The Ministry of Waiting

During my quiet time this morning, I started to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for who the Lord is and what His presence means in our lives.  I was reading our Sunday school lesson in preparation for church later and smiled when I saw it deals with Abraham, Sarah and God’s incredible promise to make them the parents of endless generations – even in their old age.

Abraham accepted this promise at first and his faith in God was credited to him as righteousness.  Yet, after living in Canaan for 10 years without bearing a child, they began to get restless.  They surely must have thought that when God made that promise He meant for it to be accomplished soon.  And now He was delaying.  What was He doing?  When was He going to get around to them?  Maybe He’d forgotten?  Maybe He hadn’t really meant that Sarah would bear a child (because that’s impossible at her age anyway!) but that it would happen some other, logical, way (through Sarah’s slave, Hagar).

In their waiting, their trust began to waver.  In their waiting on God’s divine plan, they allowed their human reasoning to take over.   They decided God couldn’t really make Sarah pregnant in her old age and that he must have meant they’d have a child through another woman – a method they understood.  So they decided to help God out in fulfilling His promise by having Sarah’s slave conceive a son with Abraham.  There.  Now God’s promise was fulfilled, their anxious waiting was relieved and they were back on track.

Except, that wasn’t God’s plan.  He really meant it when He said that Abraham and Sarah would bear these nations.  He made that promise because He was capable of doing it.  It wasn’t like when we promise grand things to those we love out of what we wish we could do, then have to go back later and amend them based on what we’re actually able to do.  God promised something miraculous because He meant to do exactly that.

“Yet those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength.”  Isaiah 40:31

Through Abraham and Sarah’s time of waiting, their trust grew weak to the point of feeling like they needed to take matters into their own hands.  They didn’t wait – they worried.  They felt God was late in fulfilling His promise because they brought their own expectations to the table of how God meant to do it.  They would not have grown anxious if they had fully surrendered themselves to the fact that God always does what is best for us, in the best time and in the best way.

One thing we’re learning in our travel nursing adventure is to wait for God’s best.  As we start the job search anew every three months, it would be so easy to anxiously jump at the first offer just to have it settled.  We’ve also experienced still not having a job three days before our current job ends and wondering if God was leaving His solution too late.  Yet God promised to provide for us.  If we anxiously refuse to wait on His timing, we are choosing to settle for a solution we can see rather than the solution He has promised.  I’m learning I’d rather wait on His best for me than grab at what I can attain myself.

I’m also learning that in order for my strength to be renewed in the waiting, I must take advantage of that time by drawing closer to Him in prayer and through Scripture.  If I just sit around during that period, my anxious thoughts run rampant.  Yet the waiting offers time to worship and that is what renews strength.

How incredible is it that when God promises something that seems impossible, a solution that makes no sense to our human minds, He means what He says.  He is not just the best version of us – very well-meaning but sometimes unable to come through.  He is Lord over the universe.  He made everything we can see, He created us by breathing life into our lungs, and all things hold together in Him.  If He says He will do something, He doesn’t just mean He’ll accomplish that general purpose.  He means He will do exactly what He says.  I’m learning I’d much rather wait for His exact promise to be fulfilled in all its glory than give up and settle for something I can attain on my own now.  And if the waiting feels longer than expected, I can fight off worry by renewing my strength and my trust through worship, prayer and His word.

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”  Isaiah 64:4

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