Worth the Wait
“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” Isaiah 60:22
I was born over a month premature. My mother said that if she had known how my personality would turn out this wouldn’t have surprised her at all. She figures I had made some plans of what I wanted to do when I got on the outside, got tired of waiting, decided to take everything into my own hands and have pretty much continued to live my life in this same manner up to the present. In essence, I hate waiting. Patience is not a virtue I possess and I don’t like NOT being in control or at least in the know about anything concerning my life. All of these little “quirks” make waiting on God’s timing a real test of faith for me but this is also an area the Lord has taught me a lot about in the last year or so.
In reality, we are all waiting on something. Maybe it’s a spouse, a new job, a house, a restored relationship, freedom or a fresh adventure. Regardless of what you are waiting for, I think the following truths can be applied to your journey because I’ve learned that waiting is just that… a journey.
Truth #1: God said to wait not stop.
How often do you stop in your tracks when the Lord tells you to wait for something? Maybe you stop because you’re unsure of what to do next. Maybe you stop because you’re afraid or maybe, like me, you stop because you are throwing a temper tantrum.
So much of the Bible is filled with stories of waiting on the Lord’s timing and while sometimes these characters are shown being productive during their wait, you typically find these people frozen in their tracks or trying to take the timeline into their own hands. I know I am guilty of both so I am thankful that the Lord provides wisdom and guidance when your inner nature takes over.
Esther 4:14 reminds us that we are created with a purpose when it says, “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” So often we want to skip to the end of the story that we miss the jobs we have along the way. If you are waiting, could it be that you are meant to be doing something in the meantime? This has definitely been true for me in the last decade. It took me a while to realize that if the Lord had answered all of my prayers with “yes” ten years ago I would not have been available to fulfill the purpose He constructed me for in the first place. I’ve had the opportunity to use my “waiting time” to support and invest in my mission field (a.k.a my students) in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to if I had my “answers”. These tasks weren’t just fillers until something better came along. These were the very things the Lord intended for me when He created me.
I’ve also found in the last year that the Lord has had a lot to teach me in an effort to prepare me for what is ahead. The Lord knocked me over the head at the beginning of 2019 and opened my eyes to the fact that I was wasting my waiting. Essentially, I was not ready for the blessings I so desperately desired and I was doing nothing to get ready so I asked the Lord to provide learning opportunities to prepare me for the future and He did exactly that. Throughout 2019 the Lord sent me books and podcast and friends and mentors and sermons that poured into me. I’ve learned so much that will benefit me in my next season and the Lord knew that I needed to have this “skill set” to truly benefit from His blessings and to benefit others.
Think about it...What good is a new car to a teenager that has never been taught how to drive or the rules of the road? It would just be an accident waiting to happen. Literally! Would you sign up for a marathon if you’ve never worked out a day in your life? I hope not because you would be doomed to fail. The Lord is too kind and too wise to set us up for failure just to give us what we are whining about. This doesn’t even take into account the effect you have on others. So, look around, maybe you are waiting for a reason!
Truth #2: Let it go.
At some point we all have to let go of what we think our lives should look like or we will drive ourselves crazy! It’s good to have hopes, dreams and plans but sometimes we hold so tight to our expectations that we miss blessings in the meantime.
Here’s a couple of questions I’ve had to ask myself in the past. Have you run your plans by God? Have you asked Him to direct your path? If God’s plan for your life is not what you have in mind will you be disappointed? Have you asked the Lord to take away desires that are not His? Are you afraid He will?
Those questions can feel pointed and sometimes my answers are difficult to admit. Yes, there are things that I want in life that if that’s not part of the Lord’s plan I will be disappointed. I know it’s silly because the Lord has a perfect plan but I still want those things in my heart. Amy Carmichael wisely said, “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires He creates.” Notice she says HE creates. God is not Santa Claus. You can’t just come to Him with a wishlist and expect Him to give without discretion. That’s why it is essential to start talking to the Lord about what He desires for you and for me and it’s even more important to ask Him to take away any desires that are NOT part of His plan. Here’s the thing...He often will. In fact, the Lord has been so faithful in His direction with this topic that there have been areas of my life that I refused to ask Him to remove a desire because I was afraid He would and I wanted to hold on to it for a little longer whether it benefited His plan or not which is insanity!
