Cloudy Times and Clear Skies: Understanding Waiting Seasons

5th January 2023, 14:09, VS412 descending into London Heathrow

As I sat in my seat patiently waiting for the plane to reach the runway, I randomly thought “let me get some content of the clouds that I can leverage for a later day.” I pull out my phone and start taking a video of the clouds. I marvel at God’s beauty. He is truly a wonder. So let’s be clear: the aim of me filming was to capture the clouds and more importantly the moment the plane breaks through the clouds and the city of London becomes fully visible. The pilot had already announced that landing was moments away so I figured I’d only need to hold my phone up for ~1 min or so but boy was I wrong! The Holy Spirit used this as a teaching session to explain what happens in a waiting season.

Before I continue let’s use a very simple diagram to draw out the different stages of our descent:

Image above: Five phases of a waiting season i.e. a season of preparation (for illustrative purposes only)

Let’s take each phase in turn and I’ll share what happened and what the Holy Spirit shared at each point.

 

Phase 1: Clear Skies

I call the first phase “clear skies”. Usually before a season of tremendous change everything in our environment or line of sight seems normal and nothing feels out of place. In such seasons we usually go about our lives as normal without thinking too deeply about anything. Whilst filming, this part of the video lasted 6 seconds. Six. Seconds. Only. 

In phase 1, this is where God will usually give us a promise. He will speak about the end and how it will give Him Glory. He will tell you how beautiful the end will be. We’d usually be super excited once we hear the promise and it’ll feel like clear skies – that which you’ve been waiting for will eventually come. I don’t like speaking in parables for extended periods so let’s use a practical example. Joseph had a dream of the sun, moon and 11 stars bowing down to him (Genesis 37:9). This was synonymous to his rank and how prominent he would become in society to the point that his family would eventually bow down to him. When he had that dream he was probably on top of the world. This was his “clear skies” moment. 

In our own lives perhaps God has spoken to you about your marriage and how His glory will be upon it. He’s told you about your husband or wife and you’re already imagining how you will dance at your engagement. Or he’s spoken to you about healing a loved one you’ve been praying for and hence you’re mentally planning the thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. Or he’s spoken about the multimillion dollar deal that will change the destiny of your family so you’re imagining the beautiful suburban mansion your family will live in. Or he’s spoken about your ministry and shown you the sea of people who will be in attendance as he uses you as a vessel to display his power so you’re picturing it and it feels so real. Sound familiar? Trust me, all of these strike a nerve in my body.

All of these happen in Phase 1. Here, a promise is given. All we see are clear skies. All we can imagine is the beauty at the end.

Image above: Clear skies. Beautiful, however, it lasted for six seconds.

 

Phase 2: Cloudy Times

As beautiful as the skies were, the plane continued its descent. I was amazed at how quickly the plane moved. It all happened so fast. One minute everything was gorgeous and next…. I couldn’t see anything. Here, we enter phase 2: cloudy times. 

Before I go further into the meaning of this season and what the Holy Spirit said to me, it’s important to circle back to my expectation at the very beginning. The purpose of the video I was trying to film was to capture content for my social media platforms and I had assumed* that it will take me ~1 minute to capture everything and continue with my life. 

As we started going through the clouds I noticed that it wasn’t changing as quickly as I thought. Sound familiar? 10 seconds passed, nothing. 30 seconds passed, nothing. 45 seconds passed, nothing. I couldn’t see anything. All I could feel was turbulence as the plane navigated the clouds and there was nothing in sight. I started feeling fidgety and randomly thought “well this is taking too long, it was meant to be a 1 minute video anyway and I don’t know how long we will be here for.” I made a move to put my phone away and call it a day before the Holy Spirit said “wait”. He continued and said “keep filming, this is the part where most people give up.” At this point I knew I had really entered God’s classroom because he was soft but stern.

I had silent questions and thoughts such as “how long is this going to last?” “My hand is hurting me. I didn’t think I would have to hold my phone up this long!” “I cannot see anything and you keep telling me to wait?” “When are we going to land? We’ve been here for so long?!” Do all of these sound familiar? 

