The Problem With ‘Waiting Seasons’

Waiting on God doesn't pause our lives. Falling into the "waiting season" mentality of apathy does.

By Liberty McArtor Published on September 2, 2017

I have two faults. Well, two faults relevant to this conversation. I like to “plan” i.e., control my future. And I get really impatient.  

This combination recently sucked me into a spiral of discontentment. In place of Netflix reruns, my husband and I started browsing Realtor.com. After all, the one bedroom apartment’s getting pretty cramped, even with just the three of us (large and needy cat included). The more we browsed “just for fun,” the more we dreamed about how life for us and any kiddos might look. Then we started having those weighty conversations about family goals, education philosophies and college savings. 

I got antsy. In the excited sort of way. I was ready start the next phase of life. Give my still non-existent children a fabulous education. And say good riddance to our apartment in the smack-dab middle of big city traffic. Pretty soon, moving out and moving on was all I could think about. 

Where You Are, With What You Have

One morning the angst got to me. Something happened to tick me off at just the right angle. So I took a break and walked outside. I began talking with God, pouring my heart out like I hadn’t in far too long. And he talked back.

Do your best, where you are, with what you have.

So simple, but revolutionary at that moment. I kept walking. 

That’s when he opened my eyes to see just how checked out I’d become. I didn’t care about our current home because I was focused on finding the next. I lost the desire to invest in our current community because I didn’t want to be there anymore. I wasted my current free time and flexibility, even though I knew I’d be hard-pressed for both down the road.

The antsy dance had paralyzed me, preventing me from doing God’s work right here, right now. 

“Waiting Season” Traps

The so-called “waiting season” comes around again and again. During transitions. Amid yet-unfulfilled dreams. Anytime we let discontentment fill our hearts.

To be sure, there are seasons in life where the Lord says wait. In fact, it’s one of the things he told me last week. Instead of worrying about next steps or rushing big decisions, I need to wait on him for direction. He’d tell us when and where to go. OK, breathe.

It tricks us into thinking the “good life” is right around the bend, and everything until then is something to plow through. 

Still, I take issue with our tendency to ascribe the term “waiting” to these seasons. It enables us to check out, to detach. It projects the false illusion that we don’t have to make the most of our current situation. That serving God and neighbor can wait till we get settled. It tricks us into thinking the “good life” is right around the bend, and everything up until then is something to plow through, head down. 

We’ve all succumbed to this, haven’t we? It’s the mindset that entraps singles who think their life won’t “start” till wedding bells ring. It entraps upperclassmen so ready to graduate into the “real world,” they stop giving their all in school. And it entraps impatient control freaks like me who just want to make the future happen, on a schedule, ASAP if you don’t mind. OK, God?

Waiting on God doesn’t pause our lives. Falling into the “waiting season” mentality of discontentment and apathy does.

Opportunity Seasons

Perhaps there’s a better label for these transitional times, those days we feel eager to begin what comes next. I think I’ll call them “opportunity” seasons. Even if God has awesome plans for the next phase of my life (I’m thinking a country house full of tykes and a few extra critters running around), he didn’t just plop me in this phase by mistake. And where I see downsides, he sees opportunities.

Opportunities to minister, pursue certain goals, or build a stronger faith foundation. Opportunities to prepare for what the next phase of the journey may bring, though we can’t know exactly what. 

So no more “waiting seasons” for me. Yes, I will wait on the Lord to fulfill my desires, answer my prayers and point my husband and me in the right direction. But I won’t let discontentment in the present or even eagerness for the future overcome my responsibility to make the most of life β€” where I am, with what I have. 

Will you join me? 

 

Dear Father,

Thank you for life β€” including this particular season of it. Jeremiah 29:11 tells me you know the plans you have for my future, and I believe what you say.

But Lord, waiting for the future is hard. Sometimes I get eager for what’s next, or anxious for what I can’t see, or nervous for what life could bring. 

Your Word says “do not be anxious about your life.” Further, you tell me to “cease striving, and know that I am God.” Please help me to take both of these admonitions to heart. Help me to trust you even more. Help me to live like I believe what you say about providing for me and being in control of my future.

Deep down, I know that when I’m paralyzed by eagerness or fear about the future, I can’t adequately serve you. So please give me peace. Show me opportunities that I’ve overlooked, even though they’re right in front of me. Inspire and enable me to live all out for you, where I am, with what I have.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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