The Weekly PowerBreak – “Wait, Wait, Wait”

Whenever I set out to write a new PowerBreak, I check out what I had written three years prior and how applicable that principle would be for now. When I examined the PowerBreak for this week in 2015, I couldn’t help but think the principle of being proactive while waiting is needed today as much as then. So, here we go with a few updates and modifications.

WAIT! We seem to hurry and wait! Waiting is never easy. We wait in line. We wait in traffic. We wait for events to begin and sometimes we wait for events to end. Some of the hardest moments in life are found in waiting. Why is waiting so tough?  Maybe waiting seems like a hard thing to do because we are so accustomed to action and movement. Whenever we stop to wait, our minds continue in high gear and the focus of waiting is like a time when we are being held back or corralled. Just look at people around you. The moment they have to wait on something is the moment they turn to their cell phone and seek for activity. Let’s face it, pure waiting or taking advantage of the pause to be refreshed, is a lost art.

If not flooding ourselves with pointless activity, the waiting experience is often  accompanied with anger, worry, and depression over the lack of movement. We get angry when we think about where we could or should be in our minds. We worry about the situation as we try to figure things out and that turns worse the more we dwell on it. As things spiral downward toward depression over the lack of progress as we had anticipated in our mind we tend to heap even more on ourselves as we focus on the fact that things are not happening as they should be.

Think about this: Waiting can be a good thing if we are proactive rather than passive in our pause in the action.

The Bible makes it clear that we are to wait on the Lord.  In fact, we are told He will do some great things in our lives if we wait on Him.

Isaiah 40:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 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.

Sounds like a great promise doesn’t it? It’s often quoted by preachers and memorized by people hoping to find strength to carry on when things aren’t happening as quickly or as easily as they would like. It can get discouraging to find yourself waiting for God to provide a new job, restoration to your marriage, or help with your financial picture. Let’s face it – we all hate to wait and to just tell someone to memorize this verse and get happy does not cut it.

If we are going to apply biblical principles to turn waiting into a positive, the first thing we must consider is the fact that waiting in the Bible does not mean just being idle. The Bible even commends the woman described in Proverbs 31 for not “eating the bread of idleness.”  The book of Ezekiel describes God’s displeasure with actions of people who were filled with “an abundance of idleness.” Isn’t it interesting how our society seems bent on seeking idle time so that we can fill it with pleasure, even if the pleasure is frantically finding something on our cell phones? Even as active and fast paced as we find ourselves today, it’s easy when we have to wait to just do nothing or pass the time away in meaningless activity. Idleness, even filled with meaningless activity, allows the negative, the worry, and the anger to set in. Proactive waiting, on the other hand, helps not only pass the time but prepare us for the next step in the journey.

If you are in the state of wait, here’s a great passage of God’s prescription for proactive waiting:

Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV) 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Let’s break this down into bite size pieces:

Be joyful.  It’s so easy to dwell on the negative and spiral downward emotionally so ask yourself: What’s good about my life or about the situation right now? If you can’t find an answer, ask yourself: What could be good about this? How about taking “down moments” to make a list of things for which you are grateful? Since gratitude is the most powerful emotion and gratitude is not only pleasing to God, it’s commanded by Him, it would make sense to make use of the “wait time” in gratitude.

Be reasonable or considerate. – Have you ever noticed how unreasonable, cranky, and insensitive people get when they have to wait? If you’ll focus on understanding, your wait will be much easier on those around you and in turn on yourself. Stop and be reasonable why the traffic is not moving. Perhaps God is keeping you from an accident down the road. Perhaps He is sanctifying the fruit of patience.

Pray instead of worry. You’ll either be praying or worrying. If you are worrying, you are not praying and if you are praying you are not worrying. God is so interested in hearing from us and so interested in what is bugging us that He even tells us in the book of Hebrews that dumping our problems on Him really touches His heart.

Be thankful.  As I said before under the “be joyful” banner, the attitude of gratitude is the most empowering thing you can do. It makes sense that God gives us this activity to do. Name five things in your life right now for which you are thankful. You can turn a wait into a power session simply by making a list of all the things for which you are thankful and begin thanking God.

Allow God’s peace to fill you.  He has promised peace whenever we pray and are thankful, but we tend to be so quick to move on that we miss it. In another scripture it says to let the peace of God rule your heart or give peace a chance. God is looking to calm your insides, but we have to quit resisting in order to allow it to happen. Peace, of course, is not something we produce, rather it is something the Holy Spirit brings out as fruit in our lives.  Therefore, the moment of “waiting” in which you find yourself is a moment when the Holy Spirit is bringing out the fruit of peace.

Fix your thoughts.  It takes a determination of effort to focus your attention on the positive because as soon as you let go the negative will come in like a flood. God knows that, so He made sure we understood that what we think on should be things true and honorable and right as well as things pure, lovely and admirable. To put it another way, we are to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Act rather than react. Waiting can lead to reacting in a negative way. You’ll avoid the negative reactions when you follow a plan of action. God tells us that sticking to the plan of action – doing the things we know we could and should be doing – will lead us to a way of peace.

Waiting is never easy, but it can be a very productive and empowering time if we take a proactive approach rather than see it as a stalled time of idleness. It takes preparation and determination to make the most of a wait, but the dividends are out of site.

Psalm 37:34 (ESV) Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker