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Waiting is hard. It can make you feel like the world is just passing you by. Or, worse, it can make you feel like the world – with all its havoc – is creeping up on you. Either way, waiting requires more than patience. It requires trust. Trust in God’s wisdom. Trust in His goodness. Trust in His never-falling-asleep-on-the-job commitment to each of our lives. Trust in His plan and ability to bring good out of our most frustrating and painful situations. Even when waiting is part of what has caused them.
Truth be told, I’d rather get in front of a mess than sit back and wait for it to hit. This is how I’ve been living lately, always trying to prevent something messy from happening. I’ve justified it by deeming it a proactive effort to be responsible, but in reality it falls into the dreaded category of old, unhealthy patterns I have fought so hard to put behind me. It is codependency at its finest: feeling responsible for everyone and everything around me, in an effort to avoid being triggered into uncomfortable but familiar places of powerlessness. Ugh.
I have trouble digesting the truth that God is not about avoiding conflict. It is hard for me to understand and accept that, in fact, God often asks me to wait – and be still in that waiting – for a conflict to come so close that it exposes all the feelings and responses I am so good at hiding. Rather than divinely averting crisis, God divinely orchestrates it so that, when it intersects with my life, I am positioned to experience something I am often not even aware that I need.
But oh does this take trust! And oh does it require self-control! I am learning to speak to my erratic emotions (which, at the moment are acting like teenagers), and hush them into a position of faith-filled watchfulness. This is a bit like trying to get my 4 year old to sit still through an entire church service, of course. It’s possible, but not without much effort and creativity! Still, it must be done. I must rebuke myself from interfering with and interrupting approaching crises, and I must rally myself to engage in the opportunity such crises present when they do finally land…a daunting task indeed.
So why do it? Why put forth all of this energy and effort? Because the alternative is to do what I’ve been doing: expending great energy and effort in the direction of avoiding messy (either on the front end or the back), and discovering no gain because of it. In effect, I’ve been playing the role of the Holy Spirit, trying to manage everyone’s affairs and dictate and orchestrate what is best for all. But it’s not what is best, because crises and conflicts – in my life or in someone else’s – are invitations to struggle and to grow. They are invitations to turn to God, again, and stay dependent on His loving guidance and strength. They are chances to be childlike again. Childhood is ripe with not only innocence, but trouble, because children are powerless and dependent.
I would just as soon leave that part of my life behind. But God sees it differently. He loves that part of my life, because it is where I learned Him. It is where I became the most aware of Him – surrounded by trouble and being powerless to defend, protect or deliver myself. It didn’t feel good, but my life today is a living witness of His defense, of His arrival at all of the just-right moments, of His deliverance.
My point, I guess – to you and to myself – is to put forth the strong reminder that waiting is worth it. Waiting for God to move, and waiting to move until God is moving with you will always yield a fuller faith, a deeper trust, and an abounding joy. Of course, you will have to put all of those on the table and risk losing everything first, but those are stakes God cannot walk away from. He will come through. He will never fail to meet you – to meet us – in the waiting, and to deliver far more than we’ve dared to risk. And we will always be better because of the wager we made in the waiting.
Whatever you are waiting for in this hour, or tempted to stop waiting for, be still. Know that God will do it, in His perfect time. He is never too early, never too late, and He never over-promises nor under-delivers. Bind yourself to a chair or a place of prayer and determine in your heart to wait and to see. And get ready to rejoice when He comes riding in with healing and strength in His wings. He is faithful!!
“They who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31