“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.” This quote from 19th-century writer Oscar Wilde was used in a psychology article that I read recently. The article explained the characteristics of manic defense. An example of manic defense is the person who spends all of his or her time rushing around from one task to the next, unable to tolerate even short periods of inactivity. The more I read about manic defense, the more I realized how these characteristics have become rampant in the western societies, as we have become increasingly addicted to endless activities, even from an early age.
Everyone portrays characteristics of manic defense at some point in time, but some people use it to such an extent that it becomes impossible for them to handle even short periods of free time. You find them reaching out to their cell phones every other minute while walking in the park. You find them volunteering to plan one more party, and adding one more activity to their already over-committed schedule. You find them filling even their vacation time with nonstop activities.
And because it’s almost impossible for them to be still, they often don’t make time to sit quietly before God and seek his will before acting.
It’s a huge paradox for those of us who wish to follow God’s plan for our lives. Because, more often than not, finding the answer to our prayers takes time and quietness before God. And he is never in a hurry to act. He is more concerned about molding and shaping our character than immediately answering our prayers.God is never in a hurry to act. He is more concerned about molding and shaping our character than… Click To Tweet
It takes courage and faith to wait. It’s much easier to settle for immediate satisfaction than to wait for the right job, the right person to marry, or for justice when someone wrongs us. But if we wish to receive God’s best, then we must commit to deny our impulse to act, and simply be still in his presence before moving forward.
I don’t like it at all. Much like many of you, I want to receive the task, plan my way to accomplish it, and get to work. It’s hard to sit still and wait for the answer. But as I look back, I realize that, were it not for the times God made me wait and do nothing, I would still be the same unwise, impatient and impulsive person I was 20 years ago. Worse yet, I would have missed out on so many blessings received after a period of quiet obedience and stillness.
Indeed, waiting has been the No. 1 tool God has used to strengthen my faith and testimony. It’s not an easy task, though. But it makes it a little easier when we realize that, while we have the option to deny every urge to act, God never stops working. In the quietness of our waiting, as we introspectively look within ourselves and deliberately choose to tame our impulsive nature and anxious hearts, we can take comfort in the certainty that he is going before us, preparing the circumstances in order to deliver his best, in his perfect time.
In my humble opinion, Wilde’s conclusion was only partially correct. Doing nothing is indeed one of the hardest thing to do, but it takes more than rationale to accomplish it. It takes faith. Faith that we are part of a bigger plan than our personal circumstances, and that there is a God, the master of it all, whose plans for us are perfect, even when the seeming hopelessness of our situations scream otherwise.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author and national conference speaker. Her book, “Twelve Inches: Bridging the Gap Between What You Know About God and How You Feel,” is available on Kindle, at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon and other retailers.