Every summer our little family loads up the van, and heads to our hometown to stay a few days with both sets of our parents. When we informed our girls about the upcoming trip my eldest daughter, Ava, decided that she would prepare her bag of necessities. Mind you, this was two days before we were scheduled to leave. She got her little Frozen roller suitcase out and commenced packing her clothes and essentials. Two days later as soon as her eyes popped open she announced, “we’re going to grandma’s house today!” We went through our normal morning routine, and after breakfast I saw Ava rush upstairs. She came back down with her clothes on, teeth brushed (without being reminded), and hair combed. She stood in front of me completely ready and asked, “are we going to grandma’s house now?” I knew how excited she was, but I had to kill the joy with the answer, “not yet!” She let out a big sigh, and complained about having to wait even though her bag was packed. What she didn’t realize was that there were still things to be done around the house, and packing to be done for the rest of the family before we could leave. Ava had a lesson that day on waiting, and being patient in order to get to something she really loves and enjoys.
Her reaction to having to wait, as a six-year-old, really isn’t any different than we as adults react in situations where being patient is involved. We complain that fast food should be served faster, and God forbid we’re behind a car going the speed limit in the fast lane. We want everything quick, fast, and in a hurry. We’re always eager to get to the next best thing or place. If we can’t have things when we want it, and on our timeclock we become impatient, agitated, and complain.
A lot of times we become that way in our walk with the Lord. We often find ourselves waiting for direction, clarity, open doors, or needed resources. We want God to hurry up and bless what we want to do. Like my daughter Ava, we feel like we have everything we need and are prepared to move on to the next thing, but God says, “NOT YET.” When instant gratification doesn’t happen we become frustrated, discouraged, some of us give up hope all together, or try to do things our own way.
Waiting on God’s timing is a difficult thing to do, but there are some valuable lessons to be learned through waiting.
- Waiting builds our trust in God.
In times of waiting, we can find ourselves falling into despair wondering if God even hears us or cares. Our desire to pray wanes and we think, “what’s the use?” We feel overwhelmed and completely out of control. But to put it plainly, that’s exactly where God wants us to be sometimes…out of control. He wants us to take our hands off the wheel and trust Him. In our waiting, we can learn to “trust in the Lord with all our heart” and “lean not on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Trusting God is a conscious decision that we have to make. We need to lay aside our own agenda and surrender to His will and timing. In our surrender, we will discover that His thoughts and ways are not like ours…they’re higher (Isaiah 55:8-9). We can trust God knowing that “He has plans to prosper us, and to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).”
- Waiting is for pruning and preparation.
Waiting is the opportune time to have a spiritual check-up. Like a vine dresser prunes the vines, God will also take us through a pruning process. The scripture says in John 15:2, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” God will reveal to us areas in our lives that need trimming or cut off all together to allow for optimal growth and fruitfulness. The pruning process is to make us more like Christ, and to allow us to be more productive for the kingdom.
A lot of times we think we’re sure all of our ducks are in a row. Like Ava, we have our bags packed, and are ready to hit the road. But God can see further than we can. He knows what’s way down the road, and what we lack that’s needed for future encounters. There might be some lessons we need to learn or some under developed fruits of the spirit that we’ll need in order to be God’s instrument. Waiting prepares us with what we need for where God will lead us.
- Waiting time shouldn’t be wasted time.
Look, you have two choices to either have a pity party, or serve right where you are when waiting. Timothy was instructed by Paul to “be prepared in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). Our waiting time doesn’t mean you get to sit back and relax until the next best thing comes along. We are to be using all of our spiritual gifts to reach and serve those around us. Our attitude is everything. Be faithful right where God has you, and wait expectantly for what God has instore for you. Let’s not get caught up in our final destination, but let’s enjoy the journey. “The journey is the reward.”
- God’s timing is always best.
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had waited 10 years for her promised child. Sarah had enough waiting, and decided God’s timing no longer worked for her (Genesis 12-21). Sarah thought she would help speed up the process by giving Abraham her maidservant, Hagar. The two had a child named, Ishmael. Soon after, jealously sprang up in Sarah’s heart, and the two women began to feud. It wasn’t until 15 years later that the child God promised was born to Sarah and Abraham. Sarah found out the hard way that when we rush, and try to do things on our own that there will be unwanted consequences. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get ahead of God trying to do things on my own. I’d hate to end up like Sarah and Abraham and make a mess of things.
In Habakkuk 2:1 (NIV) it says, “…I will station myself…” Meaning, “I’m not moving until I hear from You.” Fix your eyes on Him, and trust that God is never late, and His timing is always perfect. Like the seventeenth-century poet, George Herbert, said, “God’s mill grinds slow, but sure.”
A prayer to pray:
God, I don’t always understand your ways and timing. Waiting is never easy, but I choose to trust you. Lord, purify me as I wait so that I may become more like your son, Jesus. May I not miss the opportunities that you place before me to serve those around me as I wait. Today I choose to believe that you’re “perfect in all of your ways.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.