“Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand later.’ “
– John 13:7, CEB –
I get along quite well with most words, but there is one word I intensely dislike.
Not because I’m impatient (well, maybe a little…), but the word waiting is just so…dull. Lifeless. Boring. Blah.
When we talk about waiting–waiting to hear about a job, waiting for that scholarship board to make a decision, waiting for the right guy to come along, waiting for high school to end and college to begin–something settles over us.
When thoughts of waiting creep up on me, I think that I’m becoming discontent. Sometimes that is true, yes. But lots of times, I don’t think that is my problem. So, this is not a post about contentment. Sorry.
The word waiting seems so terrible because it takes my mind off the things God has me doing now, and puts my attention on the things God will do in the future.
The waiting isn’t the problem, actually. It’s not the poor word’s fault. The problem is ME. Even when I’m altogether happy with what God has given me to do in this season of my life, I can get wrapped up in the idea of waiting.
Waiting is not a bad word. The Bible talks about waiting on the Lord a lot. What I am talking about is the frequent use of “I’m just in a season of waiting,” as if we are not ALL in seasons of waiting. We’re always waiting on something, really. It’s not just a word for single girls to pull out to explain the lack of a significant other. In a constantly-changing world, there’s always going to be something coming up for us to dwell on. But that’s my point.
I would never tell you to stop thinking about the future. Single ladies, I would never tell you to completely stop thinking about getting married. Job seekers, I would never advocate ditching your career goals and living entirely for the moment. Mothers and wives, I would never tell you to stop thinking about when the kids will be grown-up, or when your husband will retire. That’s silly–the Bible commends wise planning and encourages us to look in hope to the future because God is in control (Proverbs 31:25; Romans 8:25; Romans 15:13).
However, I think the word waiting and I got off to a bad start because when I’m always thinking about what I’m waiting for, I lose the potency of the present moment. It’s good for me to smile at the happy things to come and to wonder what new bends in the road I’ll discover, but not at the cost of the Present.
You see, if I’m always focused on the waiting, I’ll never be able to concentrate on what God has given to me right now.
The concept of waiting has been rolling around in my mind for a while, and yesterday a novel I was reading helped me find the key. The book quoted from 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
“Give thanks in all things.”
Plenty of books have been written about giving thanks, but between a busy schedule and a large dose of forward thinking, it’s something I aspire to, but rarely do.
Do you know what else I’ve discovered?
Thanking is about trusting.
When I stop dwelling in the future and instead thank God for this moment (yes, even the hard moments), that is an act of faith. Deep down, I am declaring more than simple contentment. I am saying, “Lord, I have no idea what you will bring into my life tomorrow, but I trust you. I am not guaranteed one more moment than this moment, so in this moment, I praise you. In this moment, I choose to believe that You are good and faithful. With this moment, and every moment to come, I trust You.”
Waiting is not really my enemy–but I refuse to make it my full-time job. Tomorrow holds adventure, it’s true. But I am not living in Tomorrow, I’m living Today. I will praise Him today.
God took good care of yesterday. I trust Him with today.
Tomorrow is in good hands.
“I do not know what next may come
Across my pilgrim way;
I do not know tomorrow’s road,
Nor see beyond today.
But this I know — my Saviour knows
The path I cannot see;
And I can trust His wounded hand
To guide and care for me.
I do not know what may befall,
Of sunshine or of rain;
I do not know what may be mine,
Of pleasure and of pain;
But this I know — my Saviour knows
And whatsoe’er it be,
Still I can trust His love to give
What will be best for me.
I do not know what may await,
Or what the morrow brings;
But with the glad salute of faith,
I hail its opening wings;
For this I know — that my Lord
Shall all my needs be met;
And I can trust the heart of Him,
Who has not failed me yet.”
– E. Margaret Clarkson –