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September 10, 2021

How to Practice Active Waiting

Do you have a strong sense of direction in your life? Are you filled with passion and excitement for what’s next? Or are you feeling like it’s time for something new, and you’re wondering what that could be?

Waiting for change or for dreams to be fulfilled can be one of the most difficult parts of the Christian life. When God shows us a vision for His plan for us, we’re filled with anticipation and excitement. But when it doesn’t happen right away, or in our time frame, we face disappointment, discouragement and even restlessness.

When we’re ready for change, everything from waiting to find a partner or have a family to getting out of lockdown and travelling the world, waiting can be a frustrating experience. We don’t want to wait, we’re ready now! Waiting is uncomfortable and boring. We feel so much energy from our dream, the thing we’re waiting for, and that passion wanes the longer nothing happens.

In these periods of waiting, the stories in the Bible show us that God is still working–it’s just often beneath the surface. He’s preparing us for what’s next, or for the right timing, or we still need to learn something in between the now and the not yet.

So when we’re given a dream, but we’re in the midst of waiting for that to happen, what do we do? 

We actively wait with patience.

Active waiting vs. passive waiting

Waiting has a lot to do with trust. We choose to believe that God will bring the thing we’re waiting for to pass, and we trust Him to do it in His perfect timing. So what do we do in the meantime?

The saying, “it’s much easier to steer a ship that’s in motion,” is one of those proverbs that’s easy to spout but difficult to practice. When we feel like we’re in a fog, or not sure what the steps are to achieve an outcome we long for, steering the ship seems pointless. Shouldn’t we anchor it and study the maps for a bit longer?

Waiting around in the harbour is passive waiting while setting sail and listening for a direction change is active waiting. One feels safer than the other and yet if you’re not moving then you may not be ready to steer when an opportunity arises.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

How active waiting is also active patience

Active waiting takes a different posture than passive waiting. Often, when we’re sitting around waiting for something to happen we’re in a negative state. We do nothing, or we complain about the waiting. We may even be filled with cynicism and doubt that anything will actually happen.

Active waiting is more positive. It chooses to believe there’s purpose in the delay, and the person waiting seeks to develop good habits that are focused on preparing for this next thing. We are patient in our waiting.

Patience in its simplest form is, “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” However, patience can also be active or passive. Passive patience allows us to drop the negative mindset and yet take no action. Whereas active patience allows us to anticipate and prepare in the midst of waiting.

Active patience is a spiritual gift, a character trait that the Holy Spirit develops in us when we allow God to lead and guide us. It empowers us to enjoy the present without being anxious or fearful about the future and what is or isn’t happening. Active patience accepts delays and setbacks, is committed to future change and is willing to work towards a long-term outcome with discipline and joy.

How to practice active waiting

In general, employing spiritual practices such as regular prayer, Bible reading and participation in your church community will put your mind and heart in step with the Holy Spirit and allow you to hear from God. As well, it’s wise to seek godly counsel from trustworthy people in these periods of waiting.

Perhaps you’re waiting for career direction. If this is the case, work diligently at your present job while also exploring other opportunities. Update your resume, spend time asking God for direction and speak with trusted people about your situation.

Whatever aspect of your life has you in a pattern of waiting and seeking direction, find ways you can actively wait rather than sit back waiting for something to happen. It will not only distract your mind from the negative cycles we all battle, but it will help you find clarity and peace in the uncomfortable and often confusing time of waiting.

Robyn Roste

Robyn Roste is a professional writer with blogging, marketing and tourism experience. She also has a bachelor of journalism and diplomas in media and communications and biblical studies.

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