How We’re Learning
By Katye Riselli
“Hurry up and wait” is one of the phrases that best describes military life. Everything (and everyone) needs to be ready now, but then we wait.
There’s an element of waiting for all aspects of life in the military, but the most pronounced is the waiting to go. The only constant in our lives is change, so we live accordingly – poised to pack and leave as soon as someone gives the word. We’re ready, but we’re waiting to know exactly when and where.
I remember a few years ago when my perspective on waiting began to shift. My husband had been assigned to a one year, professional military education program, so we knew our time in Alabama would be brief. We anticipated news of our next assignment as early as February, so by mid-month, I began greeting my husband every evening with an expectant look, asking, “Any news yet?”
As the weeks passed, the calendar pages flipped from February to March and into April. I quit expecting good news. We’d heard too many rumors to put much credence in anything. We’d been told to expect the Pentagon. Then, maybe orders to Louisiana, but as we approached Easter, all certainty disappeared as helpful friends and mentors suggested three other possible states.
The wait exhausted me. The quiet whisper in the back of my mind lured me to believe no news must mean bad news. A long wait for these orders could only mean a deployment or a remote assignment. Fear began to crowd out expectation and I steeled my heart for disappointment. If the best offense is a good defense, surely preparation for bad news would best equip me to endure the hardship tour. Dread replaced hope and I quit asking my husband if he’d heard anything.
In mid-April, 30 days before the end of my husband’s assignment, I attended the women’s Bible study at my church. The guest teaching our lesson was an older woman, in her 90s but full of life and a huge smile. She spoke with southern sass, confidently owning her age, unapologetic about her desire to arrive in heaven, free of the aches and pains of old age.
She opened her remarks by telling us she began each day by looking out the window at the sunrise, asking the Lord, “Is this the day?” Then she would recite Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Each day at her age is a gift, so if she woke up, she expected the Lord had a specific purpose for her in the day ahead. After all, she told us with a wink, it might be her last day so she couldn’t put off today with any promise of tomorrow.
“Age rekindles your sense of expectancy,” she shared. “But don’t wait to be my age to live like this.” As believers we live expectantly at all ages because we know Jesus. She pointed to the disciple Thomas who argued with Jesus, saying, “but we don’t know where you’re going.” Jesus’ simple response speaks volumes: “I AM the way.”
In every wait, we don’t know where or when, but we know the way. Through Jesus’ life and death we know the fulfillment of the promises of God to His people. Jesus proved God is trustworthy. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, the evidence of well-placed faith and a sure hope in any circumstance, every day.
Her words that morning struck me, shining a light deep into my heart. I couldn’t ignore the stark contrast between her approach to living expectantly, full of confidence, and my own approach of managing my expectations, preparing for disappointment. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I asked the Lord to help me trust him and to live expectantly, especially as we waited for news of our next assignment.
I’d like to tell you I went home that day and my husband arrived with orders, but he didn’t. Weeks later when we finally got word of our new assignment, just days before he graduated from his program, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the lessons of waiting had divinely shifted my approach to life, especially in the military.
We spend an inordinate amount of time waiting, and how we wait matters. Our approach to seasons of waiting reveals our deepest beliefs. In Christ we are free from fear, anxiety, trepidation, doubt, and a host of other lies that seem to threaten the foundation of our lives. We are free to trust God, compelled by His great love for us through Jesus, full of confidence because every promise in the Bible is already “Yes and amen” for those who believe.
We are free to wait expectantly – with GREAT EXPECTATION – because no matter where we go, we stand firmly upon a sure foundation of faith.
How to Wait Expectantly:
- Seek Truth: What do you believe to be true? Do you rely upon what you can see and feel and touch in order to know it is true? Do you believe God, the Giver of life, has good plans for His children? Do you believe that God will provide blessing in every circumstance? When I was waiting for the military to tell us where to go, I doubted God had a good plan for me and for my family. After an amazing year with an incredible church and spiritual community, I worried about orders to a barren land where God felt far away. As I searched Scripture about God’s character, I discovered truth provided a sure foundation for my heart while we waited.
- Speak Life: Waiting can feel like darkness has descended. When silence threatens our confidence, we need the Light of Life to speak truth over our circumstances. Choose a character trait of God to counter the quiet lie that whispers doubt. Find a Bible verse or two to memorize; speak the truth aloud as you pray and worship. When waiting for orders, I rediscovered these verses that promised God’s provision and protection: “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses… As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:3, 5, 9)
- Sow Faith: The Bible tells us repeatedly God is intentional and involved in the lives of His people, so we can know with confidence every season of waiting is purposed to prepare us. I believe how we wait matters because it shapes our future. As we you seek truth and speak life, you’re sowing faith. Filling our minds with truth offers deep roots, bolstering faith, ensuring we’re less susceptible to fierce winds. As I felt my faith grow, I began to look forward to our next military chapter rather than dread the proverbial shoe. I began to live with expectation.
- See Promise: When we live expectantly, we look for God to fulfill His promises. Seeking truth reminds us God is still at work in our lives, speaking life fills our minds and our hearts with the confidence for the journey, sowing faith lifts our eyes to watch and see promise. Let’s not miss God’s intentional involvement in our lives. Let’s expect His provision, His protection and His fulfillment of every promise.
This week as we begin Advent, consider how the experience of God’s people before Jesus’ birth mirrors our own experience in seasons of waiting. God’s people had seen Him do great work. God had provided prophets to speak His truth, to deliver His people from bondage, to lead them in the wilderness, and to remind them of His promises.
Then came 500 years of silence.
Stories passed from generation to generation began to sound like rumors. Confidence faltered. Rather than living as people of the promise, they began believing what they lived, certain only of what they could see and touch. Experience edged out expectancy in their hearts. As a result, many missed the arrival of His Messiah.
Centuries later it seems astounding to imagine people who knew God’s word could mistake the birth of Jesus for anything other than the fulfillment of His promise.
Yet, how often do we do the same? How often do we mistake silence or delay for God’s displeasure or departure? How often do we miss His greatest work in our lives because we are not watching expectantly for Him? Perhaps this season of Advent is the perfect time for all of us to rekindle our sense of expectancy.
Verses to Consider:
“Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved… My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:1-2, 5)
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” (Lamentations 3:25)
Lord, you are the Giver of Life and the Source of all Truth. Help me seek your truth in my circumstances. Encourage my heart and fill my mind with Your word so it may breathe life and light into the dark places. Grow my faith in this season, bolster my confidence and help me dig deep roots so I will not be swayed by fierce storms. Open my eyes, Lord, to see your mighty work in my life and the lives around me. We want to see your promises fulfilled. Amen.