I am very much a Type A person. I gravitate more towards schedules, planning out things, checking things off my to-do list, especially when it comes to school things, work, tasks, or personal projects I find rather important and want to be done by a certain time.
But other times I will be much more spontaneous, more go-with-the-flow Type B kind of person, not concerned with scheduling or the details about what’s going to happen next, especially when it comes to hanging out with my friends and doing fun things.
Weird. Well, I know that you can be a mix of both. That is a thing, apparently. But one thing I know I am VERY Type A about is time.
Most of our society it seems, at least in America, is Type A about time, too.
We live in a world obsessed with instant gratification, especially in America where the fast-food industry model has permeated the business field in practically every possible way. Anything we perceive as taking too much time to come to us is considered to be less valuable, or of less importance, that you aren’t working hard enough for it, or that it’s not worth waiting for anymore because too much time was lost/spent/wasted on waiting for it already and it hasn’t happened yet.
We do not live in a patient world.
Our society does not like waiting for things we want to happen.
And honestly, neither do I.
Since I was little, time and I haven’t had the best relationship with each other.
I always seemed to lose track of it.
The passage of it and the ticking noise of the clock made me, and can still make me (but to a much lesser degree now), anxious.
When I don’t have time frames or schedules, when I don’t know when I’m expected to have things done for other people, or I don’t give myself a time frame to get things done by, I wind up kind of floating on by through life like it’s all rainbows and unicorns and sunshine and everything is fine and I have no responsibilities.
It can get bad. It has gotten bad in the past.
So, to counteract this, I’ve worked really hard at getting in the habit of scheduling things. Meticulously. Methodically. I write things down almost obsessively now so I don’t forget things I have to do. To-Do lists and planners have become close companions of mine in my efforts to keep myself accountable and steward my time well. I like knowing the near future, hourly, daily, weekly. Holding myself to time frames and expectations makes me feel more at ease, responsible, on top of things, especially since I haven’t always felt that way in the past.
Here’s the issue though.
I have subconsciously given God time frames to answer my prayers because that’s how I had gotten used to living my life. I wanted Him to work with my schedule. My plans. My time. At some point in my life, I had come to expect God to give me answers to my prayers in a timely fashion that fit in smoothly and in line with the other things I had planned for myself.
That is sooooo not the way He works.
But still, it has been what I have hoped for.
Quite honestly, it can get painful and disheartening when we end up waiting for something our hearts long for, for something we’ve been praying about for what seems like a long time. When I have waited and waited to hear an answer and He hasn’t given me one, which He has done on many, MANY occasions, I’ve ended up questioning His goodness and faithfulness, forgetting how he has answered prayers for me before, and forgetting that He is still good even when He doesn’t answer me.
Unfortunately, I have done this a lot.
Recently, I have been in my own time of waiting. I have continued to pray that God would intervene in a certain situation in my life that has been very difficult for me for months, and while I have been waiting for an answer to this prayer of mine, I found the song “Take Courage” by Kristene DiMarco (but for real if y’all haven’t listened to this song go do it now.) This song has been somewhat of an anthem for me as I’ve waited, and waited, and waited for God to do something in this situation.
Specifically, these are the lyrics from the song I’ve held onto.
“Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun,
So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing”
I love these lyrics. I love this song. I love belting it out in my car, in the shower, screaming the lyrics. It has been a fight song for me as I have continued to pray over and hope for this situation to be mended by God.
It’s encouraging to be reminded that He’s in the waiting. In my waiting.
But, it’s not always easy to remember God’s faithfulness when what you’re focusing on while you’re in the waiting is the gravity of your situation, the length of time you’ve been praying for something or the fact that God hasn’t answered you yet.
One night after I felt like I had had enough, I found myself sitting in my car, exceedingly frustrated and unable to hold back the torrential stream of tears, pouring all of this out to my incredibly patient, wise and gentle mom. Through talking with her, I finally realized that I had done something that was absolutely crippling me in my walk with Jesus.
