Once asked to define life as a military spouse in 4 words or less, I quipped: “Hurry up and wait.” There’s little grace to the messy madness we call “normal.” We hurry all day every day to be ready now, but then we wait.
We live poised to pack and go at a moment’s notice. Almost from the moment we finish unpacking the last box, we’re waiting to know when and where we’ll go next.
(Even when we’re not wondering, someone is already asking. It’s September, but I’ll bet at least one neighbor has asked where you’re going next summer.)
Our shortest military assignment became the longest wait for the next set of orders. I didn’t handle it well, but I learned a lot about waiting with grace. In fact, that’s the year I realized how much my life as a military spouse requires me to physically live what I say I believe.
How I live manifests my faith.
We knew our time in Alabama would be brief so we anticipated hearing about our next assignment as early as February. Nearly every night I greeted my husband with an expectant look, asking, “Any news yet?”
Weeks passed. By Easter, I quit expecting good news. We’d heard too many rumors to put much credence in anything. I crossed my fingers when possible orders to the Pentagon meant my girls might go to school with their cousins. Competing interests soon crushed any dream of returning to Virginia.
Suddenly my list of places to research houses and school districts spanned 5 different states in 3 different time zones.
The wait exhausted me. The quiet whisper in the back of my mind lured me to believe no news must mean bad news. Fear began to crowd out expectation and I steeled my heart accept the deployment that was surely coming. If the best offense is a good defense, preparation for bad news would best equip me to endure the hardship tour. Dread replaced hope and I quit asking my husband if he had news.
One morning near the end of our assignment, I walked into the women’s bible study at my church with a heavy heart. The guest teaching our lesson was an older woman, in her 90s but full of life and a huge smile. She spoke with southern sass, confidently owning her age, unapologetic about her desire to arrive in heaven, free of the aches and pains of old age.
She opened by telling us she began each day by looking out the window at the sunrise, asking the Lord, “Is this the day?” Then she would recite Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Each day at her age is a gift, she said, so if she woke up, she expected the Lord had a specific purpose for her. After all, she told us with a wink, it might be her last day so she couldn’t put off today with any promise of tomorrow.
“Age rekindles your sense of expectancy,” she shared. “But don’t wait to be my age to live like this.”
Her perspective nudged at my shuttered heart.
When we know Jesus, we’re invited to live expectantly, even when we’re waiting. She pointed us to the disciple Thomas who argued with Jesus saying, “but we don’t know where you’re going.” Jesus’ simple response spoke volumes: “I AM the way.”
In every wait, we may not know where or when, but we know the way.
Her words shone a light deep into my heart. I couldn’t ignore the stark contrast between her hopeful confidence and my own fear of disappointment. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I asked the Lord to help me trust him and to live expectantly.
I’d like to tell you I’ve become better at waiting, but that would be too generous. I still identify with my youngest who knows what she wants and she wants it now – and she unapologetically tells her father and me how much she hates waiting.
But these four steps for enduring any wait have equipped me to navigate life with a little more grace and a bit less foot stomping.
Four steps to wait with grace:
- Seek Truth: What do you believe to be true? Do you rely upon what you can see and feel and touch in order to know it is true? Do you believe God, the Giver of life, has good plans for His children? Do you believe that God will provide blessing in every circumstance? When I was waiting for the military to tell us where to go, I doubted God had a good plan for me and for my family. After an amazing year with an incredible church and spiritual community, I worried about orders to a barren land where God felt far away. As I searched Scripture about God’s character, I discovered God’s word provides a sure foundation for my restless heart.
- Speak Life: Waiting can feel like darkness has descended. When silence threatens our confidence, we need the Light of Life to speak truth over our circumstances. Choose a character trait of God to counter the quiet lie that whispers doubt. Find Bible verses to memorize for this waiting season. When waiting for orders, I rediscovered these verses that promised God’s provision and protection:
“I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. … As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:3,5,9)
- Sow Faith: The Bible tells us repeatedly God is intentionally involved the lives of His people, so we can know with confidence every season of waiting is purposed to prepare us. I believe how we wait matters because it shapes our future. As we you seek truth and speak life, you’re sowing faith for the future you can’t see yet. Filling our minds with truth offers deep roots to sustain our faith, ensuring we’re less susceptible to fierce winds. As I felt my faith grow, I began to look forward to our next military chapter rather than dread the proverbial shoe. Faith opened my eyes and I expected to see God at work in my life.
- See Promise: When we live expectantly, we look for God to fulfill His promises. Seeking truth reminds us God is still at work in our lives, speaking life fills our minds and our hearts with the confidence for the journey, sowing faith lifts our eyes to watch and see promise. Let’s not miss God’s intentional involvement in our lives. Let’s expect his provision, his protection and His fulfillment of every promise.
Friends, we spend a lot of our days waiting for something or someone, and how we wait matters. Our approach to seasons of waiting reveals our deepest beliefs. In Christ we are free from fear, anxiety, trepidation, doubt, and a host of other lies that seem to threaten the foundation of our lives. But do our lives evidence those beliefs?
Here’s the truth: we can fully trust God in all circumstances. Through Jesus’ life and death we know the fulfillment of the promises of God to His people. Jesus proved God is trustworthy. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, the evidence of well-placed faith and a sure hope in any circumstance, every day.
Because we trust God and believe Jesus, we can wait with confidence because every promise in the Bible is already “Yes and amen” for those who believe. No matter what we’re waiting for, our foundation of faith enables us to look forward with expectation and hope.
Are you in a waiting season? Have you mistaken delay for God’s displeasure or departure? Has the silence shuttered your heart or stifled your hope? Perhaps this waiting season is the perfect time to rekindle your sense of expectancy. Consider beginning each day with a new outlook, asking whether today is the day. Look for where God is at work in your life. Let’s not miss His presence and provision in our lives today because we’re waiting for something else tomorrow.
Verses to Consider:
“Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. … My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:1-2, 5)
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”
Lord, you are the Giver of Life and the Source of all Truth. Help me to seek your truth in my circumstances. Encourage my heart and fill my mind with Your word so it may breathe life and light into the dark places. Grow my faith in this season, bolster my confidence and help me to dig deep roots so that I will not be swayed by fierce storms. Open my eyes, Lord, to see your mighty work in my life and the lives around me. We want to see your promises fulfilled. Amen.