This time last year Marcus and I had returned from a visit to Papua New Guinea with a clear call from God. We had just said yes to taking up a voluntary position over there. We expected it would be a matter of a few months and we would be packing up our home and saying goodbye to friends and family before moving countries to work. Becoming cross-cultural missionaries is a good thing, right, although it's never an easy thing leaving a comfortable culture and moving to a highly volatile one. We knew it would be hard but the call from God was clear.
For many the call to the overseas mission field is a call to sacrifice, often involving isolation and hardship. Some I know have prepared and waited years and years to go after they were called. Some wait endlessly on Government departments for visas. In our case only 12 months have elapsed but it feels like forever! December 2012, we were called. January 2013, we visited. February 2013, we were invited and said yes, and now it's February 2014, and we are still waiting.
We have lived in a state of limbo for the past 12 months. Drawn to a place we want to be and where we believe God wants us to be, makes the waiting all the more difficult. Our mission agency's policy is not to pay bribes, as they feel called to be counter cultural to the corruption that exists within the developing country of PNG. I totally agree, in theory, but in practise, I just want to get there! I really don’t want them to pay bribes either, but this waiting is hard!
As the journey started, we were so full of excitement at what 2013 would hold, but after months of not hearing anything and knowing this official 'tick' we are wanting from the government is only the first of many, the excitement started to wane. Our expectations went from 8 weeks to get there, to months and months of excruciating waiting. Our friends who have been there, smiled and told us this is good training for life in a developing country; learning patience, understanding corruption, knowing nothing happens in a hurry. The waiting was our training ground.
With our call still fresh and our excitement waning, I searched in my concordance to see what the Word of God said about ‘waiting’. What I unearthed was food for a hungry soul and hydration for drying lips.
Many of us have had times in our lives where we have had to wait, consoling ourselves with the truth that God's timing is perfect. We grab hold of verses like Habakkuk 2:3 "For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay." We trust that God's timing is neither early nor late. We can trust Him to answer, as Psalm 38:15 says "But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer." I guess we can just get a little impatient sometimes.
Why the waiting then? Surely it's a good thing to go to a developing country as missionaries? We are needed in this role, in fact they want us there yesterday. But still we wait.
There is that old adage that says 'good things take time'. Just because something is of God doesn't mean it's going to happen tomorrow. Just because God has called you, doesn't mean He's in a rush.
I can see how this year has been used by God to grow us spiritually. Isaiah 40:31 says "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
What are you waiting on? What have you waited on? Can you see the Lord working as you waited? Maybe you are right bang in the middle of a call from God. You feel He has planted a dream or desire in your heart and you are in a rush to serve Him. That's not a bad thing. God loves it when we are obedient, but trust Him with the timing. It's hard to 'be still' or 'wait patiently' when we long to serve God with our lives.
You may have had a call to change jobs, yet the right one hasn't come along yet. You could have been called into ministry, yet the right opportunity hasn't come up. Maybe it's a matter of being called out of something, yet no one is there to replace you. Perhaps you have been called to pray for the salvation of someone ... 12 years ago, and still you wait to see the fruit of your hearts cry for that loved one. It's not easy to wait, especially for the good stuff.
Psalm 37:7 says it so serenely "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him". If God has called and you have said yes, you can rest in knowing He's not twiddling His all powerful thumbs. It may seem like nothing is happening, but things are moving, because the One who created heaven and earth is working His will in your life. Don't waste the waiting, by longing for what is to come. Keep that as your focus, but learn all you can while you wait. Psalm 27:14 says "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"
Our call is to obedience and as the Word says, we wait for the appointed time. We can trust Him, as the LORD is the author of time. The fact that we are told not to fret, but be patient and hope in Him, doesn’t make it easy, it only makes it do-able.
Psalm 62:5 says "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him."