The hope I was holding onto while I have been in the waiting for God to answer this prayer of mine, where I was placing my hope……it was not in the person of Jesus…
I was placing my hope in something that quite possibly may never happen; the outcome I wanted God to make happen regarding this situation. I wanted Jesus to do something for me in my life more than I wanted to be with Jesus himself while I was in the waiting.
I had let the desires of my heart and what I wanted to happen regarding this situation I was facing become what I focused on, and the fear of what I wanted to happen not ever happening was dominating my thoughts, my actions, and how I pursued God. Allowing what I was hoping would happen in the situation to be what I held my hope in instead of in Jesus distracted me from where my true hope was. It was weighing me down. Crippling me.
I had chained up myself.
And I realized that the more and more I had hoped for, and actually in the possibility of what I wanted to happen regarding this situation, the more and more frustrated, discouraged, disheartened, and bitterly upset I got with God as time marched forward and what I wanted God to make happen in my life, didn’t happen.
When you’re specifically praying for one thing and God makes you wait for it to happen or you’re waiting for God to answer, continuing to pray about it and hoping for it can get tiring and feel pointless.
And I was tired, and it felt pointless.
I was tired of waiting for God to say something.
Tired of hoping for it.
Tired of praying for it.
Tired of not seeing the promises God’s spoken into my life come to fruition.
Tired of seeking after God when I wasn’t hearing anything about this situation when I thought He had told me to continue praying for it.
Tired of not seeing the point in the waiting anymore.
Tired of feeling bitter about it.
Tired of feeling frustrated about it.
Tired of feeling disheartened.
Tired of confusing a feeling with a state of being.
Tired of not knowing what else to do.
Tired of feeling tired.
And finally, I got tired of being blind to the other things God has in store for me this summer because I was focusing on the wrong dang thing.
I had forgotten Luke 9:23 – “Anyone who wants to follow me MUST PUT ASIDE HIS OWN DESIRES AND CONVENIENCES AND CARRY HIS CROSS WITH HIM EVERY DAY AND KEEP CLOSE TO ME.”
I finally realized that I was not putting aside my own desires at the feet of Jesus. I was not asking Him to help me desire only Him instead of desiring the redeeming of this situation, and in doing so, I had absolutely chained myself to something that may never happen because it might not be what God has for me, and I was blaming God for all of it.
It took me a loooong time for me to realize all of this, but you can’t rush a revelation.
When I did finally realize this, that I had been thinking about God all wrong, how I was not keeping close to Him in my waiting, and just how damaging I was being towards myself by not letting my hope in the outcome of this situation go, I couldn’t believe God was putting up with someone like me, and how much patience He must have with someone as impatient as me.
But I am His child. And a Good Good Father makes sure to take the time necessary to correct and teach His children because He loves them. And this was my time of correction, one that needed time to develop, and I’m very very thankful for that.
It was definitely not my best moment for sure. Once I finally saw what I was doing and how I had put myself in chains, I swallowed my pride, humbly repented, asked for forgiveness, and begged God to help me let this go completely, because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.
I finally submitted what I wanted to happen at the feet of Jesus, and surrendered the fear I had of what I wanted to happen not happening at all.
That’s a victory.
As I’ve processed this for the past few weeks, I found out a few things I believe God had for me to learn while I’ve been in the waiting;
– Remembering where my hope is found, and who it is in, will keep me stable, secure, and steady when life around me makes no sense.
– I need to want Jesus, my Savior, first love, and my king, I need to want to know Him and His heart for me more than I want Him to answer prayers for me.
– Surrendering and letting go of our earthly desires, hopes, and the dreams we have about our lives to Him is hard, especially when it’s something we have prayed to see happen for a long time. But if/when we end up clinging to our desires and the hopes we have for them to become reality more than we want Jesus, those desires become an idol. They zap all our focus, take over our thoughts, and keep us chained to the fear that what we want to happen won’t happen.
