Waiting on God

by | Mar 15, 2023 | Bible Study | 0 comments

In our exploration of how to know God’s plan for your life and follow his will, we’ve looked at the way that sometimes the difficult situations we are in may not be what we expected or what we would wish for, but that they are part of the process of God preparing us individually to fill the role he has in mind for us.

We have also talked about the importance of not getting hung up on expectations of how the journey will go. God has a destination in mind for you. He doesn’t tell you all the steps along the way. The manner in which he brings about his plan will usually be entirely unexpected from the normal way of things.

When God has given you a promise for your destiny, it is very easy to get misdirected and off track along the way. We may think the process God is bringing us through is a mistake. We may see, or think we see, a more expedient way to get to the end God has promised for us and think that we need to help him out or at the very least, take a few shortcuts that seem good to us to speed us along.

There is danger in the pause.

The pause, what we may see as the delay or circumvention, is also part of the process. When reading through the heroes of faith in the Bible, there are very few that stand well in the pause. Even the most faithful, such as Abraham and David, got off track once in awhile and tried to do things in their own way and their own time. They had stumbles along their journey. For some, like Joshua, their precipitous actions resulted in a consequence that could be corrected. For others, like Moses, that stepping out of the plan caused a loss of a promised blessing. Joshua suffered a crippling defeat in the battle of Ai before he went back to consult God for direction. Moses lost experiencing the consummation of the promise in reaching the land of his fathers because he did what he had done before, hitting the rock rather than speaking to it as directed by God.

When we imagine ourselves in the Biblical accounts, it is sobering to realize just how serious God is about his people following his guidance rather than doing whatever seems best to them.

When we set out along the path God has placed in front of us, we have to learn to not only follow his direction, but also his rhythm … and sometimes there is a pause.

There are times when we are to do, and there are times when we are to wait — to let God do for us what we cannot.

Psalm 62 is a prayer for those times.

More than that, it is a prayer for those times when everything seems to be against us and there is no justice to be found.

Psalm 62 (NASB)

My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
2 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

The Psalmist begins this prayer by saying “my soul waits in silence.” When we are in a waiting period, it is because we have to, we don’t have any other choice. I don’t think any of us wait willingly. If we had our way, we would go, do, and get things done. Who likes to wait?

Coming Soon! Straight Pathways: Knowing God's Plan

This Bible study is part of Straight Pathways.  

But waiting is a big part of life. It is something that we all have to do at one time or another. We have to wait on other people. We have to wait for events and situations to play out and process. When I became a parent, a big part of my life became waiting: waiting in the doctor’s office, waiting in school pick up lines, waiting at practices and to pick them up from get-togethers with friends.

A lot of waiting.

But what we do with that time plays a big role in shaping not only our character, but how we interact with others and God.

We can wait out of necessity, but begrudgingly, becoming resentful and holding the person we wait for hostage to that resentment. Abuse comes in many forms, and that is one of them, giving someone that gift of time by engaging and interacting in their life to be the person that will wait for them, but then constantly holding it over them … poisoning whatever joy the other person may have felt in that time or activity and destroying whatever fellowship and connection that may have been built.

Sometimes we wait and learn to fill our time in the waiting with doing. In that case, it is really not so much waiting, but simply working under different circumstances. While writing this chapter, I realized that this is what I have done throughout my life — I do, rather than wait. While I was sitting waiting in subsequent car rider lines at three different schools, I would be responding to emails on my phone (my Blackberry came in so handy during those years), or making phone calls or texts. With unlimited data on a smart phone, there were very few times when I wasn’t able to “do.”

The only exception that I can remember is the year that my oldest daughter went to high school. She would get out of school first and I would pick her up and we would wait for almost an hour before the next school pick-up time. She would tell me about her day, what was going on with her friends, and just thoughts about life in general. It was one time when it was just her and I. It was time to just be together.

When David writes that his “soul waits in silence,” he is saying that he is being still before God. He is waiting in silence, communing with his heavenly Father. He is waiting, not worrying about doing or about all the problems in life, he is being still. He is abiding, not striving. This is what it means to “wait in silence.”

How many of us do that? I know that I don’t, or if I do, it is very rarely. Many times, even in my devotions, my focus is on production: how many chapters read, how many minutes prayed and the number of people prayed for. Plans for study are good, but they can become a hindrance if the focus is on completing the plan rather than connecting to the one who is the source of the study.

We have to practice learning how to be still and abiding in God. It is not something that you read about and just do; it is something you have to practice and become.

3 How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
4 They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse. Selah.

