The term "holding pattern" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a state of waiting or suspended activity or progress."
At the beginning of each year, I spend some quality time with God in silence and ask Him what He wants me to intentionally focus on in the next season. However, this year was different because I first had to wrestle through a residual question from 2021: What does rest look like for those that need rescue?
In the early summer of 2021, I had been blessed with a job at my parish that I loved and was actually working in the ways in which God gifted me. Everything seemed to be coming up roses! I felt the promise of great things to come as I helped children and adults to be formed by faith. But as the summer progressed, I started getting sick. It started with migraines and a cough, then blurred vision and trouble breathing, and finally ended with severe asthma attacks, gut issues, and gallbladder attacks. What was going on?!
I finally discovered that I was having a severe reaction to mold. This led to a diagnosis of a chronic condition that inhibits my body’s ability to flush out toxins. I was so sick that I had to leave my job and enter a season of rest, recovery, and healing. Not only was I sick, but my income and health insurance were gone without warning.
I have faced symptoms of this disease all my life, but they were never this severe and debilitating. My body was screaming STOP! Rest! So there I was handed a season of forced rest.
As a Christian, the sabbath was not a foreign concept to me.I have lived my life keeping a regular day of rest, going on retreats, and spending quality time with God in prayer and contemplation. Yet here I was, in rest that was not invited, but enforced by my health. What does rest look like for those that need rescue? How do you rest when the bills have no way of getting paid? How do you rest in a healing way when you have no access to medical care and are in mysterious territory? How do you rest when having money for food is a challenge? Where is rest when you are in great need? Where is rest when everything has been stripped away? Everything that was provided for, certain, and taken care of in the way of practical provision was suddenly gone.
So, at the end of 2021, there I was left with that nagging residual question. What does rest look like for those that need rescue? I had stared at that question, wrestled with it, and thought I had answered it, only to find myself back at square one. I argued with God about it, I tried to reason it out, I worshipped through it, yet there it remained. It
I would not find the answer until I asked the next question. What did God want me to intentionally focus on in 2022? His answer was not about rest, and I was glad! Rest had become a place of striving and figuring out how to solve all these issues so that I could get to genuine rest. Instead, God's answer came with one word, my 2022 word: held.
Held. What does it mean to be held by God?
I slowly began to realize that for me, rest was a place I could go to out of the overflow of joy and gratitude in my heart. Rest was not a place I could go to when everything around me was crumbling. But held... now there's something to think about.
What does it mean to be held by God? As children, we are held when things are going right, when a parent is rejoicing over us, loving us, or simply happy to see us when we wake up in the morning. As children, we are also held when we fall down, when we get a bad grade, or when our best friend moves away. Held has nothing to do with our circumstances; it only has something to do with Love.
Being held by God is allowing ourselves, and all that ails us, to be loved. God’s hand is big enough to hold us, our anxieties, our problems, our lack, our joy, our fear, in short, the "all" of us. We can be held while we are at peace, cuddled up and warm. We can be held while we are squirming and unsure. We can be held until we relax into security. Being held requires nothing of us but surrender.
My response to the question, "What does rest look like for those in need of rescue?" followed. Rest for those that need rescue looks like being stuck in a holding pattern, suspended from striving, waiting for all the hurting spaces in our spirits and souls to be filled with God’s love despite our circumstances. That may sound like an easy thing to do, but if you have ever walked through a period of long-suffering and trial, you know that surrendering your entire being to Love can be very difficult.
Are you stuck in a holding pattern? It may not be a bad thing as we have often perceived; it may just be the greatest invitation from the Lord you have ever received. You will come out knowing you are loved by God in the midst of suffering. You will have gained something that can never be stolen from you, destroyed by your circumstances, or killed by anything the enemy may bring. This tested trust in God and His great love for you, which has now sunk into the very marrow of your bones, will be the dynamite you can now throw at any obstacle in your walk with Christ. Not only will you come out of this holding pattern transformed, but your testimony will transform the world.