By: Beth Doohan & Jenni Walker
“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7
“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people.” Charles Spurgeon
* * *
One of my (Beth’s) favorite biblical heroes is John the Baptist. I love the miraculous story of his birth, how God used him as a fulfillment of prophesies, and his life’s calling to prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The other day, I was reading the story of his birth and ministry work in Luke chapters 1 to 3 and was struck by something that had never stood out to me before.
As an introduction to the adult John the Baptist, the Bible describes the historical setting of who was ruling and who the high priests were at that time. Then it says in Luke 3:2–3, “At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness. Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins.”
Now, hold on, and think of the many prophesies that had gone before John, even at his birth:
- The prophet Isaiah said, “Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, ‘Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!’” (Isaiah 40:3).
- The prophet Malachi declared, “’Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me’” (Malachi 3:1).
- By the power of the Holy Spirit, John’s father, Zechariah, said, “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell His people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77).
With all of these amazing prophesies and the call of God on John’s life, you would think many eyes would be upon him to see what would come of him, or that John himself would be constantly searching for ways to fulfill God’s calling on his life. But from all appearances, John grew up loving the Lord as a somewhat ordinary follower until one day “a message from God” came to him and “then” John began proclaiming the coming of Christ with all vigilance and passion of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:2). We are not given the details of the message John received, but it is obvious that God gave him instruction and authority to begin preparing the way for Jesus. Even though John knew this was his mission beforehand, he waited in a season of preparation for God’s timing.
What passions and specific callings has God placed on your heart? Maybe you have known for years that you want to be a wife and mother. Perhaps you feel drawn to missions work in a particular part of the world, or you love helping with a particular charitable cause. Maybe an area of church ministry interests you, or you long to make a difference in your local community. Can I encourage you that these heart desires are God-given? As His daughters, He has given us the ongoing purpose of serving others and drawing hearts to Him.
Just like John the Baptist, God calls us to serve, but He also has a plan to prepare us for this work and to bring it to pass in His timing. I (Jenni) recently reflected about how God called me to teach in Title 1 public schools with at-risk students after I graduated from college. I recall feeling uncertain my freshman year if elementary education was really the route to pursue, and when I chose a concentration in mild-moderate special education, I had no idea then the ways God planned to use that.
But near the end of my junior year of college, God began impressing on my heart that I was to stay in Oklahoma to teach at-risk students after graduation. I do not have a specific moment when that happened, but it was so clear and resonated with God-given passions He had already placed in me. The details of that specific calling took shape as I completed my student teaching requirements my senior year, responded to job offers, and accepted a special education position as a middle school teacher in northwest Tulsa.
Even when the Lord led me to another school district the following year, the unshakable sense that I was called by God to teach in Title 1 schools did not change, and I was immediately offered a teaching position at just such a school in that new school district. The verse God put on my heart for those years was 1 Corinthians 15:10, in which Paul humbly yet powerfully writes, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Despite its challenges, that was one of the most rewarding seasons of my life.
Still other times, we may sense a specific calling from the Lord but are in a waiting season. Sometimes our passions can burn so deeply in our hearts that we feel we cannot wait any longer for their fulfillment. One of my (Beth’s) close friends named Ginger has sensed for years a calling by God to be an author and writer. She published her first book several years ago and does freelance writing and book marketing. While these things are laying the foundation for a writing career, she has also been faithful where she is at by working in an unrelated field to support herself. While many would be tempted to have a “clock-in, clock-out,” “this is boring” attitude in this work, Ginger chose to see it as a way to honor and bring glory to God, even if it is temporary. She was being faithful in little things to God’s glory.
Long story short, in the passing of time these last several years, Ginger also opened up a workout gym and has found another calling she did not fully anticipate. She is a renaissance woman who continues to write and freelance but who also runs the gym, facilitates classes, and uses it as a touchpoint of ministry for the people that walk through its doors each week. In each season, whether planned or unanticipated, Ginger views it as a calling by God and throws herself into it wholeheartedly.
While we are in a season of preparation for God’s calling, we are to serve Him where we are at. The Bible promises that, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones,” meaning God can entrust you with more as you show yourself faithful (Luke 16:10). God may call you to serve on a small scale at a food bank before giving you the missions work you yearn to have. He may ask you to serve at a small school program in preparation for the community leadership role you desire. God may have areas of your heart that He wants surrendered to Him and to make whole before bringing your future spouse into your life. No matter what, time spent serving God and pursuing His will is never wasted. He has the best plan in mind and leads us as we press into Him.
And that, dear sisters in Christ, is what it is all about: Knowing, loving, responding to, and experiencing God as we wait not for an outcome but for HIM! In all seasons, in all things, He is the One we are to seek. A friend of ours went through an extremely painful time of loss when her young husband passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. With tears in her eyes, she has shared since then how she clung to Psalm 39:7 when her heart had no words except to pray, “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.”
Today, this dear friend has remarried and is a mama to their beautiful children. One might look at them and think of their life together as an Oklahoma fairy tale of sorts. Yet, that prayer of Psalm 39:7 continues to sound forth as the anthem of her heart. She knows that ultimately, it is to God Himself that she is called. Specific callings are an invitation from Him to join His work and to know Him more through the work of Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father knows the number of hairs on your head, and He will always fulfill His calling as you seek Him. He loves and delights in you as His daughter.
As we close, consider the words of Charles Spurgeon:
“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people.”
You may be in an unplanned season right now. Maybe there is something you sense God has called you to, but you have no idea what that specifically will look like. Or perhaps you are doing what you know God has called you to do right now, and you have been gently reminded today that our ultimate pursuit should not just be an outcome but Christ Himself. Always remember that time spent serving God and pursuing His will is never wasted. Like John the Baptist, God can and will use us mightily for His kingdom purposes even as He reveals Himself to us (Matthew 3:13–17; 11:11). No matter what, He has the best plan in mind, and “He is worth waiting for”!
Time to Reflect
1. Take some time to reflect honestly with the Lord about today’s devotion topic. What is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart through the life of John the Baptist?
2. Revisit today’s Scripture passages. What do these verses teach us? How do they change things? (i.e. The attitude of our hearts? What we live for? Our experience of God?)
* * *
(This devotion contains excerpts from The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by Beth Doohan and Jenni Walker.)