Have you ever heard of a midlife crisis? I used to make fun of the concept. What could be so hard about getting older? I would think. Just enjoy it.
And then I heard about something called a “quarter-life crisis”. It’s the same thing – a feeling of purposelessness, anxiety, being stuck and stagnant – only for people who are in their twenties.
And it’s a real thing. Because after having pretty standard milestones to look forward to most of my life, now, I’m in this quiet place.
I’ve done what I’m supposed to – finish school, find a job. And now there’s a blank canvas of life ahead of me. But what should I do with it? Am I doing enough with it? Are the things I dream about too wild or unrealistic?
So I start praying for direction, for answers to my life questions, for God to open this door or that door. But for the first time in my life, God isn’t answering my prayers within a few days or months.
I’m still here waiting, wondering if I’m on the right path.
It’s a first-world problem to have, and probably a privileged problem to have, too, but it’s not a new problem to have, and Joshua 21 is just one of the Biblical examples of a solution to this problem.
Keep waiting – busily
There’s nothing groundbreaking in this chapter. There’s almost nothing interesting in this chapter. It’s more real estate – this tribe gets this land. Almost exactly the same as the last seven or so chapters.
But not quite the same. Instead of assigning large swathes of land for one tribe to build up and populate, individual cities are given to individual clans of the tribe of Levi.
God didn’t do for the Levites exactly what He did for the other tribes. The Levites were His priests, so he told them they wouldn’t get a land inheritance like everyone else. Their true inheritance, instead of land ownership, was their intimate service to God in His tabernacle.
So while everyone else was marking off their land boundaries, the Levites were waiting.
While everyone else was planning where to build their homes, the Levites were waiting.
While everyone else was deciding where to grow gardens, where to build public works, and getting ready to enjoy their inheritance, the Levites were waiting.
But they didn’t wait idly.
Just as God promised them a more personal inheritance, a closer relationship with Him, they had promised God their lives in service to Him.
The Levites worked. They worked in the tabernacle and they worked in the community. They upheld the laws God had given His people and were in charge of all their sacrifices. They were the spiritual leaders of Israel. They were their conscience, their reminders, their intercessors.
They did all of this for God and for Israel, even as they waited.
Waiting is hard. Waiting while not knowing the future is even harder. Not receiving immediate answers from God is frustrating. Bad thoughts start niggling at the back of your mind, asking you if God really even cares about you and your life.
But it’s these times when our faith is molded and strengthened. It’s these times where we decide whether we want to believe in ourselves or in our God.
And when we take our times of waiting and commit to doing something for God, we are deciding to have faith.
When we focus on developing our relationship with God and asking Him for strength to live the way He has asked us, we are deciding to believe in God.
When we look around for something, anything to do for God as we wait, we are trusting God with our lives.
And suddenly waiting isn’t so bad. Because it’s one thing to wait when you believe your life is in your own hands. It’s completely different when you know your life is in the hands of Someone who loves you.
“I’m thinking about you. I have something for you.”
The Levites didn’t wait idly. But they also didn’t wait without hope.
Joshua 21 isn’t about the Levites’ waiting period. It’s about their reward, their own personal answer from God.
The cities God gave them still weren’t the land plots that He gave the other tribes, but they were a reminder that God hadn’t forgotten about them. He had a plan and a purpose for them. He loved them.
We are no different in God’s eyes. Even though He hasn’t given us what He’s given to others, God still has a plan for us.
A period of waiting or uncertainty doesn’t mean that God doesn’t need us or has pushed us to the backburner of His mind. It just means that His plans are different from ours.
So keep waiting. Keep waiting and loving God. Keep waiting and serving God. Keep waiting and trusting God.
Because one day, when God’s answers come and His plan for you starts to become clear, you’ll be so glad you trusted Him.
What do you think? What are you waiting on God for?