Here David is making his complaint to God about people who are plotting against him. The important lesson here is that we do not have to pretend that things don’t bother us or act like we are so magnanimous that things don’t bother us when we are, in actuality, furious. We don’t have to put on an act with God — we shouldn’t. We should be honest with him because he already knows how we feel.

But the qualifier here is that we should be honest with God. These are things we should be saying to him, pouring out our heart to him. Some of the most clear guidance I’ve ever received from God has come after a time like this.

There was a situation where I felt wronged, sandbagged, and maligned. And so I was talking to God about it in my prayer time. Sometimes God speaks to me through visions, pictures in my mind’s eye. I saw a grid of circles in gradients of blue. I didn’t know what it was supposed to be, but  couple of day layer, as I was drawing what I saw, I saw it again. But this time, it was not just an image, it was like a movie. I saw the same grid of circles in graduating colors of blue, but this time I saw a hand moving the position of the circles. The grid in my vision was just a tiny portion of a much large picture. It was like one of those slide puzzles composed of tiles that make up a picture that have to be moved into the correct place. I could see that each of the circles represented a person and some of the circles were locked into place.

God said, “You’re not in your spot yet. You have to be ready to be moved.”

I had an answer, but God didn’t gossip with me about the people I was upset with. It was a word to wait and be ready. But I have to be honest, I still wanted the situation I was upset about to be fixed and acknowledged. We are all free will beings, God doesn’t override anyone’s will, even when we ask him to.

There are times when we will have to trust him and wait in silence. Wait in peace that he will bring justice and a good end.

5 My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

7 On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.

8 Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

In verse one, David begins with “my soul waits,” as in he is waiting in that present moment. In verse five, he is telling himself, “wait in silence for God only.” It is a reminder to stay in that position of waiting. Because even if you start well, it is very hard to stay there. We may not like how God is working in the situation or the timing and come out of that silence to take matters in our own hands. It is very easy to do.

But the answer is to continue to abide in him.

9 Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie;
In the balances they go up;
They are together lighter than breath.

10 Do not trust in oppression
And do not vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.

The one thing you can count on about people is that at some point, they will disappoint you. God is the only one who is perfect: perfectly faithful and perfectly just. Trust God. Wait patiently. Do right. This is the message. Don’t be deceived into thinking that certain people can bring about the end you want. Don’t think that you can do it yourself by oppressing or exploiting people. Do not put your trust in wealth.

11 Once God has spoken;
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God;
12 And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord,
For You recompense a man according to his work.

David ends with an acknowledgment that not only does God alone have power over all, but that he has compassion on us. The word translated as “lovingkindness” in the NASB. The NIV translates it as “everlasting love” and the NET as “loyal love.” The translation in my interlinear Bible app from Hagios Tech translates it as “mercy.” The Hebrew word here is chesed

חֶסֶד cheçed, kheh’-sed; from H2616; kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty:—favour, good deed(-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity, reproach, wicked thing.

This verse reminds me of Romans 2:4 where Paul writes that it is the kindness of God towards us that leads us to repentance.

Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?

In the last part of verse twelve, David writes that God “recompense a man according to his work.” Other translations render this word as “reward” or “repay.” This is another word, like the Hebrew word “mishpat,” which can either mean judgment or justice, where the meaning can either be a positive for us or a negative. God is. He is perfectly good. He is perfectly just. He is perfectly right. We choose how we experience that perfect truth. Will we experience as justice and vindication or negative judgment. Will we receive a reward or be repaid for wrong actions?

What David writes in Psalm 62 is the same thing Jesus is speaking of in John 15:

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.[1]

“Abiding in him” is the same as “waiting in silence.” We are trusting in God, waiting on him, and following his lead. We have to learn how to go with his flow.

If we don’t have moments when we learn to wait in silence, we are not going to be able to walk in the “abiding.”

This is something that is very difficult for me to remember. I had to wait. I like to do things and get things done. I am a list maker and like to check off boxes. I used to think this was just part of my personality, but I realized that I spent six years in a private Christian school where we had goal charts constantly in front of us that we had to check off daily. If I have something I’m working on that I don’t have in a spreadsheet or checklist, preferably color-coded, I start feeling anxious about it.

I am very good at doing and completing things, but I need to learn how to just be.

The whole mindset of “do it and be done” may work on projects, but it doesn’t with life. If you’re “done,” it means you’re dead. If we want to have a long life walking in the abundance of God, we have to learn how to walk in his flow.

And sometimes that means waiting.


[1] John 15:5-7 NET