By Ashley Roe, Contributing Writer
Waiting….It’s not something most of us do to well with. In our fast paced, I want it my way and I want it now, society we have grown accustomed to not having to wait or growing impatient when we do. Just think about it. Most people can’t get where they are going fast enough. Waiting an extra two minutes in line at the grocery store causes sparks to fly and faces to burn with anger. How dare someone steal our precious time?!
Sometimes the waiting is over harder things like waiting for test results from the doctor or waiting for our circumstances to improve. I have done a fair share of waiting over the past few years and I will be honest, I haven’t always handled it well.
Lessons on Waiting Well
A turning point for me was when I began using the First 5 App from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Many of the devotionals have spoken to me about waiting and how to wait well. I have been learning that even though I am in a period of waiting, I can still live life now and I need to be proactive instead of sitting back hoping for something to happen.
Here’s four main lessons I have learned about waiting through First 5:
Stay Connected to the Vine
One of the most important things we can do as Christians is stay connected to our source of life. In John chapter 15, we are told that Jesus is like the vine and His people are the branches. If we want to live a fruitful abundant life, we need to remain connected to the vine.
If we allow other things to distract us from this life source, we will become more easily discouraged and our lives will begin to lose fruitfulness. However, you can’t just plug in when you want to and expect it to make a change in your life. For Him to truly work in us, we need to remain connected to the vine always.
This means we need be intentional about daily abiding in Him through prayer and bible study. Seek to have a deeper relationship with Him so that when trials come, and they will, you will be ready to walk through it knowing He is on your side.
When my husband lost his job, for the second time, my initial reaction was panic and utter despair. How could this happen again?! I knew quickly that I was faced with a choice, I could wallow in this dark place or I could turn my focus off of what I was losing and on to what God was going to do through this. In order to do that I needed to work on growing into a deeper relationship with Him.
I can’t say I am always good about doing the latter but I saw Him work through the situation in a way that I never would have had I been too focused on what I didn’t have.
Over the several years since his second lay-off, I have continued to struggle with what it means to wait well. I have grown increasingly anxious and at times even depressed. A number of stressful and uncertain situations that came up in my life seemed to only fuel the fire of uneasiness. So again, I am learning that plugging in to God and His word is what keeps me from falling into despair during difficult seasons.
You cannot wait well without being connected to the vine because He is your life source. I am learning more and more that in order to live abundantly no matter what season I am in, I need to stay connected to my source of life so that I can live well now.
Get off the Mat
This lesson is one that I think hit me he hardest. In John chapter 5 we read a story of a paralyzed man waiting at the pool of Bethesda to be healed. Jesus comes along and asks “Do you want to get well?” The problem was that he could not get into the pool because he had no one to help him in. Jesus ignores this excuse and tells him to get up, pick up his mat and walk.
Like the writer of this particular devotional, I felt God asking me if I wanted to get well. But I also felt a connection to the man’s excuse in the story. But Lord, I have no one in my life whom I can call a close friend. How am I supposed to do this on my own?
I know I need to get up off my mat and keep moving. Much of what is keeping me on my mat is waiting.
I have waited for the day when I no longer feel constantly exhausted. I have waited for this long period of loneliness to end so that I can once again know true deep and lasting friendships. I have waited for direction on what I am supposed to be doing with my life. But mostly, I have waited for the day when I can move to a house I can call home.
Those things have paralyzed me and caused me to sit on my mat for far too long. Instead of getting up and allowing God to work in my life, I am sitting waiting for some miraculous thing to happen. I am learning that I need to take that first step toward healing. I need to allow God to work in my life even when I can’t understand how.
Trust in God’s Timing
This is a tough one to understand. I feel as though I know what will make my life better but the reality is that even when I think I know what is best, I don’t.
One of the devotionals referenced John chapter 7 where Jesus’ brothers where pushing him to step out into the public before he was supposed to. They thought they knew better and they pressured him to do what they thought was best.
We often deal with pressures to jump ahead of God’s timing. We might even desire to go our own way because we can’t see what God is doing. However, God knows and he wants to use the waiting not to make us suffer but to draw us closer to him. I liked this sentence from that devotional:
“Waiting is a tool God uses to teach us, refine us, and develop character. There is a connection between faith and waiting. God wants to use out times of waiting to drive us to our knees and increase our intimacy with Him.” (Krista Williams for First 5).
I have been in what seems like a long period of waiting for several years. I don’t understand why it seems to be going on for so long and I often just wish for it to end. However I am trying to learn that he is using this time to teach me to slow down and draw nearer to Him.
Another days devotional referenced John 19 when Jesus takes his final breath on the cross. To everyone there, it seemed like the end but what they didn’t know was that it was truly the beginning.
One of my deepest longings has been to move from my husbands small condo I moved into when we got married to a house that I could finally call home. It has been at least three years since this desire was firmly planted in my heart and for most of that time it didn’t seem possible, at least not in the near future. Over the last several years, living here has also contributed to some of my loneliness and anxiety.
The struggle is using this time of waiting well instead of just sitting back wishing for it to end.
So I am reminding myself that even though waiting can often feel dark and lonely, know that He is still there. I love this prayer as a reminder to hold on to that hope:
“Father, I’m drowning in the silence of today. I feel alone, but I know you are there. I know that your silence is not your absence. Help me wait for you and finish what you have started in me. Help me hope. Help me believe. In Jesus’ name, Amen” (Written by Whitney Capps for First 5).
Find Value in the Pressing
Waiting is often one of the most difficult times of pressing that we experience.
In her First 5 devotional, Lessons from the Olive Tree, Lysa TerKeurst uses the analogy of the olive tree as a comparison to times of trial. Olive trees need both hardship of the harsh wind and relief of the rain in order to be fruitful, as do we in our own lives.
Once olives are picked, they must also undergo the process of pressing in order to extract what is most valuable from it, the oil. Likewise, we must undergo times of pressing in order to remove bitterness and preserve what is most valuable.
This may be one of the toughest lessons on waiting. Accepting that it can actually be valuable to be put through trials is no easy task. However, with the help of the Lord we can come out of the waiting better than we entered it.
In my waiting, I have wanted to bypass the difficulties instead of learn from them. Right now my husband and I are getting very close to having our condo ready to list for sale. However, it has been a long six months and along the way there were many obstacles that made us want to just give up. We are also looking for a home to move to once ours sells but it seems like every home we have been interested in has already sold.
Earlier on in our house hunting journey, I fell in love with a house then not long after we went to a showing, it sold. I struggled with that disappointment not only because I lost the chance at living in that house but also because it felt like I was losing all the things I had longed for that would come with moving to a house. I had to learn to keep waiting.
We had been looking in multiple locations, so I prayed and asked for direction on where we should live. I found peace in a decision of a specific location which is near our church and closer to family. Yet still, a number of houses I found listings for that were possibilities have sold.
Just today as I write this, the top house on our list just sold. I am fighting with being discouraged again as the listings in this area are quite sparse right now but I am reminding myself that God will provide the right place at the right time even when it seems impossible.
I don’t know what it is that you may be waiting for but it is my hope that you are encouraged to learn to wait well; Stay connected to the vine, get up off your mat, trust in God’s timing and find value in times of pressing.