"Wait on the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait on the Lord!" Psalm 27:14My husband and I agree that 2018 was the "Year of Waiting." We felt like the Lord was asking us to enter a season of preparation for a few key areas in our lives, so we even penned "waiting" as our word of the year. As 2019 rolled around, I breathed a sigh of relief thinking, "Finally! The wait is over!" After all, hadn't that been the plan? We'll wait in 2018, and things will finally come together in 2019. And yet, here we are: still waiting on the Lord for a few key decisions in our lives to be resolved. Can you relate? Waiting is a common part of the human experience. We wait for a job, a spouse, a baby, a health diagnosis. Most things do not come as quickly or easily as we would like. We try to do all the right things- to be content come what come may, to do our research, to prepare well. And still at times God continues to say, "Wait." If waiting can be God-ordained, then, the question becomes, "How do we wait in a way that honors Him?" The Bible is full of people whose lives didn't go as they had planned. We read of men and women who waited well by the grace of God, and of those who waited poorly. We find examples like Sarah, who laughed and took things into her own hands when God was "taking too long" to give her the child he had promised. We see the Israelites grumble and complain in the wilderness, so quickly forgetting the awesome displays of power that the Lord used to deliver his people from Egypt. We also reflect on the lives of Joseph, Esther and Ruth, and the beautiful redemptive stories found therein. Throughout Scripture, we see God displaying an even greater redemptive narrative, working salvation for his people "at just the right time" (Galatians 4:4). We remember that God is the hero of the story, the one who is mysteriously weaving together a story of redemption that is far bigger than we ever dared dream. 5 Practical Suggestions from my Year of Waiting: Are you waiting for something right now? Throughout this past year, I've pressed into Scripture and the community that God has placed around me, and compiled a few practical things that I've learned. My hope and prayer is that these lessons would encourage you in your season of waiting, both to seek the Lord and to maintain perspective in the wait:
- Get a good team around you- Do you have friends in your local church, people who will ask how you're doing and pray for you when you're down? Are you loving and encouraging someone else in their struggles? Online communities are wonderful and a gift from God, but God ultimately intended for us to be a part of a local body of believers who can encourage one another in the day-to-day aspects of our lives. Community is key to waiting well.
- Pray- It may seem obvious, but so often it's the last thing we do. Pray for the strength to wait patiently, and that God would keep you from taking foolish shortcuts or taking things into your own hands. Practically, I've found it helpful to have a prayer journal specifically for this season. This helps me to be more intentional with my prayers, but also creates the space to remember the Lord's faithfulness in the years to come. Maybe you can create a journal of prayers for your future spouse or baby, or a prayer journal as you wait for that job. We can pour out your heart to God freely, knowing that he is our refuge (Psalm 62:8). A journal also helps us look back and see how faithful the Lord was throughout seasons that seemed dark or muddled by unknowns. As we pray, we have to be careful that we don't let the thing we're waiting on become the only thing we think about or pray for. If we're not careful, we can get so fixated on "the thing," that we miss the other trillion things the Lord is doing. Be intentional about praying for others as you wait.
- Keep things in perspective- Waiting exposes our hearts and what we long for most. Do we value God as the most important thing in our lives, or the thing that we're waiting for (a spouse, a baby, a job)? Although it's easy to get overly focused on one area of our lives, we need to fight against these idols, and remember the Lords goodness to us. From the biblical stories above, we can remember that God is in control even when we feel forgotten. When we get discouraged, it can be easy to sin and take things into our own hands. The call for the believer is to endure by faith even when we can't see what God is doing. Although waiting is a normal part of the Christian experience, our minds can quickly feel like God has forgotten us. We need to hide God's word in our hearts and meditate on His goodness. Psalm 27 has been particularly helpful for me this season.
- Prepare your heart- How are your current relationships? Are you growing in servant-heartedness? How is your self-discipline? Are your finances in order? Are you practicing saying "no" to your flesh by loving and serving others? How can you be leveraging your time for his glory? When God crowned David king, he didn't immediately put him in a position of authority. After Samuel anointed David in 1 Samuel 16, you would have expected that David would have gone to an apprentice or "king-in-training" program. Instead, David went right back to the pasture, to his sheep. God had given David a promise that he would be king, and yet his everyday reality remained the same. As the readers, we see that in the pasture, God was preparing David for the future. David was shepherding the flock, defending them from lions and bears, tenderly making sure not one went astray. God was refining David and making him into a man who would one day shepherd and protect the people of God. Use this season of waiting to evaluate your heart before the Lord.
- Extend grace- Not everyone will understand. Some will try to offer the "magic pill" to fix your problem. "Have you tried X dating website? It worked for me!" Others won't understand how draining the wait is for you. Extend grace to them, and have a trusted few you can share with, who will encourage you in the Lord.
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. ‚ÄØFor this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, ‚ÄØas we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)