Much of life is lived in the valley of waiting. You may be waiting for a spouse, or for healing, or for a loved one to return to you, or for a job, or for grief to pass or peace to come or hope to rise or a hundred other things. Ten years ago, my mom was in Hospice, and she came to a place in her valley where she was simply waiting to go Home.
What do we do while we are waiting? That’s the important question. Not why we are in the valley or why we don’t yet have what we are waiting for. Here are a few things God is teaching me as I am in my valley of waiting:
First, I walk with God through it. Psalm 23 promises that even though I walk through the valley, that I do not need to fear any evil, that God is with me. The two most important words in this psalm are through and with. I will get through this as he walks with me. God draws me even nearer to him in the valley. I need him. I realize I can’t get through without him. My part is to draw near to him, spending time alone with him, often in solitude, reading his Word and in prayer. Often, I simply need to be still and know he is God (and I’m not). I surrender my way of doing things for his way and his will. I simply acknowledge my utter dependence and trust in him as I wait.
Second, I respond to Jesus and take his yoke. We can easily become weary and burdened as we walk through the valley of waiting. To which Jesus offers: Come to me … and I will give you rest. Then he tells me how: “Take my yoke upon you.” To take a yoke in New Testament times meant to become a disciple. It means to join Jesus in such a way that I am totally dependent on him. I submit to walk in the direction he walks and at his speed.
Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. Taking his yoke upon me means I trust in him totally. In my valley of waiting, I must learn to do this. My normal human tendency is to try to make things happen in my own timing. There is none of this when we submit to walking with Christ as his disciple. He is in control in this valley of waiting. Not me. This is hard to do at first. It goes against my (human) nature. But when I surrender control to him, he gives me rest for my soul.
Third, I lean on friends. The valley of waiting is no time to go it alone. My friends are a gift from God to walk through this with me. Two are better than one. I am blessed beyond words for my friends who have picked me up in the midst of this valley. I’ve spent hours on the phone with them and meeting with them, seeking their counsel and encouragement.
God’s Word tells us to seek the advice of many counselors because we need others’ input. I need them to encourage, love, accept, and admonish me. I need them to pray for me and help me carry my burdens. They do not replace God in any of this, but he uses them to teach me and care for me in the valley.
Fourth, I ask God to act in a way that only he can. I have a choice as I walk in this valley of waiting. I can do this God’s way or the world’s way. Recognize every day, even every hour, that only God can provide what you are waiting for. My prayer has been, Lord, fill in the empty places in my heart. Only you can give me life, joy, peace, hope. You are life and my source of real life. No one and nothing else can satisfy me or fix the broken or missing parts in my life. My hope is in you alone.
When you ask, you may need to wait some more for his response. His stillness, especially at first, does not mean he is not listening. It may mean he wants you to keep coming to him, keep asking, seeking, knocking, because, more than anything else, he wants to have a relationship with you. Realize this is part of his design. Do not give up. He cherishes the time you are taking to talk with him and wait for him. He is teaching you something in the midst of the waiting. So ask him, Father, what do you want me to learn through this? How do you want to use this to make me a better person?
What are you learning or have you learned in your valley of waiting?
What helped you the most in that valley?