Who welcomes waiting? Who waits on purpose? Neither me, nor anyone that I know enjoys waiting. I would venture to say that our culture hates waiting. Whether it is download speeds, grocery store checkout lines, freeway traffic, or stoplights, we hate waiting. Yet, it is inevitable. We are forced to unwillingly wait everyday. In southern California, where I live, people drive as if we were all part of some ridiculous reality TV show where every vehicle within eye-shot is racing to the exact same parking spot, and the first vehicle to park at the destination, wins a huge jackpot. Seriously, people drive as if we were all in a race to win a million dollars! It is actually pretty funny if you drive around imagining that this was true. It makes many of the obnoxious, rude, selfish, and angry driving scenarios that we encounter make silly sense and become quite comical when imagining such an erroneous supposition. Ashamedly, more times than I would like to admit, I have acted as a desperate participant in such a make believe game as this. Waiting is a reality, and if we want to live more successful, joyful, Christ centered lives; we must put forth the effort to learn to slow down and wait well, the way God intends. We must learn to wait well on a daily basis, in the little things, as well as the big things. We can start practicing to wait on purpose as we choose to apply the brakes more frequently in our daily lives (literally and figuratively).
We don’t like to wait, but no doubt God likes us to wait. Why does God like us to wait? I believe there are many good reasons why God likes us to have to wait and He purposefully allows situations into our lives that cause us to have to wait on Him. I believe that one of the reasons God causes us to have to wait on Him is because he seeks relationship with us. God pursues us by initiating waiting. If we never had to wait on God, it is doubtful that we would pursue God the way that we should. God knows this and He lovingly pursues us and invites us to wait on Him in order that we might experience His power and His presence in our lives. I believe it is in the waiting that God seeks our full trust and attention. And when we give God our full trust and attention, He reveals Himself to us, He teaches us, shapes us, strengthens us, and transforms us.
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)
The Bible tells us over and over again to intentionally wait. We are told to wait on purpose and with purpose. I have been learning the importance of waiting on purpose which requires stopping, pausing, slowing down, listening, enduring, and persevering; all very close relatives to waiting. And waiting, I am learning, is the brother of patience. And patience is a fruit of the Spirit that is also an active ingredient in love. The importance of waiting is becoming clearer to me. It builds character. It makes us more like Christ, it develops the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and it teaches us to be more dependent on Jesus.
Love is patient…and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:4-7 ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… (Gal. 5:22-23 ESV)
Not only is it important to learn to wait, but to learn to wait well. The Bible encourages us to wait patiently, quietly, and confidently. All people must wait, however, there are different ways we can wait. We can either learn to wait patiently, quietly, and confidently as we place our trust in God, or we can choose to wait grudgingly, anxiously, and despairingly as we place our trust in ourselves or in others. Learning to wait well produces the character of God in us, which will ultimately allow us to love more like Him. Waiting well not only produces patience, endurance, and perseverance, but it also cultivates love, trust, faith, contentment, and blessing.
Be still in the presence of the lord, and wait patiently for him to act. (Psalms 37:7 NLT)
And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. (Rom. 15:4 NLT)
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lam. 3:25-26 ESV)
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. (Psalms 62:1,5 NLT)
As for me, I look to the lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. (Micah 7:7 NLT)
But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently. (Rom. 8:25 NLT)
Unfortunately, we live in a me first, convenience culture, where patience is not valued and waiting is our bitter enemy. Pop culture promotes instant gratification and conditions us to reject waiting at all costs. From sex, to shopping, to eating, to travelling, we are all challenged – why wait? Invent the next big waiting repellent, and you may find yourself in a heap of financial success. People will gladly pay to not have to wait. Amazon Prime, credit cards, microwaves, drive thrus, toll roads, and self-checkouts are all examples of successful ideas that satisfy the desire to not have to wait. Not that any of the aforementioned things are necessarily bad, but it seems that most people would avoid waiting if they could afford to do so, and many people are willing to make compromises, big and small, in order to avoid waiting. However, a substantial life, a life with depth, a life with weight, must learn to wait.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalms 27:14 ESV)
The Israelite’s waited grudgingly and wandered in the desert for 40 years. Prior to that time, Abraham and Sarah became impatient with God’s unfulfilled promise of a son and so they attempted to intervene and initiate God’s promise onto themselves thus creating one of the most dysfunctional families in history. Abraham did eventually learn to trust God and he waited patiently, but it took another 14 years for Sarah to conceive Isaac, the son of promise. Ultimately, God always fulfills His promises, even after we get in the way by attempting to jump ahead of God in our carnal understanding. However, it would be wise of us to learn from the mistakes of our forefathers and learn to wait patiently on God.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7 ESV)
The nemesis of waiting is hurrying. But why do we always seem to be in such a hurry? I believe that one of the reasons why we live such hurried lives is because we allow ourselves to become too busy. Many people busy themselves for the wrong reasons, seeking personal fame and fortunes.
