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I’ve never met anybody who loved waiting rooms. Think about it—nobody schedules a doctor’s appointment to read the AARP magazines in the waiting room. You don’t call Cox Cable to listen to the music they pipe through the phone while you’re on hold, and you don’t go to a restaurant for the fun of holding a buzzer in your hand. Embracing the concept of “waiting” defies our sense of logic. Waiting is what we put up with to reach the goal. We endure it. Deal with it. Grumble our way through it. But we certainly don’t embrace it. In many ways, “waiting” is the enemy. It is the hairline crack in our perfect plans that terrifies us, secretly makes us question if we’re deficient…if God’s deficient.
I use to view “waiting” as something akin to being a bench warmer. You’re watching the game, all the while knowing deep down that if you were just a little bit better, you’d already be on the field. Married to the man. Given the position. Pregnant with a baby. Head of the company. Healthy and in remission. It’s taken a painful journey for God to teach me that waiting on Him, is playing the game. And as such, it requires phenomenal endurance, strength, and training.
Training myself to “wait” in a God-honoring way began with an honest look into why I hate waiting so much. I came up with three reasons.
1. I want to have control over my life.
I have sugar-coated this for a long time by simply describing myself as a “go-getter.” I like to have a plan, and I like to accomplish it. In fact, at random times in the day, my three-year-old will point one pudgy finger forward and command, “Let’s keep moving!” (I wonder who she learned that from?)
Moving forward gives me the illusion that I am in control of my life. Being at a God-ordained standstill, when I want to be moving forward, shatters that illusion. I feel like a cartoon character running as fast as I can, with somebody’s hand against my forehead. It doesn’t matter how much I want it, I’m not going anywhere.
But oh, the sweet grace, of being stopped by the hand of God! Of being reminded that He is in control. The truth is, deep down I don’t want to be in control of my own life, because deep down I know how inept I really am. To sit back and submit, to quit trying so hard and simply wait on the Trustworthy One—now that is freeing indeed! To embrace a season of waiting is to embrace the authority of God, to willingly acknowledge that He has complete control. And it’s impossible to do that and not come to a place of greater peace.
2. The act of waiting is usually accompanied by a host of lies.
For me, it typically begins with worldly idols—for instance, I want the success and acclaim of being married to a man with a phenomenal ministry. This idol becomes enshrined in worldly thinking. Look at that other couple—they’ve got it all together. Look at how their ministry is growing! If only I could have this or that, surely I’d be content. Following the really destructive lies come the really depressing lies. Maybe I’m just not good enough. Maybe God doesn’t love me as much as He loves them. Maybe there really isn’t a plan for my life.
In order to embrace “waiting” we must first win the battle for our minds. And this is no easy task! As often as the lies come—a million times a day—we must be ready to speak the truth to ourselves. Like the athlete in I Cor. 9:24-26 who runs to win a prize, disciplining his body, forcing it to submit, we train our minds to feast off of the Truth. For me, this began with memorizing Scripture that directly countered the lies I believed, for my particular battles it was Psalm 16 and Psalm 34.
3. I had a wrong perspective of waiting.
Earlier, I mentioned my “bench-warmer” view of waiting, but actually my wrong perspective went even deeper. My focus in “waiting” has always been very literal. I am waiting to be done with school. I am waiting to meet the right guy. I am waiting to get a teaching job. You get the idea. But the Bible makes it clear that the thing we are to be waiting for is the Lord Himself.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5-6)
You see, we aren’t just waiting to pass the home study, make it through medical school, get the promotion, or grow a church. We’re waiting for God Himself—His presence to fill us, to make us more like Him, to take us deeper into the heart of who He is. And amazingly, how does He do this? By allowing us to wait. The very act of waiting is sanctifying in and of itself! And in this, we can take great heart! If you, like me, are in a season of waiting, allow me to say I know how hard it is. Believe me, I do. But may I encourage both of us with this glorious truth—you and I are moving forward…just not outwardly. We are moving forward into becoming the people He wants us to be. We are moving forward in developing patience, trust, and submission to His perfect will. We are moving forward into the very heart of God. All this waiting, it’s not a break in the plan, it’s part of it.
So in these seasons of waiting, let’s train our minds not just to know the truth, but to believe it. Let’s train our hearts to trust the heart of God with greater and greater stamina, so that if He should say to us, “Wait another month…wait another year…wait indefinitely,” we might courageously and willingly respond, “Yes, Lord!” If we do that, we’re not only out on the field, we’re winning the game.