Lines at Disneyland.
The spinning rainbow wheel of death.
Security at LAX.
The doctor’s office.
Question: What do all these things have in common?
Waiting is the worst. And I’m pretty bad it. I’ve been known to scream at my computer (in front of my students) and read my book during red lights. You’d think I’d be more patient by now since God has taught me some hard lessons about waiting, but it seems He’s still got a lot of work to do on me.
In church this week, the pastor talked about the importance of waiting and the change that happens as we wait. You better believe I teared up. Especially as he read this quote from Lewis Smedes:
“Waiting is our destiny. As creatures who cannot by themselves bring about what they hope for, we wait in the darkness for a flame we cannot light. We wait in fear for a happy ending that we cannot write. We wait for a ‘not yet’ that feels like a ‘not ever.'”
I think God is using this “not yet” that feels like a “not ever” for a reason. And I get to live in a place of hopeful expectation, a place where my faith is strengthened as I hope for what I cannot see and I wait for God’s crazy plans to unfold.
The waiting sometimes feels confusing and chaotic; at times it’s lonely and long. But I firmly believe in a God who acts at just the right time. I believe in a God who has purposes and plans that are much grander than my own. So I’ll wait.
And wait I did. Then on February 1, at just the right time, I walked across an In-N-Out parking lot, gave an awkward side hug to a blind date, and the wait was over.
I can see now why I had to wait for Paul. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I’ve certainly found that to be true because hindsight doesn’t require any faith. It’s when you’re in the thick of it- waiting for a spouse or a job or a baby or whatever it may be- that faith is required and faith is refined.
Who needs faith when you have everything you hope for? It’s in the midst of the hoping and the longing and the often painful process of waiting that faith is strengthened. The author of Hebrews explains, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
Paul writes this about Abraham having to wait decades for God to deliver what He had promised:
“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21).
I wish I could say that I never wavered in unbelief and that I was always fully persuaded that God would deliver, but that’s just not true.
The thing is, God never promised me a husband. God never promised to give us everything we want. But here’s what He has promised:
He will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
He has given us His peace (John 14:27).
He will supply for our every need (Philippians 4:19).
And He will work out everything for our good (Romans 8:28). Not for our comfort and pleasure, but for our good.
In the middle of the waiting, we can cling to these promises. God may not answer our prayers how we want and and He sure doesn’t operate on our timetables very often. But we can trust that when He says “no” there is a reason and when He says “wait” there is a purpose.
Stay tuned for the next post in which I list the 20 reasons I should have known Paul was the one for me.