Five Ways to Glorify God While You Wait
Have you ever been on a plane, waiting to take off on an exciting vacation, and then the captain gets on the intercom and informs everyone aboard that the plane's been grounded? Lightning has been spotted, and no planes will take off until it passes. They won't unload the plane either. So there you sit, in-between the place you left and the place you are headed. And everyone wonders, How long?
How Long, O Lord?
That in-between place is familiar to all of us. We know what it's like to be waiting for something. We've all been in that middle place between where we've been and where we want to go. Whether it's a job, a marriage, a baby, ministry success, or news from the doctor, we've all been waiting on the tarmac of the in-between. That place of waiting is a restless place. It's a place of uncertainty, questions, and sometimes sorrow and fear.
Often, our heart's cry in that place of waiting is "How long?"
- How long until we meet the man we are to marry?
- How long will we have to wait until we can finally pay off that debt?
- How long will we be sick?
- How long until our prodigal child returns home?
- How long until we no longer feel lonely, depressed, or afraid?
"How long?" is the cry of God's people through the centuries. It began the day Adam and Eve were barred from Eden, clinging to the hope and promise that one day a Savior would come and crush the head of the serpent. It was a cry echoed by the Hebrews during their tenure of slavery in Egypt. It was David's cry in Psalm 13, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" (vv. 1–2).
Though the cry was answered with the Son of God's own cry from the cross, "It is finished!" it's still the cry of believers who are waiting for the final consummation of Christ's redemption and restoration. As believers, we live like nomads in a world that is not our own. We live in the in-between—between Christ's ascension and his final return when all things will be made right. The question, "How long?" even rings out in the halls of heaven as the souls of the martyred cry out, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Rev. 6:10).
Whatever our in-betweens are, how do we live while we wait? How do we wait for God to act, to answer prayer, to move in the desperation of our lives? How do we live by faith while we wait to hear if we need another test, for the long hoped for engagement ring, for the entrance exam scores, or for our house to sell? This is where the rubber meets the road in our daily lives.
Waiting in the In-Between:
- Do what comes next.
Sometimes we become immobilized and frozen when we're in a waiting season. We don't know what to do, so we do nothing. The truth is, we have to keep moving forward. When we don't know what else to do, we need to faithfully do what comes next. Feed our children, go to work, run errands, do laundry, pay the bills—all the daily tasks of life.
- Evaluate Your Heart.
While we wait, we need to constantly evaluate our heart to see if what we are waiting for has become an idol in our heart. Is that longing replacing our longing for Christ? Is that good desire for a spouse, a child, a job, or a ministry, becoming our one thing?
- Be where you are.
Jim Elliot is known as saying, "Wherever you are, be all there." We don't know how long our season of waiting is. Maybe it will end tomorrow; maybe it will go on for an extended period of time. We need to be fully present in today. We need to glorify God, pursue the works of the Kingdom, and live faithfully for Christ, wherever we are. God will use us. He has a place for us and a purpose for us, even at the crossroads of our lives.
- Trust in God's Sovereignty.
I have been in an in-between place for almost two decades. There have been times where I've been resistant. But I've learned that God placed me here for a reason. These seasons are not mistakes. God didn't lose the directions or simply forget His plan for our lives. He hasn't gotten it wrong. There is a sovereign purpose behind our in-between. We need to trust God's good and holy intentions for lives. He is at work in us and for our good while we wait.
- Continue to cry out, "How long?"
Keep crying out to God. Let this cry of your heart remind you that this is not your final destiny. Eternity awaits. Let your heart's cry also remind you that Jesus came to answer that cry with one of his own, "It is finished!" The world is not as it should be, but Jesus came to redeem and restore it. Through his life and death, he made you right with God. He continues His work even now as you wait. One day, Christ will return, and the wait will be over. We'll bid the in-between farewell and gain the One our hearts have been waiting for all along.
How about you? Are you in a season of waiting? How can you glorify God in your waiting?