Waiting on a Faithful God

By Gwen Sellers

Waiting on God is notoriously difficult. In a society where the microwave is barely fast enough, God's timeline can seem impossibly slow. As some like to say, patience is a virtue that I can't wait to acquire. But recently I've been seeing just how faithful God is; He has not forgotten and He does come through.

This concept is evident in both the Old and New Testaments. Two particular episodes of waiting have caught my attention.

First is that of the disciples waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They were given a mission by Jesus, watched Him ascend, and had to be faithful to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came to empower them — ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost. This is instructive to me in a few ways. First, the disciples were not to try to accomplish what Jesus had asked in their own strength. Only the Holy Spirit could empower them to fulfill His calling. So although they knew the call, they weren't to do it alone. Secondly, they had to be faithful to wait until He equipped them. They weren't told exactly when the Holy Spirit would come or how He would come. They were simply expected to trust and to wait, obediently walking in what God had asked them to do in that time even while looking ahead to His grander mission. Of note is the fact that the disciples were waiting in Jerusalem, a place where they had previously felt it necessary to meet in a locked room (for example, John 20:24-29). Presumably, waiting was not particularly safe. And I imagine they might have been energized from their recent experiences with the resurrected Jesus, so they may have been eager to receive the power He'd promised them and possibly confused by the intermission.

The other episode is that of Moses. In Exodus 2, we see Moses kill an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. He had not actually received a call from God to be the deliverer of the Jewish people at that point, but it seems his heart was there. The timing was off, though. Moses fled to the desert where he remained for forty years until God called him. It was then that God gave Moses what he needed to accomplish God's plan.

I too often see waiting time as wasted time. Acts 1 tells us that the disciples devoted themselves to prayer while they waited. They also appointed a replacement for Judas. This was a time of preparation. Moses, too, endured a time of preparation. We don't know all that much about his forty years in the desert. But he certainly became familiar with what it was like to shepherd and how to live in the desert — helpful to know for the time he would spend leading the Israelites in the wilderness. It seems it was also a time in which he was deeply humbled. God used the desert time to prepare Moses' heart for the call. God does not waste anything. If He has asked us to wait, it is for good reason.

In my own life, I've recently been reminded of God's faithfulness through waiting. Specifically, I've been waiting for a house. I first considered buying a house about two years ago. After working through some of my wrong motivations for doing so, I came to the conclusion that it was the right thing for me to do and rightly motivated. I'd sign on to a lease for another year and then be on my way. In my perfectly crafted plan I would have been moving this week. But it turns out the market has changed a bit — the availability of houses is scant and the competition to purchase them is fierce. I am certain that getting a house is the right next step as God has affirmed it in a few tangible ways for me. But He's not working on my schedule. Taking a cue from the story of Sarai and Hagar, I know that me forcing something is not going to turn out well. Plus there really isn't a way for me to force anything at this point (which I count as a special grace from a God who knows my weaknesses). But I've been at a loss about what to do, particularly with my living situation. I've gotten frustrated and anxious. I've gone through the different iterations of what I could do and how the timing might all work out. Then I've just resigned myself to going to a month-to-month lease and waiting who knows how long.

But here's the thing. God came through. In a way totally unexpected and totally like God. I miscommunicated with my landlord and failed to provide written notice about my intentions. They graciously reminded me of what I needed to do, at which point I asked if there was possibly a way to keep a lower rent rate despite not signing a longer lease, fully expecting it wouldn't happen (based on prior conversations about the possibility). They came back with an offer much more generous than I would have ever expected. And not because I manipulated them or begged or was "on top of it" or anything like that. It was God's grace.

Similarly, a few months ago my car's side mirror was damaged in a parking lot. I called a repair shop and, without my prompting, they told me it would be better for me to order the part myself and then they'd put it on. If you know me at all, you know that I am not mechanically inclined in any way and would be forging new territory to find myself a side mirror. I told my mom about the suggestion and she reminded me that my brother-in-law is a car connoisseur and could help me out. I called my brother-in-law who graciously found me the exact part I needed. So an issue that could have derailed me and been very frustrating was completely taken care of. All I did was open my mouth to announce to the world I had a problem and God provided exactly who I needed to help. Not a waiting issue on this one, but it was a reminder that God sees and He cares. He hasn't left me to fend for myself. And that's what I think is so vital to remember when we're waiting.

Waiting can be fear-inducing because it can feel like God has forgotten. Maybe He doesn't really know what's going on. Or maybe He doesn't care. Then that means this is my mess to try to manage or fix. Then I realize how inadequate I am for the task. I can try to manipulate the situation to conform to what I want. Or I can get angry and frustrated with people who aren't doing things on my timeline in my way. It leads to very anxious and unsatisfying living. It also distracts me from doing what God has called me to do.

So rather than chafe at waiting, I want to simply trust God. He is so much more in control than I realize. He faithfully comes through on details I would never expect. He even comes through on details I hadn't realized I'd been waiting on. He sees. He knows. He cares. He is a loving Father. He has proven it time and time again.

One kind of fun thing about waiting is that it gives more people the opportunity to pray and to hear about God's faithfulness. I don't know why God has decided to keep me leasing for the next little while. But it seems the longer I wait, the more people I ask for prayer. Thus the more people who get to rejoice in the answers God provides. My prayer is to wait well, to walk faithfully, and to give God the glory He is due. May I fully submit to this time of preparation and pruning. May I learn to live a life worthy of His calling, leaving behind any sinfulness or dross. May He equip me for whatever is next. May He sanctify and purify me. And when I do find a house, may I always remember that it belongs to Him. May He be my true home and the house a place where His Spirit dwells, His name is magnified, and all who enter it find rest in Him.

Published 3-20-17