Waiting Well

Wait. This is a word most of us dislike hearing. We want what we want when we want it. We may be tempted to think that having our wants met will make us satisfied with life. But in reality, waiting well for God’s perfect plan and timing is far more life.

These verses remind us of the benefits of waiting for God, why it is good to wait for Him.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20, NIV)

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:1-3a, NIV)

For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy; he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you. Indeed, the Lord is a just God; all who wait for him in faith will be blessed. (Isaiah 30:18, NET)

God blesses us when we wait for Him. He helps us. He protects us. He meets our needs. He brings us happiness and fulfillment. He treats us compassionately. He delivers justice. But sometimes we think He is slow to bless. It seems like He doesn’t hear our requests. We become impatient waiting for His answer or action. Biblical writers had the same struggle.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3, NIV)

Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15, NIV)

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7, NIV)

We can rest assured that God always hears His children. He will always answer in His perfect timing. But His timing is not always our timing. We cannot choose whether or not we wait. We can only choose how we wait. A friend has explained patience to her young children as “waiting well.” I like the honest simplicity of that phrase. Choosing to wait well is choosing far more life.

Waiting well focuses on God rather than ourselves. It starts in the heart. Consider these Biblical descriptions of waiting well:

My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me. (Proverbs 25:15, TLB)

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14, NIV)

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5, NIV)

Lord, we are living the way your laws command us to live. We are waiting for you to act. We want your honor and fame to be known. (Isaiah 26:8, NIRV)

Sometimes we are waiting for answers. Sometimes we are waiting for things to happen or for things to end. We get frustrated at not knowing when our waiting will end. (Have you ever begged God, “I’ll wait patiently to find out WHAT you will do if I just know WHEN you will answer.” I have. But He — wisely — didn’t believe me.) Waiting well remembers that God knows everything: what is best for us; what we need; when we need it. Do we believe this? Do we trust Him enough to wait well?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

He has a plan for us, a plan that brings good at the right time. When we don’t trust Him, we impatiently fight for control of the steering wheel. Waiting well is trusting God to be the driver in our lives. Didn’t He create us? Didn’t He already meet our biggest need through Jesus’ death and resurrection? Remembering God has already secured our eternal destination helps us trust Him with the details of our earthly journey. We can embrace far more life — waiting well beside Him — in each hill and valley we encounter. He is trustworthy.

Our expectations also keep us from waiting well. We can be like children impatient for Christmas morning to arrive; the closer it gets, the harder it is to wait well. Children anticipate the joy and excitement of discovering what is beneath the wrapping paper. They are certain what is coming is better than what they have now. We, too, convince ourselves what we have now is not as good as what is coming. We can miss far more life today by anticipating far more life will be better in the future. Waiting well looks to the future — especially our future in heaven — eagerly and expectantly while fully embracing today. Whether today brings answers or more waiting, whether it is filled with sorrow or joy, it is always an opportunity to live far more life. God has planned each day for us and as the perfect next step on our journey with Him. He is with us, giving us all we need for today. In fact, His Word instructs us:

…Make the most of every moment and every encounter. (Colossians 4:5b, VOICE)

Waiting well requires us to be engaged in today as we anticipate the future He has for us. He is working around us. He is working inside of us. Enjoying today while waiting well for tomorrow is far more life.

Sisters,
Are you generally patient or impatient?
What are you tempted to trust in besides God? Yourself? Others?
In what areas are you fighting for control of the steering wheel, not trusting God’s plans for you?
How does impatience for the future rob you of far more life today?
Praise God for this day and commit to walking in far more life with Him!
-Shari

Growing Trust

In order to rest, to find peace, to experience far more life we need to trust God.  But to trust God we need to know Him. How do we get to know God? Just like we get to know people: spending time together; learning about His character; seeing Him in action; talking to Him; and listening to His words.

The Israelites of the Old Testament faced a similar challenge. While they lived in Egypt, many had adopted the local culture and religion; they worshipped multiple gods who had many of the same faults as humans. During their rescue the Israelites saw God’s powerful miracles. He caused plagues to fall on the Egyptians but not them. He parted the Red Sea and allowed them to pass through on dry ground. He provided water in the wilderness and rained manna from heaven to feed them. He even provided meat when they complained. Despite seeing God in action, they did not know His character well enough to fully trust Him. So when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments He also revealed and described Himself:

Then the Lord passed by in front of [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:5-7, NASB)

What a list! Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in lovingkindness. Abounding in truth. Forgiving premeditated sin, willful disobedience, and simple failure to do the right thing. Punishing the guilty but allowing consequences of sin to impact future generations. We have the benefit of being able to read the Bible, which is filled with accounts of God demonstrating these qualities as humans follow, ignore, and outright rebel against Him. Our trust for God grows as we get to know Him by reading the consistency of His actions throughout history.

The New Testament reveals another aspect of God’s character: His sacrificial love for humankind.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (I John 4:9-10, NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

I don’t know about you, but there are few people I love enough to die for. There are fewer for whom I would ask my children to die. Yet this is the love God has for us: He sent His son to die for us when we didn’t even care about Him.  This is mind-blowing!

And His love doesn’t stop there. He also gives us far more life.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, NIV)

I think one of the problems we face in knowing and trusting God is not recognizing what He has given us.  What if every sunrise spelled out, “I, God, gave you this day and all that you need to thrive in it” across the sky? What if “Provided by God” was stamped on every food we ate?  What if every good thing that happened came with a note explaining, “I did this for you. Love, God”? What if every tear we cried proclaimed, “I, God, love you and promise to bring good from this hurt”? What if every sunset announced, “You are one day closer to joining Me in Heaven, permanently removed from the hurts and evil of this world”?  What if He responded to our prayers by saying, “Here is My answer for you”?

