Waiting stinks. We have to wait in traffic to get to and from work. We wait at restaurants to get lunch. We wait in line at the grocery store. We wait for our children to go to bed so we can get a few minutes of peace. We wait for college football to start, (at least I do). We wait for packages to arrive. We wait and wait and wait and wait…
Dr. Seuss has a whole section about waiting in his book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go“. It’s not a happy section. “Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.” Not exactly “there is fun to be had, there are games to be won“, right?
Government agencies are Satan’s “Ode to Waiting”, (not as good as another Ode I know). We wait for our tax returns, we wait for business license, we wait, wait, and wait at the DMV, only to be told we don’t have the right paperwork even though they told us last time to bring exactly the paperwork we have in our hands right now, (but I’m not bitter).
The worst waiting of all though, is waiting on the Lord. God makes us wait for answers to prayer, for the revealing of his will, for help in a time of crisis, for the health of our child, to overcome some debilitating sin, to find the right church/house/mate, for strength, for faith, for wisdom. The list goes on and on.
Abraham waited 25 years before he had the child of promise. Jacob waited 14 years to get Rebekah as a wife. Joseph waited for years and years before being reunited with his father. Moses waited for 40 years before God began to use him. The Israelites, (who certainly didn’t help themselves), waited in the desert. Elijah had to wait in the desert three years, (there seems to be a desert theme here). David waited 7 years in the wilderness before he finally became king. Jesus waited 30 years before he started his ministry. If God has a tool belt, then “waiting” is one of his most often used tools in the lives of his servants. (Insert sarcastic “Yay” here).
I don’t like waiting on the Lord. Waiting stinks. Waiting stinks like old milk. It stinks like a baby’s diaper after a can of green peas. Waiting stinks like the ending of Lost. Waiting on the Lord stinks. “Dear God, I’d prefer my answers now please, and if you won’t give me the answer then please let me know when you will. Sincerely, me. Amen.”
But there it is, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14). “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation,” (Psalm 62:1). Waiting, unfortunately, is part of life for God’s children. Why? Because, in my humble opinion, God uses waiting to teach us to trust, to refine our character, expose our selfishness and impatience, and make us more like Christ. Waiting is like the blacksmith beating on metal, shaping and refining it into something beautiful, probably a sword, (because swords are awesome). Waiting is painful, but without it, you wouldn’t have the results that come from it.
I’m learning a lot about waiting these days. I’m learning “waiting” means I shouldn’t expect an answer to my prayer within the same night. I have to be still and wait on God’s timing. Waiting means I keep praying and praying, like the widow in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18:1-8). It means I can’t get bitter and irritated when God doesn’t do things on my timetable. Waiting means trusting God is better at running the universe than I am, (which is hard), and continuing to be faithful to what I know in the meantime, (also hard). Waiting means God is not a microwave, but more like a crock pot. It means I keep praying and praying and praying, even when I don’t see any fruit from my prayers. Waiting means I cling to the truth of God’s kindness, faithfulness, and purposes while I wait.
But look at what God does through waiting. Abraham received the promised son. Joseph became the savior of Israel. Moses became the savior of Israel out of bondage, (there seems to be savior theme here). David became the king of Israel. Elijah delivered the people from idolatry. Jesus died on the cross.
Wait. What was that last one again?
God uses waiting. He uses time. There are no shortcuts to godliness and mature faith, no matter how much I hate it, (and I do). So what then? Wait. Trust God is doing something good in you in the meantime. Trust that He knows what he’s doing. Trust He is not wasting this time in your life. Waiting is important. Waiting is necessary.
It still stinks though.