College Summer Series - Waiting On God.
"Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!" - Psalm 27:14
As a student, and as a younger 20-something in general, I became proficient at waiting. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. It always felt like I was waiting on something. Understanding in class, understanding as to where God was taking me and what He was wanting to do with my life, an answer to a job application, a spouse, etc. It never seemed to move as fast as I wanted it to.
We've grown up in a microwave culture. If we want it, we can have it. Information is more readily available now than it has ever been in human history. I'll date myself a bit. I think the majority of you reading this are about my age, give or take a few years. The first phone I ever owned was a small flip phone, it had 100 text messages per month and could make phone calls with a monthly minutes restriction. That was it. I didn't get my first iPhone until I was in college, but from the moment you're used to having information given to you at your request, you don't deal well with information that seems to be withheld from you. Everyone with taste buds can agree on this though, we'd rather have a meal that's been slow roasted in the oven rather than microwaved in a matter of seconds.
Convenience is costly. You can have it sooner, but it won't always be better. Quality has to cook, it can't be zapped. In my waiting, I've wanted to have the best of both worlds. I want to microwave my situation and eat a meal that tastes like quality. Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that, God doesn't work like that. The problem was that in my waiting I was missing two key components, the first of which was this, I was waiting passively.
Active Waiting vs. Passive Waiting
There is an old adage that says, "good things come to those who wait." I would make a slight modification to that statement by adding the word, actively. Good things come to those who wait actively. Many of us recognize that we are in a season of waiting, perhaps we can even be honest enough to say that we should be in a season of waiting, but we leave it at that and passively hope that God will bring dreams to reality.
Lamentations 3:25 says, "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him." Yes, good things come to those who wait on the Lord, but in that waiting, they are seeking (more on that next week). We can't wait for God to bless idleness. Waiting on God is not an excuse to be lazy in our pursuit of God. If our pursuit of God is contingent upon receiving what we want from Him, then we don't love God. We love our desires more than we love God. If that is how our relationship with God is, then seasons of waiting will quickly turn into seasons of whining.
That is where I found myself often in college. Whining. Upset with God, that He wasn't moving in my timing or in the ways that I had wanted Him to. But if we truly believe that God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts and that His ways are beyond our own (Isaiah 55:8-9), then we can learn to trust Him, and when we come to trust Him, our love for Him deepens. The bedrock of love is trust, and you can trust this - that because God loves you, He will make you wait.
Wait with expectation, work with motivation. In seasons of waiting, there is a lot that God wants you to run towards. Waiting is like punishment. Hear me out. I would rather have a Father that is actively in my life, teaching me, telling me when I'm wrong, spanking me when I've disobeyed, and directing back onto the right path than a Father who is nowhere to be found. A Father that is absent, allowing me to make mistake after mistake, never learning, never growing.
Active waiting is where the growth happens. If you want to see crops grow, you don't throw a seed on the soil and stare at it, hoping that it grows, getting angry when nothing happens. But that is often how we wait. You have to till the field, dig up the earth, plant the seed in enough depth, water it, tend to it, and protect it. God will bring the crop, but we have to do the work. The lesson of waiting and having to trust with whole-hearted dependence on God will bring you further than reaping a quick and easy harvest. Wait actively, not passively.
The second key component that I often missed in my waiting was patience. No, I'm not being redundant. Patience and waiting are not the same thing.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, these are the definitions of waiting and patience. Waiting - the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens. Patience - the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
I know, how annoying is that?
Waiting is the delay, patience is the tolerance of the delay. I've never been very patient. It had to be developed, it's still being developed. I want to go. I want to do. I want to get started and be ahead of the curve, but God sees what we cannot. Our waiting takes on many different forms. Waiting on things to come, waiting on things to pass, some of them may fade, some of them may stay, but God is faithful. Do we trust Him enough? Are we tolerant enough to believe that in our waiting?
Patience is the peace of knowing that God has it and is working in you so that He can work through you. Be patient in waiting. Praise God for what He has done, be patient with what He is doing. The difference between waiting and patiently waiting is that peace. Patience is confident in knowing that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him, Romans 8:28. That includes hardship and trials, that means picking up your cross, that means that even in our most painful seasons of waiting, He is working, 2 Corinthians 4:7-9.
Sometimes God gives us what we need rather than what we want because what we want leads to destruction and what we need brings us closer to Him. The work God does in you is just as important as the work He does through you. You can't carry out a task you're not equipped for. Stay patient, stay faithful!
Your wait may not be about God keeping something from you, but working within you. Wait well. If you wait now you won't regret later. Wait for God's best and you won't have to settle for anything less. His plans supersede our own. These seasons of waiting are the training grounds of becoming. The only thing more difficult than waiting on God is wishing that you had. The best is yet to come.
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