Taking advantage of your wait
Many weeks ago I shared a post about a book I was reading and loving entitled Wherever the River Runs by Kelly Minter. For anyone feeling complacent in their American Christianity, Kelly’s story of the forgotten people of the Amazon and how they transformed her understanding of the gospel is sure to inspire.
Kelly Minter invites us on a jungle adventure down a river teeming with piranhas, caimans, a beautiful people, and, especially, God’s presence.
I was so inspired by Wherever the River Runs that I reached out to Kelly to simply say thank you for writing such a profoundly eye-opening and moving book. Several days later we connected by phone and she instantly felt like an old friend. Kelly's heart is big and her words are beautiful, and I'm so thankful I get to share her wisdom and encouragement with you today on the blog.
Taking Advantage of Your Wait by Kelly Minter
Waiting is one of the most trying parts of life. For one, we are doers and fixers by nature and waiting says, don’t try to solve. Our brains and bodies like to spin and waiting pats us on the shoulder and whispers, stop for just a minute. Waiting typically means you’ve given up some measure of control or you simply don’t have access to that control. We wait in lines because we don’t have the power to speed things up. If I were in charge I would never wait in another line or sit in traffic as long as I live, but I don’t have that kind of power. I guess what I’m getting at is that we almost never choose to wait.
I’ve traveled to the Amazon numerous times in the past few years with Justice and Mercy International. A dear friend of mine recognized how good the people of the Amazon are at waiting. “They wait for the floods to recede, the fish to bite, the boat to deliver the wood for the house”, he’d say. This became clearer to me one afternoon when our Brazilian boat driver, Milton, took us to visit a family in a remote village. Milton stayed back with the boat. We told him we’d only be a few minutes but the visit ended up taking a couple hours. I kept worrying about Milton, whether he’d still be there, whether he’d try to go look for us. To my American surprise, when we came through the brush Milton was asleep on the bow. If I were him I would have been pining for a phone to text us. ‘WHERE ARE YOU?’ ‘WHY ARE YOU TAKING SO LONG?’ ‘WERE YOU SWALLOWED BY AN ANACONDA?’ But Milton took a nap. He knew how to take advantage of the waiting.
When I first moved to Nashville I’d signed a record deal I was sure would take me straight to the top of fame, notoriety and round-the-clock happiness. You’ll be surprised to know things didn’t work out as I’d hoped. I couldn’t get my music career off the ground, and I didn’t have a husband or a family to invest in. I spent the whole of my twenties and a smidge into my thirties desperately trying to figure out what it was that God wanted me to DO.
What I didn’t realize was that in my season of stillness, God was actually quite busy mending all sorts of issues in my heart. I didn’t have clear direction but the Lord saw through the fog: He was leveraging those years of disappointment to reveal the idols in my life, and to reclaim His proper place as my supreme desire. For me, the waiting seemed fruitless. For God, my waiting was His best shot at plowing the soil of my heart for future fruitfulness.
I interpreted the waiting as, God’s forgotten me. I believe He saw it as, I’ve never been nearer—I do my most effective work in your life when you’re still, weak and trusting me. I have more journals from those years than any other time in my life, because I had time. I clung to Scripture more fiercely, prayed more vulnerably and studied more intensely. Those years of waiting were hard but I wouldn’t forgo that season of intimacy with the Lord for any busyness or outward successes.
This is not to say that waiting always means you have time. Some are waiting for healing, a house, a financial resolve, a broken marriage to heal, a child to come. Still, all waiting means lack of power or control to some degree, which means an opportunity to press deeper into our Savior. To take advantage of the wait.
I think of Exodus 14:13-14 where Moses and the Israelites were at the brink of the Red Sea, the chariots of the Egyptian army closing in. Moses answered the people in their terror, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” The Israelites had no weapons to conquer the Egyptians, no power to part the sea, no chariots by which to flee. But this is when our best waiting on the Lord happens—when we’re out of resources and ideas. This is precisely when we can trust the Lord and take advantage of our wait.
You may have noticed that Moses said the Lord would bring the deliverance “today”, which doesn’t require much waiting. I’m awesome at waiting for most anything that has to do with today. But remember how many years the Israelites suffered in Egypt, how many plagues they endured before getting out. They had put in their time. But God always knew that ‘today’ was coming.
I don’t know what you’re waiting for, only that some of you are waiting in deeply painful situations for important answers or resolutions. Others are in a more general place of waiting: am I in the right job, will I ever meet the right man, is this where I’m supposed to be, what is my ultimate purpose? But I encourage you (and me) to remember the One on whom you wait and to take advantage of the season. This may require the trying task of “standing still”, but the deliverance of the Lord has a day (and that day may even be today).
He has not forgotten you.