His reminders aren’t as blatant as my examples, but they exist. God is not invisible or hiding from us. He wants us to know him.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)

Evidence of God is everywhere! He created the largest galaxy and the smallest atom. The simplest bacteria and the complex human brain. He created the strong nuclear force and the gentlest love. Every beautiful thing. Every natural phenomenon. Every kind of plant and animal. He put into motion every system and process human scientists have discovered — as well as those they have not yet discovered. He did all this and more so we could know Him! He has given us ample evidence that He alone is worthy of our trust.

A friend coined the term “love gifts” to describe the times she sees evidence of God’s love for her. Maybe it’s an especially beautiful sunset she gets to witness at the end of a hard day. Or an unexpected note from a friend sharing just the verse she needed to hear. Or an answer to prayer about a situation that was weighing her down. These “love gifts” remind her that God is present and active in her life. That He is good. That He loves her. They help her know and trust Him more.  They show her far more life.  We, too, see far more life as we look for God’s love gifts and grow in knowing and trusting Him.

Sisters,
Do you trust God enough to experience far more life?
Do you regularly spend time with God to grow your trust?
What aspects of God’s character have you witnessed firsthand? 
How have you seen His invisible qualities in creation?
Be on the lookout for His “love gifts” this week and thank Him for each one you find.
-Shari

Perfect Peace

You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3, GNT)

Perfect peace. A quiet mind. A content heart. No worry or anxiety. No fear or dread. A firm purpose. A solid trust in God that allows you to rest. This is far more life.

While perfect peace sometimes feels elusive, once we enter a relationship with Jesus it is always available to us. It is a gift from God, a product of the Holy Spirit coming to live inside of us. Like all gifts, we must choose whether to set it aside or use it.

But perfect peace — as appealing as it sounds — can feel unfamiliar and strange to us, especially in difficult circumstances. We may feel more comfortable with familiar emotions: stress, anxiety, fear, defensiveness, withdrawal. Perfect peace requires us to know when to “let go and let God”.  It is rooted in trusting God.  It requires us to believe He is aware and involved, He knows what is best, and He is working for our good.

Let’s be honest: there are times we trust ourselves more than God. We trust our actions will make a bigger difference than praying and waiting for Him to act.  We trust our own wisdom rather than seeking out His wisdom.  We trust it is better to protect ourselves from hurt than expose our pain and pursue healing.  God doesn’t judge His daughters for this; He knows our wounds and blind spots better than anyone else — and still loves us. But He longs for us to have what is best: perfect peace and far more life.

I appreciate this Scripture passage’s vivid depiction of our trust struggle:

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”  (Matthew 14:25-31, NIV)

Look at Peter’s response again: “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  It seems that Peter did not trust it was really Jesus out there, he wanted confirmation. But he knew if it was Jesus calling, he would be safe. Peter believed that Jesus could do the impossible. That Jesus cared about his well-being. That Jesus would not allow him to drown. Whatever fears or doubts Peter had, he trusted Jesus had power over the wind and water.

That trust gave Peter courage to get out of the boat; he walked on water!!  Imagine yourself in his place: would you even consider getting out of the boat? Would you feel excited or nervous — or maybe both — as you locked eyes with Jesus and walked toward Him…across a lake?  I’d like to think that when Peter looked at Jesus, he experienced perfect peace and all those negative thoughts and emotions faded away.

But Peter is human. Along the way he took his eyes off Jesus. He remembered his circumstances; he was no longer in the relative safety of the boat. He was exposed, standing on water that was being blown into waves by the wind. He no longer felt safe. His peace evaporated. He was overcome by doubt and fear. He may have asked himself, “What am I doing? What was I thinking?” He started to sink. Perhaps he was flailing and trying to keep himself upright. Fortunately, he still believed that Jesus could rescue him and called out for help.  And of course Jesus caught him.

Like Peter, when we are in difficult situations we can look at either our circumstances or our God. When we focus on our circumstances, we see how big the problem is, feel overwhelmed, and fixate on the obstacles. We believe we are in danger of drowning, especially if the problem intensifies and the pressure mounts.  But we have another option! We can focus on God, truths about his character, truths about his love for us, and truths about his limitless power and knowledge.  Focusing on our circumstances robs us of peace and leaves us battling negative emotions. Focusing on God offers us perfect peace, even when we’re standing on the lake in the middle of a storm. Despite the wind, waves, and rain that surrounds us, we can feel peaceful, calm, and secure.

Jesus knows how tempted we are to look away from Him.  He told His disciples some of the challenges they would face then shared this perspective:

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33, NASB)

Suffering is unavoidable. Circumstances that tempt us to strive in our own power are unavoidable. His words remind us to courageously put our trust in Him, keep our eyes firmly on our God-given purpose, and be blessed by His gift of perfect peace. That is far more life.

Sisters,
In what situation are you tempted to look at your circumstances rather than your Savior?
Are you willing to obey Jesus’ instruction: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid”? 
If not, ask God to help you identify what is preventing you from trusting Him.
Then ask for courage to take the next step in trusting Him.
Remember to thank God for conquering the world, offering you perfect peace, and meeting you where you are on your trust journey.
-Shari