I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lot of time waiting. When I was younger, I would spend my summers waiting for the next school year to begin. Although I enjoyed sleeping in and a slower pace of life, I really just wanted to reconnect with friends and get on with the next grade level. At the beginning of my high school career, I counted down the days until I could drive. As my senior year came to a close, I eagerly awaited graduation. In college, I longed to be in the “real world”, and when I got engaged I just couldn’t wait to be married.
Since waiting is an inevitable part of life, I’m not surprised to realize how much time I’ve spent doing it. As I reminisce, though, I wonder how many times I’ve wished away one season of life in anticipation of the next. Waiting is guaranteed, but waiting well? That’s another story.
My days as a full-time student have come and gone, but I haven’t graduated from the school of waiting. Even now I’m in the midst of what seems like an interminable season of longing. Among many other lessons, the past couple of years have taught me that there’s a difference between waiting around for something and waiting on God.
For much of my life, waiting has felt like a standstill. Everything revolved around what I didn’t have, where I hoped to be, or when I could do something new. Waiting on God, however, shifts our focus from a desired outcome back to Him. And when our eyes are on Him, we can continue taking steps of obedience even though the path in front of us looks different than what we expected. While waiting around paralyzes us, waiting on God mobilizes us to live in obedience to the Word of God – even when obedience means being still.
Biblical waiting differs from waiting around in that it requires an active posture of expectation. It means trusting God to do what’s right when it’s right, and it means being faithful in our current contexts. I can’t help but think of Noah who was told of an impending flood many years before it came to fruition. Instead of checking the forecast every day, he built an ark in obedience to God’s command. Or what about Abram who was called to go to a land God would show him? Instead of demanding a full itinerary for the journey, he started walking. And then there’s Joshua who led the Israelites in battle against Jericho. God guaranteed His people’s victory, so Joshua and company marched around the fortified city walls until they fell just like God said they would.
Although biblical waiting is active, it is not an excuse to take matters into our own hands; biblical waiting frees us to live by faith because matters are in His hands. It means we don’t have to be immobilized by all we don’t know; instead we can live by faith in what we do know.
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, and even if it comes, only God knows where we’ll be tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But today is a different story. We live where we live, work where we work, and have the relationships we enjoy for a purpose. Even as we await answers to prayer or changes to circumstances, you and I can be “all in” right here, right now because God is who He says He is and does what He promises.
That thing you really want? I can’t promise you’ll get it. That relationship you’re hoping improves? I pray it does. That overwhelming situation? I don’t know how it will turn out. But waiting well means trusting God with what we don’t know while acting in faith on all He’s promised. His track record of perfect faithfulness ensures He will always do the right thing at the right time – and that’s a guarantee we can live by.