me that WAITING is still DOING for Christ, because it's all according to HIS plan. Thanks for posting this.