Active Waiting

At first these two words mays seem like an oxymoron. How can one actively wait? Isn’t the definition of “waiting” the absence of action?

I am going to argue that, in fact, we rarely simply wait. Think about the doctor’s office. Many times we wait for what seems an eternity for someone to come to the door and call our name. Many people read or peruse the pictures in the various magazines provided. Other people bring their own reading material or chat on their phones. Others people watch, or sleep. Some grumble or talk with the person they came with.

Waiting for a future time comes with countdowns—think Christmas or the last day of school. Usually excitement builds the closer the event comes. Or maybe it is trepidation that builds in the case of a surgery or move. People look at life events differently and react in various ways, but hardly ever do you hear of a person who simply sits staring into space as they wait. Even twiddling thumbs counts as an action.

Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3 commands Christians to work even as we wait for the Lord’s return. We are not to fall into idleness and gossip as we wait. Work keeps us busy and fruitful. It prevents laziness and evil from gaining a foothold. So, as we wait for the direction from God as to His will or the next move we should make, we are to wait actively.

How do we do that? Waiting for a direction or plan from God can take quite a long time to our human brains. We can fill our time with things that will draw us closer to Jesus, give us more skills to better fulfill our purpose and search for the direction God would have us to take.

In my last post, I wrote about patience and waiting for God’s timing to achieve the goals and dreams He gives us. In this post, I am talking about what we can do while we wait. Developing a regular reliance on prayer is a fantastic way to fill our wait times. Reading and studying scripture is another.

I know it isn’t the first time you’ve read this, nor am I the first person to say it. I have trouble too. These are things that often slip to the bottom of our ‘to do’ lists. They can be difficult to get done in the rush of everyday life, but if we learn to prioritize these things until they become part of our daily routine instead of additions to it, they will draw us closer to God and allow us to recognize the clues He sends us as to which way we should go, which job to pursue, which city to move to, which person to date. Whatever it is we are waiting for.

The more time we engage in prayer and fellowship, the more we learn about the nature of God, the more we draw close to Him, the better our use of our time of waiting and the more prepared we will be to act once that wait is over.

Max Lucado, in a study my Sunday School class is doing called Anxious for Nothing, reminds us that “What we have in Christ is greater than anything we don’t have in life.” The truth of these words can make it easier to wait on the Lord. But we must never wait in idleness. Work as we wait. Study as we wait. Love as we wait. Care for others as we wait. Connect as we wait.


I invite you to join me in my attempt to perfect the art of actively waiting. Let me know how you actively wait. What are you doing to draw closer to God as you wait on an answer or a direction? I’d love to connect with you!


  1. Desiray says:

    For me actively waiting is me not worrying or trying to make things happen. But it’s me going on with life having the confidence God has it all in control.


    1. You’re so right. That’s a great way to put it.


Comments are closed.