By Daryl Largis, Co-Pastor for Mission Advancement
Waiting is perhaps the single most reoccurring event in our lives and something that is a constant reminder that we are not in control. This is keenly true in our daily machinations especially those who live in a culture driven by technology which means the aim is move faster which then means waiting is somehow the enemy that needs to be vanquished. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate efficiency just as much as the next guy, but is there something we are missing beyond the lessons of learning patience today? Perhaps. Patience is a good thing, but is that all there is to be learned when we wait? Do we run the risk of becoming more self-absorbed when we focus on our lack of patience? It seems to me that we develop patience in the small things in life that are counted in minutes but then have trouble applying that to the larger things in life that are counted in weeks, months and years.
If we take the minute-by-minute approach to life we may, if we are not careful, lose something very valuable. There could be more significant things to be learned that maybe, just maybe, God might be up to something and until He acts He has us wait. I am reminded of a real story I read a couple of days ago about a man who waited. God called him to do something, and this man did that faithfully, but in doing so he had to wait for God. In fact, he waited for seven years. Mind you he was not waiting and doing nothing. He waited for results that he through obedience had given his life for by moving to a new country, a new culture for the sake of the gospel. Each and every day he worked tirelessly with others to that which God called them and yet they waited. They waited to see fruit from that labor but nothing came after the first year, the second year and even the third year. Many of us would likely have thrown in the towel at that point—three years and still nothing. How about four, five even six or could you imagine seven long years and still nothing. Then came Krishna Pal, their first Hindu convert. Seven long years and finally the first fruit in a land called India. The year was 1800 and William Carey, whom many deem the “Father of Modern Missions,” was finally able to celebrate after seven years of labor. Even still, how many of us would call this production after seven years a success. History tells the rest of the story and what came from that seven-year investment.
Sometimes what we want to see is different than what God is doing, and it is in this tension we wait, but is there something to be learned by waiting? I think so, and I think William Carey knew. He stated that his success was due to the fact that he could “plod and could persevere in any definite pursuit.” He also stated that Christ-followers should, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” He knew what he was taking about based upon an applied obedience over a long period of time. This is worth noting in our own lives. Are we expecting great things from God and are we attempting great things for God? If yes, great, but are we willing to remain obedient to what God has called us regardless of the fruit we see at this moment? Staying the course which is waiting by another name for God is an important facet for us to become more mature spiritually speaking.
So, waiting is not a bad thing. It is not something we have to do but rather we get to do as it relates to God. For when we wait on God it requires us to remain obedient, to persevere, to pray and reflect upon God and His word. These are great things. Waiting upon God for something puts us in a place of anticipation which not only affirms hope but also strengthens it. As we wait on God there are some things that are produced in our lives. First, it produces a greater trust in God because the more we wait the more we realize it is not in our control but in God’s. Second, it produces a deeper peace because as we wait we must deal with our disappointments, our anxieties and our expectations in light of fully recognizing that the ultimate outcome is up to God. Third, as we wait upon God we will spend more time with Him—getting to know Him in new ways, understanding His grace, mercy, truth in a fuller sense and as a result of knowing Him better, we display a greater sense of holiness. Lastly, as we wait upon God we are afforded to see things more and more from God’s perspective which gives clarity and eternal purposes. So, as I mentioned earlier, waiting upon God is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a necessary thing for us as Christ-followers given how else are we to mature in these ways. Waiting on God does so much more than just increasing our patience. So, if you are waiting upon God for something take heart, be strong and know that He is at work!
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. ~Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. ~Psalm 31:24 (NIV)
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. ~Isaiah 64:4 (NIV)