A Four-Letter Word – CMN Women

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A Four-Letter Word

By Rebecca Burtram

The word “wait” is a four-letter word. Although there are many times I’m pretty sure it is, “wait” isn’t a bad word. I hate to be told to wait. Somehow, it is the message I’ve had the hardest time hearing as a church planter.

I was reflecting on this today as I walked through my own home. This summer, we bought a foreclosed home that was a real fixer-upper. We love houses like this. We can get the space and location we desire for significantly less money than homes that are move-in ready. We also love them because we love the excitement of making something run down into something beautiful. We have a vision for what can be when we walk into a new space.

The hard part, the part where I struggle, is the in-between space. While some rooms are finished and cozy, we have halls with half-finished flooring, walls waiting for paint, and fixtures in need of new wiring. However, we can only do so much at a time, and some things just have to wait.

This is church planting at its core. It is a constant renovation project. No matter how much progress we make, there is always something that has to wait until we can get to it. I constantly want to run ahead and jump to the finished project. I am great at envisioning what it will be and making plans to get there. I am terrible at waiting on God’s timing or waiting for the process to work.

Before we moved to Charlottesville to start the church, I was listening to the book of Numbers and God gave me a word to help deal with my anxiety and my impatience for the in-between seasons.

I listened as the twelve men reported what they had seen of the Promised Land. Ten men said they could not conquer the land, but Joshua and Caleb said they could. The Israelites didn’t listen, and God corrected them for their doubt like a parent punishes a child. He said they would need to wander the desert for 40 years until the nation of Israel had matured in faith and when all those who continually doubted God were gone.

The next day the Israelites were like, “Oh, wait. We are ready now.” and they said, “We have sinned. Now we’ll go to the place the Lord promised.” Moses told them it wasn’t the right timing because God had clearly given them the new timeline. They went into battle anyway, and they lost.

The Israelites did not have success because they didn’t follow God. They didn’t move when He was moving. They tried to do things their way. As I heard this scripture, I knew I had to stop worrying about how and when we could do things my way and trust God. I heard the word of God saying, “move when I move.”

Although I still have to fight my desire to try to make everything work on my timeline, God is continually reminding me to walk in stride with Him and to move when He moves. Again and again in the last four years we have seen God work in His perfect timing and do things we never could have imagined.

When I become anxious, impatient, or fearful, I remember that if I am listening for God’s direction and doing my best to move in His time, He will do what only He can do. He will build His church.

There is no better place to be than in stride with God and His timing, even if it means we have to wait.


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Rebecca Burtram and her husband, Jonathan, planted Redemption Church Charlottesville on Easter of 2016. Rebecca is the author of Our Broken Hallelujahs and blogs about grace and imperfection at rebeccaburtram.com. She is passionate about helping others know that they are not alone in their struggles or their triumphs. If you have a church planting story to share with other CMN women, contact her at rebecca@redemptioncc.com

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