Thursday, June 13, 2019

When There’s Nothing More To Do But Wait

by Emily Conrad



My solution to most problems is to work harder. I write to-do lists. I order myself to stick with a task that my imagination would rather ditch. I might even make a spreadsheet to track my efforts—that’s how you know I’m serious.

But sometimes, working harder doesn’t work.

I can do all the right things and still find myself in a season of waiting.


That’s the nature of the publishing industry—after a writer makes a submission, the expected response times begin at one month and go up from there.

The work I put into my stories and submissions can’t force quick responses.

Perhaps you’ve come to a point where there’s nothing more you can do but wait, too.

We find ways to fill the time, of course. Days pass. Months. Longer.



One way I’ve filled my waiting time is by studying waiting and decision making.

The book Waiting for Wonder by Marlo Schalesky brought Isaiah 30:18 to my attention.

The NET version of that verse reads like this:
For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy;
he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you.
Indeed, the Lord is a just God;
all who wait for him in faith will be blessed.
(Isaiah 30:18, NET)

What wonderful encouragement!

I wanted to learn more, so I went back and read the context. The chapter starts with this:
“The rebellious children are as good as dead,” says the Lord,
“those who make plans without consulting me,
who form alliances without consulting my Spirit,
and thereby compound their sin.”
(Isaiah 30:1, NET)

Oh. Well then.

As the quote continues in verse 2, the Israelites seem to be quite good at making and enacting plans, and God isn’t happy about it:
“They travel down to Egypt
without seeking my will,
seeking Pharaoh’s protection,
and looking for safety in Egypt’s protective shade.” (NET)


Seeking God’s will as the verse instructs sounds simple, but there have been times when I’ve tried doing that and have still felt confused. Should I move forward or change direction? What does God want? How will I know?

With one decision in particular a couple of years ago, I tied myself in knots. I didn’t feel peace, no matter which option I considered. That’s why I spent some of my waiting time studying decision-making: once I get the answers I’m waiting for, I’ll have decisions to make, and I want to be ready.

So, as I wait, I need to know: How does a believer seek Him? How do we know what He wants?

Verse 15 offers insight the overachiever in me has trouble swallowing:

For this is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says:
“If you repented and patiently waited for me, you would be delivered;
if you calmly trusted in me you would find strength,
but you are unwilling.”

I’ve realized this actually also lines up with advice I’ve recently garnered from another source, Emily P. Freeman’s course Discern and Decide, which dovetails nicely with her new book The Next Right Thing.

The course recommended some practices that I think I’ll find helpful, one of which is simply sitting silently with God for a couple of minutes.

This is counter-intuitive for me. If I’m not talking, reading, or even journaling, how can He answer? And if I’m not working, how can I move forward?

But the truth is, no matter how fast I try to force my way forward, I won’t have success unless I’m moving forward with God. And with God, I’m invited to rest. To let him do the heavy lifting. To remember that it’s not by my strength or power that I will succeed (Zechariah 4:6).

It’s not by attending all the right conferences or having the best presentation. It’s not by communicating well in meetings. It’s not by looking perfect or saying just the right thing. It’s not by my ability to plan or act.

I succeed only through Jesus. The God who, yes, okay, He uses and blesses our efforts, but who also is good at using the little things I might dismiss as inconsequential.

Like, my friends who have landed publishing contracts through Twitter pitch parties.

I don't mean this to discount the work they did or the excellent books they sold. They did work hard to produce the best-possible novels, and they worked hard, too, to network and present that work to the world. I'm just saying, after years of effort, who really expects success to come through 280 characters?

Talk about God showing off.

I bet you can think of a similar circumstance where someone’s success (or perhaps your own) came in an unexpected way. Unprecedented or “easy”—too easy after all that effort and time.

Yet, this is how God can work when He chooses to. When God decides something should happen, that thing happens. There’s no stopping it. And there’s also no forcing His hand with all the work in the world.

So resting with God in silence for a few minutes? Not such a far-fetched idea after all.

But while we wait, we needn’t twiddle our thumbs. We can spend some of our waiting time trying to bless others.

I can cook a meal for someone, host a holiday for family, help a friend with a task that’s been hanging over her for a while. These things don’t work toward my goal of publication, but when I do them, I find myself more willing to wait on God’s timing. After all, I’ve got meaningful ways to spend my days. I don’t need that book contract today.

Meaningful tasks wait all around us, if only we’ll follow God’s leading toward them.

There’s a time and a place to do the work

But salvation isn’t there. Peace isn’t there. Success isn’t there.

I must trust God as I do the work. And when the work is done, still, I must trust Him whether I’ve seen success yet or not.

Wherever you are in the process, whether you’re waiting or working or doing a little of both, trust Jesus enough to seek Him. Enough to wait for Him and His direction.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, the only one who can make something from anything (or nothing, as the case may be), and the only one who can lead us in the way we should go.

For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy;
he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you.
Indeed, the Lord is a just God;
all who wait for him in faith will be blessed.
(Isaiah 30:18, NET)









Whether you’re waiting or working or doing a little of both, trust Jesus enough to seek Him. Enough to wait for Him and His direction. - via @emilyrconrad #waiting #trustGod #success

There’s a time and a place to do the work. But salvation isn’t there. Peace isn’t there. Success isn’t there. - via @emilyrconrad #waiting #trustGod #success

I must trust God as I do the work. And when the work is done, still, I must trust Him whether I’ve seen success yet or not.- via @emilyrconrad #waiting #trustGod #success



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Photo credits
Butterfly by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash
Woman with sunset by Steve Halama on Unsplash
Bird photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

6 comments:

Katie Powner said...

Such a wonderful perspective, Emily. As our family waited three and a half years to complete the adoption process of our daughter, we learned that even the longest of waiting times is only a season. Great post!

Emily Conrad said...

That's a really great point, Katie. I can't imagine how excruciating the adoption process feels as you walk through it. So grateful God brings us through even the longest seasons. Thanks for joining the conversation!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Hurry up and wait seems to be a motto for life in general LOL! but great post and as always, timely reminder.

Good luck and God's blessings
PamT

Carol James said...

Thanks for sharing, Emily. I find waiting on God's perfect timing is often the hardest part of anything for me . Much harder than the doing. But I remind myself, that while I may be waiting, God never is. He is always working for our good, whether we can see it or not.

Jerusha Agen said...

Such a great post! This really resonated with me, as you would probably guess. I really loved those passages of Scripture you quoted, as well. What an amazing reminder of God's sovereignty and goodness, but also that we sometimes don't "feel" His peace and direction because we aren't really trusting and waiting on Him. This post is a wonderful encouragement to keep waiting on God's perfect timing and remembering that, in a sense, we're not really waiting because God's has already acted for us and His glory.

Emily Conrad said...

Pam- Ha, hurry up and wait does seem to be a pattern, doesn't it? Thanks for stopping by!

I like you're point, Carol, that while we wait, God is active. So glad you joined the conversation!

Thank you, Jerusha! I'm glad the post resonated with you. Yes, our futures are 100% secure with our sovereign and good God. He is so good to us!