Refined by Waiting

Christian Powerpoint Religious BulletinFour years ago, I crashed and burned physically, mentally and spiritually, I couldn’t work, and I barely functioned at home. Socially, I ceased to exist. Spiritually, only getting by.

A big part of my crash and burn involved adrenal fatigue. Essentially, healing from adrenal fatigue requires a lot of waiting. My body, mind and spirit needed replenished after years of stress, continual drain and constant overload. Only waiting and resting could make that happen.

Life as a whole involves a lot of waiting, small and big pockets of time spent waiting for what’s next.  All too often, I try ending the waiting on my own by forcing “things” to happen. Never works out all that well.

Who likes to wait, after all? Not me! Yet, so much of our lives require waiting. Lines. Arrivals. Departures. Growth. Maturity.

Since life involves so much waiting, we’re all experts, right? Again, not me. Just put another car in front of me going a bit slower than I want to go to illustrate how easily I get frustrated with waiting, with life moving slower than I think it should. Can you relate?

Focused WaitingGod-Or-My-Agenda

Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers calls waiting “the hottest flame” because it reveals the depths of our hearts. He also notes that God “is capable of applying as much heat as it takes to surface the garbage in our hearts.”

Garbage? The arrogance that makes me need to get ahead of others in line. The pride that refuses to admit mistakes. The lack of peace that leads me to force immediate answers rather than waiting for well-thought out responses.

Sometimes, pure selfishness fuels my inability to wait. But equally, and perhaps even more so, I simply give up on the waiting. I give up on God’s way and pursue life on my own terms.

Depth takes time to develop. This is true of one’s character as much as it is of one’s relationships. God wants to develop that depth, and He knows that waiting is often the best tool for making that happen.

A focus on Him in our waiting reveals opportunities from Him to cultivate depth. A focus on Him in our waiting leads us to pray for the mother of four in front of us at the checkout counter and to spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study as we allow our bodies the physical rest needed to recover from stress overload.

But a focus on the waiting itself and how much we dislike it turns our gaze toward pushing ahead and ending the wait, which causes us to miss out on God’s refining of our character. Instead of pushing and forcing and moving to get rid of the waiting, consider what Sorge says about how to wait.

“Run after Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Waiting is aggressive repose. Waiting is a stationary pursuit. Waiting is intense stillness. Waiting is vigilant listening.”

Be someone willing to wait for God, no matter the length of time. Be willing to give Him both your small moments and your seasons of waiting. Be aggressive in your rest, extreme in your stillness and vigilant as you listen for Him.

DISCUSSION: What does waiting for God mean in a practical sense? How do we live life and wait for God at the same time? Also, how does our ability to wait on God impact our relationships?

This post is a part of a weekly book discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge hosted by Jason Stasyszen of Connecting to Impact and Sarah Salter of Living Between the Lines. Be sure to check out their posts!

16 thoughts on “Refined by Waiting

  1. There have been times I have had to wait. It is an uncomfortable feeling when having answers is missing. To put it bluntly: i despise waiting! But over the years, while it may not have gotten any easier, I have gained wisdom to know it is the best.
    My recent post Possibility

    • Uncomfortable is a good way to put it. And, it's getting harder and harder to do in a culture that pushes getting personal comfort and having it immediately. Waiting certainly doesn't get easier, but realizing why we wait and having the wisdom from God to do it makes us able to do it.

  2. When I'm not waiting on God as I should, I become irritable. My frustrations bubble over. I don't like who I am.
    I think this is a small sign of me maturing, because I used to not care about these things. I just pushed ahead and demanded that life and everyone else keep up.

    God is using parenting as one of the greatest tools in my life to learn how to trust in His timing and to realize I can't control anything.

    • Sorry for the delay in responding. Not sure how I missed doing so. Anyway…

      Irritability & frustration definitely move us to end the waiting as quickly as possible when we fail to focus on God. That's happened to me way too many times for sure. Parenting has done the same for me, TC. So thankful that God doesn't leave me where I am but always draws me toward Him.

    • I actually had a naturopath who initially diagnosed it, and then I did my own research to learn more about it. It was caused by food allergies & sensitivities and over-stress and overload mostly. But, when I exercised too much, that definitely added to the problem as did not getting enough sleep on a consistent basis. You can actually have different degrees of adrenal fatigue. If you have been on high stress for a while with no relief, there's a good chance your adrenals are being taxed. They are just not meant to be in constant upper level operation and need to have the down turn of rest on a regular basis. Does that make sense? Let me know if you have other questions. Be glad to help.

