Learning to Wait
Have you ever been in a hurry but had to wait? Nothing seems to move fast when you are in a hurry. One line feeds into another long line and we wait. If you try calling your favorite company for service, be prepared to wait through a long list of automated directories. Take a trip to the mall to buy that item you want, but be prepared to wait. Are you in a rush to get from one place to another? Be prepared to wait. In fact, some people do just that. They carry books to read on buses, subways and in traffic jams. In airports, gas stations or restaurants, waiting is a part of our daily lives.
No one likes to wait, we prefer things quicker. While Old Fashioned grits taste better, no one really wants to wait 30 minutes for them to cook. Percolated coffee takes longer to brew and tastes better, but instant or drip coffee gets the job done. The world is moving to quicker, faster and instant, because we can't wait.
Life is faster and we live faster trying to keep up. Rushing is a way of life. Everything and everyone seems to be faster except God, and the things of God. When we pray, why can't we get an instant answer? Why must we wait so long to get an answer? Isn't there a fast lane for people who have less than 10 items on their prayer list? At times God seems to move slow, while we are in a hurry. Why can't God move any faster?
At the close of the Old Testament the people were promised that a savior would come. About 490 years passed and the deliverer never came. They waited, but it seemed the longer they waited the longer it took. Finally, a baby was born in
I love the 27th psalm, I read it periodically in times of great challenge. It comforts me and gives me encouragement for it focuses on David as he encourages believers to patiently wait on the Lord. It is a history of David's experience with God. He waited and God answered in varied ways.
There was a point in his life when he was surrounded by enemies, but David waited on God. God caused those enemies to stumble and fall. (Some of you all have some enemies that just won’t leave you alone.)
While he waited David worshippped fervently. His desire was to be in the presence of the Lord in his tabernacle, to worship, give offerings and to make sacrifices. In worship he sang praises to God and he joyfully told others of God's goodness. He enjoyed the beauty of God's presence and felt that while he waited, he would find spiritual shelter from the storms of life because God would, "hide me." In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me."
While he waited, David also prayed. He diligently sought the will of God in prayer. In his fear and apprehension, he sought God's presence and strengthening hand. His prayer was "hear my voice, when I cry." It is a good thing to talk with God while we wait for him to respond to our need.
David waited in confidence. He was sure that no matter what his situation that God would not forsake him. At verse 10 he notes that even if his parents, his father and mother, would forsake him and give him up as a lost cause, he knew that God would "lift me up." This confidence David shows is remarkable considering that at the time of the writing he was little more than a vagabond, a criminal in the eyes of the king and a hunted man. Despite it all, he remained confident. David concluded that it is best to wait on the Lord.
We are encouraged to take courage and wait for God to act out his will in their lives. When we wait on the Lord, I submit that there are at least 3 possible postures to take or 3 possible ways to wait. First, when we wait on God we assume the role of the beggar who waits for the merciful favor of a benefactor. To wait on the Lord in this context is to approach him from a position of want and need. We want him to give us what we need and he alone can supply what we need. Waiting on the Lord is to assume that our father is rich in houses and land and that he holds in his grasp the power to grant what we desire. The beggar asks because he knows that the person he asks has what he needs. He also asks, knowing that only if he asks can he let his needs be known.
To wait on the Lord does not mean that we stop asking. "Wait" in this view is to approach God in humility. It does not mean that we stop praying or seeking an answer because we are waiting. Waiting does not mean that we stop praying. It does not mean that we stop hoping. It does not mean that we stop looking or begging for his mercy. It means that we approach God as a full fountain with our cups out, waiting to be filled.
What do we wait for? We wait to hear the Masters response. In ancient times, it was customary for students to walk closely behind the master instructor. Sometimes they would wait for hours in the courtyard for the master to appear and then once he appeared they followed him closely waiting to absorb any word they might receive. Sometimes they followed him for hours. On some days, he said nothing at all. In all this his students followed him religiously knowing that whenever he did finally speak it would be well worth their wait. So it is when a child of God waits on the Lord. We wait for him to make his appearance and sometimes even after we feel his presence we wait to hear him speak. We listen closely for his voice. We read his word, searching for the subtle ways in which he speaks to us. We listen to his word as it is explained to us by teachers, and pronounced to us by preachers. In each instance we are waiting on him to make his presence and will known to us.
Like those students, who waited patiently to hear a single word or thought from the master teachers, we too have learned that it is well worth our time to wait on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord is to trust that our benefactor has the capacity to respond to our request. Waiting on the Lord is to constantly cling to hope when all else fails. Waiting on the Lord is to reach up when the world has dropped its head. Waiting on the Lord is to say in the words of the song writer, "Have thine own way Lord, Have thine own way. Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and shape me, After thy will. As in thy presence, I'm yielded and still."
