What do you do when you’re waiting for God to move in your life? Maybe you’re waiting to hear about a test result (pregnancy, urine, stool or school), a job interview, a judgement in a court case, or even an acceptance to college or university.
My three things to do while you’re waiting for God are inspired mostly by Moses and the Israelites in Exodus 32. But, I also have a story to tell you about Africa! I had to wait for over a month to find out if I’d be be moving to Nairobi, Kenya to teach grade 8 for three years at a school for missionaries’ kids. Waiting on God in that season of my life was the hardest thing I ever did…and it was also one of the best experiences I ever had.
When my application to teach at Rosslyn Academy was first rejected, I was a little relieved. Relocating to Africa would be a hassle! I had a cat, car, roommates. Not to mention doubts: What if committing to a three-year contract in an unpredictable third-world country as a single woman was a mistake? At the time Kenya was politically, socially and economically unstable. Nairobi was one of the most dangerous cities in the world, home to the highest rates of violent crime, property theft, carjackings and vigilante justice for lawbreakers. It was a risky place to live.
But then came regret. I couldn’t shake my yearning to go, explore, take a leap of faith. I kept searching for teaching jobs, but I couldn’t find a Christian school that offered a paid position. I couldn’t afford to volunteer and didn’t want to raise my own financial support. The longer the African door stayed closed, the more I wanted it to open. Time was running out; positions for the upcoming school year were quickly being filled, both overseas and locally. I needed to find a job.
I waited for almost 40 days and 40 nights. Finally, God answered my prayers by saying “yes”! And thus began the most painful, difficult, darkest season of my life.
Are you waiting on God to bring a job—or an exciting new adventure—into your life? Maybe you’re waiting for a relationship to blossom, or your heart to heal after a breakup. Maybe you’ve been trying to get pregnant for months or years, and are waiting on God for a positive pregnancy test. Maybe you’re waiting for the right job, investment, or even the right dog to come into your life.
What will you do while you wait?
3 Things to Do When You’re Waiting on God
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of the Bible. Today is Exodus 32—a rather terrifying tale of doing exactly the wrong thing while waiting for God.
1. Remember He is gazing at you with love
“When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’”- Exodus 32:1. The Israelites waited for Moses for 40 days and 40 nights. They heard nothing. The Israelites didn’t have the Holy Spirit or Jesus to lean on. They didn’t have a personal relationship with the Lord God. They didn’t even have a pastor, preacher, teacher or leader to teach them how to surrender their worries to God. They couldn’t return God’s gaze while waiting for Him; they didn’t even know He was watching them! So they built a golden calf and worshipped it.
Return God’s gaze. The best thing to do while you’re waiting on God is to look up at Him. If you believe in Jesus, you have access to more power, strength, courage, faith, freedom and love than you know. If you say hello to the Holy Spirit and invite Him into your spirit and soul, you won’t have to keep struggling to find things to do when you’re waiting for God to give you what you want. Learn how to love and accept God for who He is—no matter what He does or does not allow into your life.
2. Use your “waiting time” to explore other options
In Exodus 32: 7-8 we discover that God knew what the Israelites were doing when they were waiting for Moses to return. “The Lord spoke to Moses: “Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” The Israelites sure did use their waiting time to explore other options—and they suffered greatly because they chose poorly. Read Exodus 32:28 for the gory details.
What are you hoping for? While you’re waiting on God, explore different options, plans, possibilities. When the school I applied to didn’t hire me, I lived with the rejection for a month. I wondered the whole time if teaching missionaries’ kids overseas was really what I wanted (it was), continued to search for jobs in Africa and Europe (unsuccessfully), and prayed that God would open the right door (please). Then the phone rang. The eighth-grade teacher Rosslyn had hired changed her mind, and I was up for an interview. Immediately I knew I was moving to Africa. I’d had a month to sweat it out and I used that time to pray and reflect. Without that season of waiting, I always would have wondered if going to Africa was a mistake.
3. Get ready to be surprised
“As Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, he became enraged and threw the tablets out of his hands, smashing them at the base of the mountain. He took the calf they had made, burned it up, and ground it to powder. He scattered the powder over the surface of the water and forced the Israelites to drink the water.” – Exodus 32:21-22. Moses had just finished interceding with God on the Israelites’ behalf, and God relented. But Moses didn’t know what God knew: the Israelites were tired and bored of trying to find things to do while they waited, so asked Aaron to build them a golden calf to worship. Boy, was Moses surprised when he saw what the Israelites were doing! And he was so disappointed in Aaron.
Prepare for anything—and have an open, curious mind. If you believe in God and follow Jesus, you know your life is safe, yet dangerous. Like God! You can trust Him, but you have to accept that He will allow you to experience unsettling, scary, even life-threatening situations. One of the best things to do while you’re waiting on God is to strengthen your relationship with the Holy Spirit. Learn more about Jesus. Talk to people about God and His work in their lives. What did they do when they waited for God to move? The deeper your faith goes, the more you can handle anything in life…including the unfamiliar, unsettling, often uncomfortable results of answered prayers.
What do you think about these three things to do while you’re waiting on God? Your comments — big and little — are welcome below!
With His love,
P.S. If you’re struggling to “keep the faith” in this season of your life, read How to Love God Even Though He Let You Down.