As a writer who makes her living by sending off proposals and waiting for responses from editors, publishers and agents, I know what it is to wait. As a mother of a young child who feels her own dreams and aspirations are so far on the back burner that the gas has almost gone out, I know what it is to wait. As a church member, yearning to see growth and the fruit of outreach into the community, I know what it is to wait. As a child of God who is being led on a journey through hard times and good times and sometimes losing sight of the Father, I know what it is to wait. However, I have learned that there are some things that can help us through our waiting times. Here are a few of them:
1. Be prepared to let go of your dreams
Dreams are wonderful things. They give us hope, they give us direction, they suggest a future where we are fulfilled and God’s plans are working in and through us. What more could a child of God want? But sometimes our dreams are distorted, a product of our own desires, rather than God’s best for us. When the door keeps closing, consider that God might not want you to move forward just yet. Or perhaps he might want you to let go of something before you do. The waiting time is a period where we can discern which it is. It can be a painful time – letting go always is.
2. Seek Godly counsel and support from friends
The waiting times can be greatly helped by the support of family and friends. Sometimes though, our friends can be a little bit like Job’s comforters, not quite understanding where we are and what we are going through. But a wise friend or leader will help you talk through what’s going on in your life. They may be able to suggest a way forward or simply give you the opportunity to offload. I always feel better after I’ve poured out my confusion to my pastor or a good friend.
3. Waiting is learning to rest
“Come to me all you who are weak and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” (Mattew 11:28).
The shalom of God – that wonderful gift of peace, rest and rightness with our Creator – is something we all desire, but to experience it is sometimes so elusive. We need to learn to rest. We need to know what it is to abide in Christ, to walk with him, to allow him to take control. We need to be prepared to “waste time” just being with him. These are all hard lessons to learn and ones that we are unable to grasp when we are rushing forward doing whatever it is we feel called to do. So that’s when the waiting times come in. That’s the gift of this fallow time although it may only be seen in hindsight.
4. See what God is doing in the little things – now!
Every day is a gift from God: every moment, every second. When we are so busy looking towards the horizon we fail to see the beauty of what is at our feet - the snail making its trail, the wild flower pushing its way through the crack in the pavement. There’s an old hymn that goes, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” When I’m frustrated with the waiting time and chomping at the bit to move forward into bigger and better things, I take my journal and write a simple list of things to be grateful for now. A phone call from a friend, a chance to help someone reach something on the top shelf at the market, the picture my daughter painted at school …
5. Look back on what God has done before
I have kept a spiritual journal since I was 19. In it I write out my prayers to God. I write out my frustrations and my celebrations. I confess my sins and my confusion. I write out scripture verses that have touched me or something in a sermon I heard that has a particular application to my life. When I sense I’m going into another waiting time I get out my old journals and re-read what I went through the last time. I’m comforted to see how God led me through that, and it gives me hope that he will lead me again. I see patterns of behavior that I recognize as happening again. If you don’t already keep a journal, start one now – it will help you not only to process what is happening now, but to be a guide for the next time it happens, too. Yes, there will be a next time!
6. You can’t see around the bend, but God can
I hate not being able to see where I’m going. I hate not being in control. I get stressed when I’m going somewhere in the car as a passenger and I’m not convinced the driver knows where he’s going … It can be the same with God. But I have to remind myself that God does know where he’s going. He knows what is around the bend. When I doubt this I turn to the Bible and pray through the many verses and passages that assure me that God is in control.
I remember a time when my Young David Books were just beginning to make an impact in England – but we wanted them to go worldwide. We had no idea how, but, as it turned out, God knew. He knew that around the bend I would meet a woman I had once taught with who was now a digital publisher. He knew that since we had last seen each other she had developed cutting edge technology that could turn simple picture books into incredible interactive experiences for children. He knew that while I was looking around in confusion, around the bend Brief Lives were waiting to produce the Young David Book App. He knew that one day I would be able to contribute profits from the book to established Christian charities worldwide. I wonder what is around the bend for you …
7. Allow hope to rise again
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).
Sometimes we’ve been waiting so long that we’ve given up on ever moving towards our dream. Sometimes we’ve let go of our dreams and are enjoying resting with God, finally content with where we are. But don’t be surprised if that’s exactly the time God will stir something in you again. When he does allow the hope to rise, be brave enough to risk moving forward again. You may be surprised that it’s the same dream, resurrected, with you now just in a better position to follow it, or it may be a new and better dream that you could not grasp while you held onto the old. Learn to recognize the seasons of your life: there’ll be a time to wait and a time to move on and then a time to wait again …
Fiona Veitch Smith is the author of the interactive Young David Books app, which can be accessed in the “Young David Books” App for iPad here. To see the app in action, please visit here. Fiona resides in Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom with her husband, daughter and two dogs.