I recently read a book called Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams are Delayed, by Betsy Childs Howard. While I initially read the book with singleness in mind, I soon realized that its truths apply to many aspects of life, particularly life overseas. Looking back, my journey of life overseas has been filled with seasons of waiting. To begin, I waited through several years of schooling in preparation for moving overseas. When that was finished, I waited almost five more years to gain professional experience and pay off my student loans. While I didn’t have to wait too long for a job opportunity to open up, the months leading up to my move were still filled with waiting and preparation. And now that I’m here, the waiting continues, in ways big and small.
I find myself waiting for my language to improve so that I can share the Gospel more deeply and effectively with colleagues and friends; I find myself waiting for friendships to develop and deepen; I find myself waiting on the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts and lives of dear friends so that they’ll put their faith and trust in Christ alone for salvation…The list goes on and on. I also find myself waiting in many small ways: for the bus to come, in line with the masses at the store, for my drinking water to be delivered, etc. The waiting is active, of course, filled with hard work, lots of praying, progress, set-backs, joy, and tears. But it’s still waiting.
Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I let all this waiting discourage and frustrate me, and in the process, I miss God’s good purposes for it. But, as Howard aptly points out, “Waiting exposes our idols and throws a wrench into our coping mechanisms. It brings us to the end of what we can control and forces us to cry out to God. God doesn’t waste our waiting. He uses it to conform us to the image of his Son” (Chapter 1).
God used this book to graciously remind me that He has a plan, a reason for all my waiting. Not only does He use it for my sanctification, He “gives [me] the opportunity to live out a story that portrays the Gospel and serves as a kingdom parable” (Chapter 1). As I continue to wait on many things in this life, I’m reminded of what we’re all ultimately waiting for: the return of our Savior and King, Jesus. Though the waiting will be filled with struggles and pain, I’m comforted when I remember that God “will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” (Rev. 21:4). And so I pray for grace and strength to wait well. Though I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait for my dear Hui friends to trust in Christ, or for the opportunity to disciple a new Hui believer, I’m encouraged to wait patiently and with great anticipation, because we’re promised that one day all waiting will end. We’re reminded that God’s delay is so that many more may repent and believe. My prayer is that He’ll use our seasons of waiting to proclaim to a watching world the great hope we have in Christ, and that many Hui may find salvation in Him.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruits of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-8
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9