Do you remember the days when you could travel somewhere on a plane, living a life of travel and excitement? It’s incredible to reflect on how different life is now, compared to 12 months ago. If you have travelled, you may be familiar with the term ‘holding pattern’.
A holding pattern is ‘a state of waiting or suspended activity or progress’. It occurs when a plane is unable to land due to unfavourable ground conditions. The pilot is informed that it is not favourable to land, so the plane makes a loop around the landing strip before attempting to land again.
Do you ever feel like your life is in a holding pattern? Not moving forward. Not moving backwards. Same things. Day in. Day out.
Sometimes it may feel like our life is in a holding pattern. Maybe your dream holiday is on hold with COVID impacts, and you are waiting, waiting, waiting for some news that travel to that destination has opened up again. A newer house was on hold as you realised that the stretch to finances might be too great. That dream job may be on hold as you discover an elderly parent requires more significant help and support. A teenage life may be on hold at school, itching to live a life outside of school but not quite old enough or prepared enough for the adult world.
There are many times when we could feel that we are in a holding pattern. The Bible shows us examples of people who experienced their life in a holding pattern, one being Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and ended up in Egypt as a servant. He was framed for an offence he didn’t do and was placed in prison for years. Joseph had a dream when he was young about his brothers bowing down to him, but it didn’t eventuate until he was 30. While in prison, he developed the ability to forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery so that when the time came, he would be able to save his family from famine, and many other families as well. His holding pattern was not in vain.
Just like a pilot prepares for the possibility of being in a holding pattern by ensuring that there is enough fuel, it would be wise for us to prepare for the possibility of a holding pattern occurring at some stage in our lives. We can prepare for the chance that at some stage in our lives, or the lives of our children, we will experience the sensation of being in a holding pattern.
Yet, in the longing for seasons to change, dream jobs to come around, or international travel to open again, we can see God’s grace pile up for us as he provides love, care and provisions for us in the waiting. Do we choose to become bitter or more robust in the waiting process?
Sometimes, the frustration that we may experience in the holding comes from losing the ability to be thankful for the things that we have today, the blessings that we have each day. As we are slowed, we begin to see what we already have. We may not have that big house, but we have a home that keeps us safe and dry and provides a space for a family to grow together. We may not be able to travel to that fantastic destination, but we can enjoy the beauty in the world close to us and the offerings locally.
The beginning of Psalm 37:7 states ‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’. To be still before the Lord means holding firm to faith when stuck in the holding pattern. It means not doubting God is at work, while we feel invisible.
What I know for sure is that God will never leave us or forsake us. He is active in ways we cannot see. He is preparing the landing strip – complete with new pavement because He is a God who gives ‘more than we can ask or imagine.’ He loves us too much to rush us through these days of preparation.
The Bible says, ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong. Let your heart take courage.’ When our lives are in a holding pattern, and we are unsure when the weight may lift, we can take the time to stop, rest in the blessings that this day brings, and trust that God is growing us beneath the surface until it’s our time to land and adventure again. Good things can happen to us, even in the holding pattern. Our pilot, God, knows our destination and the exact time to bring us into it. Trust in Him.
Head of Primary Years