But as difficult as it was I kept holding my phone. I expected this time to last a few seconds but it lasted for 2 minutes! Dare I say this is usually what happens in our personal lives. We have an expectation or assumption of when things will or should come together but the timing in reality usually differs. I couldn’t help but focus on what the Holy Spirit said “this is where most people give up.” Yikes! But hey, it’s true! This is a very tough season. From the images below you can see that I couldn’t see anything. No sight, just turbulence.

Image above: Going through the clouds. Here we faced turbulence as the plane navigated its way down.

In phase 2, we are usually thrown into a season of testing and trials. Here, it feels like everything that can go wrong goes wrong. If we use Joseph, we see that he then ends up becoming a slave. How wonderful! Someone gets a dream from God about becoming prominent in society but moments later finds themselves as an outcast and a slave. Isn’t that wonderful? In our own lives perhaps God has told you about a financial breakthrough yet you’re suffering repeated losses in your business. Or you’re losing your team and the business almost seems like it’s on the verge of collapse. Or you’re hoping to meet someone and be married but you’re as single as a pringle and there’s not one yummy Christian brother or sister in sight! Or maybe you’re even dating someone and the relationship ends abruptly so it makes you go back and question God and the promise he gave you in the first place. Or you got the doctor’s report lately and the person who God promised to heal is even sicker than before the promise. Do all of these sound familiar? Worry not, I call these cloudy times.

You see, one thing I love about God is his wisdom. I always say to him that till I draw my last breath I never want to become complacent. I always want to marvel at the wisdom of God. The bible speaks about walking by faith and not by sight. He tells us candidly that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Why is this important? Because sight is the opposite of faith. If you can see it and put everything together, what’s there to believe? Given this it’s almost like he deliberately allows things to fracture our sight and cause us to focus solely on him.

God isn’t a meanie. God isn’t playing heavenly squid games with our lives. We are so precious to him! This season serves as a way to form our character. The truth is people want big blessings but don’t want the big character that’s necessary to carry the blessings. But therein lies the problem! God is far too merciful to give you a gift that will kill you so he will take you through a season of preparation i.e. a waiting season, before he hands you the blessing. 

My point is phase 2 is critical. I can go as far as saying it’s probably the most important phase of the 5. It’s the part where your character is formed. It’s where you make God your best friend. It’s where you confront things about yourself that are less than pretty. In this stage we develop the grit and stamina to not just inherit the promise but withstand the heat that comes with it.

 

Phase 3: Hazy Times

Anyway, let’s get back to me and my phone. After waiting a little over two minutes I noticed that I could see flashes of the territory below. I got excited! The worst was finally over and it seemed that indeed the landing was truly moments away. However, something odd started happening:  no matter how many times I touched the screen on my phone for the camera to focus and capture the territory below it didn’t focus. The territory below looked hazy. I tapped repeatedly, nothing. I could tell that we were so close to the runaway. I could tell that we were so close because I could see flashes of the land below yet I couldn’t see it properly. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to phase 3.

In phase 3, we can sense that the worst is over but we can’t see the blessing clearly yet. What this reminds me of was when Elijah prayed for rain and told his servant to keep checking if  he could see anything. He had gone to check a few times previously and saw nothing before coming back on this occasion to say he could see a “small cloud” (1 Kings 18: 44). So he couldn’t see the rain YET. I put the word ‘yet’ in capitals to emphasise its importance. Just because the rain wasn’t there doesn’t mean that the rain wasn’t coming! The rain wasn’t there YET. 

Similarly in phase 3, you can sense the blessing but can’t see it YET. Your business is making money but it’s not at the level he spoke of YET. The friendship with that cute guy or gal is going well but you’re not deeply in love YET. The vitals are better but they can’t walk YET. Phase 3 is one of those times when it seems so close but you know you’re not there **drum rolls because you know what the final word is** YET.

In such a season I believe God wants us to continue praying and trusting him to perfect everything. In Elijah’s case he understood that the God that brought the cloud is the God that will bring the rain. Similarly, that’s what we are to believe in our own unique circumstances. 

