“God knows what He's about. If He has you sidelined, out of action for a while, He knows what He's doing. You just stay faithful – stay flexible – stay available – stay humble.” Charles Swindoll (1994) Growing strong in the seasons, p 531.
Over the last eight months, I have primarily been focussed on the writing of my PhD on practitioner perceptions of object-oriented programming. It has been a difficult road as we have learnt to survive on my wife's income. During that time, I have applied for positions in academia and in industry but so far there has been no offers for employment. Now as the cash reserves from the redundancy payout dry up, the feeling of having been sidelined grows stronger.
It would be nice to argue that my faith has remained strong throughout, that I have never once doubted that this is where I should be and what I should be doing. But that isn't true. I have wondered whether I have lost touch with those programming skills that I used to have and whether I would ever be teaching again. The sense of being sidelined forever has sometimes been overwhelming. That isn't helped when you have spent weeks writing a chapter only to have it pulled apart by your supervisors and you are back redrafting and hoping that this time, you are finally writing what they think is wanted.
This is where Swindoll's quote offers reassurance. God knows what he is doing and we simply need to remain faithful, humble, and available. In his time, he will open the path ahead and we will see more clearly what he has planned for us. As Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." That message was delivered to Jeremiah when Israel was in exile and looking like it had no future.