Oh how we have longed for the lockdown to end! In Birmingham it feels like we have been in a perpetual one since last Autumn.
We simply long for the day when we can embrace family again and do the simple things in life such as go out for a meal, attend a sports event or invite people into our homes.
As I type this in March 2021 I’ve been out of work for 8 months. Sadly my pastorate in Birmingham didn’t work out and I resigned in August 2020.
I’ve been waiting for a new appointment during this period but there has been very little on offer due to the pandemic.
One of the verses that has constantly ministered to me has been this one;
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
I’m sure I’m not on my own in being in a season of waiting. There must be many of us who are waiting for furlough to end, education to re-start, businesses to re-open, opportunities to be created, doors to open, families to be re-united, operations to finally take place etc. etc.
Seven things that waiting teaches us
This is what I’ve learned…
1. God is in charge
His ways are not our ways…
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
God perhaps has a bigger plan than you have anticipated right now. Where you are now is perhaps crucial to where God is taking you so try not to become frustrated by this season. Who knows what it might lead to?
One thing that keeps coming back to me is this (from Jer. 29:11). God knows the plans He has for us. In the waiting it is so good to KNOW that God has plans for us. No matter what we see or are experiencing right now – God most certainly has plans for us and they are plans to prosper us and not harm us, to give us a hope and a future!
Sometimes God will use the waiting time to remind us that actually He’s in charge and not us – and He is certainly not at our beck and call!
He is sovereign and He is in control of our destiny and not us, and He will change things in His perfect timing rather than in our imperfect timing.
So can I encourage you to trust God and embrace this season and, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…”
2. God will provide
During the waiting time we discover once again that God is our provider.
Julia and I have been learning again to rely on Him totally for everything we need.
We neither of us have jobs. He is enough.
He has kept the wolf from the door. Some weeks things are a challenge financially but here we are – constantly looking to Him.
He is our provider and He is YOUR provider during the waiting season.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalms 121:1-2)
The question is – in which direction are you looking?
Can I encourage you not to look to man but rather to the God who is your provider.
He will never let you down.
There maybe moments when you wonder what He is doing…..but He will come through for you.
3. Trust God deeply
I wrote a book entitled ‘Imagine (Trusting God like never before)’ in 2018 which is based upon Proverbs 3:5-6;
“Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledge Him and He will make our paths straight.”
I think Julia and I have been writing some additional chapters over the past eight months!
But seriously – I’ve been re-reading my own book and re-learning some stuff about trusting God! It’s been so good!
My daily prayer over this period has been exactly this;
“Father, help me to trust you deeply during this unsettling season and be at peace; not to strive but rather wait for the next door to open. Help us to recognise it when it does. Amen.”
God’s silence doesn’t mean his absence. He has promised never to abandon us and He hasn’t brought you and I this far in order to abandon us now.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
Stillness is important. I have sat each morning in my chair and stilled myself before God.
As I have sat and looked out into our garden and watched the garden birds eat their breakfast (see my article entitled ‘His eye is on the sparrow’ ) I know that not only will He provide for us but I also experience the gentleness and quietness of His presence. As Isaiah put it;
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15 AMPC)
I wonder if God is also using this season to draw you back to Him and for you to trust in Him once again.
Perhaps you and God have become a little distant of late?
Perhaps you need to re-discover the power of being still in His presence…
4. Patience and perseverance
Last July we were stuck in a queue on the M5 for several hours on the way back from our holiday in Wales.
We were literally a thirty minute drive from home! It was so frustrating!!
Most of us hate waiting anywhere. We want everything instantly. Now!
However that’s not how God works and during the waiting season we learn patience once more. The dictionary says that patience implies the bearing of suffering, provocation, delay, tediousness, etc. with calmness, perseverance and self-control. It actually finds its origin in the Old French from Latin “patientia endurance”, from “patī” to suffer. *
I’ve discovered again that God wants me to patiently persevere. In fact patience is one of the characteristics of a Christian.
It is the fruit of the Spirit and perhaps God still had some work to do there in my life.
Of course when our faith is tested perseverance is produced and this is necessary for our maturity before God.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
I can’t say it has always been a joyful season but in the midst of waiting we know that God is at work honing and refining us for His glory.
We trust Him in that.
5. To be fruitful in a season of lack
We are, I’m sure, all familiar with the story of Joseph who was sold in slavery, falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison eventually becoming the Prime Minister of Egypt.
What is amazing is that whilst most of us would have sulked and enjoyed a good old pity party, Joseph got his head down worked hard and flourished.
He was fruitful at a time of his life when he could have allowed discouragement & despair to control him.
When he could have been paralysed by all he’d experienced and sat around waiting for justice he chose to be fruitful.
Jacob, his father, in his latter years, described Joseph as a fruitful vine;
“‘Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed supple, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.” (Genesis 49:22-26)
This man, born to lead and full of vision, twice experienced control and confinement and yet kept his heart right and determined that he would serve others and be fruitful.
Trials, struggles and problems have the ability to rob us of courage and disable us from life and ministry. We can be robbed of our ability to be fruitful.
However we have a choice.
We can choose to allow despair, frustration and discouragement to negatively impact our lives or rather, choose fruitfulness.
It seems to me that you and I are expected by Jesus to bear fruit no matter what season of our lives we find ourselves in. He said;
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. “ (John 15:16)
God wants you and I to be fruitful while we wait.
How can you be fruitful why you wait?
6. Waiting causes us to re-evaluate our lives
If we use the waiting time well then we will ask questions such as;
- What wasn’t working before?
- How will I live differently in the future?
- What will my/our priorities be?
This is question is one we should all ask ourselves before we get too much older;
“What would I regret not doing, or at least attempting, before I die?”
As the season changes I would suggest one thing of uttermost importance.
Get to know God (especially if you don’t already know Him) and make a commitment to know Him better – to cultivate a life-giving relationship with the Holy Spirit.
It’s so important. Then get to know what He has called and purposed you to be in the next season – for the waiting will soon be over…
7. Waiting time isn’t wasted time but should be valuable time
Use it well. Don’t waste it!
Early on in this season I felt God whisper in my ear, ‘Make the most of it!’
For me the last eight months have been invaluable as I have completed and published my second book ‘Courage for the discouraged’, helped Julia write hers, started work on my third book, revised my website, recorded all my Imagine chapters on video for small groups, updated old blog posts, created a back catalogue of social media images. I’ve also found some time to minister, speak and read.
Waiting time is often preparation time. King David waited nearly thirty years to become King of Israel and I’m sure that not a second was wasted by God as He honed and refined David’s character and leadership skills so that when the time was right he could lead Israel well.
We would do well to ask God what He wants us to use this waiting season for?
He knows your future and everything that lies ahead.
The question is – what would He have you do now so that you are absolutely ready for when He opens the door?
So waiting teaches us so many things – if you’re waiting right now then be assured in the knowledge that God will come through for you.
You just need to;
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”