Active Waiting

On Monday, I wrote about a song that has inspired my “waiting” this year and today I am going to write about how to be active while you wait. Actively waiting may seem like a bit of a contradiction but our storm/desert seasons are profound moments God uses to mold and shape us.

Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something…

From “Waiting for God” by Henri JM Nouwen

Waiting. Everyone has had to do it. Waiting for the elevator. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for someone. Waiting for a situation to change. Waiting for treatment to be over. Waiting for healing. We don’t like waiting because by definition there is something we want that we can’t have (yet). We become focused on what we are waiting for…either by trying to get there faster or by trying “not to think about it”. This type of focus takes a lot of energy.

When I was in Jordan this past fall (if you’re interested you can read about it here) I was often reminded of the 40 years the Hebrew people spent in the wilderness before God allowed them to enter the promised land. 40 years?! Yikes…that’s a long time to be waiting. They were oppressed and captives in Egypt…God performed some powerful miracles to break them free…God promised to establish them in a land flowing with “milk and honey” (read: pretty sweet place 🙂 )…and then had them wait in the desert…and not just wait for a year or two but 4 decades. I imagine I would lose hope because right now I can get frustrated with waiting for a month or two. But Israel actually needed this waiting period. They weren’t going to go from slaves to an independent nation overnight they actually needed a season to grow and become ready…a desert season.

It got me thinking about my own current desert season and how much time I spend focused on what I am waiting for…my “promised land”. I have absolutely no control over certain things in my life and I have to continually let them go. When I let go and admit there’s nothing I can do to influence the waiting time it is easy for me to down shift into a passive mindset. “Things will happen the way they are going to happen…I just need to sit back and let it unfold.” While there are certain things I need to let go of there are probably many opportunities to embrace my own internal change.

Next question…how do you figure out what you would like to or need to work on?

  1. Were there choices you made that got you into the storm season? Do you know why you made them? This may be an opportunity to explore and understand some of the wounds in your life and see how they have influenced your path. With understanding comes the ability to make better choices in the future.
  2. Get to know God better…Book recommendations: The Bible (maybe try The Message translation), “The Jesus I never Knew” by Philip Yancey, “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis, “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer. Get to know yourself better…take a personality test ( find out where you get energy and how you make decisions.
  3. Is there something you would like to study? or need to study? Maybe it’s time to go back to school for another degree. Maybe it’s joining a hobby course. Read some non-fiction books. Maybe it is teaching yourself a new skill. Is there something you have just always wanted to know more about? Photography, Cooking, Painting, etc. Take a step back out of the reality of your life. If you didn’t have all the practical constraints what would you love to do? If you can’t answer that…give yourself a little bit of space to soul search. OK, now mentally step back into reality and see if there is a creative way to work your interests in.
  4. Evaluate your fears. What are they keeping you from? Do you need to move? Change churches? Step out of people’s expectations? Has life become too “safe”? For years people have been telling me that I should sell my jewelry. I always said no because I didn’t want to turn my hobby into a job and take the fun out of it. Reasonable right? I sat back last month and was very honest with myself…Is that the whole reason? No, not totally. I was insecure that what I made would never be good enough and fears that people wouldn’t actually want to pay for them? What if they criticize me? How do I put myself out there like that? Well…I can tell you that after living through this last year I had to laugh at myself a little bit. Seriously, what is a bad review in the grand scheme of things? 🙂 So, I decided to give it a whirl…I will use the money I raise to fly home to Seattle more often and I can always stop if I don’t like it. This is part of my “living” in 2013. I will start with my trees but might expand to other items. You can look for the store opening sometime in mid-April. Get excited.
  5. Are there disciplines you want to explore? Yoga, running, meditation?
  6. There are some interesting practical tips on active waiting at

If you have any other suggestions for “active waiting” please leave them in the comments section. Til next Wednesday.



PS – You can follow this link for a sneak peak at my online store – Burning Brightly
I will be out of town until the middle of April but will open it up for sales then…eek it’s really happening 🙂

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