As much as everyone seems to be in a hurry today, waiting has become a way of life. The week before a big race, the days after a presentation, or the struggles of finding direction all involve the hard part of life – WAITING.
Waiting can be a positive or negative experience, depending on how the time is spent. For some it’s filled with frustration, like the guy in a traffic jam that works to change from one lane and then to the other while venting his frustration through gestures to other motorists. For others, the time spent waiting is a time spent in renewal and refocus, or productivity instead of mere idleness.
Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV) 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 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.
Take note of what that says about God. He has been present forever. He has a plan and He will carry it out in just the right time. It goes on to say that He does not faint or grow weary. He is not impatient and He promises to help when we grow weary in waiting.
If we look at any time of waiting: be it the slow-moving line at a fast food restaurant, a need for direction or intervention, or the moments prior to a big event, waiting can be a good time to remind ourselves about who is really in control – God. We may get a little frazzled about the lack of movement or activity when we feel in control, but God is not upset or tired nor even impatient. In fact, the more that we turn our focus to Him and His attributes in times of waiting, the more energized we’ll be when the time comes.
Lamentations 3:25 (ESV) The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
It’s not a matter of “fake it ‘til you make it,” rather it’s a matter of focusing on God, His promises, and His past blessings in your life. It’s a matter of talking with Him and being open and receptive to Him to speak to you.
Habakkuk 2:1–4 (ESV) — 1 I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. 2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. 4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
The prophet had what seemed to be just cause for impatience. He was laying out his complaint before God and expecting God to do something. God, however, Who is never in a hurry because everything is happening in His time, assures Habakkuk that the vision is coming but he must wait for it. He even assures him that there will not be a delay in the vision arriving because it’s for an appointed time. So God tells the prophet to prepare. How? Verse four says, “the righteous shall live by his faith,” which is another way of reminding him to trust God and just do what He says.
Are you trusting God and doing what He says? Remember that when we come upon times of waiting, it is God reminding us to stop and be still which means He knows we need to be reminded of Who He is and be ready for what He is about to do in our lives.
Psalms 46:10 (ESV) “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Exodus 14:13 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.
We rarely choose to stand still or to be still. Waiting is a reminder that God is in the stillness of the moment as much as He is in the fullness of activity. The difference is that we tend to be more aware of His presence in the stillness than in the commotion. Here’s a great illustration from the life of Elijah:
1 Kings 19:11-13 (ESV) 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
As you face the next period being called to just wait, and we all will, instead of focusing on what appears to be the lack of forward progress, treat the wait as a time to hear from God. Treat the wait as a time to be renewed and re-energized by Him, as you are reminded that God is in control and you are not. Although we may become weary in the wait, He never does.
I saw an article once that said it’s easier to wait if you have prepared to wait. It went on to recommend leaving early for appointments with enough time to compensate for times of waiting to avoid the frustration of stopped traffic. It also suggested always having material available to listen and learn, whether it be audio presentations in the car or printed material to read when you are not driving. It’s amazing how when you are prepared to wait how quickly the time flows, which indicates you are simply making the best use of your time.
Ephesians 5:15–17 (ESV) — 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.