"From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him." (Isaiah 64:4)

What Does Waiting for God Look Like?

Sunday Scripture

From of old no one has heard

    or perceived by the ear,

no eye has seen a God besides you,

    who acts for those who wait for him.”

Isaiah 64:4

Once again, Israel was in trouble. Enemies on every side threatened to swallow them up, and this time, instead of turning to the Living God, they were planning to run to Egypt for military aid, help they could see, warriors and armaments they could count–and count on.

The prophet Isaiah reminded the wayward nation of their true source of strength, the God who did “awesome things” that they did not look for, who “came down, and the mountains quaked” at his presence. (Isaiah 64:3) He reminds them in their nervous fidgets that God is in the habit of acting “for those who wait for him.”

Perhaps they wondered–as I sometimes wonder all these centuries later–what, exactly, does “waiting for God” look like? Does it mean I fold my hands and do nothing?

I see two answers to this question in Scripture:

  1. In the psalms, waiting for God is often synonymous with prayer. Is it my habit to go to God first when I don’t know what to do next? Before scheming, before strategizing, and before stressing, let’s spread our need out before the God of the universe. This is a kind of blessed inactivity that is no more absent of life than a drop of pond water under a microscope if only we have faith to let it be. This is the kind of waiting that precedes the Red Sea parting and the waters of the Jordan piling up in a heap before our feet!
  2. Then, when something has to be done, God enables us to do what is ours to do. The “waiting” continues in the midst of working as we go into battle expecting God to work alongside us. Proverbs 21:31 encourages this military mindset:

The horse is made ready for the day of battle,

    but the victory belongs to the Lord.”

As I partner with God in the work of mothering, ministering, and even gardening on this country hill, I am learning to wait and to work.

One day, a basket of sun-warmed tomatoes, a kettle of spaghetti sauce the next.
Of course, there’s more to that story–some work and some mess.

God works, we work, and sometimes we wait.

Sometimes waiting looks like planting a garden, chopping onions, simmering a slow sauce.

“From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.”
(Isaiah 64:4)

May you find peace in the waiting,

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38 thoughts on “What Does Waiting for God Look Like?”

  1. I am learning, in fits and starts I admit, to live in”be still and know that I God” mode in the waiting.

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  2. Your phrased waiting on the LORD so wonderfully! Thank you for sharing the analogy of the tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and the mess. It’s truly God inspired!

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  3. What an important reminder of the prayerful waiting and diligent working He calls us to do. One of my favorite quotes about waiting compares it to the rests in music. It has left an imprint on me for many years and reminds me that rest periods are not passive; they have purpose and actively prepare is for action:

    “There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by “rests,” and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune. God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the rest? See him beat the time with unvarying count, and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the “rests.” They are not to be slurred over nor to be omitted, nor to destroy the melody, nor to change the keynote. If we look up, God Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear.”

    Hopping over from Inspire Me Monday linkup. Here is a recent article I wrote about Psalm 23, if interested:
    https://elle-alice.blogspot.com/2020/08/a-shepherd-looks-at-psalm-23-part-8.html

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  4. Beautiful words, Michele. For some reason, they bring to mind an old Tom Petty song – “The Waiting Is the Hardest Part”. Waiting has never been an easy task for me but you are right – waiting does not mean doing NOTHING.

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  5. I like how you describe waiting as a time of inactivity but not an absence of life. Waiting is never easy but it is often in those times when God is working in us.

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  6. Waiting and working. Yes, those two often go hand in hand, don’t they.

    “The “waiting” continues in the midst of working as we go into battle expecting God to work alongside us.” I agree. And my youngest daughters would love to have a basket of those fresh tomatoes. She eats them like apples. 🙂

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    1. My oldest grandson is that way with tomatoes. In fact, he has a few special plants in my garden that are just for him–a cherry tomato variety that’s orange and very sweet and delicious. And I started this tradition because when he was a toddler, he would see a basket of tomatoes on my deck and methodically take a bite out of every single one. 🙂

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  7. You are in good company, Michele, drawing the conclusion that we are to work while we wait. “To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told”–Oswald Chambers. (I wonder if he made any spaghetti sauce during his wait times?)

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    1. Whoa! That’s a powerhouse word from Chambers. I love his work, and keep meaning to make another trip through My Utmost.
      I have a feeling Biddy made all Oswald’s spaghetti sauce for him…. Did they even eat Spaghetti in England back then???

      Liked by 1 person

  8. These days it certainly feels like we are surrounded by enemies on all sides!
    Great reminders, Michele. Waiting isn’t something I enjoy, but it seems like that is often the time when God does the most work in me. It’s as though perhaps I’m not as ready for something as I think. God has to do some work in my heart first.

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  9. I always love my time here 🙂

    I’m learning so much about the waiting, and I love the way you connect the waiting with praying. When we connect them, allow them to coexist, the waiting becomes easier, like a long, lingering coffee date with a friend.

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    1. I want to have that mindset when I come to prayer. How amazing that we have the holy ear of the God of the universe–but we fail to appreciate his availability and treat him like an appointment or a checkmark on our list…

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  10. ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
    ********************************************************

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  11. I think simmering a slow sauce is one of the best word pictures of waiting I’ve heard. Maybe I just love pasta! In any case, thanks Michele. This wisdom resonates!

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  12. Those are two great points. In times of waiting, instead of fretting and venting to everyone else under the sun, we can talk to Him and do whatever is at hand, leaving the rest to Him. Such peace there!

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  13. But waiting can be SO hard! LOL. I feel like this whole year has been one giant lesson in patience and letting things come in His time. Thanks for sharing this with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.

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