Just Wait! 

By Hannah Bemis 

“The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens” (Romans 8:19-21, MSG).  

I have been feeling expectant for a while now. There has been a sense of anticipation, a thrill in the air that I cannot shake, though I do not know exactly what it is I am so looking forward to. I am not alone in this. My prayer group at church has been feeling it. My spiritual director and other Christian leaders I have spoken with are feeling it as well. I have even felt a shift in how I approach my workdays. Instead of dreading certain meetings or seemingly monotonous tasks on my to-do list, I have felt the Holy Spirit whispering, “But what if that meeting ends up being the best part of your day?” or “What if I’m about to use that task to change someone’s life?” I have had this renewed awareness that God can do anything and that each moment contains the potential for the supernatural.  

We are seeing evidence of a new thing God is doing in places like Asbury and other pockets of revival across the country. There is new life in many of our churches, a new spark of passion in our worship, new creativity and courage in the ways we are serving the lost and vulnerable in our communities. But the anticipation I feel is more than the sum of any of these things. It is undefined, simply a deep conviction that we are on the cusp of something God has never done before. I am confident this feeling of anticipation is from God because it is not my norm to feel this way.  

I am a fairly even-keeled, responsible person. I do not look forward to things as much as I prepare for them. I highly value diligence and accomplishment; I enjoy doing high quality work in an efficient manner (and with that last sentence, I just put every reader to sleep). Honestly, I have a love-hate relationship with my personality. I remember being young and having parents and teachers tell me over and over how responsible I was. Every time I heard it, my heart sank a little bit because their description of me was SO BORING, yet another part of me thrived on being thought of as responsible. It was who I was. It is who I am. You can trust me to do what needs to be done.  

I have had to contend and make peace with this part of my personality again and again, particularly as I have raised my daughter Nora. Nora is ten, and her essence is the antithesis of my own. She prioritizes fun over responsibility . . . every time. She is a whirling mess of creativity and daydreams. If you tell her to do three things, she might do one. She is delightful and exasperating in equal measure, but you know what runs through her veins? Anticipation. 

I wake up and ask, “What do we need to do today?” Nora wakes up and asks, “What do we get to do today?” She is always convinced there is something fun just around the corner. And if there isn’t, there should be. I realized a couple of years ago that her innocent question of anticipation was making me anxious. I would dread the moment she asked that question, afraid of disappointing her when there was nothing special on the agenda for the day. “Well, Nora, we have ahead of us another exciting day of dishes and errands!” I felt obligated to come up with something fun for Nora so I would have an acceptable answer to her question. My sense of responsibility was rearing up and as a result, I was taking her sense of joyful expectation and turning it into a burdensome expectation I needed to meet. 

It is so easy for our preparation to shift into an effort to control or manipulate what God is wanting to do. It is so easy for us to try to keep a handle on the Holy Spirit, as if we can contain in our hands the God who holds us in His own. Over-planning and over-thinking are not as productive as they seem, and they almost always steal the joy of anticipation.”  

Today, I see the danger of the Church doing the same thing with the joyful anticipation the Lord is stirring up in this season. I recently received an invitation to a two-day conference at a local church that was entitled “Readying Ourselves for Revival.” The conference agenda described several sessions that reviewed and compared past revivals, pulling out the things they had in common, and compiling a list of ways Christian leaders can prepare their church for a similar revival. The conference seemed to be asking the question: What can we do to make this wonderful thing happen? I found myself asking questions in response: “Did the students at Asbury “make” the revival happen? Did they manipulate it in some way the rest of us did not see?  

In our staff meetings at church, we have had conversations reflecting on revival, imagining what it might look like if it would happen in our church. We have asked questions like, “How will we steward a move of the Spirit? How will our worship team know they have permission to keep going rather than stop at the pre-planned time? How will our parents be released to get their kids, and how can we ensure that we don’t overburden our children’s ministry if people are caught up in worship that lasts for hours and hours?”   

These are not bad questions! It is not bad to have a plan. Believe me, preparation is part of my DNA, and in certain seasons God calls His people to prepare, within measure. After all, He appointed a special prophet to “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3, NKJV). John the Baptist’s entire calling was preparation, and what an honorable calling that was. 

If God calls us to prepare the way for revival, it will feel a lot more like “What do we get to do today?” than “What do we have to do today?” A readying sourced by the Holy Spirit will be joyful and expectant; it will not feel like a dreaded obligation or a joyless task list. It will feel something like the leaping in the womb that the pre-born preparer John experienced when he first sensed and anticipated the coming of his Lord. If we find ourselves antsy to prepare, we should continually check our hearts, asking ourselves what our motivation is. Is it to be good stewards, desiring to make space for God to move? Or is it to remain in control of the movement of God?  

At a certain point, we must surrender and realize that this thing, whatever it is, is up to God. We have to be willing to say, as John did, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30, NIV). His plan must become elevated above our own. We can trust Him. He cares about the worship team and the kids and the parents, and He will resource and equip us for whatever it is that ends up happening.  

It is so easy for our preparation to shift into an effort to control or manipulate what God is wanting to do. It is so easy for us to try to keep a handle on the Holy Spirit, as if we can contain in our hands the God who holds us in His own. Over-planning and over-thinking are not as productive as they seem, and they almost always steal the joy of anticipation.  

Preparation, with the right heart and when we are called to do so, is an honorable thing. I think each of us is responsible to ask ourselves what God is calling us to do in this season. Is He calling us to prepare? Or has He called us to something different? 

What I am sensing Him calling me to do is much less about preparation than I am comfortable with. It is the same simple command that Jesus gave His followers when He ascended to heaven in Acts 1:4 (NIV): Just wait. “Wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about . . . .”  

In the time between that command and the coming of the Holy Spirit, we see that the disciples obeyed Christ’s command. They did not scurry around trying to make something happen or check items off a task list. They worshiped and they waited. That was all the preparation they needed.  

There are certainly biblical moments of preparation, but there are also many biblical mandates to be still. In storms, in war, in times of anticipation, there is a consistent command to simply be still.  

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7, NIV). 

Be still and anticipate – that is what I sense the Lord calling me to do. Anticipation is meant to be delicious. It is a gift all in itself. We can rest in that gift, enjoying this season of waiting expectantly and knowing that our hope will never be disappointed. The outcome is on God’s shoulders. If He gives us something specific to do in preparation for what He is about to do, then of course let’s obey Him. But let’s not put a burden on our shoulders that we were never meant to carry. Let’s be expectant without placing unnecessary expectations on ourselves, on others, or even on God. He is so much bigger than our impressive expectations, and I believe He’s about to do something we’ve never seen before.

Below are three questions for you to chew on as you reflect on this subject with the Lord: 

1. What might God be about to do in your life? In your church? In your family?  
2. What is the one thing you are dreading most, least looking forward to today or this week? What if God is about to use that thing, that meeting, that moment to shift the Kingdom or to change a life?  
3. In this season, do you sense God primarily calling you to prepare or to be still and wait?  

About the Author

Hannah Bemis lives in Spokane, Washington, with her husband, Jordan, and their three kids. She graduated with a Christian Counseling degree from New Hope Christian College in Eugene, Oregon, and earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from George Fox University near Portland, Oregon. Hannah is a communicator, and has worked as a teacher, writer, speaker, and most recently as a pastor. She serves as the community pastor at Turning Point Open Bible Church in Spokane and on Open Bible’s Pacific Region Board of Directors. Hannah is passionate about Jesus, prayer, and helping people and the Church become who they were designed to be.  

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