Most of us are not wired to wait well. We prefer immediate and tangible results. We don’t expect answers to our prayers will come instantly, but we do hope that the answers will come rapidly. Learning to live patiently with expectations and anticipations have not proven to be the “strong suit” for most of us, even for those bathed in Biblical truth and committed to living spiritually. David’s testimony would be a challenge for the typical 21st century saint: “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning….” (Ps. 130:5,6) But a word about waiting may encourage all of us to “wait patiently for the Lord.”
- Waiting, a matter of Direction. Samuel instructed the newly anointed king Saul to wait seven days in Gilgal for the prophet to join him there to offer burnt offerings. Samuel said “…seven days shalt thou tarry, til I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.”: Saul impatiently chose not to wait until he received the crucial instruction of which Samuel had spoken and he missed critical direction from God, eventuating in his demise as the ruler of Israel. The decision not to wait on the Lord was a fatal one for this newly crowned king (I Sam.10:8; 13:8-12) The lesson: wait on direction from God rather than proceeding with your plans without definite direction from Him. Be sure you have His guidance and, like Abraham’s servant, you can say with assurance, “I being in the way, the Lord led me.” (Gen.24:27)
- Waiting, a matter of Duty. Young Timothy, under the spiritual tutelage of his master mentor, the Apostle Paul, was instructed to wait. “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went to Macedonia, that that mayest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” (I Tim. 1:3) Timothy followed the counsel of his “father in the faith,” and did well to do so. As will we, when given wise counsel or direction from those we count as our leaders, counsellors or mentors. We may not wish to do it, we may not have “chosen” to do it, we may not understand why we should do it, but sometimes just because it is a matter of duty, period, we ought to do it, therefore, we will do it!
- Waiting, a matter of Devotion. “Be still and know that I am God….” (Ps. 46:10) Learning of His sovereignty, His holiness, His purposes, power and exalted position can only be accomplished through some periods of waiting (i.e., 40 years on the backside of a desert for Moses and 17 years after his conversion before his main ministry for Paul); being still, and knowing in so doing that He is God. We “behold His works” and are assured that He is in control so that even the “city of God” will not be moved because “God shall help her, and that right early.” (Ps. 46:4,5) Will He not also help us, and always on time and never too late? But it may require us to wait.
- Waiting, a matter of Design. God has his holy purposes. Nothing is by “happen stance.” There are times when we surely cannot understand His timing, but we can always believe that His will and His way is best. Peter cites the example of God’s working the perfection of His plan in the days of Noah. Every day through faithful Noah, Christ was preaching to “spirits in prison.” (I Peter 3:19) Peter says of those men and women imprisoned in spiritual darkness and blinded to truth: “Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing….” (I Pet.3:20) God’s design, by grace, was to spare Noah and his family, and His desire, through mercy, was that others also repent, believe and be saved! Thus, He patiently waited for 100 plus years as He was executing His purposes in those antediluvian days. So, with us today, He adroitly pens the script of our sojourn here, calling on us to wait patiently for the perfect pattern He has skillfully designed for each of us which by His sovereign hands He is faithfully fashioning.
- Waiting, a matter of Discipline. God had promised the Children of Israel that Jericho, that great first hurdle facing them just into the long- awaited land of promise, would be theirs without lifting a weapon against the formidable walled city. How anticipation must have built as they marched around the city for six days, then climaxed as they marched around the walled fortress seven times on the seventh day before the walls would crash! God could have done it without any marching or with marching on only one day; but as a matter of obedient discipline, it would require marching the circumference of the city one time for six days and seven times on the seventh day! How is He working out His will in your walk? Have you become impatient with the discipline of walking, waiting, walking, waiting, walking….?
- Waiting, a matter of Deliverance. God would deliver the discouraged, defeated prophet Elijah when, at his wit’s end, he despaired even of his life. But it was only after the wind, the earth quake, and the fire that the still small voice was heard. (I Kings 19:10-14) We, like Elijah at times are put in the place of waiting. It may be a process. We may be physically and emotionally and spiritually emaciated going into the wait or at some point in the middle of it. The winds of life may be howling, the earth may seem to be moving under us and fires of destruction may threaten our very existence. But, while we are waiting because that is all that we can do, that still, small voice may be heard to whisper “What doest thou here?” And we know at once that it is Him whom we have waited on, faintly, to desperately hear from again, “…I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper….’” (Heb. 13:5,6)
- Waiting, a matter of Destiny. To His, God said, “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land….” (Ps. 37:34) We know beyond doubt, from Scripture and from experience, that it is always best to commit our ways unto Him, knowing that He shall direct our paths. His chosen apostles and earliest followers were commanded to “wait for the promise of the Father….” (Acts 1:4) Can you imagine the chagrin of those who may have chosen not to have gone to Jerusalem to wait? The destiny of those 120 people who waited in Jerusalem for 10 days for the promise of the Father was that they would become part of the foundation of the Church that Jesus had promised He would build (Matt. 16) against which the very gates of Hell would not prevail. God’s people are waiting yet today for the promise of His coming for His Bride, the Church. Like the future martyrs, we may be whispering “ How long, O Lord?” To which the reply comes, “yet a little season.” (Rev. 12:11) God has His plan for each and every individual, encompassing time and eternity. His time table was not drawn for our convenience or for our endorsement. But we are called, enabled, expected and instructed to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” (Ps. 37:7) It is, after all, a matter of destiny!