Waiting ˈ[weɪtɪŋ/] To remain in readiness for a purpose
For most of my life, I've had a dim view of waiting. As an ambitious, slightly goal-obsessed individual, the idea of waiting has been laden with negative connotations - frustration, delay, boredom, sometimes disappointment, at its worst, pain. Even writing this right now, I’m battling thoughts of ‘yeah but it’s basically better to just get stuff done rather than have to wait!’ And truthfully, there are still many areas of my life where waiting is an act of my will, where it feels unnatural to me and where I struggle to let go of my desire to control the outcome and timing.
What I've found is that the waiting muscle is one that I've only started to really exercise as my trust in the Lord has grown. Even though I’ve spent most of my life saying, “not my will but yours Lord" many of those years have been basically still spent doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. At times I've masked my impatience with perfectly sound reason - that I'm avoiding being idle and lazy - that I'm being decisive and strong - when in fact, my restlessness has so often found its roots in a fear that I'll be overlooked, ignored, forgotten about if I don't continue with feverish activity.
The truth is, learning to wait on God’s timing and not to force my own agenda has only become a reality for me as I’ve deepened in my belief that God truly does love me, He truly does have good plans for me, plans to prosper me and give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
My anxiety, panic levels and the temptation to just rush in and fix a situation that feels like it’s taking too long, have all reduced as I’ve learnt to trust the Lord to guide me because He loves me and to really believe that He fights for my future more than I’ll ever know. The more I’ve learnt to see that He has my best in mind, the easier it’s become to wait, to listen for His voice, to only move when I feel peace on a decision and to trust the way He leads.
So I'm learning to embrace that waiting is not weakness. I'm seeing that it actually takes a huge amount of strength and determination. I’m not talking here about the kind of "waiting" where you’re basically scared to take a step forward. I’m not talking about delay and procrastination. I’m talking about the kind of waiting where you know deep down, this thing is worth holding out for, I’m committed to seeing this through even if right now I can’t see how it’s going to work out. The kind of waiting that requires you to hold your nerve in the face of criticism (not least our own self-criticism). The kind of waiting where you are confident and expectant of the outcome even though it might seem improbable or even impossible. The kind of waiting that has to be violently coupled with patience and faith.
I love the opening definition of waiting: To remain in readiness for a purpose. For me it threw a whole new light on things. It helped me to think of waiting seasons as opportunities to go deeper in readiness for purpose. Rather than being periods of inactivity and inertia, they can actually be some of the richest and most humbling times as we reassess if we’re even ready for the thing we desire so badly!
Sometimes the wait allows us to grow so that we’re ready and refined for the thing we want, our character is more secure, our mindset healthier, our resilience rooted deep.
So, where I used to see waiting as a lack or absence i.e. the absence of the thing I wanted, (which was surely a bad thing?!) I'm now seeing more and more that the waiting period can be so good! It can be as full of purpose as the fulfilment of the promise itself. A time to deal with the things that make us afraid and make us doubt the goodness of God. I don’t believe waiting seasons are just a test of our endurance, I believe they are opportunities for our character to grow as we face down fears, strengthen our faith for the future and cement our trust in the Lord.
So whatever it is you are waiting for, I pray you’ll be convinced beyond doubt that God wants the best for you. That you'd breathe out and enjoy the wait, safe in the truth that He loves you and that His timing is perfect.