Image above: A hazy image of the clouds and London (which is the territory below). It looks hazy right? Sometimes we know God is taking us somewhere and we can sense we are almost there but it may still look hazy and that’s okay!

 

Phase 4: A Clear Picture

Ironically, phase 3 wasn’t as lengthy as phase 2. It was certainly longer than the six seconds in phase 1, but not as lengthy as phase 2. And before I knew it…. clear skies again! I could finally see London Town beneath us and my vision was clear. I silently thought “there you are!” Once we broke through the final layer of clouds and I could clearly see the city of London I smiled. Is this what it feels like to finally look at what you’ve been waiting for? Okay let me be Tumi – sorry London right now is gloomy and it doesn’t look like St. Barths but I smiled because I could imagine how I’ll smile (how you’ll smile) when everything comes together.

As I saw the territory we were about to land in i.e. London, it was a no brainer that we were seconds from the runway. I couldn’t help but notice how quickly phase 4 and 5 happen. They literally happen in quick succession. Sounds amazing right? Absolutely! However, that poses a major problem! It means that phase 4 is not a time for heavy character formation. Instead, see it as a time of preparation for landing. It’s no longer ‘yet’ but instead it’s here! It’s no longer hazy, you can see the blessing clearly. It’s no longer a case of “when will it happen” because it’s right before your eyes. 

When Elijah saw the cloud he knew the rain was going to come down heavily so he told his servant to alert Ahab to prepare for this. He specifically said “before the rain stops you” insinuating that the magnitude of the rain that was about to fall down on the land will be mighty. So what did I infer from this? What can we draw from the film I was carefully recording in my hand and the wise words from my Father? It means whilst in phase 4 we prepare for the full manifestation of what God has promised us. It’s a time when the rain starts falling and serves as a sign that the severity of the rain (i.e. the magnitude of the blessing) will increase with time. 

In our lives it could mean the order volumes for our business start growing so we smile and know that more is coming. Or you start courting that cute friend and get excited because you know the beautiful marriage God impressed on your spirit is round the corner. Or your loved one took their first steps today after being confined to the bed for months without end. The rain is here and with him it will fall heavily in due course.

Image above: London Town! Notice the difference between the previous image and this one. Here we see that the territory, blessing, or the place God is leading us to becomes extremely sharp moments before manifestation. 

 

Phase 5: Manifestation

In the final part we see the full manifestation of the promise. I was severely amazed at how quickly we went from seeing London to skidding down the runway. It literally happened faster than I could say “jack and the beanstalk”! In a matter of seconds we landed and to God’s glory we did so safely!

Similarly, you will land safely. All that God promised you will come to pass by his grace. 

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:45 NKJV

So now we share the asoebi that we’ve secretly picked out. We do the pre wedding shoot. We throw the thanksgiving party with family because our loved one is back home alive and well! We dance to the front of the altar because the business had a record year and its streak isn’t over yet. We praise God because the miracle baby has been birthed. Manifestation is sweet and it usually happens fast. It happens very very fast.

Image above: We landed safely 🙂 Here, the blessing is in my hands and as promised it is sweet 😉

***

Wow. Daddy, you are beautiful. Thank you Lord for this powerful word that touched my soul. Thank you for the wisdom that you’re releasing to your children to show them that you don’t do half done work. To anyone who reads this I want to say one thing: keep believing, keep trusting, don’t give up! 

I sometimes feel like people think they have to have so much faith before God for him to count us worthy or faithful. That’s very untrue. I often say to God that all I’ve got is “a splinter of faith.” Think of shattered glass and a very tiny splinter. A tiny splinter is usually so small that most times it won’t be recognised by simple human eyes. It usually goes undetected and that’s how it ends up entering people’s feet (ouch)! But God sees it. He sees my tiny splinter of faith as he sees yours. That’s all you need. Keep trusting, keep believing and in due season, it will come to pass.

Love always,

Tumi

P.s. I can’t write everything in one post! There’s so much to be said about this analogy (thank you Jesus). Please ponder on it and discern what it means for you. Which phase are you in? Why are you there? Pray and let God guide you. 

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