I consider myself a relatively patient person, but I really hate waiting. I know that doesn’t really make any sense. But waiting is the worst. I hate waiting in long lines at the grocery store. I hate waiting to pass someone on the road because the car in the left lane is deciding to go as fast as the car in front of you that you want to pass. I really hate waiting for websites to load. How did we ever live through dial-up? I hate waiting for my food when I’m hungry. When I was younger, I hated waiting on my parents to tell me if I could do something. I hated waiting to get my license and waiting to be allowed to actually drive. Obviously, this is really nothing new for me and you may be able to empathize. You probably feel the same way about waiting. Therein rests the tension that I think many Christians find themselves in as they go through the process of growing in Christlikeness. We are progressing in something, but really we aren’t that great at it.
I have been trying to read through the Bible in a year this year with the Faithlife app (which I love by the way). I am currently in the Psalms and literally everyday there is some mention of “wait” in what I read. It has been one of those things that I noticed for a few days, but didn’t really think much about it. Then one day I was reading and thought, “huh, I wonder if God is trying to tell me something?” When that clicked it was like all these other pieces started coming together. For example, several months ago my wife text me this verse:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.
1 Peter 5:6 ESV
I didn’t really think much of it that day other than the fact that it was a good verse and I appreciated my dear wife sending me encouragement. However, now with this new theme of waiting that God seemed to be screaming at me, this verse took on an entirely new meaning to me. Has God been trying to tell me this for that long? Have I not been listening for that long? In that verse from 1 Peter, it reminds me that there is humility in waiting on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord requires us to put aside our plans and give ourselves over to what God would do with/in/through us.
There is a way to wait on the Lord without really waiting. You simply tell yourself that you’re waiting on the Lord, but continue with your plans at the same time. I have wondered before what the Israelites thought at the Red Sea as the Egyptians were coming and Moses basically says he is going to go talk to God about it. I imagine they did not come running up to the water, Moses lunged ahead 300 style, dipped his toe into the water and boom, the sea parted. There is an element of continuous action in the story as you read it, but I am sure it took a bit of time. The Israelites had a choice, as they did in numerous other times as is recorded throughout the Old Testament; they had to decide if they were going to really wait on the Lord even if it felt maddening to really trust and just wait. You can read more about it in Exodus 14.
I find myself in a similar maddening place. I tend to be a doer by nature. I am really always looking for the next thing to do, always thinking towards the future, towards what’s next. So as I am in my current situation I feel like I can’t wait any longer; I can’t take any more. I am discontent with where I am and that I am not where I am not. I spend my time thinking through ways to move towards the next step. I know in my head that things happen in God’s timing and I know that God takes His time because He is more concerned about what He is doing in me, than what He may do through or with me. There are days when I just want to tell God, I have had enough of this, I am ready to move forward. Let’s do this God! In His kindness, He allows me to go on and on about this.
What’s funny though is when I start to see that things could start moving forward and things could start to happen, I get scared because it feels so real. The reality is, is that a call from God to serve Him in ministry is terrifying. The terrifying part is that there is responsibility for His people. It is that terror that brings about hesitation in me. However, as some friends reminded me this week, God will prepare me and be with me when it is time to move forward. This time of waiting is for a purpose. Anna and I have some healing to do from past ministry experiences. We also have some things to get right in our discipleship. We have to spend some time praying that God would give us clarity in what He would have us do and then joy to go and do that.
A call from God isn’t just terrifying. If my only response to what I thought was a call from God was terror, I should probably get some counseling and/or reassess some things. A call from God is also so incredibly exciting. I get so pumped to talk about it, to dream and imagine what God might do. It is motivating because as you start to develop a heart for a people, you start to think about what God is planning to do in/with/through them. It is also very peaceful to have a call from God, even if it isn’t quite clear yet. Knowing that God is working on bringing you to your specific purpose in His kingdom is so reassuring and chock-full of shalom.
I should be looking more to my wife for help on how to wait for God’s call to come to fruition. She received a very clear call from the Lord that she was to quit her job and be a mother. She had never considered or wanted to do either before that point. She had to wait a year. Every single day she wrestled with not yet being where she knew God was calling her and then finally one day, the time came. She quit! Just a few weeks later we found out we were pregnant with Nora. For that year, my wife was such a display of patience and incredible faith in the Lord especially as she made the scary decision to step out and do what she had been waiting so long to do.
If you are in a place where the word from God right now is “wait,” I feel your pain. God is doing something in us in that waiting that He has to do to get us to the place He wants us to be. You should probably be asking my wife, as should I, on how to really wait and stay in the fight against impatience, pride and fear. As my friend reminded me this week as well, waiting doesn’t necessarily mean not to do anything; it is more of a spirit of waiting. There will probably be steps to take in this time. God give me the strength to trust you and to know that you know what you’re doing.