What do you do while you’re waiting? How do you use that time? You might be waiting for the right door to open up… For the right person to come into your life. For the right place to live. It might be a ministry opportunity that you’re waiting for. Waiting for that loved one to come to the Lord or for another prayer to be answered. It can seem like it takes so long, so what do you do?
You might be waiting for somebody to share your life with, someone to fall in love with, and you’re wondering when’s it going to happen, if it’s going to happen. For more people than you can imagine, there’s a sense of disappointment, for hopes that never happened, for things that never came to pass.
Life doesn’t have a pause button. You can’t just hit Pause and then go out and waste your time doing a whole lot of nothing. Life moves on, even if you’re not using it very well. So, it’s important to learn how to use your downtime. You might be waiting because you feel like your best years are behind you and like you really don't have a whole lot to offer anymore. Yet, God still has you here! I can tell you, it’s not for “no reason” that you’re still here. Ephesians 5, verses 16 and 17 say that we need to be “Redeeming the time for the days are evil. And to not be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
Something to look out for: Impatience. What do you do in your down time? What do you do while you're waiting? For a lot of people, they figure that sense things aren’t happening for them that nothing matters, and they might a well do whatever they feel like, because their situation isn’t happening for them.
Like the person waiting for true love decides to just go and be with anybody who will have them, and meanwhile, the one they were waiting for may even pass by, and see them with some other person and think they’re already in a relationship, and never even approaches them.
Or, we get impatient and just go for not just the first relationship with someone who will have us, but take the first job that comes along, and buy the first car that’s cheap, and we end up with more frustration and problems and sadness, wondering what went wrong.
We find impatience in the Bible, way back to the beginning. Abraham and Sarah wanted a child, and God had promised them a child. But they got tired of waiting and came up with the plan for Abraham to get Sarah’s personal assistant, Hagar pregnant. And they lost peace in their house, and when Sarah did conceive Isaac a few years later, there was nothing but problems between all of them, and to this day, there are still problems between the descendants of Ishmael, the Arabs, and the descendants of Isaac, which are modern day Israel.
I want to share a few things that will help you while you’re waiting. Ways to redeem the time, and to experience fulfillment and joy even now.
First is impatience. Then, there’s discontentedness. When we’re waiting, we can easily get restless and discontented. That restlessness, that discontented feeling can keep you from appreciating the present. It can dull your senses to good things that are going on around you, and to opportunities that are right there – but somehow you miss them.
Not knowing how to wait is what gets a lot of people in trouble. That’s why there’s that old saying, that the devil finds work for idle hands. Discontentment keeps you from being able to endure. We need to know how to endure. To wait well. Waiting well is a skill. While we’re waiting, we can learn to adapt to the present, and begin preparing for the future that we’re waiting for. That adapting is an instrument of change that so many miss out on.
A third thing to look out for is becoming distracted. Getting our eye off the prize. While we’re waiting it’s easy to get distracted and miss our opportunity when it comes. To be there at the bus stop, and get bored and wander off. Meanwhile, the bus comes and we miss it.
Lamentations 3:25 says that the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who will seek Him. In Galatians 6 verse 9 God says for us to not be weary in well-doing, because at the right time, we will reap if we don’t faint, or don’t give up.
We want to grow, mature and develop during our wait time. Here are nine things to develop:
1 - Anticipation. In the place of discontentment, we can enjoy our anticipation. Anticipation stokes the feeling of joy as we look forward to our answer coming through, or our dream coming true. Anticipation brings a joy to our time of waiting.
Waiting isn’t just sitting there, resenting every minute between now and when our answer comes. Waiting isn’t doing nothing. Waiting is a time with a purpose. There’s a reason you don’t just plant a seed and suddenly are there enjoying your flower, or your grapes or tomatoes or whatever it is you planted. Waiting is a time of development, a time of growth.
John 5 starting at verse 1 says, “after this there was a feast of the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the Sheep market a pool
which is called Bethesda having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of handicapped people. Some blind, some lame, some with other problems, waiting – WAITING- for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool and would stir the waters.
Whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease they had. And a certain man was there, who had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, Jesus said to him, “Do you WANT to be made whole?” The man answered him, saying, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is troubled. But while I am coming, another steps in before me. And Jesus looks at him and says, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
Jesus showed him that the answer you are looking for can come to right where you are. Jesus said, “Rise take up your bed walk.” Get up, right where you are. Jesus didn't say, “Let me see if I can drag you to the edge of the pool and get that angel to come down here again and stir the waters for you.”
Jesus showed that the blessing of God is right there where you are. It reaches to right where you are. The healing power of God was activated right there where the man was talking to Jesus.
2 - Patience. Waiting well, and not taking things into your own hands is a way to acknowledge God’s timing. You’ll reap in due season if you don’t faint, or don’t give up. Impatience and discontentment can mess us up by getting ahead of God, like planting your flowers in December or January, instead of waiting until April, at least in the part of the country we’re in. Discontentment can cause us to try a substitute and settle for less than what God had in mind for us.
