Seasons of Waiting
I love Amazon Prime because I am guaranteed free 2-day shipping! It’s an amazing world we live in with smart phones, apps, and online streaming. We live in an on-demand world.
None of us like to wait. I mean, doesn’t a yellow traffic light translate, “Quick, speed up!” rather than slow down and wait?! But the longer I’ve navigated life, leadership, and ministry, the more I see the importance of learning how to wait. So what makes waiting so hard?
I’ve found that in seasons of uncertainty and waiting, it’s easy to get insecure. It’s easy to question if what I am hoping for is ever going to happen. Sometimes I don’t even know what I can hope for. We know that hope deferred makes the heart sick, which can make seasons of waiting a frustrating place.
My husband and I planted Substance Church almost 11 years ago in Minneapolis, MN. As church planters and leaders we have always had a huge vision in our heart. But if I can be honest, it’s always surprised me to watch how long it has taken for parts of the vision to be seen and walked out. Like all church planters, we have tried to get a permanent facility. I’m excited to say that we are FINALLY renovating our first facility and should be moved in by January 2016. But if the Lord had told me 7 years ago that it would take this long for us to get a facility, I would have wept. In all honesty, while I can now see that God’s timing for us and Substance is perfect, the last few years as we cast vision, searched for land/properties, and raised funds for an ambiguous location, it was SO discouraging having door after door closed shut. Now I can see that God was doing a deep, beautiful work in our hearts, but let me share a few lessons I’ve learned in the trenches of waiting.
During seasons of waiting, it’s easy to get insecure and think that if I was a better leader, employee, friend, wife, mom, etc., then maybe I wouldn’t be in this holding pattern – maybe I could actually make something happen sooner. And unfortunately the world is full of “Job’s friends” who affirm our insecurities by telling us what we need to do to get out of this particular season.
I’ve found that in seasons of waiting and uncertainty it’s easy to form our own theology about what God can or can’t do, or will or won’t do. We tend to look at our current experience and form our own beliefs rather than looking to God and His Word, which never changes.
I’ve also experienced that when I’m in seasons of waiting and uncertainty I have felt misunderstood. I felt like people were looking at my life and wondering why “fill in the blank” wasn’t happening, and honestly so was I. Unrealistic expectations can be so harmful in the waiting process.
Sometimes we are thrown into a season of waiting because of someone else’s bad decisions. I think of Joshua and Caleb who had to take a 40-year detour in the wilderness because 10 of their fellow “spies,” who were leaders, gave a bad report. (Numbers 13)
Seasons of waiting reveal who or what we trust. Do we lean on our own understanding or do we fully trust in The Lord? (Proverbs 3:5-6) Recently I heard Christine Caine talk about how when we wait upon the Lord we will renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31), but so many times we are waiting on the wrong thing – which is evident by our lack of strength. And because seasons of waiting have unknown timelines, it’s easy to become tired.
In human pregnancy, we know that the gestational period is 9 months. But when it comes to what God is birthing and forming in us, the gestational period isn’t always clear. If you talk to any woman who is 39 weeks pregnant, the number one question she gets asked is “when are you due?” It gets to the point where you don’t even want to go out in public because it’s so annoying being asked questions about something you have no control over. At least with pregnancy we know the baby will eventually come out (most health professionals won’t allow you to go past 42 weeks), but in life when there is no official “due date,” it’s much more difficult to answer life’s questions like, “Why aren’t you married yet?” “When are you having kids?” “Why aren’t you healed?” “Why don’t you have a church building yet?” It’s easy to get frustrated and insecure.
Yet when we look at Biblical precedent and the faith stories of the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us we see a pattern of waiting.
- Abraham and Sarah waited 20 years before their dream came true.
- Moses waited 40 years before he became a leader.
- David spent years in the wilderness exiled and on the run before he became king.
- Jesus waited 30 years before his “ministry” opportunities became public.
I don’t know what you are “waiting” for today. But let me encourage you with this: God sees and hears. (Genesis 16) He knows. (I Samuel 2) He has a plan. (Jeremiah 29:11) And when those insecurities, uncertainties, fears and anxieties try to mess with your thoughts and emotions, just take a deep breath and realize it’s a sign that you need to run to the One who loves you and knows you. When you know you have a good, good Father “who knows what you need before you even ask,”(Matthew 6) you can rest assured that “your times are in His hands.” (Psalm 31:15)