Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Learning to Wait Well - Part 1

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

Much of life seems to have a time lag—we expect things to happen in the amount of time we think it should take. Single people wonder when Mr. or Miss Wonderful will appear. People who are married often wonder when they’ll have kids, or when the kids will grow up. We hunger for the day we’ll get a better paying job, or finally use our talents in work or ministry. We long to lose weight, change a bad habit, or finally take that dream vacation—and we want it to happen right away. Whether it’s for a delayed flight, or for cookies to bake, we wait.

We don’t like waiting. When things seem to take too long for our own liking, instant gratification replaces waiting, and we may take matters into our own hands. We try to make something happen because it’s often hard to accept delay. Maybe you’re afraid you’re missing out on something. Perhaps you’re tired of the lingering heartache and you think getting into another relationship right away will fill the void. You don’t know what to do with the spaces in life.

So we wait for guidance, direction, and for answers—or we don’t—and pay the consequences.

For instance, if you drive through a red stoplight, another car could careen through the intersection and hit you, harming you and wrecking your car. Or, if you start another romantic relationship without waiting on God’s timing, you’d carry the unhealed pain with you and you won’t be able to give and receive love in the most stable or emotionally healthy way possible. You may end up driving the other person away or crashing the next relationship because you are simply not ready. There are consequences of not waiting on God.

God has good reasons for delays. We may not always understand what He is doing and why, but God wants us to obey his commands—not because He is a tough taskmaster, but to protect us and guide us. In learning obedience, we also learn wisdom.

Like the wisdom of keeping your hands off the cocoon of an emerging butterfly. While you may want to help, it is not wise to pry it open for the little creature. He needs to build strength as he exits his temporary shelter or he will die. Know when to keep your hands off and trust God’s ways and timing for things to unfold.

How to wait well
God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry because He is not on our timetable, we are on His. In addition, we tend to be more focused on the results, than the process of getting there.

The truth is God is God, and we will never fully know His reasons. But we can take comfort in the fact that He is good, loving and faithful—and he is always at work, even in the dark, putting together the pieces of our lives for His good purposes.

During seasons of waiting in our lives we learn that:

Waiting is active. Waiting is more than just passing time; and it is not doing nothing. The work of waiting is believing God. Not just believing in God, but believing Him. It’s trusting and having faith that the One who delights us in giving will provide what is best for each of us.

We wait on God, not man. God had good purposes, so your waiting is not in vain. You don’t have to be afraid that God will forget. He knows your heart; He knows you want love, affection and attention. You can be confident and stand strong when it’s Him upon whom you wait. "My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken." (Psalm 62:5-6)

Waiting draws us closer to God. Enduring delay builds intimacy and a closer relationship with Him. Jerome Daley in When God Waits says, “God’s greatest purpose in seasons of waiting is to draw you close to himself, to reveal the depth of his commitment to you, and to equip you for your destiny.”

Waiting is for a purpose. God uses the seemingly dead times in our lives to heal, replenish and prepare our hearts for the next season in our lives. Think of your heart as a fallow field. Like the farmer who leaves his land crop-free for a season, your heart may feel barren or blank, but it’s only for a time. Leaving the land empty replenishes the soil and replaces the nutrients so a better, healthier crop grows the next time. In the same way, your “in the meantime” can be a time to heal and replenish your own heart land and, in time, gather a better and healthier yield in how you handle relationships—and life.

God keeps perfect time. Things unfold “in the fullness of time,” when He is ready, when circumstances are ready, or when we are ready. You can’t tell a newborn baby to run a marathon and then be disappointed when he does not. It’s not time yet. He has to grow up first, and gain strength and muscle. You can’t order a closed rosebud to “open up now!” It simply will not happen. In time the graceful flower unfolds.

Waiting is a time of healing, transformation and preparation. You do your part and God does His part. The art of waiting well begins as you learn how to live as you wait.

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