It’s cheesy but true – one of the deepest joys of being at Regent College is the people I have the privilege to learn alongside. Isabel was a classmate in one of my first classes called The Christian Imagination. She is disarmingly unpretentious, wonderfully curious, has an irreverent sense of humour and brings feminist posters along with wine and homemade banana bread when she comes for dinner just because she thought I’d like it (= dream dinner guest). Oh, and she wrote and performed a rap for our Christian Imagination retreat — just like that. She left her job working for the Singaporean government and various editorial publications to start afresh here in Vancouver – at least for a season – while her husband studies at Regent. She recently had me writing over at her space and now it’s my privilege to host her words. Stepping into the unknown is rarely easy and I’m grateful for Isabel sharing some of what she has learned in her sometimes uncomfortable season of ‘waiting’.
I am not the sort of girl who cries easily. But I was suddenly and briefly overcome with emotion when listening to a song, Take Courage by Kristene DiMarco, one afternoon. The lines that moved me went: “Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul / He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting”.
For the past year, I’ve been on sabbatical after eight years of slogging away in the workplace. It’s been a precious time of rest and renewal, and I have zero regrets about making this decision to step away from the frenetic pace of my former life.
On March 1, 2018, my sabbatical officially ended. And in the weeks before this day arrived, I was plagued with anxiety and fear. I had no clear directive from God as to where I should be headed and what I should be doing next. And I wanted answers. Now.
So when I heard the lines that moved me, something broke within me. It was as if God was speaking to me and answering my heart’s cry. As if He was saying, “There is peace, and purpose, to be found in the waiting”. The veil over my eyes was lifted, ever so gently and lovingly.
“Perhaps God is making me, and you, wait for the same reasons that he made Abraham wait,” an article in Desiring God says. “To forge our faith. To make us attentive to his voice. To deepen our relationship. To solidify our trust. To prepare us for ministry. To transform us into his likeness.”
These are some of the ways I have grown in my season of waiting:
I’ve become wiser.
Waiting goes against my human-ness. I yearn for quick resolution and immediate satisfaction (really, who doesn’t?). But waiting has diluted my propensity for impatient and impulsive action. It’s made me realise that nothing is under my control, and that I don’t have all the answers.
It’s also allowed me to cut through the blather of this busy world and hone in on my deepest desire: to live a life pleasing to Him. And because that is now the guiding principle of my life, it’s become a lot easier to decide what to invest time and energy in, what to let go of, and what to move forward into.
I’ve stopped operating on autopilot.
While I was “gainfully employed”, I appeared to be leading a full life on the outside, but the truth is that I was running on empty. I was doing what I had to do to survive, but I constantly felt like I was dying inside. Shopping and binge-watching TV shows were my favourite ways of escaping a dreary, monotonous reality.
Waiting has brought all that to a screeching halt. It’s led me to confront myself and recognise that there are scars that still need healing, and that it’s okay to not be 100% okay. It’s showed me that I need to fuel up – not on things that temporarily satisfy and distract – but on the One from whom living waters flow. And it’s caused me to me slow down and find joy in my current reality, despite its many imperfections.
I see – and sense – the needs of others more.
More often than not, the prayers I offer up lean heavily toward solving my problems or improving my circumstances. But this season has cultivated in me a keener awareness of the difficulties and struggles that others around me are facing.
Waiting has created space for me to encourage, counsel and minister. It’s helped me to see my neighbors the way Jesus sees them: loved, redeemed, and forgiven. And it’s turned my focus away from praying over my own needs to praying for others who need a touch from God more than I do.
Where is God in the waiting? He is here. He has always been here. He is waiting, too – for you to run to Him and pour yourself out onto Him. He is grace, and love, and freedom. He is everything your heart desires – and so much more.