He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired harbor. ~ Psalm 107:29-30
“How’s retirement?” asked my longtime friend on our video call.
I hesitated. “Honestly? I’m floundering. I’m not sure what I am supposed to be doing. I need God to give me a POAM.”
She, a naval officer currently serving abroad, and me, recently retired from a Department of Defense career, both speak military acronyms. POAM, a plan of action and milestones, is a document that identifies all tasks which need to be accomplished on a project/event, the resources needed, personnel assigned to accomplish each task, significant milestones, and scheduled completion dates.
For the moment, I am in a quiet season. The initial waves of grief at losing my parents have calmed. Work storms no longer rock my boat. I’m not seasick with fear or worries. The waters are still.
This is the first time in my life I am not striving to accomplish defined or perceived expectations. There are no performance objectives or critical self-evaluations. I have let go of things that aren’t mine to fix. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, although it didn’t make sense, I resigned from my leadership role at church. After years of over-committing, I now fully consider things before saying yes. I have even learned to say no.
Yet because I don’t have a detailed directional chart telling me which way to go and what to do, I am aimlessly drifting. I stay busy in the mundane, but I’m fearful I’m missing my real purpose. I sense I am wasting my much-anticipated retirement days. I feel like I am searching for something I can’t find.
Then I read a social media post from @goingbeyondministries:
Stop frantically searching for God's will.
Start frantically searching for God Himself.
I’ve been desperately searching for God’s will as if it was hidden. I’ve felt God was silent when it came to revealing His plan. But He’s been in plain sight all along. His will has been obvious; I just failed to recognized it because it didn’t look like I expected.
I’ve been waiting for a big assignment; a big purpose. Yet I’ve been fulfilling my purpose all along…in the midst of the mundane. It’s not one big thing; it’s all the little things. It’s helping my sister sort through our parents’ belongings. It’s meeting a friend for lunch and listening to her burdens. It’s spontaneous unhurried conversation on the porch with a neighbor. It’s texting back and forth into the late hours of the night with a long-distance friend who’s struggling.
I’ve been fighting stillness. I didn’t want to waste a minute of my retirement days being idle - or worse — lazy. I’ve been running wide-open for years, striving for perfection and meeting expectations. For me, still waters are uncharted territory. I have this unrealistic notion that resting is wasting time. True rest is God’s gift of soul-renewal. And it is a gift I desperately need.
It may not be called a POAM, but God does have a master plan and its details are on a need-to-know basis. Every storm I have endured has been part of that plan, designed to accomplish a specific purpose. In those storms, I prayed desperately for the waves to cease; in His perfect timing, sometimes He did calm the seas, but most often, He calmed me. He has now guided me into quiet, reflective waters.
I will surrender my agenda. I will relinquish my time. I will be obedient in the ordinary. I will rest in the safety of the harbor. And I will thrive under His continual watchful eye.