Youth is an exciting time of our lives. We have flexibility, strength, passion and energy. There is an excitement as you wonder what you are going to accomplish, what you will reform in the world around you, whom you will meet, and what career you will work toward. Maybe you are like me, passionate for Jesus, ready to do something big for Him–but then you hear the hard, yet refining, answer of, “Wait.”
As I graduate and look to going on the mission field, this is the answer I received. “Wait.” Waiting is incredibly hard. It’s even harder when the thing you are waiting for is a good thing. I wanted to scream at God, “These are good things that I want! Why do you want me to wait to serve you?”
In the midst of my questions God gave me this verse to show me that waiting was part of His plan for me: “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purposes for me.” Psalm 57:2 Those times of silence are times that God uses to teach us. Waiting is like being refined in fire, it hurts terribly but God uses it to make us more beautiful.
If you are struggling through a season of waiting, I hope that these lessons that I have learned will help you align your heart to God.
1. Check your motives
In Matthew 15:8 Jesus delivers a somber warning to the Pharisees: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Sometimes God hits the pause button on our plans so that we can look at our hearts and confess sin that we find there.
Does my heart sincerely desire to spread God’s glory through the earth? Or am I wanting to serve God on the mission field to show that I am some super Christian? Even though the things you want to do are good, they must be done with the right motive. Take a look at your heart and confess pride, selfishness, or jealousy that may have taken over.
2. Know God
Sometimes we get so busy doing things for God that we forget to know Him. There is a huge difference. Knowing God should be the ultimate purpose of our life, and the “good works” we do should be an overflow of the love that He showers on us. Psalm 46:10 tells us bluntly: “Be still, and know that I am God.” In our waiting periods we have the perfect opportunity to be still. Use that time to know God, seek Him in prayer and through His Word.
3. Use your waiting time productively
I recently read “Shadow of the Almighty” by Elisabeth Elliot and I was very encouraged to read about the waiting period that Jim Elliot went through before he went to work with the Quechuas and Aucas in Ecuador. Here is what he says:
“Realized today that I am on a very stiff trial–it is the test of free time. The Lord took away all outward activity. No work, no money to spend, nothing to do. I fear lest I should waste such days. Spent this one in writing, reading and a little prayer.”
Like Jim Elliot I pray that I will use my time of waiting wisely and not waste this time. Serve in your church. Study God’s word. Be faithful in the little things.
4. Be confident that God’s plans are better
My time of waiting has also been a time of surrender. I have had to give my plans over to God and be content with that fact that God is running my life and not me. Even if my plans don’t work out I know that He is still God and He is still in control. This is an extremely comforting fact. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.”
As I write this, my waiting period is not done. I am still waiting for an answer from the Lord but I am confident that God is refining me in this and I know that His plans are best. I hope that you can join me in saying: “I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purposes for me.”