Waiting patiently has never been one of my best attributes. My trouble started early on. As a child, I always knew where my mother kept our Christmas gifts hidden, and I made it a point, with great regularity, to spy and peek at the stash. I simply could not wait until Christmas.
When I was in the high school band I would always ask my director for the new musical selections in advance, before the rest of the band. I couldn’t bear to wait and somehow, I was always successful at securing my advanced copies.
I remember interviewing for my first teaching job. I was told that the district would make their final selections within a week. A week was a long time to wait, so I contacted my friend who had referred me for the job. She in turn talked to her friend who had a daughter at the school in question. Within two days I knew that I was to be offered the position.
I’m not very good at waiting.
Why is it that waiting is so difficult for some? I believe that it all comes down to control. Maybe you’re an action minded person. You don’t particularly like to sit back and watch things unfold. You’re a planner, an organizer, the person who gets things done. You want to make things happen yourself. You want to know the ending while you’re in the midst of the beginning. You simply want to know.
I can relate.
When circumstances are out of our control, when we are not firmly behind the wheel directing our course, we feel vulnerable, and for many, vulnerability is not a welcome place. It is not a place of control. It is a place of surrender. This somewhat uncomfortable place is exactly where the Lord wants us, in a place of complete surrender to Him, His will, and His timing.
Sometimes coming to the place of surrender takes some time. And once we arrive there, we are left to wait on the Lord for His plan to unfold. We wait for open doors and direction. We navigate the crushing blows of doors repeatedly closed in our faces. We pray and ask the Lord to guide, to lead, to navigate. We petition Him to provide. At times we beg for Him to simply come through. We yearn for a mere glimpse, a small taste, a tiny morsel of what is to come. With tear stained faces we look heavenward to our Father for answers. Sometimes we are left with the quiet silence of waiting as He tells us, “Not now.” “Not this.” “Just wait.”
Waiting is hard.
Our family has been waiting. We’ve been waiting for the Lord’s direction in our lives as we seek to relocate from the only state we’ve ever called home. We have prayed so earnestly. We have walked through so many doors. We have heard the “not now”, “not this”, “just wait” more times than I wish to recount. I have lifted my tear-stained face to the Lord. And while this process is difficult, I must pause and remember the goodness of God in everything. I must remember that there is goodness is waiting. There is goodness in the closed door. There is goodness in the seemingly silent way of God as He works to unfurl the glorious plan for which He has been preparing us for.
Of late the Lord has brought my thoughts to the Old Testament and specifically to Sarah. Abraham and Sarah were given a direct promise from the Lord: Abraham’s descendants would be numerous. But at this point in the story Abraham and Sarah were childless. As time passed and age descended upon the two, Sarah’s faith in God’s promise wavered. She waited for many years, yet her womb remained barren.
Unwilling to wait on the Lord any longer, Sarah took matters into her own hands. She gave her servant, Hagar, to Abraham so that he might father a child through her. And he did. And Hagar bore a son, Ishmael. While Sarah’s actions did indeed produce an heir, they also produced bitterness and anger as Sarah grew to despise Hagar. Her anger grew so fierce that Hagar and Ishmael fled. Oh, if only Sarah would have held fast to God’s promise. If only she would have waited. God had a far greater plan.
We’re not much different than Sarah. When our patience has run out, we have a tendency to take control and act just as she did. Often those actions are driven by our wants and not by sound judgment. They are guided by desire, emotion, and feeling, all of which are not the best sources of wisdom. In our effort to regain control of the wheel, we often steer ourselves into trouble simply because of our impatience. We just can’t or won’t wait any longer.
How willing are you to wait? How long are you willing to wait? A few weeks? Several months? A decade? More? Are you willing to wait as long as it takes for God’s plan to unfold? Or will you burst onto the scene, eyes filled with determination, heart filled with defiance, and insist on making your own way?
Maybe you’re in a position much like me where you’ve surrendered yourself to the safety and surety of God’s will. You know in your heart that His plan is best, but the waiting is just so difficult. You ask the difficult questions: Lord, when will you send me a spouse? Children? Employment? Health? When?
As I have sought the Lord’s will for the past few years, I must be honest and say that I have experienced periods where my faith has been weak. It’s during those times of weakness that Satan bursts on the scene, filling my head and heart with doubt and worry. He would love nothing more than for me to question the goodness of the Lord. To doubt in His will. To lose my faith. To reclaim my independence and act.
But by the strength of the Lord, I say no. I will wait.
I will hold onto my faith in the goodness of my Lord with more fervency than ever. I will cling all the more tighter to the promises that fill God’s Word. I remember with greater clarity than ever before the perfect timing of God. I will put my whole trust in Him because He loves me, cares for me, and is mindful of me and my situation.
Today I will wait…even if it’s hard. And as God’s will unfolds, I will take comfort in knowing that God’s timing is perfect.
I leave you with a few verses that serve as good reminders to me:
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. …
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.