…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
Waiting on the Lord requires patience. Oh, I had that. Anyone sense the sarcasm?
Stephen and I were newlyweds. His first duty station as a young private was a year-long, unaccompanied tour in South Korea. I couldn’t go with him. Heart wrenching, but we shrugged it off. After all, a year flies, and then we’d be together again.
We knew God wanted us to serve Him, and we were both willing to go wherever He called. Though, I was pretty sure it had to be Africa or South America. A year gave me plenty of time to brush up on my Spanish speaking skills. The plan was set, and I was a woman who would wait on the Lord.
While I waited, I busied myself leading groups at church for teen girls, worked a customer service job during the day, attended college in the afternoon, and picked up evening shifts waitressing. Surely enduring such a load qualified me for a degree (or at least a certificate) in patience.
Eight months into that year-long unaccompanied tour to Korea, we got word my husband would finish the tour and then deploy to Iraq for a year. The plates I’d been spinning crashed and shattered.
Hadn’t I heard God correctly? What about the plan? It was supposed to be one year, and then Stephen would be home. Now he was going to war? How could God allow this to happen?
One year turned into two. Stephen came home for just a bit, but our marriage became rocky. Another deployment came. This time it was fifteen months. The years passed. More deployments. I began to wonder if God had ever even spoke a promise to me at all. Perhaps I had to be the one to make the first move. Maybe God only meant I was supposed to be a missionary.
Looking back, I see the danger in my thinking. In my impatience, my desire to bring about God’s promise, could have ruined everything. What if I had made the decision to leave my husband? The repercussions would’ve reached far and wide.
Patience is a tricky thing. Even the great people of the Bible, like Abraham and Sarah, struggled with patience. As David Cerullo shares in the Crossroads video, Abraham and Sarah’s lack of patience resulted in the birth of Ishmael, through whom the Arabic people trace their lineage. The Jewish people claim Isaac was the child of promise, while the Arabic people claim Ishmael was the child of promise, hence thousands of years of conflict.
As a military wife, I’ve been impacted by this conflict, which is mind boggling to think about. Abraham and Sarah’s impatience ultimately led to the War on Terror, the reason my husband spent many years away from our family and the reason I questioned God’s timing.
But what’s so wrong with being impatient, other than the inconvenience of waiting? When we are impatient we can miss out on God’s blessings, and it becomes a waste of our time. And when we act on our impatience, forcing our promises to come to fruition, we are trying to be our own God…and that is a sin. Like David Cerullo points out, our impatience may lead to consequences more far-reaching than our intention, even touching generations to come.
At its core, impatience is a greater symptom of the real problem—trust. Do we trust God to do what He says He will do? And while I jump at the opportunity to scream ‘yes, yes, I trust God,’ my actions don’t always tell the same story.
Nearly a decade after I heard God’s promise to Stephen and I that we’d be missionaries, it came. No, not in South America, or even Africa, but in the town God planted us. He gave us military families to minister to, and military wives, and people all around our community. His plan was so much better than the one I imagined.
We don’t know what the future holds, but God does. He sees past our life, and into the lives of our descendants. He knows what effects our choices will have, which makes me want to NEVER make a choice without Him, and to be the kind of person that waits on God patiently.
This article is a part of our Strengthen Your Walk Discipleship Course, Crossroads: Choices for a Better Life
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Hannah R. Conway is a military wife, mother of two, middle school teacher, best-selling author, and popular speaker. She and her family live in Tennessee. Learn more at hannahrconway.com