I’ll just say it outright. Unfortunately, we all wait for something – many things, typically – during our lifetime. Christians, it seems, tend to wait more than the average person. What is God telling me? When do I act on what He is telling me? How do I act? And what if I don’t want to do what I’m told? What if it is scary or difficult?
When I wait, I tend to have a lot of questions that rise to the surface.
I’ve spent the past week and a half in Sacramento, CA. I came here to attend a week of on-campus classes with Fuller Theological Seminary, but I came early to explore San Francisco and Redding. I stayed a couple extra days to explore Sacramento, where I am currently sitting at Temple Coffee Roasters writing this. (Has anyone been to Temple, by the way? So good).
My experiences these past couple of weeks have been enlightening, to say the least. I heard God speak prophetically in many ways (which I won’t get into right now – but feel free to ask me about it, if you are interested). In fact, I feel pretty strongly that God is calling me into a time of acting in the prophetic, which both scares and excites me. I received some of the clarity I was hoping for in a previous blog post, and many things that shouldn’t have happened did, because God has a canny way of working things out. Again, that’s another story for another time.
I am starting to emerge from a dark time and a dark place; I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. What I failed to mention in my previous blog about clarity was that I seriously questioned if I was depressed during December and January. I felt bleak. I felt like life had been drained from me. Clearly the Enemy was at work. But God gave me hope, and I clung to it. Looking back, I can say that during those months (the past year, really) I learned in a new way how to wait well (becuase, unfortunately, I wait a lot). My experiences in Sacaramento and Redding confirmed this for me and gave me the peace and momentum to continue pressing on.
Now, I want to share my tips for waiting well with you.
Wait With Anticipation
Elijah is a prime example of this in the book of 1 Kings. Let’s take a look at his story in 1 Kings 18:41-46:
41 Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” He went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” Then he said, “Go again seven times.” 44 At the seventh time he said, “Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.” Then he said, “Go say to Ahab, ‘Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” 45 In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was a heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel. 46 But the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Ok, some context is needed here. Elijah has just finished going head-to-head with the prophets of Baal, one of the many pagan gods. Short version: God came through, while Baal did not. Go read the long version in 1 Kings 18.
The people here have been in the middle of a drought. They desperately need water. So Elijah intercedes on behalf of the people by praying to God for rain. This is where our story begins.
At the beginning of the chapter, God told Elijah He would bring rain. Now Elijah begins to pray for the rain to come. As he is praying on top of Mt. Carmel, he tells King Ahab (the current wicked king of Israel) to go look and see if the rain is coming.
There is no rain.
So, Elijah continues to wait and pray, knowing God will bring the rain. Again, he tells Ahab to look for rain. Again, there is no rain. This happens seven times. Eventually, the rain does come, as God said. But Elijah did not wait passively for God to act. He got on his knees and prayed continuously, looking up along the way to see if God had answered yet.
Waiting is active, not passive.
Elijah actively waited and prayed for the rain, anticipating God would fulfill His promise. Are you questioning that God will answer you, or are you CONFIDENT that God will answer you? Wait with anticipation.
There are a couple different words that we translate as “wait” from the original Hebrew, but in general, they mean “to wait in ambush; to wait eagerly for.” Again, the verb implies an active posture towards waiting, not a passive one.
This is the process of prayer: bow your head and pray, but don’t forget to look with anticipation for God’s movement.
Expect God Will Work While You Wait
Isaiah 64:4 says this:
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
Waiting will be a part of our lives as Christians.
Sorry, you can’t get out of it. What you can do is choose how you are going to wait. Will you wait willingly and patiently, or will you choose to follow your own path and go your own way? Will you wait even when it gets difficult? Painful, even? Will you allow the waiting to grow you?
The good news is that God works when we wait for Him.
Did you catch that? God works when we wait for Him. If God is working, it probably means that we are doing a good job of waiting (even waiting with anticipation, perhaps). Now, that’s not to say that we will wait perfectly; we will definitely screw up many times along the way. But we keep waiting, knowing that God will answer us.
Let’s confirm this with another scripture, Lamentations 3:25:
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
Again, we see God works when we wait. And when we seek Him while we wait. This is key – are we pursuing God’s heart while we wait for His answer? Or are we just sitting around, passively waiting? Not to hit you over the head with this point, but wait with anticipation. This is key.
It’s hard, but when I catch small glimmers of God at work on my situations, it gives me the courage to pray with anticipation.
This is easier said than done, I know. I am incredibly impatient. But as I continue to wait, God gives me increased patience.
Habakkuk 2:3 tells us that we might be waiting a while. It reads:
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.
God knows what we are waiting for, but the answer has an “appointed time” when it will come, and it might take a while. But if our answer seems to “tarry,” we need to keep waiting.
Because God will answer.
And when He answers, He answers quickly and “will not delay.”
In January, I hit a point where I was done with waiting. I was drained. Totally wiped out. Mentally and physically exhausted from following. This week in California, God encouraged me and spoke that He will constantly fill me with fuel to keep waiting. I will not run out of energy. He will revive me. And He will do this for you, too. If you’re impatient like me, He will give you patience for the long haul. Keeping praying for that patience, and keep praying for your answer. It will surely come.
If you struggle with patience, I encourage you to find another believer who has experienced waiting a long time for something. Ask them to share their story, and share how God gave them patience. I have been blessed to have friends in similar situations who can encourage me while I wait. I hope you do, too.
This was a long post, but I hope it encourages you to keep waiting and provides some ways to wait well. If you want to chat more, I’d love to hear from you. Find my email here or reach out on Facebook.
Until next time, friends.
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