Thursday, July 8, 2010

Learning to Wait Well - Part 2

The art of waiting well begins as you learn how to live as you wait.

As you wait, prepare. Sometimes we need to develop more of our inner life so we are ready for the next season God has for us. We spend an amazing amount of time on the outside of our bodies with clothes, hair and makeup, but we also need to grow on the inside.

Preparation to grow up on the inside begins as we first “grow down,” much like the like the roots of a bamboo tree. For the first six years, an extensive root system is developed under the earth. If you stood there and looked at where the bamboo tree was plated you’d think nothing was happening. Finally, in the seventh year, the bamboo plant shoots up 80 feet tall! But only with such a widespread root system could the tree have the support need for such explosive growth. Although it seemed like nothing was happening, God was at work preparing for growth.

As you wait, pray.
You can never go wrong when you put God first. Waiting is a time of realignment; to get first things first and line up your heart with God again. You may think you are too busy and don’t have time to pray. But think of it not as spending time in prayer, but investing time in prayer. Just as you invest your financial resources to get a return, you invest time in prayer and the return is greater than anything you could imagine. Answered prayer, yes, but more importantly a closer, enjoyable relationship with God.

As you wait, have patience. How do we endure delay when we don’t know how long it will take to get to our destination or even how to get there? Life often has unexpected twists and turns, and we need patience—persistence and staying power. Thankfully, God gives us guidance to stay on the right track. Our job is to listen and obey Him.

On the western shore of Lake Michigan, along the Wisconsin coastline, is Harrington Beach. One sunny Saturday I decided to drive there which, according to the map, should take less than two hours from my home in Milwaukee. As I drove along, I could finally see the lake on my right and thought I’d be there shortly. But suddenly the highway turned inland and soon I was driving past farmland and bright red barns. It didn’t seem like I was going the right direction since my car was headed farther away from the lake. This can’t possible be the way. I want to go to the beach, yet I’m driving inland past farms!

I stopped at a gas station and asked the attendant if this was the right way to get to the beach, and he assured me it was. While the road had twists and bends, it would eventually lead to my destination. Hmmm. I guess I just needed to follow his directions and wait for the right exit. I pressed on.

Finally, there was a sign that pointed to the correct road to lead me to the beach. I parked my car, and walked through a short wooded path, and down a few wooden stairs. As I descended, I looked up and saw most amazing expanse of sand and water I’d ever seen at a Midwestern beach. To my right and left, miles of sand beckoned me to walk. The waves crashed on the shore, sea gulls cawed, and a gentle breeze blew off the lake and cooled me.

God knew the entire time I’d get to that the beach, even as I drove on winding roads that seemed to be going in the opposite direction. He knew the way; I did not. And I learned a big lesson in trust and patience that day. Waiting means that we trust God is leading us, guiding and directing, enduring delay even when the journey doesn’t look how we think it should.

-- from “When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty,” by Jackie M. Johnson. (Moody Publishing, 2010)

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