3 - Appreciation. Sometimes we're so obsessed with whatever is out of sight and out of reach that we don't see what's in front of us. We discount it. We devalue what is right at hand. We don't see what's close. Some of us want so many good things in our future that we don't even see what's in our present. We don't see the good things that God has brought to us.
4 - S.W.O.T. assessment. So, what do you do while you’re waiting? Start a SWOT assessment. S-W-O-T. That’s inventorying what you've got. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your opportunities? What are the threats, or weaknesses, things to look out for?
You’ll find that you've got something in your present already, that’s a key to something in your future.
Like when the multitude was gathered around Jesus, and the disciples said to Jesus that the people hadn’t eaten for three days. Jesus then answered, “What do you have?” They said, “Well there’s a boy here with five loaves and two fishes.” They knew what they DID have. Exactly what they had. Jesus said, “Bring the boy to me.”
What they had was a key to what they were needing. The boy with the five loaves and two fishes was the key to one of the major miracles in the ministry of Jesus.
5 - Live “as if.” Jesus gave the loaves and fishes to the disciples to distribute to the multitudes. Now, notice this. I had never noticed it this way before. Those disciples hadn’t eaten yet, and Jesus is telling them to go out and distribute food to the hungry multitudes. They were hungry, but they gave “as if” they were full. And in the end, EVERYBODY got to eat until they were full, and the disciples gathered up twelve basketfuls of leftovers!
You need to operate “as if” you’re full, even when you’re empty. The disciples were going to be empty anyway, no matter how they acted. Giving out food is something you do, “as if” you’re full. They did that by handing out the food, enough to feed thousands of people, yet they hadn’t had a bite of it!
What that means, is that you begin to act like someone whose answer has come. Develop the thoughts, the knowledge, the standards, the vocabulary, and you prepare for that answered prayer, for that opportunity.
Like the single guy looking for a girlfriend. He doesn’t trim his neck, his hair is oily, he dresses like a walking yard sale, and has lousy posture. But he says, once he gets a girlfriend, he’ll clean up and pay attention to his personal hygiene and dress better. Well, the price of your blessing is to prepare for it.
You want to be in a better position on the job? Dress like it, talk like it, learn what you need to learn, act like someone in that position, and before long someone will notice you, someone who has the ability to open doors for you. If the single guy would dress like he already has the girlfriend of his dreams, and act like it and be ready, somewhere, that girl is going to notice that fine dressed, intelligent and well-spoken single man!
Acting “as if” is a good part of preparation. It helps you internalize the new things that will come to you, that open door, that new relationship, that new situation, so you will fit right in when it actually comes to pass in your life. That’s a solid part of anticipation. It adds joy to the waiting. It changes how you use your time. It changes what you read, what you learn. How you speak, all of it.
That’s something God is doing in our lives, as He is conforming us to the image of Christ Jesus. We are waiting for Heaven, but living by the power of the Holy Spirit as if we are already there, and we are preparing our hearts and minds to be among the citizens of Heaven one day, whenever that is. Acting as if is a thing that becomes a very real part of who you are. It brings significant change. When I gave my heart to the Lord, my pastor didn’t give me a bunch of rules. He told me that from now on, to live like I am a saved, born again child of God. I began to LIVE as if I had gotten saved!
7 - Value the present. You want to pour your best into the present time. Learn all you can, grow all you can, serve all you can. That will change your immediate environment and will change many of your circumstances. That habit of being excellent gives you a better testimony, a better voice to those around you, and somewhere it will come to someone who can bring the difference to your life.
This becomes your testimony. Your attitude is speaking for you. Your work is speaking for you. Your interactions with people are speaking for you. Your life is speaking in ways that other people understand and like Jesus said in Mathew 5 verse 16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
8 - Prepare yourself. Preparing for your future is the most important thing you can be doing while you’re waiting. You can’t skip the preparation part. You want a husband or wife? How do you prepare? Become the kind of person who would be a great person to live with, to hang out with, to build a life with. Read all you can about being a good marriage partner. There’s more information than you have time for online that will help you. Build your patience, grow your maturity, grow your empathy, Learn to listen, really listen. While you’re waiting, spend that time growing, producing and developing.
9 - Prepare your environment. I visited a young guy looking for a wife, and we were talking about all that. In his apartment, though, were piles of dirty clothes. Empty and partly empty pizza boxes, some on the floor for his cats to eat the scraps, and one on the counter that a cat was eating from. I could see into his bedroom a bed with no sheets on it, just a couple blankets wadded up in the middle of it. Empty bottles and food containers there, too. He might’ve been ready, but he hadn’t prepared his environment.
What can you do in your environment to get it ready? Even your car, if you have one. What can you do that it will be ready when your opportunity comes? Here’s a hint: There has to be a ready space for someone to sit in the passenger seat and a place for their feet on the floor! That’s a thing to do while waiting!
10 - Who can you help? People need help, and shouldn’t have to wait until all your needs are met and all your problems are solved before they get it. You don’t have to have it all together before you help somebody else. Bringing help to someone else is part of what sets in motion your help coming to you. Who can you invite to church? Who can you share a video with? Who can you just be there for?
If you practice these ten things while you're waiting on God to bring your blessing, your situation, your answer, you'll find that you are ready and prepared fully when your answer comes, when your time comes!