By Julia Amting
I tend to be impatient, and I tend to be a planner. I want things to be figured out right when I want them to be. I want to know where I’m headed, I want to know how I’m going to get there, I want to know that it’s right, and I want to know why. I want to know that I’ll be loved and happy through the journey, and that I’ll somehow end up okay. With these questions unanswered and these desires unmet, it’s easy to grow restless and anxious. And, to our chagrin, these questions often do go unanswered, and these desires do go unmet.
But why? We have an incredible God. We know we do. We have seen how He works in our lives, we have seen and heard and read about the amazing things He has done. We have heard the goodness promised to us, and we have known His love for us. He has made beautiful promises that we should be able to trust Him to keep. He is God, after all.
Isaiah 91:14-16 says (emphasis added)
“Whoever clings to me I will deliver;
whoever knows my name I will set on high.
All who call upon me I will answer,
I will be with them in distress;
I will deliver them and give them honor.”
These are all promises. And when God says He will, He will.
God also made some crazy promises to Abraham. He promised that Abraham would have millions of descendants, when he was incredibly old and his wife, Sarah was barren. But God promised that they would have a son in their old age. Abraham was 75 when this promise was made, and he was incredulous. It wasn’t until he was 100 years old that his son, Isaac, was born. Abraham had to wait for 25 years before God’s promise to him started to look like it was going to be fulfilled. God does fulfill his promises, but it seems to take a while.
It is easy for me to doubt the amazing-ness and goodness of God, to doubt that the Lord keeps his promises when I have to go through a period of waiting, or of change in plans. I get frustrated when I don’t know what decision to make, what direction to go, and all I hear is silence. I become restless, frantically searching for that still, small voice amidst the chaos of life and decisions.
But, the more restless we get, the harder it is to hear God’s voice. Since “He is not a God of disorder, but a God of peace”(1 Corinthians 14:33), as we get more and more frantic, the harder it is to hear Him. This is why we have to be able to wait in tension, to find some sort of eye in the storm.
I agree with C.S. Lewis who says, “I am sure God keeps no man waiting unless it is good for Him to wait.” We do the most growing when we are forced to wait for God. God sees and delights in the constant prayers of the patient. Because, as weird as it sounds, God wants us to pursue Him, to pursue relationship with Him, just as we want others to pursue relationship with us. He wants us to keep coming after him, even if we don’t feel Him or see Him. We truly love God when we are pursuing him. This is where humans, especially women, get their innate desire to be pursued: from God Himself. What an interesting concept.
When we are forced to wait, whatever it is we’re waiting on God for: direction, peace, happiness, or even just an assurance that he is there, we are growing and we are being stretched. And being honest, it really sucks. But when within it, all we can do is rely on Him. It is actually our only option. God often takes many good things out of our lives, or hesitates to put them there, so we can recognize our need for Him, so we can recognize our need for God Himself, not just the blessings He gives us. Because what do we really love? Do we love God, do we have a relationship with God? Or do we just love what he gives us?
“He has made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:26-27
Another important thing to remember is this: God is not bound by time. Not only is he not on our time, he is not on any time. How crazy is that? Our whole lives revolve around the idea of time. The question “how long?” shapes everything. It is nearly impossible for us to imagine not having time. God is eternal, which means that our years go by as days to Him. (Psalm 90:4 – “A thousand years in your eyes are merely a yesterday.”) I don’t know exactly why, but I find that comforting. To know that I am reliant on something so much bigger than me, something that transcends time itself. This knowledge gives new hope as we wait for the promises to be fulfilled. God didn’t ever give us a time that He would fulfill those promises to us, we just need to know that He will. We need to trust that “He works all things for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28)
“He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without men’s discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Undeniably, embracing the mystery of God’s timing is messy, and is often incredibly frustrating. But that’s life, that’s God, that’s all the timeless things that I listed. They are all mysteries. All the best things we can experience are mysteries. We must let go in order to be able to live in uncertainty, to wait in tension, to let God’s goodness work in us instead of frantically striving to make ourselves and our lives good. We must embrace the mystery.
After patient waiting, we will obtain God’s promises. (Hebrews 6:15) They are well worth waiting for.