The Strength of Waiting

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By Tara Johnson @TaraMinistry

“A watched pot never boils.”

I heard that phrase a hundred times while growing up, and every time I was chided for my impatience, I cringed. I confess, not much has changed over the years. I still pace when sending off a new manuscript to a potential publishing house. I still bite my nails when reviews flood in after a release. Waiting is hard, and in the writing and publishing world, waiting is the name of the game. Publishing doesn’t take months…it takes years.

With self-publishing easier than ever, it’s tempting to throw up our hands and say, “Enough! I’m tired of waiting! It’s been forever! I just want to get my story out there.”
There are pros and cons to both traditional and self-publishing, but impatience should never be the motivation to pursue either. The most rewarding pursuits in life take patience to accomplish. It takes nine months for a single cell to mature into a baby ready to take its first breath. It takes anywhere from five to twenty-one days for a caterpillar to transform into a butterfly. It took the apostle Paul three years to sit and learn from God Himself before being sent out to preach, and three years for Jesus’ disciples to mature enough to turn the world upside down. Jesus waited thirty years to begin His personal ministry and Abraham waited one hundred years for his promised son Isaac.

Sometimes we’re so anxious to grasp that God-given, nebulous dream, we rush ahead of His plan and make a mess of things. Every bad decision we make is ultimately rooted in fear—and God doesn’t create with His kids in a fear-based mentality.

The writing journey is ultimately about contentment. Will we be overjoyed when we finally hold that elusive publishing contract in our hands? Absolutely! It’s a time for celebration. But are we also content typing a text of encouragement to a discouraged friend? Writing a prayer for a sick neighbor?

I’ve recently discovered the greatest thing I ever write may not be the great American novel, but a simple social media post.

Several months ago, I stared at my computer screen. I needed to post social media content but was drawing a blank. What to say? After a huff of frustration, I typed out a simple thought: “God wants you just as you are.”

I shook my head. My well was empty. I shifted my focus to the important stuff…my current work in progress.

Weeks later, I received a private message. It was from a friend who saw my “God wants you as you are” comment. She told me she had been fighting surrendering her life to Christ for years, convincing herself she needed to get her act together first. Upon seeing the simple sentence, she knelt and gave her heart to Jesus.

I was shocked. Here I was, pouring all my energy into fighting for my dream, and God had used a simple collection of words I had thrown out with little thought and transformed a woman for eternity.

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Don’t despise the seasons of quiet. Great, powerful things can be birthed in the waiting. There is much to learn, much to admire, much to be challenged by, and much growing to do.

Instead of pleas for patience, perhaps we should consider the silence as a time of expectation. It’s excitement. It’s an adventure. And it reminds us that our dream is not the next step on the journey. Jesus is the journey.


Tara Johnson is an author and speaker, and loves to write stories that help people break free from the lies they believe about themselves.

Tara’s debut novel Engraved on the Heart (Tyndale) earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and was a finalist in the Carol and Christy awards. She is a certified body language expert, a history nerd, and adores making people laugh.

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