A few years ago, I desperately wanted a new job and I was doing everything in my power to make it happen. After feeling permission from the Lord to pursue another direction, I applied for jobs like a crazy person on my days off, hoping and praying for a change. During those days, I also wrote my two-weeks-notice letter, ready to hand it in as soon as God opened another door. There were also days when I thought about just turning it in. Every time I considered it (even to the point of printing the letter and taking it to work with me), I never felt peace about turning it in. It felt like I was trying to force God’s hand to act, instead of trusting him and waiting.
Waiting often feels like wasted time to me. I want something to happen and I have trouble remembering that God can be working without me, or that waiting is part of the plan. I grow impatient as things don’t look the way I want them to or aren’t happening “fast” enough. The other day the Lord asked my husband and I to send a letter to someone. As I prayed for that letter, I realized that I had no idea what outcome would be best. I had no idea what timing would be ideal. So, I prayed instead that the Lord would use this letter however he wanted and that he would help my heart to wait. Even now, weeks later, I still don’t know what the outcome is and realize that I may never see the full picture of what the Lord is doing. My heart is reminded that outcomes are the Lord’s business, not mine. My heart is asked to trust and wait.
We have an advent calendar that we use with our daughter (L) every night. In each drawer, there are exactly six peanut butter M&Ms. Two for Dad, two for me and two for her. She loves opening the drawer each night and distributing the candy into our hands and her own eager mouth. But L has a hard time with the waiting. There are multiple times throughout each day that she’ll ask me if it is time. Sometimes she’s impatient and demanding, desperate to know if it is time for chocolate. Sometimes she’s polite, slowing herself down to ask and melting my heart with her signs for “please” and “more.” But so often the answer is “no, it isn’t time yet.” As I watch her respond to the waiting each day of this season, my heart is reminded of how I want to wait well when the Lord tells me, “no, it isn’t time yet.”
Waiting is hard for my heart. I think to wait well often means that I have to acknowledge how little I know of what is best. I have to name that I am not the best author for my story. Jesus tells the best stories for me. I have to trust the Lord that he knows better than I do what is good for me. I appreciate Louie Giglio’s words, “The best things in life take time. And the payoff of doing things God’s way is always better. But the enemy is crafty and determined to deceive us shouting that the “wait” is a sign that God is not good.” (Waiting Here for You, 5) I think waiting well means telling the story that God is good, even when I can’t see what he’s doing.
I’m reading Louie Giglio’s Advent book, “Waiting Here for You” and it is a gift to my heart this year. Each day I get to read Scripture, a short reflection, a hymn and a prayer of response. It is short, but the effect is deep. Instead of doing more or striving more, it is slowing my heart to sit and trust. It is the reminder my heart needs that Christmas is the holiday for the suffering, for those who wait. The commercial version we see around us breeds anxiety and chaos, making it almost impossible to find God in the midst of so much noise.
“From the beginning, the Christmas story has been one of fulfilled longing. It reaffirms our faith and gives us reason to celebrate the goodness and nearness of God. As we struggle with our own sense of silence and strain to see God at work in our messy lives, Christmas urges us on by reminding us the God will come through on His promises.” (5)
As we draw near to Christmas, I’m asking the Lord to slow my heart down. I want to remember how that longing felt for a new job. As much as I wanted something different, as much as it cost me to fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day never wanting to go back to work, I knew that I didn’t want a new job at any cost. I only wanted something different if the Lord was giving me something different. I think of what Psalm 127 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives his beloved sleep.” I like what December 10th’s entry says in response to those verses: “Often we feel like everybody else is getting ahead, getting what they want, or worse, getting what we want! But God’s gifts for you will come at just the right time. If you’re truly waiting on God, you won’t miss anything. When you walk with God, you always arrive on time.” (58)
I’m asking the Lord to help me to trust him, instead of impatiently trying to accomplish more and more. I’m asking him to help me wait well. Waiting is not wasted time if we wait for the Lord to act. As I went to a grief class held by my church this past week, my heart was reminded that Christmas is the holiday for those who have longings, for those who wait, for those who suffer. Christmas is the reminder we all need that God is near to the brokenhearted, that he offers to share our burdens and make them light, that he is God-with-us.
“Christmas is about waiting and hoping in God. If we are willing to ask Him, God will give us the grace to slow the pace. And He will help us remember how loved we are and how faithful He is. If we wait expectantly for Him, God will lift our eyes and draw near to us. He will remind us that waiting is not wasting when we are waiting on the Lord.” (5)
*If you’re still on the hunt for an Advent book for yourself, I’d highly recommend this one by Louie Giglio. The readings are short, but the impact is profound if you’ll let it sink into your heart. Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers have provided me with a complimentary copy of “Waiting Here for You,” in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255