It's 150 years since Canada became a country! Seems like a long time. When we are waiting, it also feels like a long time till the waiting is over.
We’re always waiting for something….Waiting in line, waiting for your child who’s an hour past their curfew, waiting for your exam results, waiting to meet the person you will marry or waiting for them to ask you to marry them. The hardest waiting is when you can't control anything and it feels like there's nothing you can do. Here are some things about waiting:
Waiting makes us tired even though waiting means doing nothing.
Waiting can make us feel drained, discouraged and powerless.
Waiting forces us to face our limitations and reduces us to our most basic state of just being and not doing.
Waiting involves asking a lot of questions but without answers.
Two years ago, we returned from Zambia and like most missionaries in transition, I was anxious about the future. How were we going to live? What did God want me to do? One day, my Ma had the TV on and I received a word from God as I watched Charles Stanley teach on waiting. Here are some things I heard:
1. Clear the Pathway
Dr. Stanley said, “Clear your heart of sin, disobedience, and negative attitude. Sin is like a fog.”
That was a clear challenge to get on the right path with God and remove any obstacles that would hinder me. Confession, repentance and receiving God’s forgiveness lightened my soul and got me ready for the next step.
2. Exercise Patience
“Be willing to trust God, and be willing to submit to God’s timing.”
We live in a “microwave world”. Punch in "1:00" and “Bing!” Dinner’s ready! But because life isn’t like that, I easily get impatient, more stressed, and my molehills become mountains.
Waiting is a national pastime in Zambia and there are lots of opportunities to exercise patience. We wait at church, at the store, even at weddings. My friend Yvette just spent two days at the post office waiting for her road tax sticker!! So people just sit quietly and conserve their energy. It’s amazing to watch and challenging to learn.
This skill came in handy when we recently sat in our hospital’s Emergency Dept. Christopher (17 years old) had self-diagnosed his pain as appendicitis. First, blood tests then physical examination, urine samples, set up with a port, CT scan, antibiotics, and so much saline he needed frequent trips to the loo. Through it all, we were quiet and calm, just sitting or dozing till 13 hours later, he was wheeled into surgery. It reminded me of a flight from Abu Dhabi to Toronto without the movies and airplane food but more surreal.
3. Be Alert to Pressure
External pressure comes from the people or community around us. People want to help us by making suggestions about how to solve our problems. Internal pressure relates to the fear and stress that comes on when I feel like my issues will never be resolved. Pressure makes me want to do something and want to do it now. Are those pressures good reasons to launch out when we are not ready and God’s timing is not ready? Sometimes we will give in and try to make things happen or take shortcuts. Dr. Stanley says, “Consequences always follows decisions. We must be careful to listen to just one voice – God’s.”
4. Persist in Prayer
Praying is one thing we CAN do when waiting. When I pray, I release my situation to God and look for Him to work where I cannot. It reminds me that He is ultimately in control when I feel no control. He is the powerful One where I am powerless. He works in the waiting room.
“God works in your prayer time. God works on you. He shapes you.”
Dr. Charles Stanley
5. Rest in God's Promises
There are so many promises and the Bible talks a lot about waiting and resting. Here are some of my favourite verses: Isaiah 40:31, Isaiah 64:4, Psalm 25:3 and Psalm 37:34.
Dr. Stanley’s recommendation is to read the Psalms and Proverbs while we’re waiting. Our attitude should be one of listening to God with anticipation and attentiveness.
6. Wait for his Peace
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” How do we not let our hearts be troubled? What does it mean for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts? (Col. 3:15) To be at peace while waiting involves actively releasing everything into God's hands, trusting and meditating on His peace. Let’s not act out of pride and try to make our own way and our own decisions but instead wait for God and be at peace.
Finally, remember that in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, many did not receive what was promised them while they were alive. I wonder if the purpose of waiting is not the resolution of the issues we are facing, but the experience of prayer, faith and peace in the waiting.
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