How do we wait well?

I have such a lack of patience! I struggle with waiting.
Yes, I was the child who repeatedly asked my parents, “Are we nearly there yet?” on every journey.
Its’s hard when we are in the thick of it to wait well.

I’ve been thinking about this as December approaches and wondering how many of you have advent calendars?
The classic window one? Or chocolate? Or have you upgraded to a gin or cheese theme? Or something different?
It’s interesting that we spend 24 of the 25 Advent days ‘waiting’!

Of course, ‘waiting’ is central to the arrival story of Jesus.
He came after a long, long time of ‘waiting’.
But this is so counter to our fast-paced, remote-control, easy-access, need-it-now culture, and if we succumb to this culture we might just miss out on what Jesus is doing in the midst of our waiting.

In the opening chapters of Luke’s gospel, we’re introduced to six characters who find themselves in the posture of waiting; Zechariah and Elizabeth, Anna, Simeon, Mary and Joseph. What can we learn from them about waiting well?

Firstly, wait with calmness

Ultimately struggling and striving won’t bring peace to our soul, although it’s understandable how we can feel overwhelmed in our times of waiting. The noise of our unresolved problems and heart longings constantly shout to get our attention. Anna is an incredible example of someone who made a daily decision to find her rest and peace in God. Despite being a widow for 84 years, and all that time (and more), longing to see the Messiah to come. 84 years!!! She intentionally turned her attention to the goodness of God each day, resolving to worship through the wilderness years, and quietly trust that God would come through – even if it took a lifetime.

Anna is a great example of someone who took Lamentations 3:25-26 seriously…

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly
 for salvation from the Lord.”

Waiting is so hard, and yet we can make choices of quiet trust, and as we keep our eyes fixed on God we can then do the next thing which is…

Secondly, wait with confidence

We all have those “it was worth it” moments? Whether waiting for a cake to rise or food to arrive at your table or a job to finally come good or a leadership challenge resolved. Waiting with confidence roots us in the hope-filled expectation that all will be well. That something good IS coming.

In Micah 7:7, the prophet writes…

“I will look to the Lord and be confident in Him I will keep watch; I will wait with hope and expectancy for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”

Why not make a decision to declare this daily in your season of waiting?
Tell your soul to rise in expectation that God will come through (even in ways you might not expect!).

Thirdly, wait with community

Mary and Elizabeth waited together. Zechariah, Simeon and Anna wait in community. Mary and Joseph carried the call together. The people of God expectantly waited together for the coming of Jesus. Who are you waiting with?

Whilst waiting is hard, it becomes easier if we do this in community and share our burdens. If you’re waiting for something to shift in your leadership world right now and it feels like you have chucked everything at it and more, then draw strength and support from someone else. Find someone who waits confidently. Learn from them. Pause with them. Pray with them. Anticipate with them what you want to see come to pass.

It was author, Larry Christiansen, who once wrote…

“Every Christian will experience “little whiles” in their life, times when it seems that God almost goes away, and we have to hang on by faith until He comes again. What comes of these times of waiting depends on how we enter into them—whether we sense the meaning and purpose of these times, or whether we just suffer through them.”

What are the “little whiles” in your leadership right now?
What might Jesus be doing in the midst of them, if we’d take time to see.

I pray for you today that the Holy Spirit will help you wait with calmness, confidence and community – until He comes.

Amen.