I know I’m not alone when I say it feels like I pick the slowest checkout line every time I’m at the grocery store or Target.
As soon as I commit to register #7, the light goes on at register #2 and my eyes start darting back and forth while my brain runs through my options. Should I stick with #7 where the carts of the two people in front of me don’t look that full. Or should I make a dash for #2 and hope I get there in time to move up to a better position? If I stay, will there suddenly be questions about payment methods or rewards programs that seem to take forever to answer? If I go, will the cashier at the newly opened lane sheepishly tell me that she needs to call a store manager to unlock the register? So many things can go wrong when you’re trying to pick the right line!
Sometimes, when I’m waiting for answers or direction from God, I find myself feeling the same way. Wondering if I’ve lined up in the right spot. Said the right prayers. Surrendered the right things. Will the transaction be quick and get me on my way? Or will it require me to shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other while I watch what He is doing in the lives of those around me?
Happily, God doesn’t work as a clerk at a checkout counter. We don’t find Him – or the answers we need – because we’re clever enough to choose the right line and patient enough to wait until it’s finally our turn. But maybe while your head nods yes to this truth, your thumping heart could use some reassurance.
So here are a few things to remember while we’re waiting. And how to know that we might be exactly where God wants us.
We’re not waiting alone.
Waiting for too long can feel like a lonely business. Watching everyone else take off while we’re still standing around stirs up images of being the last child to get picked up after school. She knows her mom or dad won’t forget her, but who will be left to wait with her once everyone else has gone? Left alone waiting is not where any of us want to be. With God, it just doesn’t happen.
The Lord is near. He is with us while we wait, giving us peace and guarding our hearts and minds when we’re tempted to start looking around for a quicker way out or a speedier solution. So we can settle in and wait with the same confidence that God’s people have demonstrated through the ages. In fact, reading some of their stories might be a great way to pass some time.
We’re waiting in good company.
Here is where you might expect me to make a few recommendations for great faith stories filled with encouragement and happy outcomes. And yes, we can find dozens of compelling examples of faithful lives blessed by our faithful God in the pages of the Bible: The Israelites entering the Promised Land. Joseph freed from prison to feed a nation and reconcile with his family. Elizabeth’s longing arms finally holding a child. And many, many more.
But when we read these stories, we have the benefit of knowing how they end. And that can make it easy to skim over the huge chunks of time that passed while these people – real people just like us – kept on waiting. Don’t miss this. Even the heroes of our faith must have spent hours wondering when their waiting might come to an end. And how they experienced God’s nearness while they waited is as important (maybe even more important!) than what ultimately happened in their lives.
God is already giving us what we need.
God’s goodness isn’t measured by getting what we’re waiting for. The hope we have doesn’t rest in finding answers to our questions, our problems disappearing, or having life turn out the way we want it to. Our hope is in the One who has been fulfilling His promises since time began. And who will continue to do so for a never-ending line of seekers just like you and me.
And what exactly does He promise? Just in case we need to be reminded when it seems like the waiting just won’t end? Simply this: That He is with us. You and I can be content while we wait because the Lord will never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
So when we find ourselves wondering if we’ve lined up in the right place while we’re waiting on God, we can stop worrying about how we might get into a better position. And start believing that when we’re waiting on Him, we are spending time in His presence. And being with Him is right where He wants us to be.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:24)