When we're young we have to learn to wait in lines and to go out for recess. We have to wait to be excused from the table because social etiquette says so, and we have to wait our turn with our hand raised in the air because that's kindergarten curriculum. The time-frame that constitutes 'waiting' when we're little seem so incredibly long and painful in the moment, but it's so ridiculously short in comparison to the things we are forced to wait for when we're older.
We wait for the possible healing of life-threatening illnesses, and we wait for traumatic situations to pass. We wait for God's direction regarding what we're going to do with the rest of our lives(!!), and we wait for Him to bring us the things we've been hoping for. We wait years and years to get married, and then sometimes for so much longer before we can have families. We wait for acceptance letters and for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to come along. And the list goes on. These things are so much bigger than grocery store lines and the anticipated chocolate cake that comes after dinner.
The other problem that plagues us as we grow up is how we learn a little bit more about the world, and then we think that's enough to make it on our own. So we come up with these perfectly masterminded plans that don't leave any room at all for waiting. Then we become overwhelmed when things happen that interfere with the plans we've made, and we think I don't have time for this! On the outside we display content smiles and kind voices, but on the inside anxiety is swarming around making us think we have to immediately move on to the next task.
I'm one of those people who likes to have everything planned out and set in place a month in advance, so when I don't have clear direction, or if I know something is going to come but I don't know the exact details, it's a struggle for me. I can't wait to find out. I need time to prepare myself. I need to know why, how, where, who, what, and (most importantly) when.
In reality, we never know the exact answers to those things, and we are forced against our human nature to wait.
To be honest, sometimes I still don't really know what to do when I have to wait (or if I'm supposed to do anything at all), but here is what I have learned:
Patience Isn't Passive (Or Panicked)
When we're in a period of waiting we either frantically try to speed ahead and figure things out on our own, or we think that we're supposed to sit and wait for something to drop out of the sky. And it's true that sometimes God is teaching us how to be still. We are definitely supposed to wait on Him. But we are also supposed to be (peacefully!) active in our efforts to continue serving Him (that's our purpose!).
When we are focusing all of our efforts on serving Him, everything else will become clear. Our mindset should not be on the panicked planning our life-schedules. It should be completely consumed with loving Him and serving Him to the best of our abilities.
Hebrews 12:1 says that we should "run with patience." It also says that we should throw off sin and the things that weigh us down. Nothing should get in the way of us actively serving God and running the race He has laid out.
Patience Is Rewarding
When we are quick to act on our own judgement and plans, we often miss out on the amazing things that God is going to give us later. We so quickly forget that life is a collection of moments, and not just a single second.
When we choose to wait on God, despite the pressure and temptation of the present-moment, we will be rewarded in the future.
And when we keep in mind that God can be in every moment, while we can only live in a single moment, it is much easier to put our faith in His best plan.
Patience Is Revealing
There are so many examples in the Bible of men and women who are defined by their patient character.
Abraham waited for longer than a lot of people will ever live before he was finally blessed with a son, as God had promised (Genesis 21:2). Job endured pain, persevering through his extreme discomfort (the entire book of Job). James tells us that these figures of faith (Isaac, Moses, David, Elisha, Daniel, etc.) were "example(s) of patience in the midst of suffering" (5:10).
And most importantly, Jesus "endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2).
Personally, I want to be someone who faithfully trusts and waits on God, rather than acting to please my earthly self in split-second decisions.
Patience reveals whether we are truly devoted to His will - whether we really trust Him with all of our hearts.
Patience Is Faith-Building
Those same figures that were defined by their patient character had deep faith in God.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son because God asked him to (Genesis 22). Even though he was probably horrified at the thought of this task, he obeyed. He knew (from previous experiences with waiting on God) that God would be faithful. Waiting helps us build faith that will be essential for the rest of our lives.
Job was a faithful man too, which is one of the reasons God tested him. God knew that he would remain faithful. But in the end, after he had endured a whole lot of suffering, his faith had become even stronger. He waited through all of the trials that were sent his way, and God revealed so much about Himself during that time.
Patience is at the root of our relationships with God, and gives us opportunities to show that we are willing to leave our lives in His hands.
Something that I have had to learn is to rest while I'm waiting. There's a fine balance between actively serving, and peacefully resting. Although those things seem contradictory, they go hand in hand.
I so often feel like life is too short. Like I need to get everything done right now and not waste any time.
But there is a time for everything. And sometimes God gives us seasons of waiting.
Ecclesiastes 3:12 says "there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can."
Patience so clearly brings happiness.
When we use our gifts to the best of the abilities for His glory
When we push past the pressure of the present
When we discover who we really are in Him
And when we put our entire lives in His hands, stepping out in faith
Then we will be forever content.
So seasons of waiting are times to be happy.
They are times to rest, and to appreciate all that God has done.
And most of all, they are times to look forward to all that He is going to do - because He will make everything beautiful in its time.
Enjoy the wait.
|Katie Cottrell Photography|