God Who Uses Delay to Grow My Belief

My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. — Psalm 62:5

IN THE GRIT

We’ve visited the same stretch of beach nearly every year for twenty-five years. There is not enough distance between visits for my memory to lapse. When I’m back at the beach, I can access being seventeen and adventuresome.

And every year there is one event that I scrapbook in my mind. Unfailingly, the happenings at the beach seem to mark the movement of God within my heart.

This year’s mark went like this: The place we vacation is a tangle of beach homes and bike trails at the edge of an island. Some years we spend just as much time on our bikes as we do in the sand, zipping in and out of neighborhoods, scouting for alligators and egrets and blue herons, the exotic creatures we midwesterners don’t see.

Two days into our trip and halfway through our evening family bike ride, one of the children slid farther and farther back from our group. We lightheartedly cheered her on, “inviting” her to keep up the pace, with no success.

She didn’t budge.
This irritated me.
In the time that it took for me to slow down to where she was and let the others pass, I eked out a prayer: Give me patience with her, Lord.

So rather than chide her into keeping up with the others (something I’ve regretfully done in other areas of her life), I went her pace. We biked and talked. A little tenderness from me and her countenance lifted. (Having six people tell you to hurry doesn’t do a soul well.) And then I realized that I wasn’t only slow enough to see her — to look her in the eye and know that she just needed someone to be with her — but I was slow enough to hear Him. The setting sun lit the pond we passed. The bullfrogs sang in chorus. My little girl began to recover and even glow. Whether it was His creation speaking or Him, I don’t know, but it called me to attention.

This moment was my annual beach whisper from God.

Weeks earlier, I had asked Him about an upcoming writing project, and the phrase that came to me as I prayed over days was this: “Grow slow.”

Very little about life in the twenty-first century encourages the value of slow growth. The news and our Twitter feeds become dated after twenty-four hours. Babies learn to read and get potty-trained. Eight-year-olds can travel the country for select-team athletics. And Miracle Gro promises to produce buds on my roses within days.

None of these things, by themselves, is wrong. None. God can feed five thousand from one kid’s lunch. He can speed growth.

But when we make the exception — fast and out-of-time growth — to be our standard for living, our souls can cave under the weight.

My puttering bike trip with the girl whose heart was reviving at the thought that she could “be” instead of having to keep in time and in step with her siblings was the picture of that phrase He’d given me — grow slow.

Slide the watch off your wrist. Open your eyes to the view along the way.

Grow slow feels hard to me when I peer at what others are doing. But it feels invigorating when I consider that the God of all time ordains my times and seasons — so when He says, Grow slow, the phrase promises growth. Grow slow isn’t stagnancy; it’s the true metric for endurance that our digital world doesn’t heed. What I get when I wrestle with this invitation not to grow as the world grows but to grow slow is the revelation that my heart is much more patterned toward the timing and thinking of the world than I’ve ever acknowledged.

I have a subtle drive to grow big and fast. Here’s how I can tell: I want our children to have the emotional dignity of thirty-five-year-olds when they’re twelve and in (normal) conflict with each other. In my more frantic moments, I want my four-year-old to learn his letters (and now), and I want someone, anyone, to see (with maturity) the connection between the number of condiments they use on their eggs and our ever-increasing grocery bill.

When I look closely, no one under my roof seems to be growing fast and big. Could the daily frustrations I feel trace back to my expectation that the best things in life explode overnight, rather than sit in the beauty of the slow and steady (and profound and lasting) growth that God often desires?

God gives us the waiting room, yet I see that the waiting room is merely that for many: a place to sit and wait, restless. He gave me the waiting room in my infertility, in my marriage, and dozens of times since — in events both big and small. Gritting my teeth and enduring or checking my watch felt natural. It’s what you do in the waiting room. Yet this daughter, in this moment, opened me to hear His whisper, and I adored.
 Psalm 62:5 tells me that my expectancy can grow in the waiting room. Against a world that speeds and a culture that tells me to hurry and an internal drive that measures my productivity, I adore through Psalm 62:5 and I stay on one phrase:

My expectancy is from Him.

I unclench my fist as I adore. The memory of that bike ride brings back the smell of salty air. I replace the expectations I have for my task list and accomplishments with Him. My expectancy is from Him, I tell Him and my soul as I adore. The waiting room looks different. Purposed. He meets me in the waiting room as I adore. It doesn’t feel so claustrophobic, so limiting. It feels expansive as I adore and imbibe His perspective on the waiting room. There is intention in that room.

In adoration, I revisit the truth that expands my insides, over and over again without shame.

AND HERE, IN THE MIDDLE MINUTES, WE ADORE

FROM PSALM 62:5

You use every minute of my delay to grow me. The waiting room is Yours to hold, to use, to fashion. Every halted circumstance, every thwarted minute, every time my watch stops: You use it to grow my insides, to grow my expectancy in You.

As my externals stall, You create an expectancy in You within me.

I adore You, God of the waiting room. I praise You for turning what is otherwise discarded into a place where You grow me. I adore You for meeting me in the waiting and changing me in the waiting.

I adore You for growing me slowly, God. Your way. I adore You for Your way, God. The best way.

GOD WHO USES DELAY TO GROW MY BELIEF

Psalm 27:14 | Psalm 32:20-22 | Psalm 37:34 | Psalm 40:1-3 | Psalm 62:1 | Psalm 62:5 | Psalm 123:2 | Psalm 130:5-7 | Isaiah 30:18 | Isaiah 40:31 | Lamentations 3:25-27 | Micah 7:7 | Romans 5:3-5 | Romans 8:23-25 | James 1:2-4 | James 5:7-8 | 1 Peter 1:6-8

TINY (BIG) PRAYERS

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. — Isaiah 40:31

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. — Lamentations 3:25

I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. — Micah 7:7

Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete. — James 1:4

DIALOGUE WITH HIM

My desire to heed His whisper, Grow slow, is not because I angle toward the small. It’s the opposite. I want to see small fires of His heart spread everywhere across the earth into a raging blaze. (How’s that for dramatic? It has been my prayer for years.) And I’m growing to trust Him enough to know that He put this desire within me, and so when He helps me to move in better step with His timing, I best listen. His way makes a harvest.

How about you? Where might He be “shackling” you with a slow biker to show you, in a picture or in a whisper, the timing He has for your current moment? Where is your waiting room? (Often it helps to identify it, rather than responding to it without naming it. Once we name it, we can ask for His presence there.)

Ask Him to prepare your heart to reclaim that room for Him. This is not a flippant decision nor is it a one-time decision; it is a progressive movement toward seeing what the world sees — and what you see — as waste through His eyes.

When you are ready (that doesn’t mean when you are convinced; it means when you are prepared to unclench your fists and surrender this waiting room to Him), adore Him from that place. Ask Him to expand your insides to see what He sees there as you adore. Prepare to receive the waiting room in a new way.

Excerpted with permission from Adore by Sara Hagerty, copyright Sara Hagerty.

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Your Turn

It’s what you do in the waiting room. We’re all waiting right now. Is your expectancy growing? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

Sara Hagerty

Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the ocean to Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her. His Word and His whisper took on new shape and form to her in the dark. Sara writes regularly about life-delays, finding God in the unlikely, motherhood, marriage and adoption at http://EveryBitterThingisSweet.com.

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