Waiting on God, and God waiting on us.
Patience is a virtue. At least that’s what I’m told. Throughout the Bible patience is held in high regard. In the famous 1 Corinthians 13 chapter on love, patience is the first characteristic that describes the love God wants us to have. It’s also a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
What exactly is patience?
It is associated with long suffering, enduring, and waiting. Patience is a decision that we make, it’s a determination of the will to not take action but to endure and wait for God.
Throughout my years as a Christian, God has had to work on me to develop my patience. I’m a type A “get it done” kind of person. Patience is not something that typically comes naturally to me. Very early on in my Christian walk God showed me the value of waiting on Him and his timing, as I faithfully waited for God to show up and bring breakthroughs.
I remember once as a young Christian struggling financially working at Starbucks to support myself. I was trusting God every month financially. I felt it was God’s process to help me learn faithfulness, humility, and a reliance on Him. After a year I hit a breaking point when my car broke down and I couldn’t pay to have it fixed (it had 260,000 miles on it!). I just started loudly praising God in my living room. Then somebody literally interrupted my praise time and knocked on my door and offered me a job earning four times as much as I had been making. It was my neighbor who overheard my praise and it reminded him of a position opened at his job. It was a major financial breakthrough for me and it felt as though God literally knocked on my front door and gave it to me.
I’ve seen many such instances such as that one and therefore I have developed a trust that God will come through in his timing. I just need to be faithful with what’s right in front of me and in his timing he will bring the breakthrough I desire.
Recently though, God has been shaking me up in how breakthrough’s happen in my life. This past month I attended the Focused Living workshop at Neighborhood Church. It really helped me to unearth some major dreams that I had hidden away in my heart. My default position was to say “well God, you know my heart, you know how you’ve gifted me, and you know the right timing. I’ll just be faithful and wait on you to open the door.” However, in one session I realized that God doesn’t always just want us to patiently wait for Him. For every verse in the Bible about waiting, it seems there is another verse concerned with taking action.
In Matthew 7:7 Jesus said “ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”
These are all action steps. Paul told Timothy not to just believe the prophetic words spoken over him, but to wage war with the prophetic words spoken over him. Take action.
What do we do when God has placed a dream in our heart?
Do we wait patiently? Like when Moses told the Israelites,
“Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today.” (Exodus 14:13 NLT)
Or do we take action like when David stepped up to Goliath and assumed God would slay the giant through him?
Which one is it?
And the answer… it depends. (you probably knew I was going to say that). I believe that timing is everything in God’s economy. There are times when God wants you to wait, and then there are times where God wants you to step out in faith.
I think usually, myself included, we prefer to just wait and see what God does. That way we don’t have any risk of making a mistake. But getting stuck in being overly patient and waiting isn’t the safest place either. There are not only sins of commission (taking action in a sinful way), but sins of omission as well (not taking action to do the righteous deeds that you should do).
So we have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that when we receive the Holy Spirit he will guide us into all truth. So when we have verses that say wait, right alongside verses that say act, we need the Holy Spirit to guide us to know what season we are in.
That’s why I believe the Focused Living Workshop was so powerful. It was bathed in prayer and there were many breakout sessions where we prayerfully sought God for the plans that He has for our lives. It was in that moment for me that the lights came on. For me, I felt the season of waiting was over and it's now time to step out in faith and do the hard work of knocking on doors to see what God will open. It’s exciting!
I like the advice I heard from Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church. He said, (paraphrase)
“I wait on God, and if it’s not clear if I should be waiting, then I act. If the doors don’t open when I act, then I go back to waiting.”
Ha, it seems pretty simple, but I like it.
What about you? What season are you in? Is it time for you be still and know that He is God? Or is it time for you to stop procrastinating, hesitating, and marinating and take action?