When Time Stands Still...
I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)
When Time Stands Still...
Waiting is for the birds. Tell the truth. You don’t like it, either. I do it now because I have learned the value of it and can see how God has prepared me for things I would have fumbled if done in haste. But I dislike it with a passion.
I was born that way. Literally. I was scheduled to arrive in this world in October, but wrangled my way out of the secret place in August. When I want something, I want it now. Today’s technology has further exacerbated this condition.
Think about it. To read a book, get information, buy music, watch movies, find a matching pair of shoes for an outfit – can all be done on a telephone. that. we. carry. everywhere. all. the. time. Wait? For what?! Why wait, when search results for the most obscure information and the ability to purchase are instant gratification personified? When even TV viewing has changed to accommodate this instantity - the unfortunate love child of instant and insanity? Tuh.
I can’t be the only one to have found great joy in being able to catch a favorite show on demand, only to binge-watch episode one to twelve in one Saturday because I didn’t have to wait. Except after the binge, my eyes would hurt and I’d be turned off. Making impulse purchases would put a dent in my bank account. And maybe I didn’t really have room in my place for another thing, yanno?
So when I ask God for something and I have to wait, I’m back at that feeling of wanting binge-blessings and binge-answers. Right here, right now, everything I can think of on my list of one to twelve – delivered back-to-back with no commercials. But can you imagine getting everything you ever wanted immediately when you weren't ready?
Yup, your eyes would hurt and your head would spin. It’s highly possible, like many instant lottery winners, you would not be prepared for it.
And this is why waiting is a golden opportunity for greatness.
Waiting? Yes, waiting. I heard your gasp from here.
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Somewhere, at some point in our lives, we received a message that was delivered incorrectly. We heard "wait", but interpreted it as doing nothing. We were unaware that there is a difference between being still, waiting, and doing nothing. Being still involves rebuking the need to do busywork so that we feel we are not wasting time. It’s still wasting time if there is no purpose for it. Being still requires we stop, clarify our thoughts, delete the toxic ones, meditate, and listen for His clear instruction. It will also allow you to rest. Because even God rested.
Being still will, indeed, be an integral part of your wait.
Oh yes, your wait.
In our season of waiting, we get frustrated and begin to do things, like what one of my girlfriends calls stirring the pot. It’s hard to sit still and not add our own ingredients to God’s soup mix when we feel we are lacking something. We think we are not doing enough. And maybe God needs our help, so we grab a spoon and do what we think He would do. We add salt without telling Grandma and the soup is ruined. Type this in your notepad and make it your lock screen:
God does not need my help.
He already has the winning recipe for our lives. What He needs, however, is our cooperation during our season of waiting. Know what that looks like? Setting the table while your Grandma’s cooking so when the soup is done, you can eat without trying to figure out where the bowls, spoons, and napkins are.
What I’m trying to say is waiting has purpose attached to it.
Because we’ve believed all this time that waiting meant sitting on the sofa wishing on a star, we didn’t realize waiting is an action word that leads to purpose. Even in the scripture, it says he waited patiently and expectantly and God heard His cry. God heard his cry – get this – because he cried out! He did something. He prayed.
The scripture doesn’t say he did anything else, but we can imagine that he may have waited patiently while studying the Word, while completing what God had given him to do, while helping others. Waiting successfully means cooperating with God.
It means that when we have a God-given dream, we do our part and God does His part. And when He gives us an instruction – even when we don’t understand, we obey it. We think sometimes that we are waiting on God, but He is more often waiting for us to cooperate in doing our part. Faith without works is dead, my dears. Working is, you guessed it, also an action word.
Before we get into how to master the waiting game, please note:
If God has told you some things He will do for you or give you, cool. But if He hasn’t and it’s something you’ve asked for, you must, FIRST AND FOREMOST, pray and ask God if what you’ve asked for is His will. (*If you’re like me, you may try to change His mind if you don’t like the answer. He won’t.) This will save you time and disappointment later – even if you’re disappointed now.
One of the tools the enemy uses to turn us against God is disappointment. If we are disappointed, we are less likely to believe God. The more times we are hurt or disappointed, the more we tend to believe Him less and less. We begin to disassociate ourselves from Him and eventually turn our backs. It’s a tried and true tactic that he uses even on the seasoned believer. Be vigilant.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.
THREE WAYS TO MASTER THE WAITING GAME
- Scripture told you – Cry out! Let the Lord hear your cries, hollers, and whispers. It’s okay to ask again. Grandma might get annoyed when we ask if the “food” is ready yet. But God won’t. Unlike her, He doesn’t throw us out of the kitchen.
- Ask for instructions. Then do them! The answer to our prayers oftentimes will come from the Holy Spirit’s direct instruction to us or to someone who comes in contact with us. This is what many of us miss and why it seems some of our prayers go unanswered. The Holy Spirit may tell us what to do or who to talk to. He will tell us to do things we don’t understand. “Order my steps, Lord” is an easy and effective prayer. Be ready though. The steps are not always conventional or comfortable.
- Get prepared for what you’ve asked for by doing your part. For example:
If you’ve asked for money to start a business:
o Learn money management, business strategy, and your industry
o Practice discipline with your own money
o Perfect your product or service
o Learn to serve and practice service wherever you can
o Meet, follow, network with entrepreneurs and coaches in your field
If you’re praying for a spouse:
o You will want to be steadfast in loving and serving God first
o Learn how to love yourself and others in a Christ-like and healthy way
o Get to the root cause of your baggage
o Void most of the mess you’ve seen in the movies from your memory bank.
If you want to enter ministry:
o Pray and pray and pray and pray
o Learn to love others despite…
o Learn the importance of healthy boundaries
o Ask God to show you your gifts, both supernatural in nature and natural
o Strengthen those gifts
Then ask God to help you recognize the blessing when you see it.
Waiting is difficult, but it doesn’t mean sitting idly by. Waiting is the time to get your relationship with God in order, do self-development, and get prepared for the things we’ve asked for while trusting God to do God things without our interference.
The waiting game can be won and mastered.
Your trophy is waiting.