Written by Heather Broughman
This is an adapted excerpt from my upcoming book. Things that the Lord has taught me and is still teaching me about trusting His wisdom and His timing! I pray that as you read this the Lord will minister something much greater and deeper that the mere words on this page!
I will never forget the night that the Lord started to shift my perspective on passive vs active waiting. It was a season where I was feeling extremely frustrated in the waiting and like the scripture where it talks about hope deferred makes the heart sick, I felt like my heart was sick with an aching to see God move on my behalf. I had gone over to visit my cousin, Dannell, and we ended up having one of our much treasured heart to hearts. That night, as I shared how discouraged I was feeling, she reminded me of the movie, Facing The Giants. There’s a scene where Coach Taylor confesses to this gentleman, Mr. Bridges, that he’s been struggling, but he goes on to say that he has also been praying. And although he’s been praying, he just doesn’t see God working in his situation. Mr. Bridges turns to him and begins to tell him a story of two farmers who were in desperate need of rain. They were in a season of drought, and both of them prayed for rain, but only one of them actually went out and prepared his field for it. Mr. Bridges then poses the question, “which farmer do you think trusted God for the rain?” Obviously it’s the one that prepared his field to receive the rain. And then he asks the question, “which one are you?”
The difference between passive and active waiting is in preparing to receive the promise. God loves us! And while His heart is to give His children good gifts, He also wants to make sure that we are ready to steward those gifts well. Think about it. Why would He ever want to bring us something that we’re not prepared to receive? In His great wisdom and foresight, He knows that what intends to be a good gift could become catastrophic if the recipient is not prepared to receive it. Can you imagine what the unprepared farmer must have felt when the rain finally came? Maybe intense turmoil and possibly even regret.
When we choose to actively wait, this space or waiting room that we’ve created for God to move now becomes a place where God cultivates in us His character. Where He prepares us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to receive the promises that He has made to us and the fulfillment of the dreams that we have dreamt with Him. It’s a place where He grows us in maturity, and makes sure our foundations are solidly built in Him. Where we learn to trust His wisdom above our own. And even when we’ve done all that we know to do to prepare, sometimes God, in His lovingkindness, will do a deeper work of uprooting things in our hearts that are not of Him. Things such as perfectionism, shame, pride, control issues; anything that may grow like weeds in a garden choking the life out of that which the Lord has planted in us.
Active by definition means to engage. I want to be clear and say that active waiting is different from striving. Striving is when we try to do things on our own and with our own strength. Active waiting is when we engage with God, and instead of trying to accomplish things on our own, we partner with Him as co-laborers. These are two very different things that produce two very different outcomes.
If we truly believe that we are not alone in the waiting, but that God is with us, then why ignore Him? Let’s choose to engage Him, to turn our full attention upon Him as we wait and contend for Him to move. And even when we find ourselves in a place of frustration and disappointment, let’s choose to be like Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 and pour our hearts out to God. Inviting Him into our situation instead of shutting Him out. We may not know God’s timeline or even what preparation or deeper work we still need, but He most certainly does! And even when things don’t turn out as we had hoped or imagined, remember that He is with us, He is for us, and His plans always turn out far greater than we could ever dream! He’s never failed us, and He won’t start now!