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. (Prov. 23:4 NLT)
However, many of us busy ourselves with good things, with good intentions, and for good reasons, although God never intends for us to be so busy that we become hurried, impatient, anxious, stressed, and depressed. When we become too busy, even with good things, we become hurried. And when we are hurried, we become worried. While slowing down and waiting breeds trust, faith, contentment, and patience; busyness and hurrying breeds anxiety, fear, conflict, discontentment, and impatience.
I recently found myself ignorantly, yet sincerely, asking God to forgive me for not being B U S Y enough. God immediately and graciously reminded me that I had it all wrong and that He did not require me to be B U S Y. Busying myself with a full schedule filled with tasks, work, and accomplishments was not what God was requiring of me. Thinking that I should be busier was my incorrect pop culture way of thinking, which is not God’s correct counter culture way of thinking. God quickly revealed to me that B U S Y was more like a profane 4-letter word that He does not place much value on, and He started teaching me the importance of more valuable, beautiful 4-letter words –
S L O W | S T O P | R E S T | W A I T.
Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool. (Eccl. 5:3 NLT)
A pastor friend of mine encouraged me to take note, to learn, and to be amazed how Jesus was never in a hurry. Throughout all of Scripture, never will you find an instance when Jesus was too busy, felt rushed, or was in a hurry. Jesus was not even in a hurry while in route to heal Jairus’ dying daughter who actually dies before Jesus arrives. On the way to heal this dying young girl, Jesus stops and takes time to converse with and heal others (Mark 5:21-42). This seemed illogical and insensitive in light of the circumstances. Even in the most critical, seemingly time sensitive matters of life and death, Jesus was still never in a hurry. Jesus raised this girl from the dead! We should ponder this and learn from this. This same Jesus takes care of us today. Some of us are challenged while waiting for small things like highway traffic and long shopping lines, while others are challenged as we wait on God for big life and death things. What are you waiting on God for? Maybe you are waiting for a relationship to be reconciled, a career to take off, a loved one to be saved, or a physical healing. When it seems too late, when it seems all is lost, when it seems impossible, we must remember that Jesus still raises the dead, He creates life out of nothing, and He promises us the hope of heaven! We must learn to wait patiently, quietly, and confidently on the God who holds all of life, every galaxy, the whole universe perfectly together. He is worthy to be trusted.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9 ESV)
I am learning the importance of purposefully organizing my time, my schedule, my calendar, my commitments, my activities, and my work in such a way that it allows me time to be able to live an unhurried life. For me, this is learning to wisely prioritize focused time alone in silence and solitude with God, undistracted time being present with my family, and investing time in close friendships and community rather than worldly achievements and so-called successes. I am learning to say no to things, and whenever possible, work less. I am learning to invest in people rather than things. I must trust God with my time and talents, and when God tells me to stop, slow down, or wait, I must be willing to obey if I want God’s best for me, even if it costs me financially. I believe with all my heart that healthy relationships are more important than healthy paychecks. Friends are better than finances. Character is more valuable than coin. Healthy relationships and good character cost unhurried time. And unhurried time costs us patience at the expense of learning to wait well on God.
It is difficult and it takes humility to surrender to God and let Him have complete control of the details of our daily lives. It takes faith to believe that waiting has a greater purpose than what we can see, understand, or quickly achieve ourselves. Waiting on God means that even when it does not make sense to our mortal, time sensitive minds, we can believe and know that God has a good plan, even a better plan than we could imagine, in which He will ultimately reveal in His Omniscient, boundless timing. One of my former pastors, Dr. Michael Beals, who is the current President of Vanguard University in California, would preach that, “God rarely moves quickly, but He often moves suddenly”. I find this to be true and encouraging about our God who operates Sovereignly on our behalf, outside of time and space.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8 ESV)
God knows that to become better at something, it takes practice, and God gives us many opportunities to practice waiting patiently, quietly, and confidently. We ought to intentionally, purposefully, practice waiting well, on God, on others, in our cars, in our homes, in lines, in conversations, in parking lots, in hospitals, in prayer. Becoming a better waiter is to become more like Christ. Maybe the old oxymoronic cliché, “hurry up and wait” is true. Not that we should be impatient and hurried as we wait, but rather that we hurry up and learn to wait well. Let’s practice waiting well, on purpose, and with purpose. Our Christ-likeness depends on it.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4 NIV)
Heavenly Father, thank you for your love, and for your mercy, and for your grace. Please help me Lord to learn how to wait well on you. Please help me to wait patiently, quietly, and confidently for you to work out every detail of my life, for my good, and for your glory. Lord Jesus, please help me to wisely organize my time in such a way so that I do not live life in a hurry. Help me Lord to spend intimate time with you everyday and to invest time in building healthy relationships with others. Please help me to not be busy with the wrong things but to learn to slow down, to be present, to love others attentively, and to contemplate your goodness every moment of the day. Help me Lord to be patient with others and to be a servant of all. Thank you Lord for the promise that nothing can separate me from your love. In Jesus’ Name – Amen