Time is of the Essence: Make the Most of Waiting

I hate waiting. Hate it. I don’t like waiting to find out what I made on that essay I just turned in. I don’t like waiting to find out if I got accepted for that scholarship. I don’t like waiting for that trip we have planned for the summer.

It’s the worst, really. I’m so set on that thing that is to come, but it isn’t here yet, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I also hate sitting still and doing nothing. Now, don’t go misunderstanding me and think that I always have to be doing productive things. Because, let me tell you, I’m the queen of wasting time. But even as I’m wasting time, I’m still doing stuff. It might be completely unnecessary stuff and it might be stuff just to fill the time, but it’s still something.

In all of this hullabaloo and by keeping my eyes set ever on the next big thing I have planned in the future, I’m missing out on the periods in between.

The periods in between one big event and the next. The periods between one fun exercise and another. The periods between completing one task and starting the next. The periods of quiet, of waiting, of learning and growing.

But y’all, it’s during those in-between periods that God does some of His best work.

Think about it. It’s when we have some time in between things that we’re able to prepare for the next thing on our to-do list.

If we didn’t have time between one vacation and the next–as fun as that may sound–how would we plan the next vacation? And if we don’t have time to plan it, aren’t we running a huge risk that we’re missing out on what could be some pretty great tourist spots that we would’ve known about if we had only taken a little bit of time to research beforehand?

What about those few extra minutes before a test we can use to do some last minute studying? Isn’t that some sweet time to prepare ourselves for what’s to come?

When it seems like we’re in a season of waiting, in an in-between period in life, let’s not sit idly by, waiting on the next big thing to come, and let these precious moments slip away. They’re moments that we can spend preparing ourselves for whatever it may be that God has planned for us next.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:13

As “strangers in the world” (2:11), our entire earthly lives are waiting on the day that Jesus comes again–this is that hope that Peter talks about above. We live in this world, work here, study here, but this isn’t our home. We belong with Jesus Christ.

So, these temporal lives of ours are, in a way, “in-between periods.” That doesn’t mean they’re pointless or that should we sit around wasting them. Rather, we should do just the opposite. We should strive to prepare ourselves and prepare this world for Christ’s second coming.

Later, Peter tells us to “crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (2:2). The first and most important step in this preparation is furthering our understanding of Jesus. Reading Scriptures. Spending time with Him. After all, how can we prepare ourselves and those around us for the second coming of a Jesus whom we know nothing about?

 

So why don’t we use the seasons of waiting in our lives to strengthen our walk with Christ? For some examples of what that might look like, I’ll share how I’m in an in-between period right now and how I think God might be using it to sharpen His sword in me.

  • I’m currently waiting to see what sort of career God has planned for me.

I’m in college, and while I have an idea for a double major and minor (math, international studies, and Arabic), I don’t exactly know how I’m going to put those skills to use in the workforce after I graduate. Fortunately, I have a few years to figure it out. In the mean time, though, I can focus on the passions and skills God has given me, fostering them, so that when the time comes, I can put one or more of them to use in a career.

  • I’m currently waiting for the right godly guy to come along.

It’s so easy to want to jump from one guy to the next. “Oh, that guy didn’t work out? Okay, well, here’s another great guy.” And on and on and on, never stopping to breathe.

But the single life can be pretty amazing. I’m learning that I can use this time as a single girl (and a content single girl–as in, not crushing on yet another guy and longing for him to ask me out) to really deepen my understanding of God’s love and to get a firm grasp on my identity in Christ. Focusing on this now will lead to stronger relationships in the future. It’s some pretty sweet stuff, y’all!

The point of all this is: Let’s be careful to not waste the in-between periods of life. Use the down-time to further our relationships with Christ and prepare ourselves for whatever might be coming our way in the future.

Because there will be times of action (as Peter says in 1:13 above) and trial. If we don’t use the time we have to prepare before that action comes our way, how will we be able to succeed in the battle? Can an army win a fight if they never train?

What about you guys? Are you currently in a period of waiting? And how can you use that to further your relationship with Christ and possibly prepare yourself for whatever it may be that God has planned next for you? 

Advertisements

Let Go And Let God

Y’all, I’m an over thinker. Big time. I’ll stress about the tiniest details of a project right before I turn it in-did we describe that one section well enough? And don’t even get me started on my interactions with people. Primarily people I don’t know that well.

