Most of us, maybe all of us, are waiting on something in life to change.
We’re waiting for our job situation to improve, waiting to meet our future husband, waiting to get pregnant, waiting for a clean bill of health, waiting for a relationship to be mended, waiting for a person to change, waiting for our financial situation to improve, the list goes on.
We’re waiting for that thing or person or situation we don’t like to change.
And we can act spiritual about it. I know I have. It’s spiritually mature to wait. Heck, it’s biblical! But the truth is we’re just waiting for God to do what we want Him to do. We’re waiting for God to do what we would have done a long time ago, if we were actually in control of our life or other people.
So we wait, but I think we’re waiting for the wrong thing.
The Bible never tells us to “wait for your situation to change!” and it certainly doesn’t say “just wait a little bit. Eventually God will do what you want Him to do. He’ll give you the thing you desperately want– just wait!”
It does, however, say to “wait on the Lord” over and over and over and over. Those verses that tell us to “wait on the Lord” usually have additional words and phrases that further describe the waiting: eagerly watch, look, yearn, be still, be patient, wait silently, seek Him, be strong.
It’s certainly an active kind of waiting (not to be confused with the “active waiting” I like to do aka “try to fix it myself with my own natural abilities and resources”) and it’s a waiting where the entire focus is centered on the Lord. It’s watching and waiting for Him and Him alone.
So what exactly does that look like?
While I can’t give you a definite answer (and please, show me someone who can!) I can tell you how this has unfolded to look like in my life.
1. IT’S DRAWN ME MORE TO PRAYER.
I dubbed the year 2016 “the year of prayer”. Looking back, it still wasn’t as prayer-packed as I had hoped, but my goal was to pray more than I ever had and to (hopefully) see the fruit of that discipline. I wanted to be more aware of God’s work in my life, the way He answers prayer, and the way He changes my heart throughout the process of prayer.
This past Sunday, we sang the old hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus”. The first stanza goes like this…
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
And yet again, I was reminded of how often I carry burdens, forfeit peace, sit in pain, worry, grieve, all because I don’t pray without ceasing.
When I am waiting on something to change in my life, first and foremost, I need to bring it God in prayer.
2. IT’S CHANGED THE WAY I PRAY
I used to pray for the person, the situation, the bad “whatever” to change. I would beg God to fix it and make it better. Why? Truthfully so my life would be easier. There was a stress, annoyance, pain or something I wanted removed so that my life would be “better”. And sometimes He does answer prayers in that way. But I came to realize over time, that God cares way more about changing me than my situation. In fact, He probably would rather use my difficult situation to make me more like Him, than simply ease my plight. More than likely, that’s always His plan.
So though I still ask for specific changes in situations, I always start with asking Him to change me first. Make me stronger, braver, more gracious, more like you, more generous, more broken, more dependent on You, more whatever He wants to make me through the difficult situation.
3. IT’S CHANGED MY QUESTIONS FROM “WHEN” OR “WHY” TO “HOW”
I used to ask “When will this relationship be repaired, Lord?” or “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why have you allowed this to happen?” Even “What is your purpose in this?” has left my prayers. While those aren’t bad prayers, I’ve found a better question is “How?” How do I obey you? How do I honor you in this gross situation? How do I love that extremely difficult person in a way that pleases you? How do I honor You with my finances?
I think waiting on the Lord looks like praying in such a way that we entrust Him with our burdens and don’t take them back. We give Him our worries and then we remove our gaze off of those difficult situations and laser beam focus our eyes on Him. We focus on Him by asking every day how to best honor, obey, please, and glorify Him.