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On Waiting Well: The Beautiful Work God is Doing in You as You Wait

On Waiting Well: The Beautiful Work God is Doing in You as You Wait

My five-year-old walked into the kitchen, put her hands on her hips, and declared, "I want to lose a tooth now! I'm tired of waiting!" I should have empathized with my girl's childish desire of losing her first tooth. Instead, I said, "Your life will be marked by waiting. Get used to it." It wasn't the most appropriate answer to give a young child, but at least it was honest.

The word I've heard more in my life than any other is "wait." Waiting is the prerequisite to anything significant. It cradles life events like bookends: when one season of waiting ends, another one begins. Waiting is a perpetual state, especially in a Christian's life.

The Bible illustrates this through the stories of men and women. A thread of waiting connects their individual stories to the more universal theme of waiting -- waiting for the Messiah. In the Old Testament, the Israelites waited for the Messiah to come. Four hundred years passed between the end of the Old Testament and the coming of John the Baptist. Shortly after, was the first coming of the Messiah. Now we're in the same season of waiting. We're waiting for Jesus to come again. The earth and our hearts groan for the second coming of our Savior.

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  • My Story of Waiting

    My Story of Waiting

    There are two stories of my life that taught me about waiting, the first one preparing me for the second. The first is my story of singleness. The hardest part about being single is not knowing what the outcome will be. Your future is a blank map with no direction of what’s next. This is a perfect opportunity to allow God to do a beautiful work in your life, and I wish I realized that then, but I didn’t. My story doesn’t include me waiting well. Instead, it’s a story of taking matters into my own hands. Waiting exhausted me, marriage became an idol, and I did everything I could to make it happen. Not waiting well in those years has become one of my greatest regrets. I missed out on the blessings that waiting well gives.

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  • Practicing Waiting Well

    Practicing Waiting Well

    I did eventually get married. And shortly after, God gave me another opportunity to practice waiting well. This time, it was in the form of my husband’s heart failure and waiting for him to receive a donor heart for a transplant … or not. Sitting in waiting rooms, hoping for doctors to come in and tell me good news, I was able to recall the consequences of my not waiting well, before. In these moments, I chose differently.

    As I practiced waiting well, I saw the beautiful blessings it brings. For the first time, I could testify to God's supernatural peace that He promises in His Word. I experienced His strength that I knew was not my own and I began to see the life from His perspective. I now know that waiting is never easy, but it can be done well, and it can be beautiful. Here's what I've learned about waiting well:

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  • The Beautiful Work God Is Doing

    The Beautiful Work God Is Doing

    Waiting requires dying to self, but it brings peace.

    The hardest part of waiting well is that it requires dying to self. It's not possible to wait well with one foot demanding your will and the other surrendering to God's will. You're either all in or you're all out. We sometimes think of dying to self as a "once and you're done" decision. But that's not true. Dying to self requires a daily declaration of "not my will, but yours be done."

    When I was in the hospital with my husband, I was able to get to a place where I prayed for whatever outcome would bring God the most glory and bring more souls to salvation. It was the complete grace of God to have that perspective, but each day I laid my burden down and asked Him to help me see our crisis the way He saw it. In return, God gave me His supernatural peace, a peace that I cannot explain in words. I didn't give up hope. And I was still desperate for my husband's healing, however; it was through surrendering that I found peace.

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  • Waiting Requires Trusting God, But it Brings Strength.

    Waiting Requires Trusting God, But it Brings Strength.

    Sometimes, when I'm waiting on something that is unknown or even scary, I take my mind through the string of "What ifs" of the situation until I reach a resolution to the fear. This forces me to remember the character of God.

    Throughout the Bible, God reveals His character to us through the lives of the people whose stories are told. If you start in Genesis and recall all the people you know in the Bible, it's hard to find one who didn't have to wait on God in some way. Think about it. Of course, it's the theme of some stories, like Hannah's, but even when it's not the theme, there's always waiting. This reveals to us the sovereignty of God. He is in control, and everything is in His timing. It also reveals that He takes care of His people. Waiting is how God makes His people strong.

    When I take my mind through the "What if?" exercise, each time I arrive at the same place -- God will take care of me. Then, Psalm 138:8 becomes real: "The Lord will work out his plans for my life." During my husband's illness and heart transplant, I drew upon the strength that waiting developed in me as a single woman. "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

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  • Waiting Requires Focusing on God and Not the Desire, But it Brings Holiness.

    Waiting Requires Focusing on God and Not the Desire, But it Brings Holiness.

    Waiting is God's training ground for holiness. While we're waiting, it's easy to become fixated on what we want. This always leads to sin. In my story, it certainly did. Even though I was a strong Christian, doing all the "right things," my heart was fixated on what I wanted, and marriage became an idol.

    Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Then further down in the passage, it lists sins that we are "to put to death." The reason this list is included after Colossians 3:2 is because Paul is warning us that not setting our minds on Jesus will lead us to unholy behavior.

    Yet, our promise is in Romans 5:3-4.  It tells us that holiness comes from suffering. In this example, waiting is our suffering. It says, "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." In waiting, it's important that we don't focus on our desire, the thing we're waiting for, but we focus on God.

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  • What Waiting Well Isn't

    What Waiting Well Isn't

    Waiting well does not mean that the sting goes away. There will always be tension in waiting. There will always be a pull between reality and the desire to come, however; waiting well is more about a posture. Instead of the posture of laying on the floor, kicking and screaming like a toddler having a temper tantrum, waiting well is a posture of a sitting on bended knee with your head bowed to the One who knows what's best. Your heart still yearns for the desire, but there is a present calmness. You're not striving to make something happen, but you're actively seeking to understand what God is doing.

    Brenda Rodgers considers herself a “recovering single” after years as a single woman chasing after marriage instead of chasing after Jesus. Now her passion is to mentor young women to live purposefully and grow in their relationship with God and others. Brenda has been married for five years to a heart transplant hero and is the mom of a toddler girl miracle. She is also the author of the eBook Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. You can also read more on Brenda’s blog, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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