Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until he receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient.
Isn’t it funny how the Lord works? How He knows what we need even before we know we need it? I experienced this on Sunday, as I sat on the front row of the Sanctuary during the 9:30 am service. Now, I don’t normally sit on the front row at church. In fact, I normally sit in the very back with the rest of the youth staff and other young adults. But because of other responsibilities that morning, I found myself on the very first row, and I’m convinced that God had more reason for it than to simply read Scripture for the sermon that day.
You see, Sunday’s sermon was centered on the seasons of waiting that we all experience in life. And I am in a serious season of waiting. As the sermon began, I knew that God had something to say about this season of my young adult life. He revealed to me that in every area where the waiting is happening, my heart desires control. If I don’t have control in that area, I hold even more tightly to other “non-waiting areas” in an effort to make up for it. What’s funny (sort of) is that I know in my head that I have zero control over my life. My life is the Lord’s and He has a plan and purpose for all things. It is my job as a youth leader to teach students that God is sovereign and we can trust Him with every detail. And yet, here I am confessing that I struggle to trust Him with these very things.
Why does it have to be so hard? Why can’t I just get over myself and let God take over? What do I think I have to offer besides trust in Him, who has promised to do more than I could ever ask or think? It is so much easier said than done. And guess who doesn’t like that she can’t control the fact that she can’t give up control… me! But despite my weakness and struggle to trust Him in the waiting, God is still good. He reveals Himself, even if it takes sitting us down on the first pew on a Sunday morning to get our attention. Since that day, God has shown me three ways to practice trust in the waiting.
The first way is to be patient in the waiting. When James urges us to be patient just as the farmer is patient, we are encouraged to wait for our “precious fruit” as well. I am no farmer, and I sure don’t have a green thumb, but it seems to me that when you plant any sort of seed, you can expect fruit in its proper time. In the same way, we are encouraged to wait for the Lord to bring an answer, a solution, an open door, a changed heart, or an answered prayer. Whatever it is that we are waiting for, He is the one in charge and in control. He is doing the work on us and on everything happening around us. To have patience requires trust that His plan and His timing are better than our own. To have patience frees us up to rest in His care and love for us. God is just as interested in our hearts in the process of waiting as He is in the destination of the waiting. What a gift waiting is, then!
The second way is to actively listen in the waiting. Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” When we acknowledge God, we allow Him to sit in His rightful place in our hearts. We lean on His understanding, not our own. Isn’t that listening? Listening to God through His written Word, prayer, and through fellowship with other believers, we get to know His voice. When we know His voice, we can recognize it in a sea of other voices, including our own. Listening in this season is actively trusting that God’s voice and direction are better than our own. His ways are higher than our ways. When we listen to Him, we may just be able to recognize His way when it is time to move.
The third way is to obey in the waiting, putting one foot in front of the other. He gives us just what we need to follow Him at just the right time. We do not need to know the final destination. He gives us Himself, and that is enough. I am reminded of a scene in The Hiding Place, when Corrie Ten Boom was worried about the future. In describing her father’s response to her worry, she wrote, “Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. ‘Corrie,’ he began gently, ‘when you and I go to Amsterdam–when do I give you your ticket?’ I sniffed a few times, considering this. ‘Why, just before we get on the train.’ ‘Exactly. And our wise Father in Heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need–just in time.’”
What a beautiful picture of how God works with us! He gives us what we need, when we need it. Our only part is to be patient, listen for His direction, and obey where He leads. May we trust Him, whether we are entering, currently in, or emerging from a season of waiting, believing that He is our greatest good, no matter the circumstance.