How to Wait When You Can’t

Who Wants to Wait?

Are you waiting for something? Not just traffic, the checkout line, or what you know will change. I mean something that has you on pause in life. Something your heart’s been yearning for but has eluded you for so long. If so, you’re not alone.

Life comes at us in fits and starts. In searching for someone to love or something meaningful to do, we await an opportunity. Some people might refer to it as an open door. With relationships, we sometimes must wait for people around us to smell the coffee. We could even be waiting for ourselves to change. Tragically, life has become so burdensome for some people that they are only waiting to die.

Tom Petty was on to something. Waiting is not easy. It may be the hardest part of any pursuit in life.

Like others who have made it to sixty, I’ve done my share of waiting: for a job, for physical and emotional healing, for a spouse, for difficult circumstances to pass, for other people to come around.

It’s hard because, while we wait, we can’t control the outcome. And we’re wired for motion – at least I am. And control. Like adding TNT to a logjam, we can appeal to a Higher Power. But until it detonates, we can change only ourselves, and even that may be difficult. Sure, we can endeavor to knock down the door to opportunity, but without God’s blessing on what we seek, we will end up frustrated and empty.

But Wait!

Sometimes, we wait because what we are waiting for wouldn’t be good for us. God has something better. And He is protecting us from harm. Every time I recall some of my romantic interests from yesteryear and then look at Debbie, I know this to be true.

Yet waiting is an opportunity to grow. A big one.

I’m working on a novel that has taken far longer than I expected – going on five years – and I’m not happy about the timeline. I’ve waited on publishers, agents, editors, writers, printers, and reviewers. Many of them never responded. Even I’ve slowed progress as I figure out what to write or do next.

But God has my attention.

I’ve been an author and publisher long enough to know this book may or may not sell well once it gets to market. I only have so much control over that. But I’m sure the slow pace of this project has improved its content and made me a better writer (but feel free to make your own assessments). And I’ve learned valuable information and connected with helpful experts along the way.

I feel like an Olympic boxer who has matriculated from three-round bouts and finds himself in the twelfth round with wobbly legs and blood oozing from a cut over the eye. Discouragement, frustration, and work that stretches capabilities will do that to someone with a project under development and who is himself a work in process. But these consequences are fertile ground for God to grow His crops.

Purpose in Waiting

Often, we gain needed perspective in the valley of waiting. It’s easier to look around once we’re in limbo. God is more interested in who we are than what we do. He’s not impressed by initials after our name, trophies on our shelf, dollars in our wallet, or followers on social media accounts.

Instead, He’s interested in how we treat our spouse and kids, whether we act out of self-interest or put others first, and what fruits of the Spirit He finds within us. Patience is one of them.

God is a character artist, and when we’re still, it’s easier for Him to sculpt us. We’re here to bring glory to Him, not ourselves. Once we figure that out, the waiting becomes more palatable.

So, incline your ear to God. While you’re waiting for Him to open the door to that desire He’s placed in your heart, let Him prepare you for it - or allow Him to plant a godly desire there if none exists. Dwell on His Word with a receptive attitude. Connect with people who have already traveled the road you want to go down. And don’t overlook the opportunities God has already placed before you. They may be better than the ones you’re expecting. They may even lead to your intended destination.

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

-Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

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