The Trial of Waiting
There he sat doing the same monotonous thing that he had been doing for the past five years. Was anything ever going to change? His life was a predictable pattern of carrying out the same tasks day in and day out, year after year. Every day from morning until night the sheep had to be fed, walked, protected, and cared for. Rarely did something come up that caused his day to vary. Sure, perhaps a wild animal might try and take one of the sheep and he would have to fight, but beyond this, the monotony lived on. The days were pretty long and when the sheep ate for hours at a time he would sit by himself and talk to God. There was no one else to talk to, so he got good at talking to God.
There was a stirring in his gut that he was made for so much more than what he was doing. He felt that he had so much more that he desired to accomplish. But here he was, sitting in the same field he had been in for years. In low moments he would cry out to God and beg him for something different in his life. He had a great family; strong siblings, a loving father, and a caring mother, but being the youngest he did not get all that much attention. He was the ‘shepherd boy’ and that was pretty much the extent of his identity in the family. Perhaps this was his fate. Perhaps he would die a shepherd and accomplish nothing more beyond tending sheep. There were no opportunities on the horizon, no one seeking him out, and his family did not see much more for him than what he was doing now.
So what did he do?
He got up, day in and day out and did his job the best that he could. He fed the sheep, protected them, talked with God, dreamed, and waited.
Maybe some day his moment would come…
Have you ever felt this way before? Have you ever been stuck in a job or a life circumstance and it seems as though there is no way out? Have you ever felt a nagging sense that you were created for more and that God equipped you for greater things and you feel stuck in the place that you are at?
A friend of mine once shared in a teaching that there are seasons in life where we can get stuck, stressed, or stifled. It is in these moments that we want to punch the wall and scream, “GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
In life and leadership there will be times of painful waiting. In fact, the greater your call sometimes the more painful the wait. I cannot think of a more painful experience then sitting in a waiting season, but I also do not know of any better way that God humbles, grooms, shapes, and readies a person for the call that He has for them. As difficult as the waiting season can be I cannot help but notice that on the other side of waiting is a lush and prosperous place that can only be reached when a person waits well.
There was a period in my life when I became very discontent. I was discontent with my job, discontent with my lifestyle, and all I wanted was to get out. I took it upon myself to “make something happen” and learned the painful results of trying to move when God is not ready.
In the book The Fire of Delayed Answers, author Bob Sorge talks about the trial of being patient and waiting for God to move. This book is one of the most challenging and insightful books I have ever read on waiting.
Sorge explains how the waiting period can feel like being in prison, but it is in this “prison” that God softens our heart and prepares us for what is next. The truth of the matter is that God’s ultimate desire is to make us fruitful not just to make us comfortable. God will use the waiting period in a leader’s life to shave off rough edges and to impart gifts and truths so that the leader is fully ready for God’s ultimate plan.
When leaders discover that they are in a waiting period the tendency is to react against it and find a way out. In some scenarios a leader may vie for a different position, move to a new part of town, or pursue a different career. In other scenarios a leader may try to manipulate or control situations, start a new project, or initiate new vision. All of these things can be ways that leaders try to avoid the process of waiting.
The reality is this: only in waiting will a leader discover the fullness of what God intends to bring. Trying to speed up or avoid the waiting process only hinders what God wants to produce in the leader. I have seen this happen and the results are never as fruitful as they could have been had the leader waited.
If you are in a season of waiting I want to give you with a few truths to hang on to that will serve to help you wait well.
When waiting you must remember that:
God Has Not Forgotten You
In the waiting period it feels that God has forgotten about you. You begin to think that maybe you made a bad decision or committed some sin that has disqualified you from being used by God. You wonder if God has moved on and left you to suffer with a life that feels underutilized. I encourage you to hold on with all of your might to the fact that God has not forgotten about you. God sees where you are at, He knows how you are feeling, He understands the pain, and He knows exactly why He has you where you are. Holding on to this truth can help you get through the hard periods of waiting.
God Is Working in the Waiting
The Book of Ruth is a fascinating story about a widow (Ruth) who decides to leave her hometown and live with her mother-in-law (Naomi) who is also a widow. The two women do not have much but Ruth sets out to do her best to provide for the household and through a series of “coincidental” circumstances is introduced to a man named Boaz who ends up falling in love with Ruth and redeeming her as his wife. What is incredible about this story is that God is not mentioned at any point in the story – yet it is clear that God is working behind the scenes to orchestrate this relationship.
After Ruth’s husband died she entered into a period of waiting without a real sense of what was going to happen in her future. But in the waiting, God was working! In fact, this principle can be seen all through Scripture. When Israelites were waiting in slavery, God was working at preparing a deliverer. When David was waiting in the caves, God was working to pave the way for his installment as king.
The Waiting Period Will End
If you are in a season of waiting you must remember that God has an end point in mind. One pastor I know said it this way, “At just the right time he will put a “period” to the end of your waiting and it will end.” In the midst of waiting it seems as though it will never end and we can start to lose hope, but instead of losing hope we must anchor our trust in God because it is in the waiting period that our level of trust in God is revealed.
Waiting is a part of the growth process both spiritually and in leadership, and scripture offers great encouragement for those who wait:
Isaiah 40:31 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.
Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
Micah 7:7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
Are you in a season of painful waiting? Do you feel overlooked? Do you feel as though God has forgotten about you? If so I hope that God will give you a bigger perspective and vision for your waiting season. I pray that by God’s grace your trust in Him will grow and that you will have patience and strength to wait well.
 Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers: Are You Waiting for Your Prayers to be Answered (Kansas City, MO: Oasis House, 1996), 48.
 Ibid., 9.
 I borrowed this concept from my pastor, George Morrison. He preached on this subject in October 2016.The