More Thoughts On “Waiting On God”…
I want to make two more points on waiting on God that I didn’t get to last week, and one of which I didn’t learn myself until a few days ago!
- What does waiting on God practically look like on a Tuesday?
- How do I know if I am really waiting on Him, and how do I know if I am not?
This is crucial to all Christians, for if we aren’t learning to wait on God we will grow weary even in doing what is good (Galatians 6:9), we will NOT have our strength renewed & we will NOT mount up on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31), we will NOT be able to run the race that Jesus has marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1-3):
- Waiting on God is active, not passive; it doesn’t mean that you do nothing; waiting on God is partnering with Him in your daily life…there are parts that only He can do, and there are other parts that He strengthens us to do…He always gets the glory and the credit, but there are parts that He wants us to do in our waiting on Him—for example:
1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (NIV): 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
Only God makes people—even plants!—grow! When you plant a garden, the gardener has no control over the actual growing of the garden—we don’t make the seed sprout and push through the soil and grow and produce fruit, etc. But even so the gardener doesn’t do nothing, doesn’t just look at a patch of bear ground and expect God to make the food come out of nowhere! We are called to water and plant and fertilize and protect from rabbits and make sure it gets sunlight and so forth, and while we do that, we wait on God to make it grow.
So, for example, as you wait on God to heal a broken relationship with another person, you have no power to change their heart, you have no power to make them accept your apology (or to apologize to you!). Only God can do that.
BUT…you are called to turn the other cheek, pray for that person, do good to that person, bless that person, etc. While you are waiting on God to change their hearts—GROW!—you are called to water the garden and do everything you can to nurture the relationship. I’m not saying that is easy, but it is an important part of waiting on the LORD, doing our part while remembering always that God is central in our waiting, our hopes are not in our watering but in His power to grow, our total focus is not on our partnership—our deeds—but on His power to produce a garden even if we run out of water, even if the sun doesn’t shine, etc.
- Secondly, what we don’t do in waiting on God—how we know if we aren’t waiting on the LORD—is if we either do nothing OR if while we are doing our part we are CLENCHED, STRESSED, a tightly-wound ball of nerves. That is showing that we are not waiting on God and that we are putting all the pressure on ourselves—mentally, spiritually, physically, etc.—to produce the results that we want (or even the results that God wants!).
- No gardener does the watering, planting, fertilizing, etc. and then sits in the house clenched, stressed, flexing their muscles and grinding their teeth to make the garden grow. They don’t do that, and even if they do it has NO EFFECT on the growth of the garden! Rather, they trust that by the grace of God He has blessed them to play their part, and by the grace of God He will do what only He can do. Over time, we learn to patiently trust in the LORD to be God, patiently and calmly waiting and resting and looking for and being ready for the harvest, the growth, the results that only He can bring, in our example above a restored and healed relationship…waiting on God is active, but it is still focused & reliant on Him…please check out Isaiah 40 below:
Isaiah 40:27-31 NIV:
Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
[There are times in our lives when we feel as if God is far (for more on this, please click HERE), when we feel as if our way (our life, our circumstance) is hidden from God, when we feel as if He isn’t attentive or paying attention or aware or concerned with what we are going through…there are times when we feel this way (I’m not saying this is reality, but it is how we feel about reality), as if our cause (what we are going through) is disregarded by God and left on the bottom of His pile of things to do in running the universe…
And when we feel this way, God tenderly addresses His people as His people, as Jacob, as Israel, as His holy nation, He speaks to us lovingly by our name but firmly to focus on HIS name: God often asks us questions before He gives us answers—“Why do you complain, why do you say these things (or think these things), why do you believe these things in your heart that I am unconcerned and inattentive? Do you not know? Have you not heard? Have you not seen in your life–either during the situation or in hindsight–how I have carried you and protected you and kept your head above the waves when you felt as if you were going to drown?” When we suffer we naturally focus on our suffering; God empowers us to focus instead on our Savior:
- Isaiah 46:3-4: “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
[In our suffering, if God feels far away, it is as if God is saying to us, “Remember who you are doubting, remember whose character you are questioning: Mine. God’s. The LORD’s. Remember who I am—the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth!”
