Waiting can be so hard. Waiting can feel like lost time, lost opportunity and for some, can even feel unspiritual! People from the outside can view your waiting as laziness, and people closest to you can sometimes mistake your waiting as fear or anxiety. Sometimes, however, waiting can be very good. I’ve been thinking a lot about waiting, lately. It seems like God has us in a waiting game, hanging out to see what He reveals for us next. Without question, I get a little frustrated while I’m waiting, but I am learning to trust that waiting is, itself, part of God’s process for our lives.
This morning, as I was driving in to work, I came up on this intersection on a backroad near the church where I’m serving as interim youth pastor. In the past month of taking this road, I have never seen another car at this intersection that features stop signs for east and westbound traffic, but not for north or southbound vehicles.
I was driving northbound (no stop sign) preparing to turn left. There was a car stopped on my right (preparing to turn south) and a vehicle driving southbound (coming towards me) down a hill, moving at a good clip. I turned on my blinker and waited just outside the intersection so that the southbound car could pass me, then I could make my left hand turn toward the office.
However, the gentleman to my right, did not see the vehicle coming down the hill from his right, and you could tell he was visibly confused and frustrated by the fact that I was not making my left-hand turn (he may have assumed I thought I was at a 4-way stop). He began edging out into the intersection, as though he was going to turn left in front of me, as he remained totally unaware of the vehicle cruising down the hill towards us both.
As he was about to make his move, I edged further into the intersection to “block” his path, when the car driving south flew through the intersection (probably doing 55-60) and startled him completely. At that point, I think he realized that had he darted around me, there would have been a three car collision and he would have been responsible for damages, injuries or maybe even someone’s death.
Waiting was a good thing.
For me, I think I’ve too often confused waiting with stalling, or waiting with doing nothing, when in fact, waiting should be a very active process. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned while waiting:
- Rest while you wait. I remember when Traci and I were waiting for AJ to be born. Traci’s water broke at 1:30am, and by 10:30am progress was slow and painful. The doctor gave her an epidural and then we were waiting (AJ wasn’t born for another six hours!). While we waited, I remember the doctor telling Traci, “Rest while you can. When it’s time, you will need all your strength and energy to birth your child.” With the help of the pain meds, Traci slept for over an hour, and then she rested and napped, in and out, for the better part of a second hour. Later, when it was go time, she was ready. Use your waiting time as opportunity to rest.
- Focus on habits while you wait. Waiting can be an excuse for laziness or wandering around like a lost man, but it should be an active season of preparing for whatever is next. Waiting is the perfect time to refine the habits we need when the waiting period is over.
- Grow while you wait. Not only can we firm up our important daily habits, but waiting is also a time to pursue personal growth through education, reading, traveling or through being mentored or coached. Don’t waste your waiting time by constantly checking the front window to see if your new opportunity has arrived. Use the extra time in your schedule to learn a language, develop a new skill or deepen your knowledge/expertise in an area in which you are already strong. Let waiting time grow you!
- Confirm/reestablish priorities while you wait. Often, in the grind of day-to-day living, we can lose sight of our most important priorities. We can allow bad habits that distract us from what’s most important (God, marriage, family, ministry to others etc...) and find we are too disproportionately focused on lesser things (money, bills, job etc...). During seasons of waiting, it’s good to confirm or realign your priorities, so that when the waiting is over, you are engaged in the things that matter mostt.
- Review your dreams while you wait. You know those goals, dreams and lofty plans that have been sitting on the shelf for a little while? Waiting periods are great opportunities to pull them done, dust them off, and get them worked back into your plans. It’s easy to have big dreams that fall casualty to the ebb and flow of life, and when God slows things down during a time of waiting, use those moments to reflect on the dreams that used to drive you!
Waiting is rarely a fun or easy experience to navigate. However, as I’ve learned, the waiting process can be super productive in preparing you for what is on the other side of the wait. You may even find out that God was protecting you from a massive collision (like the driver in my car story), one that could have permanently derailed you and your work for the Lord.
I’m learning to wait, better, because sometimes, waiting can be very good!
Go ahead and take the plunge, even waiting is better on the water!