holding pattern – n. a traffic pattern for aircraft at a specified location (holding point) where they are ordered to remain until permitted to land or proceed; a state or period in which no progress or change is made or planned (Dictionary.com)
There I was ready to land again, my airplane of progress having completed its mission – or so I thought – when I saw the signal to keep flying.
“Keep flying, Lord? Why? I did what You asked, and here, I am with yet another set of excellent results. If I could just land ….”
But, no, it came again, a command from the tower. “Circle again, Suzanne.”
God has put me in a holding pattern. This is different from waiting. Waiting means I’m ready for takeoff, but am not yet in the air. It’s full of expectancy for the upcoming trip. A holding pattern, on the other hand, means for some reason unknown to me, I’m already flying but cannot land.
The primary use of a holding is delaying aircraft that have arrived at their destination but cannot land yet because of traffic congestion, poor weather, or runway unavailability. (Wikipedia)
Both waiting and holding require patience and trust. We believe God is working out an area in our life, putting our faith that the end (or beginning) will come when He is ready. Both are actions, requiring us to do something. But in a holding pattern, a number of requirements are given.
First, there’s a predefined path:
A holding pattern for instrument flight rules (IFR) aircraft is usually a racetrack pattern based on a holding fix. This fix can be a radio beacon such as a non-directional beacon (NDB) or VHF omnidirectional range (VOR). The fix is the start of the first turn of the racetrack pattern. Aircraft will fly towards the fix, and once there will enter a predefined racetrack pattern. (Wikipedia)
This isn’t me on my own wasting time while God hurries in the background because He wasn’t quite ready for me. I didn't catch God off guard! No, He had the pattern I’m to follow already plotted out.
“Go this direction, Suzanne, and keep your eyes on me until I give the signal.”
As long as I do that and don’t deviate in height or distance, I won’t run into anything I shouldn’t and, when the time is right, will be able to land like always.
Second, it’s tough to get going:
The entry to a holding pattern is often the hardest part for a novice pilot to grasp. (Wikipedia)
And sometimes I’m not the only one waiting on a runway:
Several aircraft may fly the same holding pattern at the same time, separated vertically by 1,000 feet or more. This is generally described as a stack or holding stack. As a rule, new arrivals will be added at the top. The aircraft at the bottom of the stack will be taken out and allowed to make an approach first, after which all aircraft in the stack move down one level, and so on. Air traffic control (ATC) will control the whole process, in some cases using a dedicated controller (called a stack controller) for each individual pattern. (Wikipedia)
Isn’t that the truth? God tells me to keep flying, but sometimes getting out of the rut I’ve put myself in is the hardest part. It isn’t easy to change my plans. I want to hurry up, get this over with, and go on to the next great thing.
But God isn’t ready for me to do that yet. He can see what I can’t, knows if someone else is flying in my way. Perhaps they even got there first. It could be if I land right now I’ll get in the way of another person who really needs that runway. But regardless, I’ll definitely be out of God’s timing, and that’s not worth the risk.
Lastly, slow down:
Many aircraft have a specific holding speed published by the manufacturer; this is a lower speed at which the aircraft uses less fuel per hour than normal cruise speeds. (Wikipedia)
Ah, here’s an important truth. Not only am I not flying wherever I want. I’m flying at a different speed than I was. In essence, I’m maintaining. I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing, hanging onto the original purpose of this flight, and know that God will let me land with my cargo at the appropriate time.
I don’t toss out the cargo and passengers because I can’t land yet! They’re still valuable.
The reason I was hired to pilot this trip was to get someone or something from point A to point B. That hasn’t changed. Point B simply isn’t ready for me yet.
But here’s the good news, it will be! God is still working on my behalf. He’s still speaking to my heart. He hasn’t changed how He works in my life. Instead, I must listen and obey, and then I’ll fulfill what He has for me.
God never sends you on a trip and leaves you halfway. What He said He’d do, He will. I put my faith in Him to get me there, exactly how He planned.
Even if that means flying in circles for a while.
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.