When we feel like we are at the end of our rope, let’s consider the ends of God’s power & wisdom in creation! We are not God/in charge of our lives, even though we often act like it. We are not the creator of our lives or our wealth or our intelligence or even our accomplishments—God alone is. And HE will not grow tired & weary though we do, His understanding—His ways—will often be difficult for us to grasp and understand…
- Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
[God gives! God increases! He is the grammatical and spiritual and eternal subject of those sentences!
- Those times when you slept well and woke up refreshed and rested? It wasn’t your sleep that did that, it was the LORD! Psalm 127:2: “…for he grants sleep to those he loves.”
- Those times when you got over (or at least got through) a painful situation, when you were weeping and ready to give up and then eventually found strength to keep going and put one foot in front of the other? It wasn’t your willpower that did that—it was the LORD! (please see Isaiah 46:3 again above).
- Those times when you were sick—either with a serious illness or chronic pain or even something short-term like the flu or a stuffy nose—and got better—it wasn’t the medicine or your immune system that helped you get well (though of course God USES those as His healing tools)…it was the LORD! Psalm 102:3: “He who heals all your diseases…”
All of these situations and more—we often only see the earthly tool used by God and so we often give credit to that earthly tool, to what we can see; we live, without realizing it, as if what is detectable by our physical senses is all that is real! Many Christians live each day as “practical atheists”! We believe in God but live by, rely on, and give credit to only what we feel and see and touch…
- Like the Mississippi River—it runs almost the length of the entire U.S. from north to south. Millions see a portion of the mighty flowing river but very few travel north far enough to see the SOURCE of the river, where it begins and comes from!
- That is us with God—we see a portion of His care which often involves earthly tools (an encouraging encounter with a friend, some antibiotics for an infection, money coming in at just the right time to pay off a bill, a simple word to make us laugh or smile when we’ve been crying, etc.) but we rarely travel NORTH far enough through prayer and Bible reading to see the SOURCE of that blessing—God Himself on His throne in heaven! But God GIVES, as these verses in Isaiah 40 and others remind us—God is the God who gives, and every perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17). His gifts might flow through others, but they start with Him and He gets the credit always…
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
[Our strength and perseverance come not from our stage in life but from the LORD of life, not from our youth but from Yahweh…don’t try to be numerically or physically younger; just ask the Holy Spirit to help you be spiritually younger, to have child-like (though not childish) faith in Christ Jesus—that’s the youthfulness that counts the most!]
31 but those who hope in the Lord [or wait on the LORD]
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
[The time we need to wait on God most—when we are suffering, when God feels far, when it seems as if God has forgotten us—is often the time that we are LEAST LIKELY to sit still and wait on Him! That’s one of the most amazing points of this passage—God is commanding and inviting His people to go against the current of their sinful nature and to sit still and wait on HIM in their suffering instead of trying to fix their problems on their own…
Look at all the “will”s in verse 31—the “will”s represent GUARANTEES and PROMISES from God that His power and wisdom will make sure happens! If we learn to wait on God, we WILL
-have renewed strength
-soar on wings like eagles
-run and not grow weary
-walk and not be faint
God’s Word & promises are the checks written to us by God; His power and wisdom and love and faithfulness—His very character!—is the limitless spiritual bank account that makes sure those checks NEVER bounce!!! Let’s cash those checks from God’s Word—let’s put them into practice every day with His help!
Let’s wait on God…even if we aren’t getting the results we think we should get when we think we should get them!
Let’s learn to wait on God…even if we want to reach out to sin or anything else to get us through our situation!
(Please click HERE for more “even if” situations)
When we stop trying to fly by flapping our arms, when we start learning to wait on God, we will learn to fly by riding on His wings and soaring in ways we could never do on our own…the horsepower of God can take us where our pony-power can never take us…the wings of God can take us where our arms can never take us…What a glorious God!!!