3 Things You Can Do While Waiting on God
Kids are so impatient! Well, at least mine are.
Maybe yours have learned from an early age to sit quietly and wait with hands folded for a response from you – never interrupting conversations between you and another or pulling on your sleeve while you’re responding to a text.
Not only are they impatient, but they are also insistent I acknowledge every time they ask a question or tell me something. Dad, she won’t leave me alone. Dad, did you hear me? Dad, did you hear me? Dad. Dad. DAD!
“Yes, ‘sweetie’ I heard you,” I tell my daughter. At least this is what I say out loud, but in my head I’m saying – Yes, I heard you the first 14 times! Now, zip it and give me a chance to get to your very important complaint against your sister!
Christmas is no exception! EVERYDAY, this time of year, my wife and I hear the same question, “Can we open just ONE gift?” Everyday we give the same answer, “Not until Christmas…”sweetie!”
It’s a good thing adults are so much better at waiting than the kids we know.
Here’s what I’ve come to believe – it doesn’t matter who you are, waiting is hard work for most of us. Waiting is hard even if, like Christmas morning, you know when the waiting will end, but it is especially hard when we’re not sure when to expect what we’re expecting.
Advent is a season that invites us to…wait for it…WAIT! More specifically, Advent invites us to wait for and prepare for the arrival of Jesus.
The way Advent does this is to invite us into the stories and scriptures of those who have had practice doing the very thing asked of us.
One of those stories surrounding the arrival of Jesus involves a couple who had been waiting so long I’m of the opinion they may have forgotten what they were waiting on. The story is Zechariah and Elizabeth’s. They are good people who live the kind of way God longs for everyone to live. They are exemplary – a model for others to follow. You might think that a couple like this has been blessed by God with anything and everything they have ever wanted.
But the fact remains that they are an older couple who are unable to have kids. In fact, the story says that the time for conceiving was no longer conceivable.
Then one day, Zechariah is going about his work, serving God in the Temple when an angel pays him a visit. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel tells him.
Here’s where the story gets good. Why shouldn’t Zechariah be afraid you might ask? Because the angel informs him that his prayer has been heard! [ Side Note: I wonder if Zechariah is running through his prayer from that morning’s quite time trying to figure out which prayer God heard and saw fit to send and angel to let him know.]
And now for the really good part! The angel informs Zechariah that God has heard his prayer… about having a child!
Maybe you’re thinking what we’re all supposed to be thinking here. God heard his prayer about having a kid, but he and his wife have passed the time where having a kid is possible…so, when was the last time Zechariah actually prayed this prayer?
The short answer is, we don’t know, but my guess is that’s it’s been a long time!
Advent invites us to wait, and Zechariah and Elizabeth teach us how.
Zechariah and Elizabeth serve as a reminder to keep working on the work God has given us to do, even while we wait for God to answer the prayers we’ve asked him to answer.
This is of course is their story, but Advent invites us to make it our story.
Here’s what happens when we go about the business of waiting:
1. Waiting on God invites us to give in rather than give up.
When we wait, we often sit around dwelling on the one thing we expect or hope to get, and the longer we wait the quicker we are tempted to give up. I wonder if Zechariah and Elizabeth ever felt this way? I wonder if the longer they waited for God to give them a child the more tempted they were to give up on an answer to that prayer, or worse yet, on God? The story tells us that eventually, or maybe all along the way, they kept doing the work God gave them to do.
When we wait on God it give us a greater opportunity to give in to the fullness of God’s will for our lives, rather than giving up on our will for God to do what we ask.
2. Waiting on God invites us to wade deeper into our relationship with God.
We often make the mistake of believing that God is somehow obligated to give us anything and everything we ask for simply because we are God’s team. I wonder if Zechariah and Elizabeth had this thought. They were two stellar folks from all accounts – doing all that God asked of them. If they did all that God asked of them, then shouldn’t God do at least one thing they asked of God?
Here’s the error with this way of thinking. It misses out on the basic truth that being in a relationship with God at all is itself a spectacular gift!
When we wait on God it gives us greater freedom to explore all the ways God is good to us without us ever asking, and not just waiting on God to answer a single request so that we can think of God as “good.”
3. Waiting on God invites us to trust that God is trustworthy.
We often insist that God acknowledge our requests on our timetable, but God’s timing and purposes are not only different from ours, they are often greater than ours. At least this is true in Zechariah’s case. He wanted a child. I’m guessing he thought “sooner than later” would have been nice, but God’s timing didn’t just give Zechariah a son, it gave him one that served to usher in the arrival of God’s King!
When we wait on God it gives us a greater chance to see what God is up to in the rest of the world, and not just what we want him to do in our world.
My hope for you during this season of Advent, is that you will continue to work while you wait, and that in waiting you may know in the days to come that God has heard your prayer.
I don’t know what you’re praying for in this season of life, but I know that God hears you and I am praying that God gives you all that you need, even if it isn’t all that you want.