Recently I’ve been talking to someone I don’t know all too well. Everything from a period in the wrong spot to an exclamation point missing from a text can send my mind spiraling.

And I start to question, “Am I coming across the wrong way? Did I do something wrong?” And pretty soon I end up saying “I wish I had never even started talking to this person.”

And it has absolutely nothing to do with the other person. It’s all based on made-up situations in my head.

I let my worry and anxiety control me. 

But worry, at least for me, stems from a fear. I fear what that person thinks of me, or I fear what might happen in the future. I didn’t realize this until I was looking for verses on God’s love and stumbled upon the verse in 1 John.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

1 John 4:18 (NLT)

It’s a common verse, one that I’ve definitely heard and read before, but I never fully grasped its gravity before. On this particular day, though, I read it once, read it again, and then reread it one more time, repeating its promises in my head until something just clicked for me.

We need not worry about anything, for God has saved us through Christ Jesus, and we have an inheritance saved up for us in heaven above. 

That means that things of this world need not cause us to fret (Luke 12:22-34). We need simply to set our minds on Jesus, and everything else will fall into place.

Honestly, when I look back, some of the best things that have ever happened to me I never could have predicted, and I certainly didn’t orchestrate them happening.

I mean, some of my best friends I met when I started going to a new school and I questioned if I would ever make new friends. I was worried that I was too shy to be outgoing enough to actually make friends in a new place.

But then, one after another, my closest friends just sort of “popped” into my life. And these girls, I’m telling you, they’re Christ followers to the core. What’s amazing about that, though, is that I didn’t meet them at church or a Bible study. No, I just happened to meet them in classes. Talk about God working.

(Side note: Don’t think I’m in any way downplaying the role of churches or Bible studies for forming Christian relationships. At this point in my life I wasn’t going to church, and these friends were the ones who invited me to church. That’s why I say that making these friends at school was so incredible.)

Then I went off to college, and again I worried about forming good, close friendships with people. When my first semester didn’t end with me having a new (college) best friend, I was seriously worried. I mean, sure, I still had my high school friends, but didn’t everyone say that college was where they met some of their closest lifelong friends? I wanted in on that!

And so I came back second semester, desperate to find those relationships. And I remembered a Facebook group I’d seen last semester about a Christian sorority. Now, let me just back up and tell you all how convinced I was that I was not a sorority girl. I never, ever would have predicted that I’d actually end up in a sorority.

But here I am, going through my new member semester with a sorority. And y’all, let me just tell you, I’m loving every minute of it.

Right when I was in the midst of a valley, God worked once again.

I say all this to show God’s will working in my life in ways that I never could have imagined, and trust me, what He has done is infinitely better than what I had planned.

And yet I still catch myself fretting over future plans or worrying that I’ll never get out of the current rut I’m in or stressing out about the tiniest details of my life (like an exclamation mark in a text message).

But, really, God’s plan is so much better than anything I could ever plan for myself.  

After all, I can’t save myself, so why try to control every aspect of my life? God has done the saving, and God is ready to take the reigns and guide my life along an incredible path that I could never even imagine.

So, who’s with me? Why don’t we all just make the conscious decision to sit back and enjoy the ride. Let go and let God.

Defined By Christ’s Love

Sometimes it’s all too easy for me to yearn for approval from others.

I just want those girls to like me and to actually want to hang out with me. Or I just want a boy to express interest in me.

And when I don’t get those things, though I might not admit it, even to myself, I feel rejected, less than, inferior.

I compare myself to my friends, who have too many boys asking them out, or who are constantly going out with new friends. And I catch myself asking, “Why can’t that be me? What’s wrong with me?”

See, I ask myself those questions, and I ensnare myself in a fit of jealousy because my mind isn’t set where it should be. I’m not defining myself by Christ but instead by the world.

But what does it mean to define myself by Christ? 

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers-the moon and the stars you set in place-what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.

Psalm 8:3-5 (NLT)

In order to define ourselves by Christ, we first must understand who God is. Verse 3 above proclaims God’s great majesty. He is the Creator of the earth, Lord of all. He is totally and absolutely incredible.

When we think about who we are-a sinful, rebellious people, who constantly turn away from the God who made us-it is only natural for us to wonder why on Earth God would even bother with us. He is, after all, so powerful and majestic. He doesn’t have to pursue us like He does. Does He?

