I’ve been reading through Proverbs lately. I love how verse by verse it wrecks me and then builds me back up again. It is so meaty and full of wise instruction and godly truth. One particular verse that keeps coming up is this idea that even as we make our plans and plot our course, it is the Lord that ultimately determines our steps.
Proverbs 16:9 is one example and for ease of understanding, I like the New Living Translation: We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.
As I read that verse, there’s something humbling that hits me: to follow the Lord completely, I must develop a frame of mind based upon submission and trust. While keeping up with the day-to-day tasks at hand, I can see the Lord’s faithfulness in the journey; He does indeed determine the steps that we take. I know that full well as I’ve seen it first-hand.
We often think we are ready to go forth. Ready to be used and achieve great things in the name of our God. But we often stay put longer than we had hoped for. In disappointment, we say “C'mon God, my time is now and the future is here!” But God’s timetable is not ours. His ways are above and beyond our own and He sees the whole picture. I know, I know; it can be a hard reality to swallow. But when we respond to God in submission, humility, and surrender, He sees a person emptied of himself or herself and ready to be used.
So in the meantime, as we “hurry up and wait,” what are the implications for staying the course and getting closer to the plans we believe God has for us? I believe these points are relevant in my own journey and I hope they will speak to you in yours as well.
1. Waiting is never wasted
Waiting rooms. Waiting periods. We shudder at the thought of not having things in “15 minutes or less.” Our lives are programmed to equate waiting with the idea of something negative. We believe if something takes too long to develop it’s not worth our time or energy. But in the sovereignty of God, waiting is never wasted. In fact, waiting can empower and strengthen us for the next season we are entering. It readies us, it prepares us and helps us focus in on what matters.
Most Bible heroes we think of were not “overnight success stories.” Moses spent 40 years as a shepherd after he left Egypt before God called him at the burning bush. Joseph spent several years as a slave and as a prisoner before entering Pharoah’s service. David was anointed king by Samuel but scholars estimate it was 20 years until he actually assumed the throne. Waiting is preparation and refining. It is the process by which God readies you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the task He has set before you.
2. Keep your sword sharp
During the process of waiting, we have to stay connected to the Father. It can be hard to make this a priority in our struggle to wait. Over the last year my times of prayer and Scripture reading have become some of the deepest and most treasured times of my life. I’ve had times where I felt the Holy Spirit speaking directly to me as I’ve opened up the Bible and been in prayer. It hasn’t always been like that and it’s humbling to admit that even while being in ministry, I’ve had times of separation and discord with God. Those times have been because of the wait and my impatience for Him to move and to act.
If I can encourage you, it would be simply to say “Don’t do as I did.” Become a person who trusts God and keeps themselves conditioned in the Word and in prayer. Keep your sword (your knowledge of truth) sharp. It will help you as you wait and prepare.
3. Be ready at all times
“God is slow to move but quick to act.” A good friend recently made that statement and it was a lightbulb moment for me. We get used to the waiting so much that we sometimes think God has forgotten or changed His mind. But as He lays out the steps for our lives, He has the ability to take us from one point to another very rapidly and very much in a way that could never happen without His intervention. Without going into detail, I’m experiencing this firsthand with the plans He is unfolding for my family and I. And if I had rushed the process, it would not have gone as well as if I had just waited.
In the waiting and in the anticipation, we must be ready. When He does call you to go, you must not hold on to your comfort and your routine. He has prepared you and He has led you through the steps in order to equip you. When He starts to open doors, it means He sees you as ready and capable and to not step out is quite honestly disobedience and distrust. Be ready when God starts to act!
My hope and prayer is that you allow God to use the seasons of waiting in your life to speak to you and prepare you. He does nothing by accident. His plans are never wasted. And the desires He has wired within you are done on purpose and with divine intentionality. God knows what He is doing!
Wherever you are, realize waiting is ok and is necessary. We must all go through that process at some point in our lives. I would love to hear your story and where you are at so I can pray for you and encourage you to not lose heart! As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you today.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)