Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
–Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
Time seems to wait for no one. As we get older, the clock seems to dictate our lives more and more. The older people get, the shorter and shorter the days seem to become, and the more the years seem to fly. Nothing makes me realize this more than the swift approach of my 30th birthday. Yes, that’s right. In little more than three months I’ll be hitting the big three-o.
I find that the human’s perception of time must be radically different than God’s. God is outside of time, yet for us, there is an end to our time in sight. This means we may feel a sense of urgency to see, do, and accomplish what we can, while we can. Not only that, but our generation has the luxury of the internet and technology to attain things more expediently and instantly.
I admit, that if my patience is the measure of how much I trust God, then my level of trust has been an utter shame. I have sensed my biological clock ticking, and most of my younger cousins and friends have since been married, have good jobs, and even have started having children. Part of me really wants a husband and a family. In recent years I have been dabbling with the whole online dating thing, and I had very much hoped that technology would instantly provide me with what I want.
Do I think God can use online dating as a means to bring me to the right man? Yes, He can if He wants. In fact, I have heard of many success stories. Was that my initial thoughts though when I signed up for it? Did I innocently sign up with plans to patiently let God guide me through thousands of profiles? Of course not. I wanted to take things into my own hands. I wanted to speed things along a bit and control the lonely situation of my love life.
I didn’t pray once before I started shopping around online for a boyfriend. I just hopped on their and started swiping left or right based on the person’s looks. I got my fair share of responses, and I’ve gone on a handful of dates. I have learned through these experiences that this is not a matter that can be rushed. Online dating can be a useful tool, but it still needs to be put into God’s hands.
The connections I made were never successful in the sense that I found lasting companionship, and really dating the wrong guys only made me feel lonelier. In fact, there were a few times in my life when I even considered settling on an individual that I sensed wasn’t totally right for me, mainly because I was worried that time was running out on me. Wouldn’t you know it, entertaining the idea of settling just ended up wasting more time!
I find that this situation is similar in other aspects of my life at times as well, like searching for a career and striving for accomplishments; it’s a whole lot of rushing and taking things into my own hands and a minimal amount of praying.
I know that I am an impatient kind of person. I know that I am guilty of trying to hurry God along a bit, and I try to force things to work out my way instead of His. I also know that doing so has only made me miserable. We see this same pattern of impatience and discontent described in certain points of the Bible:
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” –Numbers 21:4-5 (NIV)
It seems that doubting God’s provision relates to situations that we feel are undesirable. These are situations where we aren’t getting what we want, we are waiting and stuck in a rut, or we are experiencing times of trial and difficulty. It is during these times people might feel like God has forgotten them. This is often when people start to feel doubt, fear, anxiety, etc. That is why we are urged not to solely rely on our own feelings, but rather we need to look to God and trust Him.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)
It is easy to forget that God is outside of time and can see the eternal perspective. He knows when the time is right for everything because He sees past, present, and future in a way that humans cannot. Typically, delays in our plans or periods where He is silent are tools that God is using to test our faith and help us to grow spiritually.
If we are actively trying, but we aren’t getting what we want or accomplishing our goals, it is either because it isn’t right for us, or it is not the right time yet. There is a certain level of peace and comfort that comes with trusting that God is in control. We can relax and enjoy the process of spiritual preparation.
Is a husband part of the plan for me? Is the job of my dreams part of the plan? I don’t know. I certainly hope so and continue to strive for it, but I trust that if they aren’t part of the plan then God’s plans are better, and He will direct me elsewhere. I might not have all my ducks in a row, but I don’t feel any shame waiting for God.
In the end, we can trust that our patience and our faith in God’s plan for us will ultimately pay off more than our own plans. God makes a sincere promise that He works all things together for our good:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)