I think Francis Chan put it best when he said, “Not being able to fully understand God is frustrating, but it is ridiculous for us to think we have the right to limit God to something we are capable of comprehending.” Whether that is understanding the person of God or understanding His heart, there is great truth in his statement. Remember that the Lord has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and because we are not God we can not possibly imagine or understand all that He is working together (Job 5:9) but we can ask for wisdom and understanding in our journey (James 1:5) and He is faithful to provide, if not always in the way we expect.
Truth #3: Keep Asking
I did an entire post on this back at the beginning of December but it’s worth mentioning again. Don’t stop praying out of frustration, disappointment or complacency. You never know how the Lord is moving and if something is truly on your heart then why wouldn’t you want to talk to your loving Father about it? I love the way the New Living Translation words Matthew 7:7. “Keep on asking...Keep on seeking...Keep on knocking…” If you are finding it hard to pray about your worry or to pray at all why not cry out to God like the father in Mark 9:24 who said, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Truth #4: Expect great things…
The great missionary William Carey said to “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God” and I find in the modern age it is often easier to attempt to do great things for the Lord than to believe He will do the unbelievable for you. So let me ask you...When you pray or wait on the Lord, is it expectantly? Do you believe that He not only can but will answer your prayer? Will you even recognize the answer or will you miss it because you didn’t truly expect to get one?
Again, these are the questions I have to ask myself all the time! In this day we don’t expect God to show up and show out. Many talk about how they’d love to see an old school biblical miracle and yet if God performed one now we would most likely attribute it to something logical, be so dumbfounded that we would convince ourselves that we didn’t see what we saw or truthfully we would be looking down at our phones and miss the thing completely.
Also, we have somehow gotten it into our heads that we are in a queue for answering prayers and He will deal with us when it’s our turn or if something more important doesn’t come up first. We often pray something along the lines of “please do this if it’s Your will which it probably isn’t and I know You can but it doesn’t make much sense and isn’t real logical and nevermind”. Not exactly a prayer of faith and yet I pray similarly all the time and truthfully, it's not because I think He can’t or won’t but rather because I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed if He doesn’t so why get my hopes up? But you know, when you boldly come before the Lord and ask, while understanding that He still has a sovereign plan, your faith can grow by leaps and bounds.
So the next time you really want to pray specifically but feel inhibited remember 1 Samuel 12:16, “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” and approach His throne expectantly!
Truth #5: If not…
What if, after all your waiting, the answer becomes a no or you feel you never get a true answer? What then? This has been the most recent lesson I have learned in the waiting process and it comes from Daniel 3 when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have been brought before King Nebuchadnezzar for refusing to bow down and worship a golden idol. The king makes it very clear that if they do not comply they will be thrown into a furnace and he even questions what god could save them then. In response, they explain that they don’t have to defend themselves and that God could easily save them from the flames but even if He didn’t they would still not worship anyone but the true God.
I’ve heard this story a million times and it is without a doubt one of the VBS cornerstones like Daniel in the lion’s den or Jonah and the whale but it wasn’t until recently that I truly came to appreciate their response. See we have the benefit of hindsight. We know they came through the fires unscathed. They however spoke their truth facing death and the unknown. Yes, they did get their “answer” but not every man of God experiences a happy ending and they knew that. Their response came from the truth of who God is not their circumstances.
This point was driven home for me recently when I saw Daniel 3:18 put into modern terms like this, “If not, He is still good.” It’s a simple truth. The world can be evil and broken but the Lord is good regardless. That doesn’t mean you understand the answer or enjoy the pain but you hold to the hope of your good Father. I think the Apostle Paul understood and communicated this in 2 Corinthians 12 when he talked about his “thorn” and how he asked the Lord to take it away several times but the Lord responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (vs 8) He explains how he can boast in his weakness because of the Lord. He doesn’t say, “And then I loved my issue and it never caused me grief again.” because that is not real life but the Lord can use our weaknesses even if we don’t understand and sometimes we just have to accept that we won’t understand this side of Glory.
In the end, God is a God of order and purpose. He hasn’t forgotten that you are waiting like they may at the DMV or the ER. His waiting has a purpose even if you never understand it but more often than not we do eventually see the full picture when we look back on our lives. It’s our impatience and desire for control that frustrates us more than anything because our sin nature tells us we have better plans and motives. If we can ever get through our teeniny brains that he is better at being God than we are we might not struggle so much with letting go. Here’s praying you find peace and contentment in your journey of waiting.