Joseph spent a number of years in prison, Moses led Israel through the desert for forty years, Elijah spent years in a brook alone during a drought. The list goes on.
I’m mentioning this because for quite a while now God has been talking to me about my own time of waiting, and this is what I have learnt:
First of all, whilst they are usually only a few verses in amongst chapters full of action, they are an essential part of our Christian lives. It’s very easy to gloss over phrases like “After two whole years” (Gen 41:1), or “And after a while” (1 Kings 17:8) and “in the third year” (1 Kings 18:1). It is difficult sometimes to get a sense of the timing involved in the Biblical stories, but in most of them the period of waiting is a long time where not much seems to happen.
Second, although it might seem like nothing is happening that simply isn’t true! It may well be that there are only two or three verses which mention the period of waiting, but if you went and spent well over a year in a brook during a drought, with no source of food or water except God, I suspect you would see some noticeable changes in yourself. These periods of waiting are essential because they are a time for focusing on God, for drawing near to him, and for learning all about reliance and dependance on the only person who is completely reliable and dependable. The waiting is not just an empty time where nothing happens, on the contrary, I am sure that as much happened to the Biblical character who we know so much about in their time of waiting as did in their time of action, perhaps even moreso. A time of waiting is a time of changing and preparation for a time when you won’t be able to sit back and relax so much, and it’s totally necessary if you’re going to be useful when the time of action comes.
Now, I know that I’m not out in the desert physically, but right now I definitely feel like I’m in a waiting period in my life. Last year I was on the CU committee, and before that I was keeping very busy within my Church, leading a small group and generally getting involved in the young peoples work. But now I’m taking more of a back seat, I’m on the prayer team which is something of a hidden role, and I’m not doing much else in CU. In Church I’m getting involved in things, but those things are the PA team and going along to a home group, certainly nothing as demanding as what I was doing at home before I left. And I haven’t been asked to speak anywhere for a long time either.
This is an exciting time for me, because I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing, or whats really going to happen next. It’s all gone quiet so to speak, and I have an amazing chance to spend time reflecting and building up my relationship with God and other people.