If someone asked you in 2015, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” would you have said, “In the middle of a pandemic?” More than likely, it never crossed your mind. Suffice it to say we are all not experiencing what we expected. Here is the big question #1, how do we deal with the gap between what we expect and what we experience? Sometimes it feels as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon. Big question #2 follows closely behind, what will fill the gap? Since we are all riding this fluid wave of uncertainty, the potential fillers are limitless. Here is my real-time confession of what has filled my gap since March.
Fear of getting sick. Fear of suffering. Fear of disappointing others in a cancel culture. Fear a scratch church plant named King’s Cross we sought to launch in March will not flourish. Fear of the unknown. In Latin anxiety means “to choke.” There are more than a few days when these fears feel like they are strangling me. But when I look across this insurmountable chasm, I ask my Father for faith to fill the gap. I know without it, it will be impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).
I am a long-range planner by nature. Last year I traveled to locations all over North America working with Hinged teams to make our conference plans. I remember praying with teams, but I am not sure any of us quoted “if the Lord wills” (James 4:15). These past six months, I have led these teams through a disappointment discipleship course. It was the class we never wanted to attend. It is a gospel classroom where we ask God to transform us in the gap. The curriculum is designed by the Spirit to produce endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-5).
My son is scheduled to get married on September 6th. We are currently on plan “double Z”. We made plan A, and then God showed us His best plan. There were moments of sadness and lament. We were just plain sad the plan had to change. At the bottom of the plan gap, I cry. My pillow is tear soaked. But God sees in the darkness as I cry out from the miry pit for Him to redeem and renew me (Psalm 103:1-5).
My family likes to say I have a “double AA battery” personality. My default is to be a task-driven fixer. Some may say control freak depending on the week. God has brought me to an end—the end of my plans, agendas, and fix-it strategies. I wear myself out trying to scheme or climb myself out of the gap. It is here I humbly look up and see His sovereignty. It is a God—not god— moment. I seek to be still, to cease striving, and to know He is God (Psalm 46:10).
Can you relate to at least one of these gap fillers? As women, we are products of our doxology and theology. And what’s in the gap reveals them. Our doxology is what we worship. Each of my gap fillers above exposes that I worship comfort, convenience, and control. Our theology reveals what we believe about God and His character. My gap fillers expose my lack of belief that God is infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, and sovereign. Let’s get to big question #3: What if God has ordained this gap for our good and His glory? As Elizabeth Turnage often challenges us, what if God resizes our what ifs?
- What if I surrendered my expectations and submitted to His expectations?
- What if looked at the gap and felt His presence?
- What if I stood on the precipice of the unknown and experienced His peace?
- What if I cried out “show me your glory” instead crying in self-pity?
- What if I prayed first and then humbly “if the Lord wills” planned second?
- What if I realized the way of life is the way of death, seeking to die to my plans, dreams, and agendas?
- What if instead of looking in I looked up to love God and looked out to love my neighbor?
- What if I asked God to renew my mind in His Word to think biblically about this current season?
- What if I genuinely believed I did not need to be sufficient for such a time as this but rested that His grace is enough?
- What if I brought him only weakness, realizing it is the place His power is perfected?
- What if I prayed God would realign my expectations to His Word and will?
Well then, friend, the gap would be filled with one thing: God’s glory!
About the Author:
Karen Hodge serves as the Coordinator for PCA Women’s Ministry, where she seeks to connect women and churches to one another and to sound resources. She is also having the time of her life serving alongside her husband, pastor and best friend Chris, as they plant King’s Cross Church in Fort Mill, SC. Chris and Karen have two adult children, Anna Grace Botka and Haddon Hodge. She is the host of the enCourage podcast and along with Susan Hunt, authored Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver and Life-giving Leadership.