I heard an overseas friend recently say, “Waiting is just part of it all.”
I found myself begrudgingly nodding my head to her statement. I recognized the truth of her words as they resonated deep with my soul. Waiting sure is a part of it all. Honestly, waiting is a rather HUGE part of it all.
As overseas workers, we’ve waited for many, many things. We continue to wait for many, many things. The process is slow, the work is slow, the change is slow, and the emotional impact is also slow. Even more, the results are often so slow they are unseen… The whole process is one big, monumental, hurry-up-and-wait task.
Waiting for the door to open to go somewhere overseas. Waiting for the application process. Waiting for interviews and budgets to come in and travel documents to arrive. Waiting for pastors to call, waiting for spoken pledges to become reality, waiting for the numbers to climb, waiting for God to fulfill promises and do extremely big things through our efforts. Then, there is the agonizingly difficult wait for that first flight to leave on a timing very much not our own.
Landing on the field brings another set of waiting. Waiting to understand, to feel at home… waiting to see ministry become more than just surviving each day with our family alive, safe and fed. Waiting for the stress, the incredible change, the slow pace of life to sink into our minds in a way that would let us thrive in this new place.
Add in language struggles and the painful waiting for unknown words to lock themselves in our brains so that they are usable to us in conversation. A humble waiting for that “Oh, one day it will all just click!” moment that everyone tells us will one day arrive…
Then, often, there are years on the field… 2 years, 10 years, 17 years before any fruit of our labor appears. Years before ministry on the field looks anything like we originally felt called to do in our overseas work.
Waiting truly is part of it all.
What do you do if you are not good at waiting?
What happens if waiting pulls you apart inside and drains the life from your heart?
What do you do when the journey of waiting is never ending?
What do you do when your brain says “Go!” but your soul needs time?
What happens when in the process of waiting, life seems to pass you by?
I’m in the throws of learning this with you, this intense yet valuable lesson of waiting and waiting well.
I’m learning to wait in the big ways that I’ve just described and also learning to wait in the smaller ways, the ways that often no one sees.
Learning to wait to speak, wait to make a decision, wait to make plans, wait to get all the needed information. I’m learning to be okay with silence and unanswered emails and unresolved conversations. I’m learning to sleep peacefully with things undone and life often in upheaval around me. I’m learning to laugh and choose joy even when the day means waiting for another day to see a goal realized or an item checked off my to-do list.
These are good lessons, strong lessons of faith that deep within my heart I am thankful to be learning. Thankful for the waiting in ways that I could not have even known I needed just a few years ago.
I am by no means through the challenge of waiting. Not at all. Oh dear… I still get in a tizzy at the long lines, the undone tasks, and the long wait for pretty much every part of our lives.
But, God is slowly opening my eyes to new tools that bring me through the waiting healthier, happier and having grown just a bit in my faith.
Things like worship, moving forward one step at a time, obeying, remaining faithful in the small things, doing the next thing, trusting, praying, journaling and steadfastly standing in a whole new place of dependence on a God who truly knows the hours of our days.
Although we all know waiting is just a part of it all, we also know that the waiting is a valuable way that God grows us into His beautiful image. There are things to learn in the waiting and a peace that comes from truly learning to wait on God for every single thing.
A few things I love while learning to wait:
While I’m Waiting by John Waller
Waiting, a newsletter by Elizabeth Elliot
A Testimony of Waiting by God Reports
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
How have you grown in the waiting? What are ways that you are learning to wait?
What are some things you are currently waiting for?