For When God Asks Us to Wait
“The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.” (Isaiah 50: 4-5, NIV)
It’s the one command from God that none of us want to hear. We’re taught from a young age to be busy, because sitting still means we’re anti-social, lacking drive, and building an unimpressive resumé. We’re hard-wired to believe that forward motion is the only avenue to success. It’s the only way to feel satisfied. So when God says “Wait,” we automatically see it as the proverbial kiss of death or a test of our will.
But what if God tells us to wait so that we could be enriched by His presence? This is the lesson God is asking me to learn right now. A month ago, God told me He wanted me to wait. He asked me to be single, and he asked me to learn how to be with Him. As a 20-something from New York, those commands go against the nature that’s supposed to be ingrained in me, but since that day, God has been reminding me of other big-time, spirit-led rock stars that waited in His word. Joseph waited for two years in an Egyptian prison. David waited in the wilderness before he ever became King of Israel. Ruth waited for God to bring her a husband. Jacob waited fourteen years to marry Rachel. All throughout the Bible, God asks His chosen people to wait. Among all those people, the waiting results in a blessing they could not have imagined, and a deeper understanding of God’s hear
So, why do we see waiting as a punishment? Because standing still isn’t easy to do; learning to listen is even harder. Both are necessary lessons that can only be learned in their application. We cannot practice stillness in our spirits in theory. In order to obtain it, we have to have the discipline to just do it. For me, I know this means I have to unplug. I have to excuse myself from watching yet another episode of The Great British Baking Show with my mom to sit in the Lord’s presence or read my Bible. It means investing more of my time into people that I know will remind me to pursue Christ and to build on His love daily.
Waiting on God means I become his student. It means that I say yes to His will and become sensitive to His move. It means that after I talk to God, I pause and give Him a moment to speak back.
You might say, “Well, that’s unrealistic. How can I be that diligent and thoughtful in pursuing Christ? I just don’t have time.”
The thing is, God never said he’d convenience you. In fact, a lot of His commands are big challenges. Matthew 16: 24-25 says, ‘Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”’ (ESV).
Those are some big asks: Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. Daily. Not when your planner says you have time, not once in a while, not when the semester is over– daily. That means that if you really and truly want to run after Jesus, you have to be willing to consciously and deliberately deny yourself in order to be a viable student.
I won’t lie. It’s a sacrifice, but I have to say, when I finally stopped fighting God and accepted His request for me to wait, He started to speak. He started to speak loud and clear. Things that I hear Him say at night before I go to sleep are the exact words that a friend or a co-worker needs to hear the next day. He’s whispering things to me and healing heartaches that I didn’t even know were still deep inside. He’s expanding my creativity and giving me ideas like never before.
He reminds me that after Joseph was released from his wait in prison, he became the solution to a national tragedy. When David came out of the wilderness, he knew more about God’s heart than anyone could ever imagine and that gave him the favor and grace to rule over God’s people. Ruth’s season of faithfulness and waiting resulted in a marriage that was beyond her wildest dreams. Jacob’s hard work and patience allowed him to walk away from Laban with two wives and an estate of possessions and livestock that would make any man of his day green with envy.
Hear me: I am not accepting Jesus’ request to wait because I want the blessing. The blessing is a bonus. I am waiting on God because six months ago, I asked Him to reveal Himself to me. I asked him to show me more of His ways. Waiting on Him is just the necessary means to get there, and I’m finding that actually committing to the wait is actually one of the most fruitful interactions I’ve ever had walking with Jesus.
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