However, the Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that His love is not motivated by our love for Him. Rather, He loves us because that is who He is (1 John 4:10). And God is perfect love, which according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, is  “patient and kind… is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude… does not demand its own way… is not irritable… keeps no record of being wronged… does not rejoice about injustice bu rejoices whenever the truth wins out… never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT).

What does that mean in regards to God’s love for us?

It means that God loves us wholly and relentlessly. He wants what is best for us, and He pursues us that we might receive that from Him.

We don’t earn his love, but His love for us is completely undeserved.

That means there is nothing we can do to lose it. 

Where the world tells us that we have to do a, b, and c in order to be successful and win approval from others, God tells us that none of that matters. He loves us. Period. That’s it.

When Christ died on the cross, it was made complete. There’s nothing we can do to change that.

And that right there is reason enough for me to raise my hands to the sky and sing praises.

Why is it faulty to rely on people for love?

Here’s the deal: just like you and I are sinners, so are those other people whom we look to for love. Being sinners means that they will hurt us, disappoint us, and not be able to satisfy us.

I love the C.S Lewis quote, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

The people here on this earth cannot and will not satisfy us. It isn’t fair, even, for us to put that much pressure on them. We were made by God for God, so we can’t expect other humans to fill a void that only God can fill.

So, who’s willing to join me in challenging ourselves to submerge ourselves in God’s Word (through prayer, quiet time, reading Scripture, and listening to worship music) anytime we find ourselves looking to others to fill a void only Christ can fill?

After all, 1 John says:

God showed how much he loved by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

1 John 4:9-10 (NLT)

Let us remind ourselves always of this pure and true expression of love. The love of Christ is complete. We need not seek love from the world when we already have perfect-“real”-love from Christ.

And Through It All, God Is Faithful

Before I get started, I’d highly recommend listening to Lacey Sturm’s “Run To You.” It fits the theme of this post so, so well.

Last week I talked a bit about the seasons I’ve gone through with God. There have been times that I have “felt” that my relationship with God was as strong as ever. I don’t know how to describe it, but there was a particular feeling deep in my bones. On the flip side, though, there have also been times that I haven’t really “felt” it.

Notice how I put “felt” in quotations. Too often I, even without always realizing it, base my relationship with God on how I feel.

I mean, I’ll be super happy and almost kind of proud in a way when I’m just really feeling that Bible reading and worship singing. And then, when I don’t get that same feeling, I kick myself mentally and question why I’m not into it that much.

It’s really kind of a “me-centered” attitude towards worshiping.

But here’s the amazing, heart-wrenching, leap-for-joy part: It’s not about me, because of me, or influenced by my feelings at all. It’s all because of and for God.

If it wasn’t for God’s unconditional love for us, we would most definitely not spend any time worshiping Him. He is the reason we have the desire in the first place. At our core, we are little more than selfish sinners. Why, then, would we take time out of our busy day to worship some invisible, ethereal being? Further, how would we even know this invisible, ethereal being existed if He didn’t reveal Himself to us? I definitely can’t claim to have powers of supernatural revelation.

So, even the fact that we know there is a God is thanks to God.

After He chooses to reveal Himself to us, the trend goes as follows: We receive some sort of knowledge about Him but then go about our own business, not paying Him much heed.

But even after we walk away from Him, He still pursues us! He pursues us (as Christians) all the way to salvation. It is because of Him that we prayed that prayer of salvation at all. Our heart change wasn’t brought about by our own will, but His alone.

It doesn’t stop there, though. After we become Christians, we still mess up. We still disobey God and choose ourselves over Him.

Even still, God pursues us.

God pursues us despite our disobedience and despite our tendency to brush Him off. He pursues us constantly and consistently, in order to guide us along an ever-winding path to become more like Jesus.

And what does that entail? Worship. Worship of all kinds. We simply cannot become like Jesus without recognizing God’s great power and praising Him for it.

So, yes, God is the one and only reason we even worship at all. It is His way of bringing us closer to Him.

That’s why we need not fear when we go through a spiritual low, when we don’t “feel” as connected with our worship as we have before. Because fortunately for us, our relationship with God is not driven by us, but by Him. Instead of fretting over our emotions, we need simply to lean back and trust Him.

After all, God always has been and always will be in control.

Have you experienced God’s faithfulness? In what ways?