On March 27, 2018, I opened my P.O. box to find a letter–THE letter–that I had been anxiously awaiting, the one that would decide the next year of my life.
With pounding heart and trembling hands, I tore the envelope’s seal, careful to avoid also ripping the contents inside. My heart sank as the crisp white stationery unfolded to reveal an unexpected, undesired response.
“The Admissions Committee has recently met to evaluate completed applications for admission to the Speech-Language Pathology Master’s program. Your application was among those considered. At this point, you are on a waiting list…we cannot assure your acceptance to our program.”
And thus began my year-long wait.
We’ve likely all experienced extended periods of waiting. Maybe you’ve been waiting for that special someone, hoping for the salvation of a friend, praying earnestly for a child during your battle with infertility, or petitioning the Lord to restore a prodigal child. Whatever the request, we struggle to remain patient for God’s response.
In this age of immediate gratification, delays are unbelievably frustrating, but the Lord has given us principles in His Word that will help us wait well.
God is always working, even in the waiting.
When accused of breaking the Jewish law prohibiting work on the Sabbath, Jesus responded, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (Matthew 5:17). In addition to affirming His deity, Jesus proclaimed His sovereignty of all situations. The God who upholds the universe is able also to rule it perfectly. He is always working, though we often don’t see immediate results nor understand His process.
God is preparing you for what He’s prepared for you.
I can think of no better example to illustrate this principle than King David. Before he was king of Israel, David was a lowly shepherd, overlooked by society, his brothers, but not His God. The Lord sent the prophet Samuel to announce to this shepherd boy and his family that David would be the next king of Israel. God promised David the throne, but the future king still needed additional preparation.
During his time in the sheep’s pasture and later in the wilderness, David learned to rely on his Good Shepherd (Psalm 23). He developed a thirst for God and His Word (Psalm 63) and found full satisfaction in Him (Psalm 16). He trusted that the Lord was a refuge in which to hide amidst “storms of destruction” (Psalm 57:1). God taught David these valuable lessons to prepare him to serve as king of Israel. Even so, He is getting you ready for your next step. Learn to view your waiting season as a spiritual training session that will prepare you to confidently perform your next God-given mission.
Closed doors are evidence of God’s sovereignty.
Scripture says that God’s ways are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). As a result, He often responds to our pleas in ways we never could’ve imagined.
During Paul’s second missionary journey, he and his cohort reached an impasse on their gospel trek. When they attempted to travel to Asia to preach, the Holy Spirit prevented them. When they changed directions to go to Bithynia, again, the Holy Spirit closed the door. Paul and his fellow travelers could have become annoyed with God. After all, they were trying to do good by preaching to the lost souls in these regions. But instead of questioning, they followed the Lord’s leading as He directed them to Troas, where Paul would later receive the famed Macedonian call.
You, like Paul, might be familiar with the frustration of closed doors. Those doors are carefully, purposefully placed by our sovereign Lord. Trust Him. He may be leading you to something greater than you could ever hope.
We must cherish the Giver more than the gift.
Have you ever read the book of Habakkuk? Yes, I promise it is a book of the Bible, and you should read it sometime. The entire book is a conversation between God and the prophet Habakkuk who repeatedly prayed for his nation’s deliverance from an imminent enemy.
By the end of the conversation, Habakkuk submits,
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
We often get so caught up in asking for blessings from God that we neglect to acknowledge God Himself. We love what He gives us and only spend time with Him in prayer to demand things from Him. But Habakkuk said, “God, even if you never answer my plea in the specific way I’ve asked, I will take joy in You. You are the God of my salvation and the source of my strength. I know I can live with complete confidence in You.”
Habakkuk cherished his God. He loved the Giver more than the gift, and so must we.
God’s timing is always perfect.
Patience is a virtue, but it is not one of mine. I’m willing to bet it’s not one of yours either. Our impatience causes restlessness in our hearts and doubts concerning God’s timing.
2 Peter 3:8-9 reminds us that our sense of time is much different from the Lord’s.
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
What we impatiently complain as taking a thousand years, God sees as lasting a day. He promises that when the time is right, He will act (Isaiah 60:22).
On March 26, 2019, my wait finally ended.
Almost exactly a year after the letter, I received an email from my first choice grad school informing me of my admittance to the speech-language pathology program. God even threw in an exciting opportunity with a graduate assistantship.
I’d love to be able to tell you that during that year I waited well, trusted completely, and submitted fully. The Lord has been gracious and faithful despite my failures.
No matter how long you’ve been waiting–be it a few months, a year, or 10 years–rejoice in the One who hears your prayers and sees your afflictions (Psalm 31:7).
May our words about God’s will and perfect timing reflect those of the prophet’s in Habakkuk 2:3: “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.”