We have all been there: In that in–between place where we ask, “What do I do now?” This wasn’t planned, it’s uncomfortable and a completely unwelcomed place—on hold. It doesn’t bring out the best in us. It dredges up embarrassing frustration, irritation and exasperation. Pastor T.D. Jakes, American bishop, author and filmmaker, wrote: “The real test of faith is in facing the silence when God places you on hold.”
Sarah was on hold for 25 years before she heard the beautiful cry of her newborn baby, Isaac. (See Genesis 21) The woman with the issue of blood suffered heart-breaking isolation as she waited twelve years until Jesus healed her, thus enabling her to be restored to her community and loved ones. (See Luke 8:42-48) The woman with a disabling spirit was on hold for eighteen years before she could stand up straight and look into the eyes of her Healer. (See Luke 13:11, ESV). For over 40 years, Miriam lived the ultimate scenario of a life on hold. She died never seeing the Promised Land. (See Num. 20:1)
When God places us on hold, He is intentionally setting us on sacred ground, which is a powerful place, not void of His presence. This is a carefully created space intended for holding on. This is not a barren land for the discarded, forgotten, abandoned or rejected. Do not mistake His silence for absence. If we are on hold, He is at work and we are meant to hold on.
The Bible refers to this fierce faith as “holding fast” and by definition, it means to: 1. Hold your position, fix your gaze, and don’t lose sight.
When we feel lost, forgotten, forsaken or alone, Joshua 23:8–16 reminds us of our divine propulsion.
Hold your position (Verses 8–10)
Stand your sacred ground while He fights for you in this holding pattern. Things are happening even when you cannot see them. We should have ultimate confidence in our Creator. Dig in and dig deep in this prime real estate—this is the fertile soil of purpose formation. Why would you want to be any place other than here? Are you prepared to say, “As long as it takes, Lord, I’m holding on with You?”
Fix your gaze (Verses 11–13)
Guard your heart and keep your eyes on your first love. Keep Him as the God of your world. Whatever it takes, do not wander off from His presence. Our tendency while on hold is to wander, to stray, but instead stay fixed on God. Don’t look to the right or left and stay the course. It may not seem as though you are getting anywhere, but you are indeed headed in the right direction.
Don’t lose sight (Verse 15)
Spend this holding time as a treasure gift to contemplate how He has kept His promises to you. Recount every detail of His goodness. By purposefully not losing sight of His faithfulness, we strengthen our grip on Him and release, one by one, the things that have kept us from drawing nearer. This “on hold” is literally an invitation for intimacy. It calls for grit, determination and spiritual discipline. What a lovely adventure with the Savior.
These powerful lessons from Joshua are the ones we should recall over and over. The Israelites lost sight of the importance of holding on and in so doing stopped holding on altogether. When we let go, we lose our footing. We begin to stumble and reach for the wrong things to stabilize ourselves. We miss out on His best for us and lose the right to expect His promises to be fulfilled on our behalf.
The word “fast” means “tight, close the space between, to connect.” When you hold fast to the Lord and decisively keep sight of Him, you are actually closing the space between yourself and Him. The prophet Isaiah 41:31 says, “For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’” God is telling us that He has a firm grip on us and He is not letting go. He says, “Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’” We should take comfort and be rooted in the knowledge that our victories are not won solely in the faith–act of holding on. The battleground has been traversed by our Warrior God and that same power lives within us. He has a grip on you. He is standing His ground with you and nothing will move Him from you. (See Psalm 139) His gaze is fixed on you (See Psalm 101:6) and He won’t lose sight of you, ever. (See Psalm 121:4-5)
Living a life holding on can be a beautiful thing. It’s a life of peace, confident that He is with us and worthy of our trust.
“If you’re in a not–yet season, living in the space between a longing in your heart and a promise fulfilled, this blessing is for you: May you remind your soul today that His delays are not denials; they are more often protection and preparation for the promise. May you rise up with faith in your heart and declare God’s goodness in the gap between the promise and what you possess at the moment. God is moving in ways you cannot see and we, as God’s people walk by faith not sight.” —Susie Larson