I hate waiting. We all do. Waiting for God to move can feel especially uncomfortable. When pray and do not yet see God's hand at work, I tend to get squirmy. Did He hear me? Will He answer? Will these circumstances ever change?
Despite our culture's efforts to eliminate waiting from daily life (think ATMs, pay at the pump, and drive-through windows) inevitably life sticks in the waiting room. Because we serve a God who operates on His timetable and not ours, waiting is a byproduct of our prayer lives as well.
Maybe you're in the waiting room:
- Waiting for God to heal your physical body
- Waiting for God to bring you a spouse or a baby
- Waiting for God to work in your church
- Waiting for God to bring a prodigal child home
- Waiting for employment
- Waiting for reconciliation
Yep, I'm in the waiting room too these days. But, I'm determined not to spend this time kicking and screaming. I want to wait well. I don't want to waste the waiting.
An Expert Waiter
Moses was an expert waiter. First, he waited to be rescued as a wee babe in a bulrush basket (Ex. 2:2). Perhaps he was too small to remember that moment of waiting, but it was a glimpse of how the rest of Moses' life would go.
After murdering a man, Moses fled his home and family to the foreign land of Midian. He waited there for 40 years (Acts 7:30). He spent four decades waiting for something to happen or for news that he could return safely home. Something did happen. Moses encountered the voice of God booming from a burning bush (Exodus 3:2). The wait was over! He had a mission.
But he found himself in the waiting room again soon, waiting for Pharaoh to let his people go. Once that wait was over, he wandered with God's people in the desert for another forty years, waiting to enter the Promised Land. In total, Moses spent at least eight decades waiting for the Lord. He died at the age of 120 (Deut. 34:7), meaning he spent more than 60 percent of his life in the waiting room.
As we look at his life, here are 10 lessons we can learn about how to wait well.
1. Be Content
After finding himself in a strange land with no family or possessions, Moses was invited to live with the Midianite priest and his family. I doubt the situation was perfect. But Moses chose contentment.
"And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah" (Ex. 2:21).
You have a choice. You can wait with great anxiety, fear and frustration. Or you can wait with contentment. Here's a visual. Think of the last time you sat in the waiting room at the pediatrician's office. Since I have three young boys, that's a stop I make about as often as the post office.
There are two kinds of waiters in that waiting room. There are the children who scream and cry and dump toys. And there are the children who snuggle close to their mommies or quietly wait (thanks to the help of the Disney app on their daddy's iPhone). Both kinds of kids have to wait. The kid throwing a fit doesn't get in to the doctor any sooner than the one who isn't. But believe me, as a mama who has waited with both kinds of kids, the waiting feels infinitely longer to the distraught kid (and his parents!).
You don't have to be happy about the waiting, but you can choose contentment.
First Timothy 6:6 reminds us, "But godliness with contentment is great gain."
2. Love Your Own Family Well
Moses' 40 years in Midian were not unproductive years. He had two sons during that time (Acts 7:29) and devoted himself to caring for them and their mother.
This is a simple, yet effective, action plan for waiting well. Take care of your tribe. Love your children and grandchildren. Serve your husband. Don't force them to bear the brunt of your anxious heart. Stop wringing your hands and get busy taking care of the people in your world.
"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim. 5:8).
3. Work Hard
How did Moses spend his days in Midian while He waited for God to reveal the game plan? Did he pace the floors? Search the Internet for answers? (No, of course not. There was no Internet, but that's often how we fill the waiting space, isn't it?) Take matters into his own hands?
"Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God" (Ex. 3:1).
Moses was about to get shoved from the waiting room to the operating room, where God would give him a new identity and purpose. Moses was steps away from encountering the living God speaking from a burning bush. And what do we find him doing there?
He was herding sheep.
Training to be used by God is more likely to happen in the sheep fields than it is to happen in the palace. Especially when we are waiting for God to use us for kingdom work, we need reminded of the value of working hard and stewarding well the tasks He has already assigned to us.
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Col. 3:23).
4. Intercede for Others
As Moses wandered in the wilderness, waiting for deliverance into the Promised Land, he prayed bold, powerful prayers for God's people. (See Ex. 33:12-16, Num. 14:13-19). He knew the promised outcome, but he didn't stop praying for God's work.
As you wait for God to work in your own life, pray like crazy that He would move in others'. Your faith will be shored up by seeing God's hand in the lives of other people.
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people" (1 Tim. 2:1).
5. Value God's Commands
We all know the story of when Moses brought down the Ten Commandments on slabs of stone only to smash them out of anger for the people's rebellion (Ex. 20:1-21). Moses was passionate about both God's Word and righteous living. So much so, that he trekked back up the mountain to retrieve a second copy of the commandments from God (Ex. 34:28).
I don't know about you, but sometimes when I am waiting on God I feel bitter about how He has called me to live. I don't want to have joy in the waiting room. I want to pout. I don't want to trust in Him when I cannot see Him, I want Him to reveal Himself. Frankly, sometimes I want to be the one to "throw down the tablets" in frustration.
Instead, I need to trek back up the mountain to be with the Lord. I need to ask Him to remind me of His priorities. I need to be about the business of living like He calls me to live. The waiting room reminds me that I serve a big God who does not jump through the hoops I set for Him. I should live according to His Word at all times.
6. Go to War Against Idols
In Exodus 32 Moses came down from the mountain (another waiting room) and found his people worshipping a golden calf. His reaction to this idol was not passive.
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