Why Christian Activists Wait For God

Why Christian Activists Wait for God

by Jess Mason

Christian social activists are a busy bunch. They’re action-oriented, and the world never lacks work for those concerned with the suffering, the marginalized, and the oppressed. But if Christian social activists run on the same steam as everyone else, they’re not actually making Christ’s difference in the world.

At a worship gathering of over 30 EGC leaders and social activists, the worship leader posed the question, “In all that we have going on, what’s the value of waiting for God?” I was moved by the breadth of responses. I felt it such a rare privilege to be in the company of so much gathered wisdom that I wanted to give other Christian leaders in Boston a taste.

I pray that these perspectives encourage you in your waiting for God—possibly the most strategic action we can take to make a lasting difference in the city.

Nika Elugardo, Chief Growth Officer I feel personally transported to another dimension when I move into a quiet space of recognizing God's presence. In those moments, it's not that I am invited into God's reality, but that I invite myself into an awareness of reality itself. This deeper awareness seems to unlock the constraints of our physical world and release God—who seems to restrain himself by the very laws he created—to be who he is in this (our) world, where our sin has closed us off to him. It’s in stillness and quiet that new buds of faith flower.

Nika Elugardo, Chief Growth Officer

I feel personally transported to another dimension when I move into a quiet space of recognizing God's presence. In those moments, it's not that I am invited into God's reality, but that I invite myself into an awareness of reality itself.

This deeper awareness seems to unlock the constraints of our physical world and release God—who seems to restrain himself by the very laws he created—to be who he is in this (our) world, where our sin has closed us off to him. It’s in stillness and quiet that new buds of faith flower.

Brian Gearin, EGC Missionary We wait for God so that we can "be with Him" and know His purposes for each issue we face.  I think that He desires us to "know Him" and respond to issues with His guidance.

Brian Gearin, EGC Missionary

We wait for God so that we can "be with Him" and know His purposes for each issue we face.  I think that He desires us to "know Him" and respond to issues with His guidance.

Liza Cagua-Koo, Assistant Director I wait for God for the same reasons I ask my kids to wait for me. First, it's dangerous without me—There's a street to be crossed ahead! Also, I want them to value that staying together is more important than getting something done, or getting there first—No one gets left behind! The importance of togetherness with God can't be overestimated. He waits for us, though we often think we're having to wait for him!   When I am the one having to wait for my kids, when I see how small they are, or how much practice it takes to learn something, I am reminded of how patient and steadfast God is with my own growth. He never leaves me behind. He waits for me. When I wait on him, I become present to those realities, which in turn fills my tank for being able to wait on others—and be patient with myself—as we all travel this pilgrim road.

Liza Cagua-Koo, Assistant Director

I wait for God for the same reasons I ask my kids to wait for me.

First, it's dangerous without me—There's a street to be crossed ahead! Also, I want them to value that staying together is more important than getting something done, or getting there first—No one gets left behind! The importance of togetherness with God can't be overestimated. He waits for us, though we often think we're having to wait for him!  

When I am the one having to wait for my kids, when I see how small they are, or how much practice it takes to learn something, I am reminded of how patient and steadfast God is with my own growth. He never leaves me behind. He waits for me.

When I wait on him, I become present to those realities, which in turn fills my tank for being able to wait on others—and be patient with myself—as we all travel this pilgrim road.

Sarah Blumenshine, Co-Director of Greater Boston Refugee Ministry Waiting puts us in a posture of receiving. God is the main actor, and we act as we receive direction. Waiting trains us to discern his voice. It requires us to back away from our impulses and evaluate, “Is this God leading, or is it me, or something else?"

Sarah Blumenshine, Co-Director of Greater Boston Refugee Ministry

Waiting puts us in a posture of receiving. God is the main actor, and we act as we receive direction. Waiting trains us to discern his voice. It requires us to back away from our impulses and evaluate, “Is this God leading, or is it me, or something else?"

Caleb McCoy, Development Manager God is outside of time. Waiting on him helps us to reconnect with the mystery of His timing and submit our plans to his will.

Caleb McCoy, Development Manager

God is outside of time. Waiting on him helps us to reconnect with the mystery of His timing and submit our plans to his will.

