Learning How to Wait on God
Have you ever walked up to the hostess at a restaurant and ask for the wait time and as soon as the words come out of their mouth, you change your mind and leave? You say to yourself, "There's no way I'm waiting that long to be seated!" The amount of time you'd spend idling is not worth the food nor experience at that restaurant. This is often how we treat waiting on God. It seems that our patience can't endure the time it'll take to reach the place God wants us to be. Or maybe we think our strength won't last through our trial. These thoughts are not entirely our fault. We've been thinking about waiting on God differently than intended.
To explain, let's go back to that same restaurant, except this time you're not the customer-- you're the waiter/waitress. That's right. If you've never worked in the restaurant business or in retail, take a moment and put yourself in these new shoes. If you want to be great at your (new) job, you have to be responsive and even anticipate the customer's needs. Your role is to make sure their experience the best possible. That's what God wants from us-- to wait on Him as in serve Him. (Psalms 27:14 and Isaiah 40:31)
As an example of this type of interaction and how it should reflect our relationship with God, I've grouped our interactions with Him into four (4) categories: The Intro, Ask-Do, Handover and Giving Thanks. Let's look at how our new job can teach us to more appropriately wait on God.
The first thing you do when a new customer sits at your table is greet them. You'll more than likely have a stump speech to introduce the specials or deals as well. In that same fashion, you should always greet God and make reverence of His might and power. Let him know you're a humble servant and briefly introduce your concerns to Him.
After you initially introduce yourself, you wouldn't keep repeating your stump speech nor the specials every time you returned to the table. The same with telling God about the same issue again and again. We have to realize that He doesn't care as much about who we are as He does who we are in Him. He knows our every weakness, struggle and worry, but He cares most about if we are willing to serve Him and trust that He'll handle our cares.
Now imagine you're a waitress and God is at every table... and you're responsible for the entire restaurant. Every situation or trial requires special attention. There's no one size fits all strategy just like each table isn't going to have the same requests or order the same meal. Unless you want to provide mediocre service, you have to be sensitive to each tables needs. At times, it can seem like there's one thing after another and you just can't get your head above water. Overwhelming right? That's how life can get sometimes. But remember they'll be peak hours (times when you're flooded with tasks and responsibilities from God) and other times when it's not as trying (reaping season where your blessings outweigh your trials). Just remember to keep asking God what He needs of you and more importantly, following through with what He and His words says.
A great waiter or waitress doesn't perform "The Ask" just once. It's their go-to grab bag of phrases to make sure they keep their finger on the pulse of what the customer needs. "Can I get you a refill?" "Is everything all right?" "Do you need more time to look over the menu?" Repetition of these go-to phrases can and should eventually translate into recognizing a need by observing the table an acting on that observation. You're asking less doing more.
This also mirrors our growth in God. When we first enter our season of waiting, we can be tempted to constantly ask God what we should do instead of observing (reading His word) and using though ques to respond and serve Him. It's all been written for our guidance but we'll never comprehend it if we don't seek out the truth. Or maybe you're too scared or distracted (or simply uninterested) and barely ask Him what He needs of you. You can't expect for your reward to be great if you're too passive to diligently seek Him. (Hebrew 11:6)
Truthfully speaking, there are times where we can get complacent. Maybe things are pretty relaxed and seem to be falling into place. We hang out in the break room or pass time idly instead of using those moments to cater to the few tables we have to manage. This is how we previously viewed "waiting on God," as if He has yet to arrive or has no need of us. The truth is, He's already there waiting on us to acknowledge Him and ask what He needs from us. These are less trying moments are key opportunities to show that we can provide excellent service and be a great worker even if we can't always perform at that level during our tougher shifts.
In these moments, appreciation shines brightly from the customer and an introductory level of trust is built. More than likely, those customers will return to patronize the restaurant again once they realize how great of a service was provided (even if they were difficult customers). Just like them, God starts to recognize that He can trust you with many difficult situations no matter how tough, annoying or aggravating they can be.The first few encounters with temptation or trials can be difficult to maneuver, but as long as we keep our heart focused on providing great service, God honors our good deeds. And guess what? Each time it gets easier for you to identify the need because through serving Him, you are building a closer relationship with Him.
This is where you have to listen very carefully. You want to make sure you hear the customers order correctly as not to make any mistakes. A lot of times it can me difficult to do if there's a lot of background noise, so usually this is the opportune time to lean in and focus intently on what they're about to say. Same with listening to the voice of God. We have to shut out distractions and lean in (kneel in prayer) so that we can hear the voice of God more clearly. Once we receive a word, we can't change it for our better. If a customer ordered an item off the menu and you brought a different meal to the table (because you though it was a better choice), you'd be looked at pretty strangely. You might receive a few harsh words too! In a sense, God is the best 'customer' to serve because He'll never lie to you or go back on His word. He is a just and honorable God.
So the time comes where you take the customer's order to the table and make sure everything is correct. Sometimes you're spot on and other times there are a few tweaks that need to be made. The customer may request condiments or additional utensils-- the finishing to perfect their meal. In the same light, this is where you bring God's promise back to Him and remind Him of the promise He spoke and what's in His word. He then gives you feedback on what He needs from you. A little more prayer, a fasting schedule or maybe to seek wise counsel-- anything that is needed to perfect the promise He gave to you. Again, God is just. He won't change His word. He will only offer directions on how to align your heart to boldly walk in the word He gave.
Finally, when it comes time for the customer to pay, you drop off the bill and trust they won't stiff you and that your service was good enough to warrant a great tip. The same with "putting it all in God's hands." We've heard this phrase before and it means just that-- trusting that God has the means and the intentions to bless you exceedingly and abundantly according to the power that works in us. (Ephesians 3:20) What's even more amazing is that, unlike dutifully waiting tables for large tips, our service doesn't not determine the weight of our blessings. It's the act of service and sacrifice itself that touches God's heart and the dispensation of grace covers where we fall short.
Lastly, whatever your experience was with the customer- whether pleasant or trying-- humility and grace always teaches us to be thankful. Never forget to praise and thank God for the provisions He's made presently and in the past. We can never be to grateful for the grace and mercy God has shown us or get caught in our own measures to appreciate all that He's done.
Realize that the more faithfully you serve Him, the more responsibility you may have to take on. Word will spread that the restaurant provides great service so more trials and/or people will come to see what all the hype is about. This crowd includes skeptics and unbelievers. Through each interaction, remember you are serving God and each person is a life God wants you to touch and each temptation is a situation God knows you can conquer. Wait on Him. Serve Him faithfully and dutifully and your reward will be great.
- Acknowledge God's presence in your life, let Him know that you're His servant and tell Him your worries.
- Continuing to ask God how you can serve His kingdom; not how He can solve your problems. After He gives you direction, follow it!
- Relinquish all worry and sense of self-control. Trust God and His capability to handle your situation completely.
- Gives thanks and praise for what God has done and will do in your life!