Waiting is harder than going. When God calls us to go, there are things to do, lists to complete, and people to see. When God asks us to wait, what do we do?
Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out (Numbers 9:17–19).
I have been thinking for a number of months about the Israelites on their journey from Egypt. They followed the Lord in the cloud by day and the fire by night. They were not able to plan ahead. When the cloud settled, they did not know if they were unpacking for a night or for a month. They could only keep their eyes on the Lord and follow.
Many years ago, just after I had graduated from the university and did not really know what my next steps would be, I went on a short-term missions trip to what was then the USSR. I lived with a local family in an apartment in a big dirty city. I remember one day looking at the bricks of this building that were covered in soot, and God asking me very clearly, “Would you live here if I asked you to?” I remember being surprised at how easy it was to answer, “Yes.” I knew that to be with God where He wanted me was the only place I wanted to be, no matter how that place might look.
Some years later as my husband and I prepared to go to the field together, I was again surprised to find how easy it was to say yes to God. The activity of going involves potential, purpose, and excitement. However, going usually turns into staying. For me, that is hard.
God’s cloud has not moved for over a year. I keep checking. I keep hoping. I keep pursuing possible “travel” plans, but we are still encamped.
Waiting, at first, seems such a passive thing. Yet we are asked to: Wait passionately for God, don’t leave the path (Psalm 37:34 The Message).
Active waiting—what does that look like? Does it look like my life?
Every day I need to fulfil the needs of family and complete the activities of daily life while also trying to maintain a prayerful posture focused on what is to come. I need to be meditating on the Word and listening for His voice. I need to be ready to follow the cloud, even when it does not move.
Question to consider: What does active waiting look like in your life?