Do you get tired of hearing people talk about God’s timing and waiting on the Lord?
Along with “pray about it” or “I’ll be praying for you”, “wait on the Lord” is among the most difficult catch phrases in Western Christian culture. Perhaps it has more to do with my impatience and less to do with the concept, but I’m afraid that our desire to have the right answer has caused us to become flippant with these half-hearted condolences.
As a result, we have become desensitized to the truth. These powerful concepts have now become clichés and we experience a real temptation to throw them out altogether.
So, what do we do about it?
Waiting on the Lord is essential. It is a pillar of God’s story and absolutely necessary for living as sons and daughters. But it also can be very difficult. Beyond the platitude, I think it’s powerful to discuss “how” we should wait.
Here are a few practical steps with Biblical examples.
After Jesus’s resurrection, He appeared to the disciples as well as many others before He ascended (Acts 1:3). One verse later, we see a direct order from Jesus to his followers, “He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father.” (Acts 1:4).
Between those first few verses and Pentecost is a ten-day period where the followers of Jesus were waiting on the Lord. Imagine yourself as one of these early followers. You have been in the presence of the risen Savior, now you’re being told to wait.
This is the in-between glory—the time between having experienced the glory of the Lord and waiting on His future glory.
With Pentecost this weekend, the Lord has put it firmly on my heart that we are in a waiting season. Individually, many of us are waiting on the Lord to deliver on a promise. But I also believe that corporately, the body of Christ is waiting on the Lord to move in a fresh and powerful way.
In my own life, this in-between has caused me to grow frustrated, both with God and with people. But He has convicted me that neither response is healthy because it robs me of joy. If it’s robbing you of joy, it isn’t from the Father.
Below are three things the early church taught us that we should actively emulate during the in-between.
When you look at Acts 1, you see 120 people who remained after Jesus’s three-year ministry—a ministry that likely reached hundreds of thousands. That in and of itself would have been discouraging. But what we learn is that these 120 were devoted to gathering together for worship, prayer and community. (Acts 1:13-14)
In my life, there was a season when I became frustrated with church and wanted to step away altogether. For a while I did. During that season I became angry at the institution and it caused seeds of bitterness to take root in my heart. But God gently reminded me of the importance of gathering, not necessarily on Sunday in a building, but coming together with other believers to worship, to pray and to experience community.
Church isn’t simply something we do, it’s who we are as followers of Christ.
In our waiting, we must continue to gather for the purpose of worship, prayer and community, but that alone isn’t church. We are the church. Essentially, every gathering, every encounter, every relationship presents the opportunity to invite the presence of God.
In your own life, what do your gatherings look like?
Step Into Your Role
One of my favorite passages is Acts 1:15 when it says, “Peter stood up among the brothers.” This is so powerful because of what we know about Peter. Just a month before, he had denied Christ at the crucifixion. Now, he’s standing up and stepping into his role as a leader among the brothers.
Leadership culture is wrought with shortcomings and failures. As a result, we’ve criticized failed leadership. Consequently, many people are hesitant to stand up. Peter wasn’t afraid to stand up after His restoration because He knew that’s who he was called to be.
Adversely, in a culture that idolizes the pastoral role, it’s easy to feel insignificant if we’re not on stage. So many people neglect their importance in the body because they’re not “on staff” at a church. This mindset must end if we’re to be true disciples. Remember, there were 119 others who had vibrant and active parts within this community.
During our waiting seasons, we have to be willing to step into the anointing that God has for us. In fact, that is our greatest act of obedience—to step into who He has created us to be.
What does stepping up look like for you?
Get On With It
Too often, waiting on the Lord conveys sitting on a couch and doing nothing. But that’s not what we see in Acts.
Peter and the rest of the disciples were actively getting on with the work. In fact, they’re meeting and making decisions about who should replace Judas. To me, this shows that they’re exercising what we call “courageous patience”. This is an active waiting season—a season of peaceful anticipation of God’s promise while actively doing the work at hand.
It’s easy to use waiting as an excuse for complacency. On the flip side, it’s easy to stay busy with Godly things without actually being busy with God Himself. Both are dangerous.
The point is, get on with what He’s placed in front of you. That begins with listening and letting Him lead.
Are you using your in-between to draw nearer to the Father?
If you find yourself waiting today, my prayer is that these ideas will give you practical ways to engage your faith in-between. If you need help discerning what that might be, we have created great resources to come alongside you and help with the process. Connect with us via email or text YOUPRINT to 33222 to learn more.
Friends, God’s promised glory is coming.
Let us ready our hearts and draw near as we boldly step into who He has created us to be.