There is another way to wait on the Lord. It is the approach of the confidential aide and the employer, the servant and the master, or the trusted advisor and the benefactor. This relationship exists when both the master and servant are so close that one knows the subtle signs of the other and senses what is needed before hand. In such a case only the slightest nod, or curve of the eyebrow, gets the job done. The servant who knows the master's habits anticipates what the master wants and only requires a subtle look, a lifted eyebrow or a raised finger to achieve a needed result. This is the ultimate in being waited upon; to have what one needs provided even at a glance. Believers who wait upon the Lord are those who walk so closely with him that they can almost anticipate what the Lord would want them to do and they prepare themselves to act or not to act at his command. They do not go into battle, but they stand prepared on the hillside waiting for his signal. Believers become this close with God when they constantly commune with him and seek his will. They know how he thinks and acts and they wait for him to give the smallest sign to proceed or to withdraw. Sometimes it is the smallest act, but yet they know its meaning and act accordingly.
This is what happened when Gideon sought a sign from the Lord as to whether to go into battle. Once he received the sign he sought, he waited upon the Lord for his signal to advance. His waiting was not to sit idle but to prepare to take action if necessary, but not to take a single step until God commanded it to be taken. It was also the case with Abraham, whom God told to move out of his homeland. He waited upon the Lord, but his waiting was not inaction, he began doing what was necessary but would not move until he received the actual command from God.
If we sense the will of God, like that servant who watches the master across the room, waiting for a nod, we watch the hand of God and wait upon him. We know it when we see it because we know him well. How will we know? Just as Elijah knew when he felt the earth quake and a mighty rushing wind and could distinguish that neither was from God, so can every believer who walks close to God know that still small voice that beacons us to action or inaction if need be.
Waiting upon the Lord is to be ready for action, as he gives the slightest sign. Waiting upon the Lord is to be rested and renewed in our determination to accomplish his will. We do this knowing that the strong shall faint and the young shall get weary, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew with strength."
The final way to wait for the Lord is to tarry for his promise. In this sense, we wait not in a sense of weakness, begging for grace or in a sense of readiness, watching for a single command. Wait, in this context, is to anticipate with excitement the fulfillment of a promise. Waiting for the promise is as exciting as a child waiting for Christmas. We anxiously wait for the great blessings that are coming!
While we wait we should not be idle, but we should be busy doing his work. We should wait on him in Bible Study. We should wait on him in reaching out and taking advantage of the work available in the ministries of the church. Everyone ought to at least be involved in one ministry of this church. Waiting should not mean inaction. Some of us who are waiting on the economy to turn around and the job Markey to improve ought to use this time to get prepared. If you need to get more training, go get it. If you need to get or finish your degree, go do it. Don’t just sit around like a bump on a log waiting for something to happen. Go and prepare yourself to take advantage of the opportunities God will place before you.
Jesus told the parable of the 10 virgins who waited for the bridegroom to make his appearance. While all of them were waiting for his return, only five of them were ready for his return by having their lamps properly trimmed.
The Bible tells us in various places how the word spread that Jesus was coming to town and how the people waited for him. The people "gladly received him" and were waiting for him. Rarely did Jesus enter a village without finding people waiting for him. They waited in expectation. They waited in anticipation. Jarius waited because he had a daughter that was ill. He did not wait in vain. A woman with an issue of blood waited. She did not wait in vain, because when she touched the hem of his garment she was made whole. A ruler in the synagogue whose daughter died waited. He did not wait in vain for Jesus used it as an example of God's power and she was raised from the dead.
What are you waiting for? The defeated are waiting for the final victory. Jesus has promised that victory. He told John, "He that over cometh shall inherit all things." The weak are waiting for more strength. The faint in strength are waiting for God's promise to Isaiah, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount on wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint." The discouraged are waiting for encouragement. In their discouragement the word of God says, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord who made the heaven and the earth." The confused are waiting for answers! "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understandings. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." The lonely are waiting for comfort. Jesus said, "And lo, I'll be with you always, even unto the end of the earth."
I don't know about you, but I've decided to wait on the Lord! If I wait on the Lord, he'll make a way out of no way! If I wait on the Lord, he'll take my defeats and give me victory! If I wait on the Lord, he'll take my despair and give me hope! If I wait on the Lord, he'll take my bad days and turn them into good days! I'll wait because, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus' name!"
It seemed like a long time, but in the fullness of time God sent his son! It may seem like a long time in your life, but in the fullness of time God is faithful to deliver. I don't know about you, but I've decided to be like Job and say, "All the days of my appointed time, I'll will wait until my change come!