More than six years ago I sat in my living room across from a dear friend as she told the group of us about her dream. She had been researching, learning, and building a business plan. She had been learning from those that had gone before her, and she was asking us to pray with her. She had a plan, and she was content to start small. She held this dream in open hands.
Her little shop that began with a pop-up stand at our weekly farmer’s market and various pop-up markets throughout the year, eventually became an online retailer. As the pop-ups gained attention and her site had more traffic, the business grew. Then, a few weeks ago, I walked into her dream realized. She had opened her very own brick and mortar storefront.
It was a journey to that storefront. She learned along the way. She faced setbacks and leaps forward. She waited on God, and she did the next thing when it was right—and not too soon. She had the vision and she waited for God to open the doors as it unfolded before her.
She waited well.
WAITING WELL BEGINS WITH LISTENING
How are your spiritual ears? There are so many distractions. Some really good, like family and friends, and some not so good, like binge watching Netflix and social media (please hear me, these things aren’t all bad, but they can be an absolute time suck and clutter our minds with distractions). No matter the nature of the distraction, if our spiritual ears and eyes aren’t attuned to the voice of God we’ll never know how to wait well.
I’ve noticed in my life that there are a few key things that help ensure I can hear well:
- Spending time in prayer and the Word daily. For me that’s getting up before my kids and getting quiet with God in those early morning hours. For a dear friend of mine, it’s carving out time in the afternoon—she is not a morning person—and often it involves reading the Word and painting in her studio. No matter what your time looks like, it’s important to make sure silence is a part of it. We won’t be able to hear Him if we are only talking [praying] to Him.
- Going to God first. This one can be really hard for me sometimes. It’s easier to run to my husband or a dear friend than to take time to press into what the Holy Spirit might have to say. And yet, when I do seek Him first, my heart is positioned to continue to hear Him and discern what He may be saying through a later conversation.
- Intentionally talking and sharing with soul friends and mentors. What is a soul friend? One that you know is also pursuing God’s will for his or her life and who you can be completely upfront with and honest. A soul friend is a safe friend that you connect with in the deepest of ways because of your shared faith. The Bible says there is wisdom in counsel but be sure the counsel you seek is from those who are also seeking God, not just their own goals and ambitions. The friends who are going hard after Him will go hard after Him with you and for you too.
WAITING IS AN ACTION
I think we often despise the waiting because our view isn’t quite right. We think that when we hear “wait on the Lord” it means to not move. As if we are to simply stop making any advances toward what we are waiting for and just pray that God opens a door. But here’s the thing: how will we ever get to the door that God might open if we aren’t moving toward it?
What I mean is, when we wait on the Lord we aren’t expected to be passive bystanders—we are on mission with Him even in the waiting. We are to be active. Sometimes being active means praying and seeking God only, and not taking any action. Other times it whole-heartedly means pray, seek, and act.
Priscilla Shirer writes in her study Discerning the Voice of God, “Waiting is not the same as inactivity. Waiting is a commitment to continue in obedience until God speaks.”
Has he called you to something but the door hasn’t opened yet? Has He placed a dream on your heart that you long to see come to life? Don’t be discouraged in the waiting. Take the next best step.
I sensed God leading me toward women’s ministry about 15 years ago. Yet, I wasn’t attending a church with a formal women’s ministry and none of the churches we made home in the following years did either. My desire to serve in this capacity never diminished. There wasn’t a formal ministry in sight, and I did not at all sense the Lord telling me to start one—at least not yet, hence the waiting. So, what was I supposed to do? Initially I served in the nursery because I knew that by caring for these sweet little babies, I was helping make a way for their mommas to attend prayer meeting during the week and church on Sundays. Was it exactly how I wanted to serve the women of the church? Not exactly. Yet, as I waited on the Lord, I served those little ones and prayed over them and for their mommies. It may not have been a formal women’s ministry, but I was certainly ministering to women.
As we wait on God to fulfill the desires of our hearts, he will show us the next step that leads us closer to the door. Ask God to show you the next best thing, no matter how small, that leads you closer to His call for you.
WAITING WELL REQUIRES FAITH
I’ve lived long enough to have rushed through the waiting and suffered the consequences. I’ve also lived long enough to see the fruit that comes from waiting—like my friend and her shop.
We can be confident that God uses all things for the good of those that he has called—even the waiting. But in order to wait well we must have the proper view of God. Do you trust His character? Do you believe in the depths of your soul that He is for you? Do you know that He has a plan specifically for your life? Do you believe that He is working providentially so that you might take your position in His Kingdom? Do you trust that His heart is tender and loving toward you? Do you know that He delights in you and desires to give you good gifts? Do you trust that He knows better than you do what you need?
I’ll be the first to admit it, there have been seasons when I can whole-heartedly say YES to all those questions. And other seasons when, well, not really. I’ve had to remind myself over and over of those truths. No matter which season you find yourself in, by the power of the Holy Spirit you can know and trust Him wholly and completely—even if you don’t feel it. This is when spending time in the Word and in prayer, and leaning into our soul friends is critical to wait well. His timing is not the same as ours, yet His plans are perfect which means His timing is too.
WAITING CAN BE A GIFT
If we choose to shift our eyes to those of faith, we can see waiting as an opportunity to seek Him, find Him, and grow deeper in Him.
Are you waiting on God for something? Be encouraged today, the Bible is filled with people who waited on God for the fulfillment of their destinies. Thankfully for us, we get to learn from their patient pursuits.
David was anointed as a young teen and didn’t take the throne until he was 30. In the time between he gained a greater intimacy with God and learned lessons that no doubt served him well later.
Paul saw Jesus, knew he was called to follow, and spent approximately three years waiting to join the disciples. I imagine Paul needed some time to comprehend what had happened to him and how to now follow the Messiah that he had been murderously opposed to.
And of course, Jesus’s public ministry did not begin until he was 30 years old. I wonder if His time didn’t come until then because those He was to minister to weren’t quite ready yet?
There are many more in the Bible (like Joseph, goodness, read up on his story to encourage you in the waiting) who waited on God. Truly, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
There is an intimacy with God that comes when we wait well and take it from someone who has been here, there is no greater gift this side of Heaven.
“The only thing worse than waiting on God is wishing you had,” Dr. Bryan Loritts.
Don’t rush through the waiting, friend. It is in the waiting that we can grow deeper in Him, and our hearts are tuned to hear Him better and to know Him better. I am convinced that in the waiting we are made able to accomplish what He has for us when the waiting is over.