Waiting and Relinquishment
You see it everywhere when you’re looking for it. It’s in the little passages and verses that are so often overlooked. It’s not really part of the main narrative, but I’m starting to think it’s more important than we realize.
Time just passing. Daily life just moving forward. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Waiting for God to break in, waiting when everything seems silent.
Abraham was 75 when God called him out of Ur and told him he would father a great nation. Isaac wasn't born for another 25 years.
There are about 22 years that pass between Joseph’s dreams and the fulfillment when his brothers come to Egypt.
Moses spends 40 years in Midian on his own before God calls him into leadership, and then he wanders in the desert with all of Israel for another 40 years.
King David waits roughly 15 years after being anointed by Samuel before he is crowned king.
These are just a few prominent examples. There are others, many are asked to live in waiting never to see fulfillment.
Here's what I'm thinking lately...
Waiting is so often part of the spiritual journey, because relinquishment is at the heart of spiritual life.
Waiting is perhaps the best opportunity for relinquishment. Waiting invites us to trust, it invites us to open our hands in surrender.
Waiting asks an important question of us, it’s the same question I’ve been sitting with for a while now… “Is God enough?”
Can I relinquish my desires, my plans, my dreams, even the promises I feel God has given me? Can I surrender even all that I hope to be, the growth that I want to see in my life? Can I relinquish all to his timing, to his will, to his way?
This is not an invitation to stop dreaming, desiring, planning, or becoming. Quiet the opposite. It doesn't mean that we stop hoping and asking and even begging. But, it is an invitation to open our clenched fists and let go of outcomes. It is an invitation to trust that God knows best in any and every situation. It is an invitation to say, "Not my will, but yours," and to live into that statement.
When God asks us to wait he is extending to us an invitation to trust, to become more His, to rest in His sovereignty.
Here’s the thing, waiting can look a lot like nothing happening. It's not very exciting. We want to skip over it. Even in scripture it is often dismissed with a quick reference to time passing. But, I'm becoming convinced that what comes after waiting often couldn’t come if it weren’t for the waiting itself. We are changed in the waiting, even when we don’t realize it.
I think waiting is a little like meditation. When we enter meditation we want to have some big experience, we want to leave it feeling more relaxed, more centered, more focused. When we wait on God we hope we don’t have to wait long, we want things quickly, we want to receive the promise right away, we want to be changed and become better people right away. But, most of the time that’s not what happens.
When someone begins a meditation practice, they chose to trust the process, however slow it may be, to trust that even though the outcome of this particular meditation doesn’t seem to have done anything, the over all outcome over the course of years is that the brain gets rewired.
Waiting is sort of like that. It can look like nothing is happening, but the ultimate outcome of the waiting (whether it be weeks, months, or years) is that our hearts and souls are rewired. In the middle of the waiting we might not see much outcome, there might not be much fruit or much active change, but the process is working in us something far greater. When we relinquish control, when we open our hands to trust a loving God, we are making God Lord in our lives. The more I walk this journey, the more I feel like that is not just something we do once at “conversion” that is the whole heart of our life with God. We make God Lord once, and then we continue to make him Lord over and over and over again.
The spiritual life is slow. God is not hurried. He wants our whole hearts and that is slow work - relinquishing a whole heart.
Waiting is an invitation to do that. Waiting is an opportunity to relinquish and trust.
At the beginning of the summer I read Lamentations 3 in The Message for the first time, and I can’t stop coming back to this section in it.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.
Wait for hope to appear. Wait for God to break in. Wait for the heart change, the rewiring. Trust that it is coming, but it might take a very long time, and it might not look the way you want it to.
Open your hands, oh my soul, relinquish everything, and let God bring to you what he will in His time. That’s what I keep telling my heart. That’s the prayer I’m praying in this space of waiting, this space of rest, and hard heart work. Open hands. Open heart. Wait patiently for your God, oh my soul. Wait.
Grace and peace, Bethany