Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!”
Waiting is a process of learning to remain in our present circumstances until we get further direction. Webster’s defines waiting as both the process of looking forward expectantly and remaining stationary in readiness or expectations. It carries the idea of being ready and available – watchfulness. Waiting can be difficult for even the best of us – we wonder if God is late in his reply or if we are too early in our expectations. The whole “timing” issue of waiting is not easily grasped by those of us with “Type A” personalities – we are not easily settled in our waiting, but chafe a little under the “pressure” of waiting.
In our waiting, we can become discontent with God – wondering if he even has the power to change the circumstances we are in. When this occurs, we jump in to do things our way – in our own strength or power. We may think God has given up on us, forgotten about the need we are experiencing. It is not easy remembering that God has a specific reason for our waiting. Our primary purpose in waiting is always to learn to trust God even more than we have before. If we fail to develop our trust in God, we will find ourselves constantly trying to work things out on our own – in our own way.
In exploring the process of waiting, it is important to recognize that there are some key reasons that we “wait” in our walk with God. First, we wait because we often only get clear directions from God when we are willing to wait. He knows that the world’s expectation is that we jump out there and respond with definite assurance each and every time – responding to the situation even when we are in doubt. Sometimes, we would be better to take our time in responding rather than making a rash decision. Rash decisions are tactics our enemy, Satan, uses to get our eyes off of God’s direction for the situation at hand. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.” I know that it is difficult to wait in trusting confidence and not find ourselves complaining bitterly about the wait. God desires to instruct us in the way we should respond – to be guided by his watchful eye. This does not happen when we jump out in those moments of rash decisions.
Second, God uses the time we spend waiting to get us in step with his timing. You don’t have to walk with God for very long before you become acquainted with the fact that God’s timing is quite different from our own. It is important to rely upon God’s timing in order to avoid the disappointments and painful struggles of moving out in our own timing. When we are “in time” with God, moving as he would have us move, we have a sense of peace and calmness of spirit that guides our steps. If you are realizing that you have been stepping out in your own timing because you have a total lack of peace, it may be time to pull back and wait on God.
Another purpose in waiting is that God often knows we are unprepared for the answer. The time of waiting actually prepares our hearts to receive the answer he is about to bring. It is in that waiting period that we learn to do what is best – not just what feels good. It strengthens our faith and proves our character. God is most intent on developing our character – he is definitely not focused on maintaining our comfort. One of my Bible College professors once told me, “God has to disturb your present in order to improve your future.” In the time of waiting, our “present” can get pretty “disturbed” – if we remember that it is for the purpose of improving our future, the wait can be endured. God wants our hearts readied to receive what he brings next. When we are unprepared for the answer, we may resist it or even miss it.
It is in the waiting that our motives are sifted – kind of like a sorting process where the impure ones begin to rise to the surface so they can be skimmed off. In the waiting process, we have time to focus our attention on areas of our heart attitudes that may have been hidden by all the busy stuff of life. Our heart becomes evident and God is able to deal with the things we have there that are out of place or damaging us.
Once we understand the purpose of waiting, we need to discover how to wait – what is it that we “do” in our waiting? It is important to understand that waiting is not a “passive” thing – it is very active. When we think of waiting, we picture ourselves in a long line of others that are waiting, just biding our time until it is “our turn”. God wants our times of waiting to be purposeful – with directed attention on what God has for us in the present moment. His intervention will come when we are doing what God asks us to be doing – until he tells us differently, the best place for us is in doing what God wants us to be doing.
Our discernment is sharpened in the waiting – we begin to sense and know the way God moves. We see evidence of his movement in fresh ways. We may discover his movement during times we are in study of the Word. I want to give a word of warning here – using the Word of God to justify our movement can be dangerous. We have the innate ability to “find” a Scripture that fits perfectly the circumstance we find ourselves in and then believe that it is the perfect or total answer to the situation.
When we seek God’s leading, the Holy Spirit “tunes” our heart to hear what God desires next - to see how he is moving. If we just use the Scripture to “fit” our circumstances apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit, we could be on a tangent God never intended in that season of our lives. Sometimes changes in our circumstances are subtle leadings from God to follow a different course in our lives. We need to be open to those changes – they could protect us from harm down the road, or set the course for greater blessings.
If we struggle with waiting, we could get off-course – be moving in total disobedience or outside of God’s plan. That movement could actually serve to delay the blessing God has for us. It could lead us into times or circumstances that only cloud our lives with lots of confusion and mayhem. We could even find ourselves in places where we lose the sense of his direction and leading – feeling like the prayers we lift are simply hitting a brass ceiling and bouncing back unanswered. When we learn to wait, as God directs, we experience rich rewards. It is in the waiting that his will becomes evident – we see clearly what once was a little unclear to us. In the wait, we receive energy and strength (Is. 40:29-31). Impatience actually robs us of our energy – making us weary and worn down by all the wrong moves we make. Want to see God working on your behalf? Learn to wait patiently on him – then rise up on wings as eagles.