There are many seasons in our lives when we are waiting, transitioning to a new place in life. These can be times of great excitement but also of great anxiety, especially if we are unsure of where God has us or the direction our lives are taking us. A lot of the time, the most difficult thing to do is wait.
How We Usually Wait
We hate waiting because we fear we are going to fail, make the wrong decision, or worse, miss out on God’s plan for us. We fear not having a plan, or we know that the plan we do have seems crazy. That’s when we go into our fight, fly, or freeze responses:
- We fight by diving head first into the first thing that comes our way.
- We fly by running away from the responsibility altogether, choosing to not let change happen at all.
- We freeze by becoming so indecisive that we are stuck, unable to move. We hide, become angry and want to retreat into the past where life was less complicated.
We each tend toward a certain response, but we all do all of them sometimes.
Fight, flight, or freeze are all normal psychological responses that God has instilled in every human being, and they have their rightful place when exercised wisely. What I have described above is the fleshly application of those God-given responses; the gut impulse of a heart trusting in self and circumstance rather than the careful, prayerful actions of a heart trusting in God.
What many of us forget is that there is a fourth option when faced with a decision: taking one faith-filled and faithful step at a time seeking out the Lord, waiting on Him to guide each next step.
How God Wants Us to Wait
Psalm 27: 7-14 says,
Lord hear my voice when I call; be gracious to me and answer me. My heart says this about you: “Seek his face.” Lord, I will seek your face. Do not hide your face from me; do not turn your servant away in anger. You have been my helper; do not leave or abandon me, the Lord cares for me. Because of my adversaries, show me your way, Lord, lead me on a level path. Do not give me over to the will of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence. I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.”
This song, this prayer from the heart, is true and honest to the person who wrote it, David. He is seeking the Lord’s face in his time of waiting. In this psalm, David shows what you can do in your time of waiting instead of following those gut impulses.
Waiting is a God-given opportunity to slow down. Instead of trying to push through the feeling of life being out of control, slow down and recognize who is in control. Slowing down or taking a timeout can actually give your mind, body and soul the time it needs to process what God is wanting you to do or be."Waiting is a God-given opportunity to slow down." -Christina Boatright #collegiatedisciplemaker While You are Waiting Click To Tweet
Waiting is also a God-given opportunity to seek His face. That simply means leaning into your dependence on God and match your steps to His. Seeking His face starts with being honest with your needs and wants and expressing those to Him, then taking time to listen. Listening can create peace of mind and help you to make decisions out of wisdom instead of chaos.
Surrender the Details
In the Old Testament, the people of God didn’t move forward without the Lord moving first. That meant they had to wait many times in many places, and often they didn’t fully know where God was leading them and why. All they could do was wait and see.
Exodus 14 is the story of God leading the Israelite people out of Egypt through unorthodox routes in the desert leading to a dead end in the Red Sea. The people were afraid and knew they were being pursued by the Egyptians. Scripture even says that the Egyptians thought the Israelites were wandering in confusion in the desert (Exodus 14:3). So you can imagine how the Israelites must’ve felt. They were terrified, and maybe confused themselves.
But God had a plan. He held off the Egyptian army while that plan came to pass. He had Moses wave his staff over the water, and through the night a great wind parted the water. The Israelites passed through the sea on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to follow, the waters fell, destroying the whole army. God had not only rescued His people but He also made sure the Israelites and every country surrounding the nations—including Egypt—would never forget.
When you are waiting on God, surrender the details. This means surrendering the timing and the methods by which He works. When you let go of your timing and your plans, you’ll often find that He leaves you a powerful story to tell of His providence.
God’s plan will often look and feel like you are wandering, and we humans are creatures of routine and comfort. But true peace isn’t living without storms, war or chaos, it’s knowing the storms, the war and the chaos can’t destroy you.
The Israelites struggled to wait and see because they were trying to secure peace in their circumstances instead of in God. In Exodus 14:11 they say,
“Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Isn’t this what we told you in Egypt: Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians? It would’ve been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
The Israelites freaked out because somewhere deep inside them, they believed God would lead them into the wilderness to die. Hence they determined that they would rather be slaves than risk death to gain freedom.
I think we often feel the same way when we are in a place of uncertainty and waiting. We forget God’s goodness, and we cling to lesser things. This speaks volumes to how we as humans think. We would rather be slaves to comfort and safety than be truly free to live radically in God’s miraculous plans. The key to securing peace is knowing the one whom you follow will not fail you because He knows where you need to be.
Step in Faith
Slow down, seek God, and surrender the details by choosing to follow where He leads one step at a time. We like to see every step in front of us so that we can feel good about where we are going. Instead, God asks us to trust His timing and His plan, knowing that He isn’t going to lead us in the wrong direction.
Why We Can Wait
We don’t have to know where we are going to know that Who we are following will not lead us astray. His nature is unequivocally good, and His intentions toward us are pure. That brings freedom from the anxiety of the unknown future. Just follow one step at a time, and as I tell my students, if your sole purpose is to bring God glory, you can’t choose the wrong way.