“Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.” -Numbers 9:22
In the twenty-one years that I’ve been around, there is one thing that I’ve learned: Waiting is hard. But another thing that I’ve learned is that waiting is incredibly important.
I think one thing that is so hard about waiting is the fact that we’re often waiting without control over a circumstance, or we’re waiting with control over a circumstance. Each situation can be equally hard, but God is equally in them both.
I’ve recently found myself in a season of waiting. Waiting for God to move and give further instruction. And I think a lot of us miss this season of waiting because we’re simply unwilling to wait, or we don’t think that God would make us wait. But I have come to learn that God is a God with a perfect timetable, and we need to be sure to stay on it.
We see in Scripture that the Israelites, God’s chosen people, endured a season of what I like to call: Waiting: Between the No, and the Not Yet.
And this is exactly the season I have been finding myself in lately.
A season where God has called you out of what is not His will—or no longer His will—but He hasn’t brought you into all He has for you yet. We experience this all the time.
One relationship has ended, but you have yet to start a new and right one.
Our job comes to an end, but we have yet to step into our dream jobs, and we’re seemingly stuck with the job we have now.
We’ve moved from one location, but we’re not where we’ve dreamed of being. So we stay where we are instead of where we want to be.
This is what was happening with the Israelites: God has called them out of their horrible season of slavery and bondage in Egypt, and they were making their way to the land that God had promised them, often referred to as the Promised Land. Yet, they found themselves in the Desert, which was in-between point A and point B, for a long time until they reached their destination. And while the Israelites stayed in the desert way longer than what it would normally take to get to their destination because of their own disobedience, there is one thing I took note of that I found commendable in their behavior. And it was their act of waiting.
We see in Numbers chapter 9 that God has a way of moving the Israelites. There was a cloud that would cover the Tabernacle, where God would meet with His people, and when it was time to set out to a new destination on their way to the Promised Land, the cloud would lift. When they were to encamp at a destination, the cloud would settle. Numbers 9:18 tells us, “At the LORD’s command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.” And I love the next verse. Verse 19 tells us, “When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’s order and did not set out.” Even when it was a long time, the Israelites didn’t jump ahead and move before God told them to.
We often think that God wants us continually moving about and being busy doing His work, and while there are times and seasons where He has us doing these things, we often forget there may be times where God calls us to just stay put, stay still, and stay faithful. And yet, we often mistake times of waiting as times of wasting time. But this is not what the time of waiting is designed for.
If you find yourself in the season of “Between no but not yet”, be encouraged that God is preparing you now for the not yet. God sees everything, and His timing is completely perfect. Even if we don’t understand why we’re in a season of waiting, and even if nothing makes sense, don’t underestimate what God is doing. Use this season of waiting to press into all He is trying to say to you, and learn to listen to His leading and promptings that will take you through this season into all He has for you, and every day from here on out. He’s up to something better than you can imagine, and He’ll bring you into all of it if you just stay obedient and faithful, even—and especially—in the times of waiting.
In part two, I’ll talk about how to wait (and how not to). We’ll talk soon 🙂