I was getting to live out my dream—writing and editing full-time. I had six months of work lined up—not bad for a freelancer. But then three months went by and no more came in. Another six weeks. Still no work.
At first I wondered, “What will come in next?” Now I was asking, “What do I wish would come next?” I was surprised when my answer wasn’t “more of the same.” Wow! I hadn’t seen that coming! Where had that come from?
Three days later in the shower, the light bulb came on. For ten years I had been keying in words that seemed to disappear into thin air. No one answered. After ten years of monologue, I was lonely. I craved dialogue.
I was just as passionate as ever about helping the church become healthier—the focus of my writing. What would it look like, I wondered, to engage in dialogue about that? The moment the question formed, I knew the answer. One of my writing clients, church consultant Ray Bowman, had been praying for someone to carry on his work once he retired. Why not work with Ray? And so I entered a new season.
In the two years before that shower epiphany, I’d noticed that the writing that had once been a great joy had become a chore. One season of ministry was ending to make room for another. Elizabeth O’Connor writes:
“The transition stage—the time between works—is often signaled by growing feelings of discontent. The work we have been doing ceases to absorb us in the same way…. One reaches toward the new without knowing what the new is. The transition stage is a difficult period because the old has lost its meaning, the new has not yet loomed into sight, and one has serious doubts that it will come at all…. There is nothing to do but wait, and waiting is something few of us do well.”*
The Master Gardener prunes not the dead, diseased branches (which are burned), but the healthy branches that produced last season’s crop. Why? To increase the energy that grows the next season’s fruit (John 15:1-6).
Today I’m once again in the time between two calls. The dialogue of consulting with churches that gave me such joy for 19 years started feeling like a chore a couple of years ago. I could tell a change was coming.
God is pruning. I’m more narrowly focusing my consulting work to free up time and energy for new ministry.** A call for this next season is gradually growing within me.
I’ve never been pregnant, but I hear it’s uncomfortable. This limbo time is like that—uncomfortable, yet full of promise. I’m excited to be expecting.
- Have you experienced holy discontent leading to a new season of ministry?
- Does knowing that it’s normal for the time between calls to be uncomfortable make it a little easier to wait?
* Cry Pain, Cry Hope (Word 1987), pp. 14-15.
** While my role at Living Stones is changing, our amazing team continues to partner with churches throughout the U.S. and Canada as they navigate strategic change.