      • I don't think I have any symptoms, but I've just heard about adrenal fatigue particularly when it relates to people who are dieting and exercising too much. I'm trying to drop a few pounds (well, more than a few) and am just trying to be conscious of pushing too hard. I don't think I'm anywhere NEAR there yet, but I do know that my personality is pretty obsessive about things like that – so I'm trying to keep an eye on myself. From what I've heard, it tends to be more common in women for some reason.
        My recent post Matt Perman and the Gospel-Productivity Relationship – Part 3 – Episode 20

        • You're wise to be aware. Adrenal fatigue exists on a continuum from fatigue to burnout. You can have adrenal fatigue for a season, say a high stress time with work, or you can move into all-out burnout from uninterrupted, overwhelming stress that doesn't seem to end. And, it seems to look differently on everyone. Simply being aware of your limits and of your need to rest can make a huge difference. Also, there's a lot you can do regarding prevention as well.

  3. The senior pastor and I are discussing the Lenten focus which starts in a few weeks. We've even created a new word for where we want to focus: unbusify. How do you unbusify your life so you can wait on God? I like what you've written here about the benefits of waiting. Waiting described as "the hottest flame" certainly gets at its challenge and its power to change one's life.

    • Oooh, I really like that word… "Unbusify." I may "steal" it at some point because it really gets at the concept quite well. And actually, I am focusing on "stress" in March, which will sort of get at this topic too. I've actually done a lot of reading, and some writing on my blog, as well as some teaching on this topic. It's kind of a passion area of mine. I'm glad to hear you are focusing here; I think it's a huge area of need for people right now. Let me know how it goes, Tom!

  4. Waiting is hard work and one that we are tempted to think does not bear fruit. Waiting does need to be active in the sense of preparations for whatever you are hoping for that are reasonable to do. It is acted out faith as well. It is something to be praised in others.

    • Interesting to consider that waiting does not need to be active with preparations. We fool ourselves into thinking it has to be, but I also think it CAN be. It's a matter of obedience, really. And it's definitely something to be praised in others. I call my husband an "insanely patient" person, but I really respect him tremendously because he is SO patient (for other reasons too). In all honestly, his patience is one of the reasons we are still married.

  5. Kari, Life turned upside down for us 9 years ago. I never dreamed I would still be waiting, but I love the quote, “Waiting is aggressive repose.” That’s exactly what I’ve experienced. I buried myself in the Word and God continues to strengthen me and give me hope. At the time, I didn’t think I could be okay with restoration . . . now I I pray for restoration, but I’m more than okay I’m really good. God’s grace in action.
    My recent post How the Fruit of the Spirit Can Bless Your Friendships

    • You hit on a major key here, Deb, when you said, "I buried myself in the Word." When I was recovering from my crash & burn, the Word brought me through. I know of nothing else that gives life like the Word of God.

  6. It had to be the Lord the drove me back to your blog for I had already comment on your most recent post . Then I thought, I hope I worded that well so went back to check. Then I see this post, which I had missed, Kari this is so good and so timely to me. I feel I am the worst waiter yet I know I am better then I use to be. Yesterday is when I want things done, or at least 10 minutes after a decision is made. Yet God has taught me more through waiting then most of my trials. In fact when I won't wait is when the trial become worst. I got saved under a very aggressive ministry which did things fast and I now know in the flesh a lot. Years of that conditioned me to thinking that was how to do thing, then we move to a third world country. Trust me nothing moves quickly in these countries. Forced to wait was the best thing every happened to me. I was amazed at how much God had to say to me that I missed because I was hurrying to do this and that. Good post..
    My recent post Frustration

    • The Holy Spirit is awesome that way! Our culture, and unfortunately largely our church culture, certainly trains us to get what we want went we want it without having to wait. Instant gratification. God did an awesome work in you teaching you to wait. You being aware of how impatience plays a role in your life is huge. I truly believe that awareness is such a key in people finding victory in so many areas of life. God did a similar work in my life but in a very different way. Thank you for sharing your story. It not only blessed me, but it gave me renewed hope!

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