We are instant people. We want what we want when we want it. No ifs, ands or buts.
Our culture feeds our impatient condition, or more accurately, our impatient addiction. Food can be delivered to our door within minutes, we can purchase what we need and never step out of our pjs. We can tell the world where we are, who we are with and what we are doing. All in an instant.
Those are just the little things, tiny examples of a bigger issue. We are also not good at waiting on important things – like relationships, jobs, promotions, success. The list goes on. We are not good at waiting.
Here’s the hard truth: Anything great, anything worth holding on to, anything of monumental purpose and impact takes time. When it comes to our dreams, our hopes, our triumphs – it takes work and waiting. Patience is the miracle grow on the soil of your dreams, hopes, and desires. But we want it NOW. Do they make a miracle grow for that? No, that is called striving, climbing, and busting open doors that were never meant to be opened. It’s a short-lived shortcut not worth taking.
Psalm 31 has become an anchor in the seasons when I feel myself panicking that the world is moving ahead of me, and I fear I’m missing opportunities. David, the writer of this Psalm, is speaking my language. He has big plans, hopes and passionate God-size dreams, but he also facing the reality of life, hardships, and failures, and like you and I, he struggled with patience. In Psalm 31, David is up against some hurdles. Maybe you can relate.
I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…”
He feels forgotten.
He feels broken and worthless.
He is tied up knots with what people are thinking and saying about.
He feels out of control.
Anyone with me? I’ve been there. Sometimes I get stuck there. Life flies by and I can feel like I’m watching the instant replay of everyone else’s seemingly amazing life on Instastory, while mine is moving in slow motion. I start getting paralyzed by the onslaught of lies, ”I’m not doing enough. No one even cares. I’m a waste. No one even cares about me.” Self-loathing is so unattractive, but those feelings are undeniably real. David felt it and so do we.
But David’s confession and prayer at the end of all his crying out, is a declaration of solid ground that we too can claim and stand on when we are pressed and impatient:
“I trust in you Lord, I say “you are my God.” My times are in your hands…”
My times are in your hands! Just saying that makes me breathe a little easier. It’s like the pressure – a pressure that God never placed on us but that we have placed on ourselves is off. My time is in his capable hands. He has this. He has ME. All the events and circumstances of life are in the secure hands of a sovereign God. I can let go and I can trust. Relief.
But what it doesn’t say is that I can be lazy. No, it’s just saying don’t worry about the timing. There is a difference between striving and cultivating a gift. As you walk in faithfulness, you will be called up, elevated, given the chance to do things you’ve longed to put your hands to. So, what’s your job in the waiting? Prepare for it. When that moment happens, be ready.
So, get to work.
My friend Jeff just ran a triathlon. The race was impressive, but it was the training for the race that was praiseworthy. So much dedication to the goal. As I was watching these men and women push their physical bodies to the limit, I couldn’t help to think about what it would look like for us Jesus followers to prepare now for all God has in store for us later in the race he has called us to run. Unfortunately, we’ve conditioned ourselves to focus on the here and now – what’s in front of us. We fill our time staring at our phones, worrying about the future and satisfying the desire of now, but how different our lives our lives would look if we stewarded our time differently, with a long arc view.
You can’t run the race if you haven’t prepared for the race. Do the heavy lifting and prepare for the whatever and wherever God calls you.
If writing is your thing and penning a book is your dream, then write. Cultivate the habit of writing so, when God opens the door, you’ll be ready. If music is your heart’s desire, sing, write, and be around people that challenge you. Don’t strive for the stage, but learn to serve in the shadows. In your faithfulness, God will prepare you for the platform if and when that day comes. If you want to lead or teach, start studying – there is a lot learn. Get under great teaching and use this season to pave and prepare your heart for the purposes ahead. Designer? Business? Politics? Marriage? Whatever you long to do, these principles apply. Prepare now for the hope of later. Do it quietly, do it with excellence and do it with joy.
My pastor, Louie Giglio, says, “Focus on being faithful and God will make you fruitful.” Focus on your heart and God will manage the arc of your life. Jesus has you! And our unfailing God holds our times in His hands. Wait for it. Wait for it well.
Around Passion City Church we talk about how worship is a weapon that helps us as we battle. Music is a gift for our journey. Here are some songs that have become a soundtrack for me in recent seasons of waiting:
Passion – Heart Abandoned
Anna Golden – Changing me
Bethel – Take Courage