When Sitting on the Fence is a Step in the Right Direction
I don't think there's anyone alive who has been completely decisive in every situation they've faced. Situations arise that give us pause and make us question on almost a daily basis. Should we or shouldn't we? Will we or won't we? The arguments in our minds can become a torment causing us so much anxiety and despair. The feeling of being pulled in two directions can be extremely painful.
Sometimes sitting on the fence can result in what feels like a negative outcome. I remember how one particular winter, I was agonizingly torn. While my husband and I, as Canadian snowbirds, had for years, spent the winter months living in Arizona, we had through that particular Christmas season, countless discussions with my parents over whether or not we should be going. Mother had just been admitted to a nursing home as her Parkinson's Disease had been rapidly progressing. But, they had assured us over and over, that there was no reason to stay home. My Dad had stated emphatically that we should go now that Mom was in a home and he could better care for himself with the pressure and worry of her care relieved. When I kissed Mom goodbye that Christmas day, I wondered whether she'd even remember me when we got home in May.
For a time, Mother seemed to be managing okay in the home. But then after only a couple of weeks I noticed that she was becoming increasingly incoherent during our video chats. When posing questions about her condition to Dad and my brother, I was receiving vague and indistinct messages. As I began to wonder what to do, I had to be sensitive to the situation from all sides. We could go home, chancing that nothing would change with Mom and we would forfeit all our plans for the winter, thousands of dollars, and be helpless to do anything for her anyway. Or, we could remain in Arizona to wait and see.
So, I sat on the fence.
For several days, I pondered and worried, questioned and prayed. So, we decided to make the trip home. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us and we were delayed by 2 days while waiting for a crippling snow storm to pass through what would be our direct route north (although we hit it anyway and with God's intervention, narrowly escaped being in a serious accident on the icy Texas highway). Just two hours into our trip on the day we were finally able to leave, I got the "call" from Dad that Mom had just passed away.
Waiting Requires Patience
Throughout scripture, we're reminded that God's plans will unfold in His time. As mere humans, one of the hardest acts we're asked to perform is that of waiting. We feel that we must somehow coerce or manipulate action to achieve a desired outcome. In a need-it-now society, we have little patience when it comes to waiting; especially when it's a difficult, stressful, or turbulent situation.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."
~ Proverbs 3:5-6 ~ (NIV)
In this instance, I know deep in my heart that, through prayer while perched on that fence, God helped me come to the decision He wanted for me. Even though I had said my goodbyes to Mother on Christmas day, understanding what that might mean, I tried to make peace with remembering her in life. Sadly, I wasn't able to tell her a final good bye and hold her hand at the end. But, while God's hand guided us through that treacherous 47 hour drive home, His plan was at work.
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
~ Mark 11:24 ~ (NIV)
Sitting on the fence is really a great place to be. When we're faced with making a decision, it gives us the opportunity to pray. We can talk to God from that precarious position and weigh out all the pros and cons to His listening ear in a calm and rational way.
In 1997, I was several years into studying the German language. It was my heritage and regrettably, since coming to Canada in 1953, my Dad had made the decision to fully embrace his new Canadian citizenship and dispense completely with his German past and the devastating pain of his childhood memories. But, when I met my 2 wonderful great-aunts and some cousins from East Germany in 1989, we were unable to communicate because they only spoke German and I did not. Right then and there I made a commitment and immersed myself into becoming fluent in German. No small feat I might add. So, after completing several university courses, I learned of a private school in Berlin where I could study, fully immersed in the language and culture, to finally earn my certificate.
There I was on that fence.
This would be a major life decision for not only me, but for my husband as well. The program was nearly 3 months long. I would need to take a leave of absence from work. I would need to come up with several thousand dollars to fund this journey. I would need to be away from home, my husband and beloved fur-kid, my parents and grandparents, my friends. And, the prospect of how it might affect our marriage and me as an individual was frightening. But, on the other hand, I would realize a dream of all dreams.
Through much prayer and discussion we agreed that I should attend the school. And as a result, I realized my dream of earning my German language fluency certificate.
But, God didn't stop there. He had plans for so much more which included a new job with a local German company, new and lifelong relationships with my German friends and family, a renewed connection to my parents (especially my Dad), a deeper and more meaningful relationship with my husband, and a sense of accomplishment where I had once felt frustration and lack of purpose.
"I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks Him;"
~ Lamentations 3:24-25 ~ (NIV)
Snap decisions most often lead to regret and heartbreak. Impulsiveness is a pressure put on us by the enemy so that's where "fence-sitting" becomes the best place to be. In actual fact, there are all sorts of fence-sitting: large ones, small ones, important ones, urgent ones, and ordinary ones. But, the first step is to recognize a fence-sitting opportunity.
What are your fence-sitting questions? Have you been challenged with a .... Are you struggling with ... Do you want to .... Should you try ... Will you need to ... ???
As you ponder the question at hand, realize that you're perched on that fence. Right there and then, take the time to petition God for an answer. He has you right where He wants you but He needs to hear from you. There will be times when we sit longer that we expect or hope to but, in the end, His answer will move us over the top.
Fence-sitting will change your life. Even now, you may be fence-sitting about your faith and that's a place where God can truly help you. When you look over the fence at the 99, you can trust that He's there for you and you alone; the one who's struggling and feeling lost.
His Plans Will Always Unfold His Way
And, while there was serious fall-out during that tumultuous time after Mother passed away, I am fully aware of God's continuing work in my life. The story is continuing to unfold and along the way, I am learning that, when it comes right down to it, we sit on the fence far more often than we realize. And from that place, we can take comfort in knowing God is listening.
Paws to Pray
Today we want to thank You for the fence You've provided us. A perch that gives us the opportunity to bring our questions, dilemmas, and problems to You. In our difficult times, the fence allows us a place of calm reflection and comfort knowing that You are listening and guiding us. Thank You Lord, for always waiting on us as we ponder our fence-sitting issues and for reminding us that with the same patience, Your plans for us will be fulfilled.
In Your name we pray,
For downloadable versions of this and other prayers click HERE .