Baby orangutan chilling out at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Sometimes you have to wait

Many times we all end up in situations where we are powerless. I’m talking about those moments when you can thrash and flail all you want but it won’t accomplish anything or it won’t change the circumstances. Everyone encounters those moments where even though we can do something it won’t be of any use.

In those moments, the only action we can take that will make any difference is how we react. Your perspective in those moments will tell people what you really believe and what you’re really living for.

Baby orangutan chilling out at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Baby orangutan chilling out at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 37:7.

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
    and wait patiently for him to act.

This is actually the first part of verse 7. Psalm 37 is probably one of my favorite Psalms; it always lifts me up. So if you have time to read the whole chapter, you really should, especially if you’re feeling down about something.

But verse 7 stood out to me this morning because I’m at the point in a lot of different places in my life where my part of the action is done. And now I’m just waiting.

Sometimes life feels like it’s full to the brim of waiting, until the brief moments when I get to act, and then I’m back to waiting again. And it’s probably God teaching me a lesson because I hate waiting. It feels like a waste of time. It feels unproductive and indolent.

But sometimes you have to wait. There’s no getting around it. Anything you do in those moments might result in a longer wait time.

Good example? Book publishing. You write your fingers off to produce the best manuscript possible. You agonize over every word, every sentence, every paragraph. You wait to submit it until it’s the very best it can be. … And then you wait to hear from the publisher. And when you hear from the publisher saying, “Yes! Send me all of it!” right away, you have to wait more. This time probably a year.

Waiting sucks. So what if I decide to nag the publisher? Surely I could send him an email asking him if he’s done with it yet. Surely I can call his office and demand that he finish reading quickly, after all I spent ten years on the manuscript and there can’t be anything wrong with it. And I can read it in a day. So what’s taking him so long?

Think that will help? Think that will convince Mr. Publisher that I can do this?

Probably not. One, that’s not how the industry works (so my impatience will only demonstrate what I don’t know) and two, it’s disrespectful of his time and three, it’s proud. Not only will that course of action jeopardize my relationship with a possible publisher … it may also result in the publisher dropping the manuscript. And since it’s the only publisher in 10 years who’s wanted to look at it, I might not ever get another chance.

See what I’m saying?

Yes, I can act. There are a lot of actions I can take that will prevent me from having to wait. But none of them are good actions. And none of them will help.

Sometimes you just have to wait.

And when those moments come, how will you look at them? What will your perspective be? Yeah, waiting sucks, but if you look at it from the perspective that you’re waiting for God to act, you can have confidence that whatever happens will be in His timing, according to His plan. He can see the whole picture. So if He steps in and moves people (and it’s nothing we’ve done), we can know that what is transpiring is part of His design.

And that’s true whether you’re talking about the publishing industry or looking for a job or working in a relationship. Sometimes you just have to wait, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening in someone else’s heart. And waiting for God to do something not only helps you grow stronger in your faith, it helps other people around you grow in their faith too. Because if they see you waiting on God to act, so will they.

And what would our world look like if all of us Type A Control Freaks stepped back and stopped trying to manipulate everything and let God take over?

Some things only God can do, but God doesn’t operate on our timeline. So sometimes we have to wait. But when we do, and we do it quietly and patiently, we get the opportunity to see miracles. And even though waiting isn’t fun, it’s worth it.

So if you’re at a place where you can’t act any more, if you’re in a position where action will only make matters worse, let it go. Give it to God, and wait for Him to do something with it. He will. And it will be beautiful.