One of the more difficult aspects of the Christian life is waiting. In the most ultimate sense, Christians are awaiting the return of Christ where his triumph over sin, death, and Satan will be acknowledged by all people while being experienced as victory for those who have faith in Jesus.
In the here and now, however, we wait. Most of us do not wait very well. Children display impatience clearly. They stomp their feet, throw tantrums, scream and shout, and demand their wants. In a more refined way Christians respond similarly to the “no’s” and “waits” from God.
Few things are more difficult for the Christian than waiting. When you go to the doctor’s office you know your final destination lies behind the waiting room doors. The waiting room is not why you’re there. However, you can’t go back to see the doctor until the nurse comes and calls you. Then you go back.
When you fly from one city to another, you know the tarmac is not what you came to the airport for. The tarmac is an interlude; a waiting for takeoff. However, you don’t takeoff until the air traffic controller gives the pilot the green light and the wheels are set in motion.
Waiting on God is grueling for the very reason we start to go crazy in the doctor's office waiting room or on the airplane as the minutes tick by. We know the waiting room and the tarmac of life is not our final destination. The easiest thing to do when God’s call is “wait” is to bail out or bear down. Bailing out means you quit: quit praying; quit resting; quit obeying; quit trusting; quit searching; quit hoping; quit listening. Bearing down means you assert your will; you do what you want; you act unwisely.
When God’s word is wait and His actions seem distant, I find solace for my soul and rest for my mind in 3 P’s:
1. God’s Promises – “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…” (2 Peter 1:3-4) God will always fulfill His word. He never backs down from it and never breaks it. Repeating the promises of Hebrews 13:5 or Romans 8:28 is a healing balm for the unsettled, impatient soul.
2. The Present – I ask myself, “What do I know I’m called to do today?” The answer to that question will divert my mind from all the unknowns of tomorrow and focus me in on the present reality of today. Jesus taught as much in his Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore do not be anxious [read: impatient] about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Despite all I do not know, there is plenty that I do. Caring for my wife and children, sharing the gospel with my lost friends, completing the tasks at hand are tremendous antidotes to the restlessness and impatience regarding an unknown future.
3. My Purpose – A sense of purposelessness can drive a person insane or to despair. What most of us are often waiting for is some thing by which, in attaining it, we think we will be complete. When I am reminded that I was created for God’s glory (Isaiah 43:7) and that HE WILL receive glory from my life, HE WILL glorify himself through me, and HE WILL accomplish all that He has planned for me, I’m reminded that I cannot mess up God’s plans. My waiting is a part of that plan. I’m being used and fashioned and purposed not in spite of the waiting but directly because of it. If attaining the thing I’m waiting for was exactly, in this moment, the very thing that God wanted for me, then there would be no more waiting! The waiting is exactly what God wants, He’s getting what He wants, and it’s good for Him and for me!
God is He “…who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one will open.” (Revelation 3:7)