It seems we are always waiting for something. Maybe you are waiting for graduation or for a baby to be born or for a promotion at work. Once it happens, we then look forward to something else, and the waiting begins again.
No one really likes waiting but it is a necessary part of our earthly life. It is also a part of kingdom life – in the mission world, we find ourselves waiting for many things. Some of us are waiting for an organization to accept us, others are waiting for God to provide the financial support to get started in ministry. Once in our new country, we wait while we learn the different culture and language. As we get involved in ministry, we wait for “fruit” from that work. And in the end, we are all waiting for Christ’s return!
We may be tempted to consider waiting as wasted time, but that would be wrong. Externally, God may have us waiting because the right time has not yet arrived. Only he knows the best time for things to happen. The apostle Paul used the term “the fullness of time” in his letter to the church in Galatia:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4 (ESV)
The Jews had waited for their Messiah for centuries, but God sent Jesus just when the time was right.
Most of us may be able to list examples in our own lives when God has delayed. During the wait we probably called out to God in desperation. The time certainly seemed right to us; but when his answer finally arrived, we saw his wisdom and love for us in the waiting.
Waiting has an internal purpose as well. In waiting, we develop character. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit worth waiting for! In waiting, our faith is deepened. That deepened faith may be needed for deeper waters lying ahead on our path. In waiting, we understand that God is in control and not ourselves. Learning to submit to the lordship of Christ brings about greater dependence on him and others.
Waiting does not have to be without action, though. In fact, actively waiting often brings about greater things. We must learn to embrace the fact that there is purpose in God’s process for us. Here are some suggestions for how to stay active in waiting on God:
Pray – prayer is to our lives of faith what breathing is to our physical lives. It should be constant. We get a better understanding of who God is and what he is about as we spend time with him in prayer. Prayer spiritually prepares us for God’s plan for us.
Learn – our lives should be about learning, whether we are waiting or acting. Learning almost always involves listening and listening well. Interacting with what we hear is the first step to understanding and moving forward. Learning helps prepare us for what is ahead when the waiting ends.
Love – engaging with those around us while we wait will reap benefits for both us and them. Our service will meet needs and prepares us for what God has in store. Love should be our priority. In the end, three things will remain, faith, hope, love… but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13).
Love God. Love others. That covers it all.