It was 2:17 in the morning when I scribbled this down on a scrap piece of paper which was lying among the clutter on my bedside table. The dog next door was barking like mad and I was fighting to keep my eyes open long enough to get the words down on paper before they were lost forever. It could not wait until I had slept; I had to write it there and then.
A friend of mine lent me a book about a month ago; If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat by John Ortberg. The ninth chapter of this book was entitled Learning to wait. If you are anything like me, waiting makes you frustrated, helpless and even angry. Whilst reading this chapter I became emotional at certain points. The book lists a few suggestions of serious and difficult kinds of waiting. I chose three that I could relate to:
- The waiting of a single person who hopes God might have marriage in store but is beginning to despair
- The waiting of someone who longs to have work that is meaningful and significant and yet cannot seem to find it
- The waiting of a deeply depressed person for a morning when she will wake up wanting to live
In the past I have sat around just waiting and that took me to some very dark places which I hope I will never visit again. I was sat around waiting for other people to make decisions about my life. I was waiting for people to say you cannot do this or you cannot do that. And it was one of the worst times of my life. I hated not being able to say what I wanted or express how I felt. All I could do was wait.
This chapter has changed my perspective of waiting. It explained that there are two distinct types of waiting: waiting around and waiting on the Lord. In all honesty I knew these two types but I had infused them as one. As a Christian I just automatically assumed that by waiting around I was waiting on the Lord. Oh how wrong I was! It never occurred to me that although they are similar, they are also very different. In my understanding waiting around is exactly what it is; waiting for something. It could be a new job offer, a future husband or wife or a diagnosis for your illness. You are waiting for it without any real expectations or effort on your part. It might happen. It might not. We cannot be sure. But when we wait on the Lord we trust him one hundred per cent. The Bible tells us that our lives have already been planned by the one who created us. He knows our careers, and who will and will not be in our lives. He knows our sufferings and illnesses long before we do. He knows where we will be in a year, two years, in ten years. When we wait on the Lord we have hope. He promises us a good life, one which is safe and secure. His promises never fail. He never fails. We can share our trials, cares and worries with him and if we listen to him carefully he will lead us to the places and people he has planned for us. But we have to make the effort to go to him and talk to him.
Life may be pretty rubbish going at the moment but if we wait on the Lord his good plans for us will be revealed, in his timing not ours. I remember a few years back having a conversation with one of my friends. This conversation has always stuck in my mind. I was really upset about some of the things I had been through and I was talking to my friend and was expressing how angry and upset I was that all these bad things seemed to be happening to me. And she said something I will never ever forget, and that was this: Maybe we are all given the same amount of sufferings through our whole life? And you just got all yours at once. At the time I remember thinking I hope so because I do not think I can handle anything else. After that conversation I started a journey of waiting for the good times to arrive. They did not occur overnight. I went through more suffering until the good times started to arrive. But the important thing is that I waited. It was painful, it was difficult but I waited.
If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat told about how waiting is important too; what God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for. If I have realised one thing in the past it is that God does teach us lessons whilst we are waiting. Whilst I was on my journey off waiting, I learned who I could trust and who I could not. I found out who my real friends were. I discovered what I really wanted, and more importantly what God wanted for me, and he gave me the courage to stand up and say no. I learned that I was a lot stronger than I first thought. I learned to trust in him more. Waiting is not just something we have to do while we wait to get what we want. It is a part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. We are made to wait for a reason, and sometimes those reasons are never clear but they will become clear in perfect timing.
Finally this chapter taught me that it is okay to struggle. For so long I have been ashamed off my weaknesses and my sufferings, to the extent where I have tried to hide them from others. I will leave you with the words that touched me so deeply:
Sometimes we will not be soaring, and we cannot run – because of doubt or pain or fatigue or failure. In those times all we can do is walk and not faint. Sometimes walking is all we can do. But in those times, walking is enough. Maybe it is when life is the hardest, when we want to badly quit, but we say to God “I won’t quit. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’ll take up my cross. I’ll follow Jesus even on this road.” Maybe God prizes our walking even more than our soaring and running.
At a cost that none of us will ever understand, Jesus walked to Calvary. He took upon himself, on the cross, all the brokenness of the human race.
It is a hard thing to be a walker when you are surrounded by racers and eagles. But sometimes walking is the best we can offer God. He understands all about that. Walking counts, too.
Do not try to run before you can walk but keep on walking, it matters!!