Slow down, take a breath, be still. Waiting has always been a challenging attribute for me. I lack patience; I love staying busy, and I thrive on being in control. So when plans change, things aren’t going my way, or circumstances seem out of my control, I struggle to lean into the one thing I know will help me through: working on my ability to wait on Him.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
This year I have challenged myself to read the Bible in a year. While reading from the Old Testament to the New Testament, over and over I read about waiting on the Lord. In some stories waiting isn’t a long time, but for most, seasons of wait can not only take years but generations before God speaks. So why is it so difficult for me to wait a few months or muddle through a season of wait with patience and grace? In our current culture we are used to fast food, same-day delivery, and high speed internet —in other words, to fast decisions and no delays. So learning how to shift the narrative and seek patience requires focus, discipline, and grace.
Here are three practical ways to wait for the Lord:
Have Patience. In a season of wait, finding ways to slow down, seek stillness, and have humility in the process will help to build your ability to wait on His call.
- Slow Down. Setting up intentional ways to limit activities will help to make your mind and heart more available to His work in you. Take a deep breath, stop muliti-tasking routine tasks (i.e. eating lunch while working or reading emails), or work on a mindful technique you might use in your classroom. Whatever works to slow your heart rate and activity level, do that more often.
- Set Boundaries. In order to wait on the Lord, you also need to be able to say “No, not yet,” or “Maybe tomorrow.” Separating from work at the end of the day means you have 8-12 hours to rest, recalibrate, and regroup for tomorrow. It also gives you space and time to heal and hear God calling for you.
- Search Out Margin. Our calendars are not meant to be a game of Tetris, filling in every crack and second of the day. Try to leave a buffer at the end of the day so you have time for yourself between the demands at work and the needs at home. Use that time to practice the art of stillness (which we will cover next).
- Unplug. Just because technology is on 24-7, that doesn’t mean you have to be on it as well. In order to hear God’s voice in a season of wait we have to work to eliminate the pings, bings, and noises that our phone and technology use as a way to draw us in and steals away moments of stillness.
- Go Outside. Part of my new routine in seasons of wait is going for a walk without my phone. Spending time outside and in nature without distraction allows you to focus on sounds, sights, and senses of nature. This also allows your brain to start to wander and your thoughts to narrow in without influences from podcasts or posts, tweets or texts. Try memorizing a verse or a scriptural mantra while walking and see if that form of meditation draws you closer to Him.
- Embrace the Quiet. Too often I turn on the TV, blast music, or leave a podcast on in the background during everyday tasks, or times when I could be putting God in the forefront. If the thought of silence is scary, set a timer. Try for five minutes of silence, and then when comfortable, try ten. I remember one time signing up for a prayer event at our church. The goal was to spend an hour praying in a room without a clock, phone, or distraction. I opened the door thinking I was in there for 30 minutes, when actually I had spent almost 120 minutes in quiet prayer!
- Give Yourself Grace. In my book Lead with Grace, I define grace as: “learning something new everyday and forgiving yourself along the way.” In trying to course-correct a culture that requires busyness, multitasking, and control, switching to seasons of wait is going to be harder than flipping a switch. You will revert back to old ways, but keep pushing forward in the pursuit to find more time in your day to be with Him.
- Trust in Him. I have had a morning routine for over six years that includes journaling. During seasons of wait I will go back to old journals to review struggles, suffering, and revelations of God’s work in me during that circumstance. Trusting in Him gives you permission to release your own perceived control, fault, or misdirected feelings towards others when in wait.
- Ask for Help. Waiting is worse when you are trying to do it all by yourself. Having humility means allowing others into your season of struggle. Asking for prayer, seeking a friend to talk with, or meeting with a pastor, elder, or counselor are all ways to seek help in difficult situations. You may also find that releasing some of the worry and fear you are holding onto might actually allow you to find more bandwidth to implement practices that increase your patience and help you work through the season of wait.
This past weekend while I was playing drums during worship, I heard a phrase in one of the songs that continued to stay with me long after the service: I don’t know how You will make a way, but I know You will. Too often we look for the quick answer, the fast response, or the do/done tasks to complete. When working through a challenging season waiting on Him requires faith in what isn’t seen, and what will be done.
When in a season of wait, continue to build up ways to stay strong, trust in Him, and have heart because He has plans for you that are bigger than you can imagine.
Links to Resources Mentioned in the Post: