Peace in the Pregnant Pause
“Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you, and therefore He will be exulted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.” Isaiah 30:18
Have you ever felt like you were living in a pregnant pause? That place where nothing is happening, where life is suspended, where it seems as if everything around you is holding its breath? For comedians, the pregnant pause is that abbreviated time right before the punch line is delivered where its location and longevity can make the difference between peals of laughter and eye-rolls of lament. In conversations, the pregnant pause is when something thought provoking has been stated which beckons a response; the silence that ensues may be weighty or even awkward, but it is also filled with anticipation for the reply that is certain to come forth. In our day-to-day lives we too experience these lapses.
Recently, I saw a drawing of a man’s hand holding a pen over a written document. It was clear that the man was writing something, but had momentarily paused. Perhaps he was gathering his thoughts; perhaps he was rereading what he had previously written; perhaps his attention had been diverted by someone or something else in the room; perhaps it was simply a picture of a hand writing, with no underlying “meaning of life” embedded in it! But for a moment, I felt an attachment to that drawing; I felt as if it was a portrait of my life. I saw where there was a page with writing on it (the page is my life and the written words are that portion of my story I have lived out thus far); I saw where the blank page extended with room for continued writing (my future, the place where the rest of my story will be written); I saw the pen that could be used for writing (the tool God chooses for making strokes upon my page); and I saw the hand that held the pen (God’s hand, my Author, the writer of my story), but the hand wasn’t moving…it was poised, and paused, above the paper. It was in this suspension that I saw my current situation; here I saw an illustration of what I have been feeling: the pregnant pause. This is where I am; this is where I wait; a character in my own story awaiting the movement of the Author’s pen across my page. I hold my breath; I wait for the laughter (and pray there won’t be any eye-rolling); I anticipate God’s interjection (Your ear will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21); I pray for God’s perfect timing…and, if it’s His will…for His insertion of comedic relief!
Can you relate to this? Have you ever been in a place where your story seems to have come to a halt? As the character within the story, you can’t turn the page and as one who is dependent upon the Author for a voice, you can’t even say anything! You just have to wait for the pen to move. If only, you think, you could write your own story! Then, there would be no more waiting, no more delays, no more pregnant pauses. But, if God is the Author of our lives and He chooses to allow these times of suspension, then it must be that they are not without meaning. Somehow, these pauses must be necessary, purposeful even, to our story. If this is true, then there must be examples of such moments of suspension in other people’s lives. I turned to the recorded stories of people in the Bible; if their lives were marked by pregnant pauses then I could be certain of two things: pregnant pauses were pervasive and pregnant pauses were purposeful.
As I leafed through the accounts of men and women in the Bible, I found upon each person’s page the evidence of a pregnant pause. First, there was Abraham and his 25-year pause as he awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise for a son. Then there was Joseph, who endured years of enslavement and imprisonment before his dreams were realized; surely he felt like there were times when God’s hand was suspended above his page as he longed for God’s pen to move. Moses’ story is filled with pauses too and, if there were such an award, he would be a contender for the Pregnant Pause Pulitzer. Having experienced one 40-year pause following his exile from Egypt, he then endured another 40-year pause as he led the children of Israel to the Promised Land. Another example is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her pregnant pause was both literal and figurative as her life was divinely interrupted with the words, “You shall conceive and bear a Son…”. And, who can forget Mary and Martha’s four-day pause? While it may seem short in comparison to those previously mentioned, I imagine their 4-day wait for Jesus’ arrival felt like a 40-year suspension. I could go on, offering as further examples the lives of Caleb, Ruth, David, Simeon, John the Baptist, Peter, and Paul. The truth is, we all experience these pauses at some time In our life; at some point in our story. But as we learn from Abraham, Moses, Mary, and the others, these pauses were not places where God simply stopped writing but rather places where He allowed a pause to actually add to their story, a place to build anticipation not anxiety; to inscribe trust, to engrave faith, to accentuate purpose. With each pause, God prepared the person for what was to come. The pauses were truly pregnant in that they all resulted in some type of delivery. For Abraham, there was the arrival of Isaac and the birth of a nation; for Moses there was the delivery of God’s people from Egypt; for Mary there was the birth of a Savior; for Mary and Martha there was the resurrection of their brother Lazarus from the tomb. All of these are life-altering and faith-building events; the kind that must be preceded by a moment of suspense, a moment that properly heralds the arrival of what is about to be written.
So if these pauses are divinely timed and purposefully planned, then shouldn’t our perspective of them change? How do we come to a place of peace within the pause? The only way I can find to do this is to change my focal point. Rather than looking at the blank portion of my page, I need to keep my eyes fixed and focused upon the hand that is ever present and waiting to continue my manuscript. I am not to focus on the page; it is not mine to fill; I am not to focus on the written portion, it has already been completed; I am not to focus on the pen, it is not mine to move; I am to focus on the Author and await the movement of His hand. And so I wait; still in the pregnant pause, still awaiting the continuation of my story. But now I can wait with peace; now I can know that the pause is purposeful…and powerful…and pregnant with possibilities!
So I look again at that picture that seems to illustrate my life, but rather than feeling that my story is in suspension, I now see that it is in preparation. The hand will move, the pen will etch, the story will continue, and the timing will be perfect and complete. And the anticipated laughter? It too will erupt because my Writer has perfect timing…both cosmic and comedic! And my deliverance from the pause? Well, that too will emerge as heaven exclaims, “And now, for the rest of the story!”