Faith: Holding patterns

God uses holding patterns to prepare his people for what comes next; even in a holding pattern, we are still moving

Photo illustration /

Have you ever been between two things?

Perhaps a better question is, have you ever been between something old and something new? Where you have left something behind like a job or opportunity, but haven’t arrived at the next thing yet?

I like to refer to these seasons of life as holding patterns.

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There are two definitions of holding patterns found in the Oxford Dictionary. The first is, the flight path maintained by an aircraft awaiting permission to land. This is the oval-shaped pattern given to a plane from the control tower.

While this delay can be very frustrating for the passengers, especially if they have to make a connecting flight to continue on their journey, there is typically a reason.


Holding patterns can occur because of air traffic congestion at the airport, bad weather or if there is an emergency where the runway cannot be used.

Have you ever been on a plane in a holding pattern?

The second definition of a holding pattern is a state or period of no progress or change. This second definition is where we began. We all get into these stuck seasons of life. We feel like we are standing still, not making any progress to the next thing.

Pastor Jeff Brown-Pine River May 2023.jpg
Assistant Pastor Jeff Brown, New Life Community Church, May 2023.
Contributed / Jeff Brown

For most of us, the feeling of standing still makes us uneasy. We feel like we should be moving when we are not. These seasons can be very tiresome, anxious and frustrating, especially when they roll on for an extended period of time. Seasons in which we ask a lot of questions, and seem like we receive very few answers.

Walk through life long enough and you will encounter a holding pattern or two.

Did you know that scripture is full of holding patterns? There are multiple accounts in both the Old and New Testaments, where God’s people found themselves between what was and what hadn’t occurred yet.

These were seasons of life where they felt like they were just going in circles or just plain stuck. The length of time varies from just a few days to many years in a holding pattern.

In the book of Acts, two men named Paul and Silas spent a night in a Philippian jail. In the book of Genesis, a young man named Joseph spent two years in prison in Egypt after being sold into slavery by his brothers.


Probably the most famous holding pattern is the people of Israel and their 40 years of wandering in the desert found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

We tend to feel stuck when in a holding pattern. However, a plane in a holding pattern is still moving. It has to or it falls out of the sky.

In each of these accounts in scripture, God used these holding patterns to prepare his people for what came next. He kept moving them forward, because no season lasts forever.

Paul and Silas were in the Philippian jail, which led to the salvation of the jailer and his entire family. Joseph in prison was in position to interpret a dream for Pharaoh that saved two nations.

And through 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites were formed into the people who would claim the Promised Land.

Do you find yourself in a holding pattern in life? Do you feel stuck? I hope and pray you realize that even in your holding pattern you are still moving.

As long as you are breathing, God is working in this season of life. Keep your eyes fixed on him. It may take time but you will see the next thing waiting for you.

New Life Community Church in Pine River logo May 2023.png
New Life Community Church, Pine River, logo.
Contributed / New Life Community Church

Jeff Brown is assistant pastor at New Life Community Church in Pine River.

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