My desire about this situation had become my idol. By holding onto what I wanted to happen, I had sidelined myself from engaging in the life God has for me. Laying down this desire at the feet of Jesus and surrendering it to him, letting this go had to happen for me to move forward with my life. It took me a long time to realize this, and God knew I needed a good amount of time to realize this, and when I finally decided to surrender what I wanted to happen at the feet of Jesus, I became free again to walk in the true freedom and the real victory that He has given me over this desire. (And that is very, very good.)
– Going through times of waiting, even though they can suck sometimes and can be the absolute last thing I want, they will help me develop patience, perseverance, and perspective, and boy do I need more of all three of those things.
– Choosing to trust Him in the waiting is hard, but what else can I do but put my trust in Him when I know He is in control of all things?
– Pursuing God even if He chooses to be silent on an issue I want clarity on will develop in me a diligence to seek Him more, to spend time with Him more, and to want to hear His voice more regardless of what He speaks to me about.
– God’s timing of things is always, always perfect, regardless of what I think.
These things were absolutely necessary for me to learn. These things took a lot of time for me to learn. God knew I needed to learn these things when I was very unaware of it, and so He gave me the time I needed to learn them.
I suspect this won’t be the last time that God will have to be reminded of some or all of these things, but I’m very thankful for His patience with me as I struggled with this process for months, and I am so thankful that God has more patience with me than I probably ever will with Him.
I’m so thankful that I’m able to appreciate being in the waiting more now because no matter what happens regarding the situation I’m praying for, God has other things for me to do in the meantime, and I want to do be able to them, not sideline myself by focusing on the wrong thing.
I’m so thankful that God is in the waiting.
I think most people would agree that God makes us wait for things we’re praying about for many reasons. We may never know the reasons He makes us wait (and real talk that’s still difficult for me to accept and be okay with sometimes). But, there is one reason I think God might have for making us wait for things that became more apparent to me during my own time of being in the waiting:
There are some things we can only learn or gain from God while we are in the waiting.
Even if it’s not what we wanted originally, if we choose to view being in the waiting for an answer to our prayers as a gift instead of a place of punishment, as a time to learn from God and lean into him, as time to let God do His refining work in us, I believe that time of waiting will end up leading us to what we need in the end, because He’s just that freaking GOOD.
When we surrender our desires to God and lay them at his feet and ask Him “What is that you want me to learn in this time?” instead of “Why is this happening?”, we open the door for God to show us something about ourselves or about Himself that He wants us to learn while we’re in the waiting.
Even if we decide to change our question, ask God the “What” instead of the “Why” question, and He still doesn’t answer, that does not mean that He doesn’t have something for us as we’re waiting.
Waiting does not have to be wasted time.
While we’re in the waiting for God to act/answer prayers, it is a time when we need to choose to worship instead of withdrawing so we keep our focus and our hopes placed firmly in Jesus.
While we’re in the waiting for God to act/answer prayers, it is a time when we need to choose to see Jesus as the Name Above All Names and the One In Control, instead of letting how we see our problems influence how we see our Savior.
If I don’t choose to focus on being with Jesus when life is rough and I’m in the waiting, if I don’t say yes to loving Jesus and pursuing Him when it makes no sense and I’d much rather crawl into bed and sleep to avoid everything, if I don’t choose to spend the time that I am in the waiting for something on seeking God just because I need God in every way, if I don’t commit to letting God continue the process of developing perseverance in me, which is very desirable by the way –
– then saying yes to God when my life is going well means nothing.
But, when I choose to say yes to God in the waiting, when I choose to say yes to God in the difficult times when it seems pointless, when I choose to say yes to God when it might make more sense to others to say no, when I choose to say yes to pressing on despite me not knowing how much time the things I’m praying for will take to come into being, when I choose to let go of my time-frame Type A expectations of God and just let God be God and let myself be the child of God I was always meant to be, I choose the life Jesus has in store for me.
Choosing to say yes to God is not always easy. Saying yes while in the waiting is definitely not always easy. It doesn’t always look like I want it to, how I would imagine it, or come about in the time frame that I would have liked.
But life with Jesus, choosing to say yes to Him, is always, always, good. Even in the waiting.
“For those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31