I have two children. At eight and five, they are often “selective-listeners” who don’t wait well. Pretty typical kid stuff, but their responses are interesting to watch play out.
“Hey guys, we are going on a trip today. I need you to grab a couple toys and your water bottles. Mom and Dad are both coming and we’ll be back before dinner.”
Usually, each of them only hears, “Hey guys, we are going on a trip today” before they move into well-established coping strategies. One kid worries. “Where are we going? What are we doing? Is Dad coming? What about the pizza we planned for dinner?!” The other just makes up her own solutions, packs a suitcase full of lovies, sticker books, one dress and a pair of pants and figures she’s set.
Sheesh, tiny humans. Would you please just wait to hear the whole plan before you start panicking or coming up with your own solutions?!
(God’s voice) Uh, Anne? Would you please wait to hear My whole plan before you start panicking or coming up with your own solutions?
A lesson that’s been pressing on me lately is that sometimes we are also “selective-listeners” who don’t wait well. Because we live in a hurry-up culture with access to instant information, many of us really struggle with the ability to sit still long enough to hear from God or wait for Him to develop a situation. And then, in the discomfort of waiting, we either panic about everything that could go wrong or press ahead with our own solutions.
The thing about these seemingly different coping strategies is that they actually serve the same purpose. Control. If I choose to worry, then maybe I will be able to anticipate and manage disasters that might come my way. Or, if I go ahead and patchwork together a solution on my own, at least I can tell myself I am being “proactive” and “responsible”.
So, what are we supposed to do? It is extremely counter-cultural to “sit about” waiting on God to develop a situation or give further instruction. It can make us feel lazy, or cowardly, or vulnerable to simply, wait. And yet…
As always, the best example we have for living out our faith is Jesus — and He was a great listener and NOT in a hurry. He said things like, “it’s not time yet” “don’t tell anyone yet” and even gave it 48 hours when he knew Lazarus was sick. He was confident in His waiting and he wasn’t afraid to set that boundary with others. He believed things would come about in their time. He knew that panicking about what was coming wouldn’t help Him and that preemptive solutions would never be as good as what God had planned. He didn’t give in to the pressure to hustle or make a decision too quickly. Jesus saw value, rather than frustration, in waiting and listening for God’s best. And, if we can do the same, maybe we’ll be able to say…
I’m not sure yet, and that’s okay.
It’s not time yet, there is benefit in waiting to see how this develops.
I’m still listening.
I’m waiting to see what God does here.
And it’s with these phrases added to our lives that we offer this prayer today…
“Lord, help us to know when You are saying ‘go’ and when You are saying ‘slow’. We are so much more likely to be able to discern this difference if we truly understand the value of waiting — the way Your Son understood it. We no longer want to listen or be impatient like children. Help us to be good watchers. Help us to be good waiters. Only then will we be able to fully listen to what You say.”