January 11, 2011
by Colleen Swindoll Thompson
There is purpose right where you are, although you may want to argue against such a statement. Whether raising a child with special needs, caring for an elderly parent, mentoring a suicidal teen, or enduring personal chronic pain, most will pass through a lonely tunnel which leads to what I call “The Cave.”
Think of “The Cave” as a word picture. How would you describe it? I picture a damp, musty, and dark place, with sharp rocks all around. Why on earth would anyone choose to go into such a place! Not many of us would. However, some of us feel like we’ve been thrown into a dark, long-forgotten cavern without hope of rescue. What can we do when we find ourselves in a cave?
The three timeless truths that follow can be found in Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles R. Swindoll. These words from Chuck help us to see that a cave can actually be a birthing place, providing you an opportunity to change and be freed from whatever has bound your soul. Recognize caves for what they are, but also remember that at the mouth of every cave, you can find light and relief. Chuck writes:
First, when God prepares us for effective ministry, He includes what we would rather omit—a period of waiting. That cultivates patience. As I write these words, it occurs to me that I’ve never met anyone young and patient. (To be honest, I've not met many old and patient folks either.) We’re all in a hurry. We don't like to miss one panel of a revolving door. Patience comes hard in a hurry-up society. Yet, it’s an essential quality, cultivated only in extended periods of waiting.
Second, as God makes us wait, hiding us in His shadow, He shows us we’re not indispensable. That makes us humble. One major reason the Lord removes us and has us wait in His shadow is to remind us we’re not the star attraction. We’re not indispensable. That realization cultivates genuine humility. I’m convinced Saul never once questioned God for having His hand on Peter and Barnabas, rather than on him. In a time when most gifted individuals would have been volunteering at the revival headquarters, Saul willingly remained behind the scenes. All the while waiting for his time—correction, God’s time.
Third, while God hides us away, He reveals new dimensions of Himself and new insights regarding ministry. That makes us deep. What we need today is not smarter people or busier people. A far greater need is deeper people. Deep people will always have a ministry. Always. God deepens us through time spent waiting on Him.¹
Colleen Swindoll Thompson holds a bachelor of arts degree in Communication from Trinity International University as well as minors in psychology and education. Colleen serves as the director of Reframing Ministries at Insight for Living Ministries. From the personal challenges of raising a child with disabilities (her son Jonathan), Colleen offers help, hope, and a good dose of humor through speaking, writing, and counseling those affected by disability. Colleen and her husband, Toban, have five children and reside in Frisco, Texas.
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