How to Wait

This past week I found myself incredibly impatient with waiting. There are a lot of changes happening my life right now and I wanted things to hurry up and get done. I just wanted it OVER.

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It takes courage to wait well.

Perhaps this is why the Psalmist writes of waiting on the Lord: “Be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart, wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

The default state of my heart is restlessness and wandering. It is only when I staple my heart to the promises of God that I find rest. God’s promises are unfailing. I have to remind myself that God isn’t working on my time table. And even when it seems that God isn’t working at all (or that God has abandoned me), I have to remind myself that God’s ways are not my ways and I can’t go on only what I see but must trust that God knows what He is doing.

Waiting is about trusting.

Perhaps this is why waiting is so hard. It's a test of our faith.

Waiting in faith means trusting that God knows better than I do. So often it is my own tangled thinking that gets me in trouble. In fact, my very best thinking often lands me in the precarious position of clinging to things I’m supposed to let go of or grasping for things that are not meant for me. It’s far better for me to learn to “let go and let God” which is a phrase I learned in 12-step groups.

So, if waiting is about trusting which is an exercise of faith: how do we find equilibrium and contentment while waiting?

I find it by yielding to God. Usually this happens through prayer, service or practicing gratitude.

It’s nothing profound or complicated. It’s usually just a small moment of intentionally yielding my life, my plans, my ideas back to God. When I do so, I feel the release. It feels like the weight has been lifted off my shoulders. That’s when I realize I’d been carrying a burden I wasn’t meant to carry. I was thinking that it was all on my shoulders. But it’s not all up to me. This is the gift of grace: yielding back to God and letting Him handle the things I can’t do on my own.

Waiting is about taking it one day at a time.

Perhaps of all the lessons I learned in 12-step groups, the most important was to take it one day at a time. It sounds simple but the practice of living one day at a time is actually really difficult. My tendency is to live in the future or in the past. I want to control what happens next or I refuse to change with the times and just keep doing what I’ve always done (even when that doesn’t work anymore).

It's so tempting to "run ahead of God." I want to know the exact outcomes, I want to know HOW things will work out and WHEN. I would like advance warning and minute-by-minute updates. But that's not how life works. It's not how God works.

God works in His own time according to His own ways. God is not on my schedule. And that's OK. I can learn to wait (and learn to wait well) by accepting that waiting is big part of life. Everyone has to wait for things whether they like it or not. Instead of throwing an tantrum and trying to manipulate things to work out the way I want them to, I can rest with courage.

Waiting is about learning patience.

Sometimes this means I let my mind focus and rest on other things besides the thing I'm waiting for. In most cases there is little I can do to speed things up or make the waiting go faster. I usually don't have control over how long things take. Patience is a difficult virtue to learn precisely because I am so impatient! 

I am finding that God wants me to find delight in the waiting. This means I can find other things to do. One of the best ways to wait well is to use that time to serve others. When I'm focusing on what others need, I am less focused on what I don't have. When I am giving myself to others I find God giving Himself to me. And that is the best gift of all. It is the gift of grace. 

I find God in the waiting.