I’ve done a lot of waiting, especially in the past two years. I have a feeling many of you have too. And in that waiting I have often wondered what my part is in moving forward, what I should be doing while I’m waiting, and even if I am prolonging my own waiting or failing to grow in it as I should. As I’ve been studying through Acts (yes, there will likely be a lot about the book of Acts forthcoming), I found this beautiful model for what we should be doing while we’re waiting for God to move.
In the first chapter of Acts, the story goes like this: After His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus tells His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise – the gift of the Holy Spirit. The moment Jesus is gone, they return to the Upper Room and they pray. While they continue to wait, Peter brings a situation to their attention – the fact that they are now eleven rather than twelve because of Judas’ betrayal and death (v. 15-19), and the Scripture (20) directs them to replace him. So, they step forward in obedience and select two men who meet the qualifications, pray that God would reveal His choice (24-25), and appoint the one the Lord chooses.
In this story, there are clearly five key things we can do, should do, while we are waiting:
1. Pray constantly and in community
“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14)
Verse 14 says that they prayed not once, not daily, but constantly. While they were waiting, they were in constant communion with their sovereign Father. Verse 14 also says that they were not alone. They were together – men and women, family members in blood and in the Blood – praying to the God who made them family, to the God who was sovereign over their waiting. While you’re waiting, pray constantly and in community.
2. Recognize your situation
Peter Recognizes their situation. He looks around and sees where they’ve come and where they need to go. He recognizes the needs. This is an important step. If we don’t clarify where we are, we can miss how we need to submit to God where we are. We can also miss where He’s leading us which is often revealed by where He’s led us thus far. While you’re waiting, clarify where you are.
3. & 4. Know Scripture and Obey Scripture – Prayerfully and Promptly
I list these two together because they go hand in hand. Peter knew Scripture and because he knew Scripture and considered it, he knew what God was calling him to do while he was waiting. There are a lot of things in life that will not be clear, but there are a multitude of things that have been made clear by the Word. Start with that. Then, for the pieces and aspects that aren’t clearly laid out through Scriptural command and principle, pray. The Author of the Word is always near and always has the answers we need. Don’t know what to do? Don’t know how to apply those principles of Scripture to your situation? Ask Him. Then – this is very simple but very important – DO IT. Once you know what God’s choice is for you, don’t hesitate. While you’re waiting, consider Scripture and – prayerfully and promptly – proceed accordingly.
5. Wait for It….
At first, I didn’t even notice this one. I had originally titled this “4 Things We Should Do While We’re Waiting” even though I had a nagging feeling that there was a fifth thing. (Maybe I’m not the only one who neglects to notice this at times?) Then, suddenly, it leaped out in front of me, and I realized this is, in some ways, the most important thing – or at least the most important perspective. This is the one that keeps us going, that gives us hope. We find the command for this given by Jesus before He left and the fulfillment of its truth after they have done these five things.
Jesus said “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4)
He told them to wait for what the Father had promised them. While you’re waiting, wait for the promise that is coming. It may sound a bit redundant to wait while you’re waiting, but it isn’t. This waiting is about anticipation and focus. We look forward to the promise. We look forward to the promise that He is at work for our good and for His glory. We look forward to the promise that He is shaping us into His likeness. We look forward to the promise of eternity with the One we love. And it’s this this kind of waiting for the promise that keeps us hopeful, keeps us focused, keeps us going when we feel like we just can’t anymore.
At the beginning of chapter two we read that after they prayed constantly and in community, clarified where they were, considered Scripture and – prayerfully and promptly – proceeded accordingly, they waited for the promise that was coming… and it came.
So, wherever you are in your journey, whatever burdens you’re carrying, whatever trials lie ahead, look forward to His promises.
Wait for it.