by Shelby Rhea
Waiting. No one likes it; waiting in line, waiting for a delivery, waiting in traffic… it’s perfectly packaged in a negative connotation with a big bow of annoyance on top. In this perfectly impatient world, we find waiting a waste of time; that if everything was planned out perfectly, our lives would be more efficient.
But have you ever thought of waiting as a blessing?
Before this summer, I belonged to the collective “we” against waiting. I expected answers in a timely matter otherwise I’d force the answers I wanted to hear. However, God truly revolutionized my heart and altered my perspective – here’s how:
Within a week or two of returning home from Africa, I eagerly emailed the COH director concerning next year’s trip application. I knew I had to go back. I couldn’t bear the thought of not going back, not hearing so many precious voices praising Jesus in Chichewa or seeing my mischievous little Esther; of not feeling the African sun on my cheeks again or washing the taint of red off my dusty feet. I was obdurate. For weeks I prayed. I began planning out a strict budget to afford the plane ticket. Then one day, mid-prayer, the word “no” appeared before my closed eyes, and ceased my moving lips. Slowly, the tears began to roll down my cheeks. I resumed my prayer in efforts to pray away the “no” with sheer force and determination. Again, the word “no” appeared, in a louder, stern fashion. The tears came more quickly and fell heavily. Then, once more the word “no”, but this time I felt the word inside my heart. My chest caved in, my face fell down, and my body shuddered as I wept.
Over the next few days, prayer after prayer danced off my lips. It was the same prayer on repeat, “why?” I was desperate, relentless, somber, confused, and so angry. However, His response was silence. Two weeks later, the anger and sadness that enveloped my question turned to surrender and trust. I asked once more, “why?” and this time he answered. I was told to wait, save, and pay off my debts. Naturally, His answer brought more questions.
How long will I wait? Where will I go? When will I go? How much do I save? What am I saving for?
So, I waited. I prayed. I read my bible. I worshipped. I listened. I surrendered my soul and sought Him in every way possible to draw closer to Him. I just wanted to hear His voice again. I’d seen Him work and felt His presence at times, and for that I was truly thankful, but His voice had been absent.
Five months have passed since I was told to wait. Since then, I’ve been attempting to save money and pay off my debts, but my efforts proved futile. No matter my attempts, extra expenses kept piling up. However, mid-breakdown on a Sunday afternoon, God opened a door for me. Though I didn’t hear His voice, He provided me with the opportunity to accomplish what He tasked me with in this season of waiting. When I realized His solution was the only option for me, that there was no other way I could rely on myself or no other plan I could construct, an overwhelming peace waged war against the internal panic. The peace undoubtedly derived from the sense that God was taking care of me. The panic stemmed from my complete lack of control over the situation. My life changed in a matter of hours and the word “failure” hung over my head as I felt my life take a step backwards. However, a wise person told me “it’s not a step backwards, just a step to the side before you reach your goal”. That night as I processed that conversation and bowed down before Jesus, I could feel my fear, stress, and pride being stripped away, leaving nothing but raw, blind trust.
This season of waiting has taken its toll on me and it’s been a mere 5 months. Each day I’m provided with the choice: to rest in Him and seek ways to glorify Him in this waiting, or to rebel and force my own course. At times the temptation of taking back control nearly swayed my heart. In those moments of doubt, I look down to my cross to remind me why I should look up. This ordinary symbol of such extraordinary love reminds me daily of why I surrender; why I trust; why I wait when I want all the answers.
Something better than knowing all the answers is knowing and trusting the one who does know and will never forsake us. Through trusting in His plan, I’ve discovered that waiting on God often reveals the latent idolatries in one’s heart. For me it was control, and I have to relinquish it daily. The call to wait on God is daunting, nerve-wracking, and intimidating. There’s so much left unknown, but the call to wait on God is also precious. It’s a personal invitation to trust and hope, and trusting when He is silent purifies us, strengthens us. It brought me closer to God in ways I couldn’t have fathomed. If I had attempted to control the situations I’d been placed in this summer, I would have missed out on His many, many blessings. I would not have realized that waiting is a blessing as well.
From now on, my soul waits on the Lord.