I need to lower my expectations. Shadow is a black 16-week-old labradoodle puppy, and I’m trying to train him to “stay.” Every morning, I put his food in his dish, and then slowly lower it to the floor while repeating, “Stay. Stay. Stay.” He does so good for the first few seconds, but then the bowl hits the floor and the magical sound of dog food rattling in a tin dish is too much for him to handle. He runs toward me, and I have to quickly lift the bowl off the floor and repeat the process. It takes a few more tries before he gets it.
The truth is that I’m a lot like my puppy. Instead of food, I’m not very good at waiting on God to tell me what to do next. I don’t know about you, but when I feel like God has given me something—like a message burning within my chest or a desire to help a certain group of people—it’s hard for me to wait on God to say, “Okay. Go get it.”.
In Psalm 27, an Israelite king named David outlines a common calling that many of us struggle to live out: “wait for the Lord.” You and I are not the only people who have had to wait on God, however, there are several major characters in God’s story who experienced painful seasons of waiting. Check this out…
- Abraham teaches us to wait on God. Twice—two different times—Abraham got afraid and made his own plans. Abraham was specifically called to two things: a) move to a certain land and b) make babies. A famine comes, and Abraham decides—on his own—to go to Egypt. He tells his wife Sarai—who is evidently ravishingly beautiful—to act like his sister. She does, and pharaoh tries to marry her. Before the wedding night, Pharaoh finds out, and kicks them out of the country. Later, Abraham repeats this same situation with a king named Abimelech. Instead of waiting on God, Abraham nearly messed up the whole story. What if Pharaoh or Abimelech had gotten Sarah pregnant? There may have been no Isaac. This story is a vivid reminder to us, God’s calling on our lives doesn’t operate on our schedule. It’s important for us not to force things—even when we’re scared—but to wait on God.
- Moses teaches us to lean on God. When Moses finally agrees to represent the people of Israel before Pharaoh, things don’t go so well. Pharaoh doubles the work load of the Israelite slaves, and the people of Israel want Moses to leave. Moses runs to God. God reminds Moses that he is with him. Moses goes back to Pharaoh and things still don’t change. 12 times, Moses goes to Pharaoh, and all 12 times Pharaoh either says, “no” or says, “Yes” and then changes his mind. The last time, the Israelites make it out of Egypt and to the Red Sea when Pharaoh shows up with an army. Once again, the people turn on Moses and blame him. Yet every time there’s a problem or the people complain, Moses does what you and I should do when thing don’t work out the way we expect—we should go before God, honestly share with him how things aren’t working out and be open to hear his confirmation and encouragement as he prods us on.
- The disciples teach us to talk with God. After Jesus died, he was in the ground for three days—just long enough that he would officially be proclaimed dead. It was also just long enough that the disciples had probably given up all hope of his return. And then Jesus showed up, and blew their minds. Everything was back to the way it was before Jesus died. But then it wasn’t. Jesus disappeared into the sky, and told them he was sending a helper. One day passed. Two days. Three days. Nothing happened. Finally, Peter decided to go ahead and choose another apostle. They do. And then more time passes. We don’t know how long they had to wait, but Acts makes it sound like awhile. So what do they do? They gathered together and prayed. I think God wants us to do the same thing. If you’re waiting start praying.
- Paul teaches us to talk about God. Paul was in prison, a lot. Why? Because he was living out the call of God. But instead of seeing prison as a roadblock, Paul used the downtime provided by the jail cell to write many of the letters that made him famous. Look at this, in 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul writes out a description of God’s calling on our lives, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing…” Even if you feel like you have a specific calling on your life, God has also called you to be an encouragement to others; to rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. So if you’re waiting on God to tell you what to do next, be like Paul and focus on these common callings that you can live out today.
You and I are called to wait on God—to put our trust and confidence in him—even when we haven’t heard from him in awhile. We are asked to trust him, and to be confident that he will tell us what to do when it’s time for us to do something. I know it’s not easy, which is why I spend a lot of time with a mentor who asks good questions. I also read A LOT of books when I don’t know what to do—maybe you could start with Intentional Christian: What to do when you don’t know what to do.
Finally, let me encourage you with my favorite verse in the Bible. Proverbs 16:9, “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.” In other words, it’s okay for us to try and plan our way—to ask advice from a mentor or read books—but ultimately God directs our steps. Here’s the exciting thing: if God directs our steps, then you and I can’t mess up God’s calling or will for our lives!
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
Big Question: Why is it so hard for us to wait on God? Click here to comment on Facebook…
 Psalm 27:14 NRSV