I am not the most patient person.

Telling me I need to wait for something is almost a surefire way to get me slightly agitated and irate, especially over those oh-so-important things, you know, like waiting for a webpage to load, or being stuck in traffic. Don’t you think it’s ironic that they call it “rush” hour when you’re barely moving along the highway?

But I digress. And you get my point – I don’t like waiting.

And so of course, when God tells me to wait for something, I have a hard time with it. It makes me wish God was like a genie, like the one in Aladdin maybe. Rub the lamp, make a wish and bam! There you go, exactly what I want and not a moment wasted.

I read those old testament stories of people like Moses and David and Joseph who did all these amazingly cool things and imagine what awesome cool thing I’m going to do. But in lieu of focusing on all the great things they did for God, I forget the other half of the equation.

I forget that they all had to wait. For incredibly long periods of time. And then I wonder, what on earth did they do with all that time while they waited? I mean, waiting can really suck, you know? But recently, it occurred to me, what if waiting isn’t just limbo time, what if it’s really time to prepare and pray?

The Purpose Behind Waiting

I think the problem with waiting really has to do more with our perception of it than anything else.

Usually if I’m told to wait, pretty soon I’m staring at the ceiling, twiddling my thumbs and just itching for something to do because it feels like I’m doing NOTHING.

And to be fair, sometimes we really are doing nothing. But if and when God tells us to wait, there’s a purpose behind it, and I think that purpose is for us to pray.

The Bible, also known as Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth *wink*, is pretty obvious when it comes to prayer. It’s good, God likes it, and you should do it all the time. But what goes along with prayer is the need to make time for it, and the ability to be still before God. (Psalm 46:10)

I think that when God seems contradictory in telling us to wait after calling us to do something, it’s not to stall us or tease us with anticipation, but rather to make sure we’ve done the necessary spiritual preparations before embarking on whatever task He’s asked of us. Prayer, I’ve found, doesn’t just help us hear clearly from God, it’s also the foundation to getting all our plans right before we do anything.

Molding In The Meantime

The other thing I’ve realized, especially after studying examples from Joseph, Abraham and David is that waiting is also a time where God can build and shape our character and faith, and also help us mature. I’m not sure Joseph or David would have been as good kings had they not first learned to totally rely on and trust God through trials and hardship.

If we use waiting to set the stage for how we’re going to interact with God and build our relationship with Him, this can not only teach us a lot about ourselves and God, but also be the very thing that saves us if we run into trouble later on.

Case in point? Had David not learned to run to God and confess His sins and inequities while hiding in caves from Saul, I’m sure the affair with Bathsheba would have ended him. Fortunately, he knew enough to repent, and got back on track with God.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Yes, I know, the phrase above is cheesy. But there’s a good point to it too. See, while getting instant gratification all the time might seem like a great thing initially, the reality is it cheapens the value of what you’re given. And if you don’t value what you have, you won’t cherish and take care of it, and God’s not in the business of giving good things so we can throw them away.

Is the waiting hard? Of course. We’re all waiting for that perfect job, our future spouse, that family member or friend to come to Christ, that great destiny that God uniquely wrote just for us… And it’s coming, I promise you that.

But in the meantime, whether it’s just a day or 10 years, we’ll have to wait. And it’s up to us to decide if in the meantime, we want to gripe and complain, or see this as the perfect opportunity to pray, plan, prepare and get ready for what’s to come.

So today, ask yourself this: What are the things I’m waiting for? And how can I make the best of things in the meantime?

Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at kim@campusrenewal.org