There must not be many other words in human language that can evoke as much negative response as the word “wait.” For what? How long? Why? No one likes to wait it seems. We don’t want to wait in line, wait for the doctor, wait for the test results, wait for the phone call and so much more. We’ve created online shopping so we don’t have to wait to go searching around town for what we need. We have fast food so we don’t have to wait to cook a homemade meal. And although modern conveniences can help us to accomplish other, more important tasks, there are plenty of things worth waiting for. The birth of child, a harvest, the right spouse, freshly baked bread are but a few!
There are, however, clear times that, if we want to blossom as Christians, we need to not only wait but wait patiently, not allowing our fleshly desires to supersede God’s omniscience. To marry or not, to have children, take that job, move to another home, how to deal with difficult people or situations, medical decisions – all these potentially life-altering choices should be sought patiently in wisdom with the Lord. I have heard from too many Christians about failed marriages because they were too impatient to wait for the right person.
“Do not run ahead of God! The delays may be very challenging for you, but they are growing your faith in Him. Look to Him, strengthen yourself in His Word and love, remain confident that He is working on your behalf.”Charles Stanley, 30 Life Principles
So ok, we get it. We need to wait on God’s wisdom. But the waiting isn’t the fruit. The waiting is the fertilizer, the opportunity for the fruit, which is patience in that waiting.
My friends and family know I have not typically been a patient person. I’m a doer. I make decisions and get things done. I hate waiting around for other people. Until one day it hit me. What does my impatientness (another word I made up) look like to the world? If I were to ask you the characteristics of an impatient person, you’d probably say someone who looks angry, frustrated, annoyed, maybe even beligerent. To the world it looks like someone lacking in the other fruits — love, joy and peace.
My getting frustrated in waiting was fruit killing. The killer spray I was using on my fruit was my pride. I knew better how to make things happen faster, more efficient, more productive. I knew better than almost anyone I encountered, especially God. And the world says, “Why should I be a Christian if I still look like that?”
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. Titus 1:16
Yikes! Talk about a conviction. True patience isn’t really just a lack of doing something. It’s also about what’s going on inside our hearts and heads. Are we thinking loving, joyful thoughts during a “waiting” moment? Do we have peace from God knowing He has a plan for us in this time? Because I’ll tell you my friend, if we stand in line tapping our foot and being annoyed we might just miss the opportunity to help an elderly person who is struggling with her groceries.
The line, the wait, is just as long for Christians and non-Christians. Are we to be the same in how we deal with it? Or are we to remember “the eye of life’s tornados is the calm hope of our final destination” as Christian author Dane Ortlund observes? At all times.
These short term opportunities for patiently waiting help build up our long-term waiting muscles. When the pregnancy hasn’t happened, yet. When the right job hasn’t come along, yet. When the pain hasn’t gone away, yet. When our sons and daughters haven’t accepted the Lord, yet. These aren’t times to get impatient. They are times to show the world what we believe is true.
Each of those “yets” is a hope we place in God’s faithful, loving hands. He’s asking us to trust Him, just like He asked Abraham, the Israelites, and the apostles. He’s saying, “Wait.” More importantly He’s saying, “Wait patiently without fretting, without worry, without fear. Trust me.”
Is there something you are hoping for today? Ask Him in prayer. Then wait patiently. It may not be answered today or tomorrow or even in 10 years. But during that time of patience He will do great things in and through you.
Coming up: From Endurance to Hope