Jeffrey Murray, Director of Operations Any response or action taken without waiting before God runs the risk of being idolatrous. We are— intentionally or unintentionally—elevating our thought processes and plans above God's intentions. God's commandment clearly instructs us, “You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex 20:3, Deut 5:7; NIV). To take action (i.e. move, do, respond, etc.) prior to—and thus outside of—seeking God's will is a way of going against his instructions for us.  

Jeffrey Murray, Director of Operations

Any response or action taken without waiting before God runs the risk of being idolatrous. We are— intentionally or unintentionally—elevating our thought processes and plans above God's intentions.

God's commandment clearly instructs us, “You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex 20:3, Deut 5:7; NIV). To take action (i.e. move, do, respond, etc.) prior to—and thus outside of—seeking God's will is a way of going against his instructions for us.

 

Jeff Bass, Executive Director In 1 Kings, Elijah is running from God. God comes to meet him, but not right away. God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. He came after, quietly. Elijah had to wait to experience him that day. God's timing is often not our timing. We want things now, but God's plans take time. God called David to be King, and Samuel anointed him. But he didn't get to be king until years later, after Saul was removed. We need to wait if we want to stay connected with God's plans.

Jeff Bass, Executive Director

In 1 Kings, Elijah is running from God. God comes to meet him, but not right away. God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. He came after, quietly. Elijah had to wait to experience him that day.

God's timing is often not our timing. We want things now, but God's plans take time. God called David to be King, and Samuel anointed him. But he didn't get to be king until years later, after Saul was removed. We need to wait if we want to stay connected with God's plans.

Gregg Detwiler - Director of Intercultural Ministries Waiting on God is a gift from God—it’s rest for our souls. In God’s presence, we also become more self-aware of our inner world, the broken and darker parts of our being, and our motivations. There we can submit our lives and our plans to God to lay them in his hands, so that we can give him glory for anything good that comes out of our action. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength. They rise up as if they had eagles’ wings. They run without growing weary. They walk without getting tired. - Isaiah 40:30-31 (NET)

Gregg Detwiler - Director of Intercultural Ministries

Waiting on God is a gift from God—it’s rest for our souls.

In God’s presence, we also become more self-aware of our inner world, the broken and darker parts of our being, and our motivations. There we can submit our lives and our plans to God to lay them in his hands, so that we can give him glory for anything good that comes out of our action.

Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength. They rise up as if they had eagles’ wings. They run without growing weary. They walk without getting tired. - Isaiah 40:30-31 (NET)

Sarah Dunham, Former Director of Abolitionist Network Waiting on God helps us remember that we are not in control. We need to stop striving, and running around trying to make things happen. Once we step back and remember who is really in control, then we can really join God in what He is doing. Christian social action is not about a frenzy of doing things for God—it’s knowing God, and allowing him to work in and through us.  

Sarah Dunham, Former Director of Abolitionist Network

Waiting on God helps us remember that we are not in control. We need to stop striving, and running around trying to make things happen.

Once we step back and remember who is really in control, then we can really join God in what He is doing. Christian social action is not about a frenzy of doing things for God—it’s knowing God, and allowing him to work in and through us.  

Elijah Mickelson, Director of Communications We see in part, God sees the whole.

Elijah Mickelson, Director of Communications

We see in part, God sees the whole.

RESPOND

The Psalms Vigil

Waiting on God is both healthy and strategic. The Psalms Vigil is a simple, ancient practice that helps focus our hearts with God. I have found the Psalms Vigil to be a powerful form of active waiting on God. The vigil has a simple, three-part rhythm:

  1. Read a psalm.

  2. Talk or journal to God about any emotions or issues come up in your heart from what you’ve read.

  3. Rest in silence for anything else the Holy Spirit may want to do in your heart.

When you feel ready, you can move on to a new psalm, repeating the three-part rhythm with as many different psalms as you like. 

Jess Mason is a former licensed minister and spiritual director. She is currently a ministry innovation strategist in Applied Research & Consulting at EGC, and the chair of Christian Formation at a church in Jamaica Plain. Her passion is to see God’s goodness revealed to and through Christian leaders and pillars in the Boston area.