Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WAITING ON GOD - Part 1 - Waiting for Him to Act

"We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield."  (Psalm 33:20, NIV)
Waiting.  Is there any more distressing concept in our fast-food, instant-message culture?  Just visit a grocery store and you're sure to see someone disgusted by the thought that they've waited too long in a check-out line!  We have become a people gluttonous for immediate gratification of every kind.

Lest I sound like I'm wagging my bony finger at anyone, the greatest possessor of impatience has to be me.  Managing three young children, two of whom have special needs as well as running a full-time ministry with all of its roles and demands leaves me frequently rushing from one thing to the next.  It becomes hard to slow down and wait.

But this pause required in everyday life is nothing compared to waiting for God to resolve a troubling situation.  Waiting for God to act when we are in a place of crisis can often be tantamount to torture, adding more stress to an already stressful situation.  With great angst we join those who have gone before us in crying out, "How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?" (Habakkuk 1:2, NIV)  Doubt even slips in at times like this, corroding our faith.

Still, there are things that waiting produces, amazing things that transform us, if only we will take note.  One major benefit is that we come to a full understanding of God's sovereign control in our lives.  We begin to fall into His arms, depending upon His care only when we discover we are subject to circumstances that are far beyond our control.  Think of how we can learn to become dependant upon the One who wants to provide for us when, despite our best efforts, we can't find a job or heal a child or resolve a family dispute.

Our prayer life grows in times of waiting as well.  We learn to focus on the Lord and get honest with Him about our feelings.  We tend to explore His word more and examine the promises He's made to us.  We are more inclined to lift up others who are struggling as well at these times.  Our prayer evolve into something that is closer to God's desire for us.  In fact, it is during these times that I have actually learned to pray, "Lord, if this is not Your will, please remove this desire from my heart!"

We learn to persevere when we wait.  Don't you often feel like if a certain situation doesn't resolve immediately, you'll surely die?  Then you discover that you're still alive and well as it lingers on.  You may even start to see the small blessings around you while waiting for the big solutions in life.  These are the very experiences that shape our endurance, which in turn makes us a person of deeper character.

Examination of our expectations and desires occurs as we wait.  Introspection about how reasonable we're being makes us much more cooperative in the future when we find ourselves in group or teamwork situations.  We mature as we realize that we don't always have to have things our way.  And our intimacy with God grows as we acknowledge that our Creator always has His best in mind for us, even if that doesn't align with our own selfish desires.

Persistent worry is also stripped from our lives if we cooperate with the process while waiting.  We learn that our anxiety adds nothing to resolving our crises and is often misplaced when we are in a holding pattern.  I, for one, was forcefully separated from my worry when I had a son born with hemophilia.  I quickly learned that fretting did nothing to prevent bleeding and the most serious episodes occurred without cause.  Losing that bad habit I had so closely clung to over the years was actually quite liberating and vastly increased my level of contentment.

There's no doubt, that waiting is extremely difficult no matter how you slice it.  I don't want to sound like I'm oversimplifying things here.  But if we cooperate with the process and live fully in the moment, we are transformed.  And the way we are shaped by having our resolutions delayed results in a better us than we could ever imagined being.

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