Waiting is inevitable.
What we do with it is a choice.
Already this morning, I found myself waiting before I could go have “before-surgery-prayer” with someone at the hospital. Then on the way home, I had to stop for a school bus loading a dozen children.
Waiting is not only inevitable, it is inconvenient—we always seem to be waiting when we’d rather be doing something else.
So what can we do while we wait?
We can read. We can pray. We can sing. We can pace (getting steps is always a good thing). We can talk to the others who are waiting around us.
These are the productive things we can do.
But we can also stew, grouse, complain, belly-ache, whine, and generally make everyone around us as miserable with the inconvenience as we are.
I know these things are options, because I’ve gone there way too many times myself.
Tucked away in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he makes reference to “redeeming the time” (5:16). This echos the Old Testament prayer of the Psalmist: “Teach us to use wisely all the time we have (Psalm 90:12).”
So how will you use your time, especially your waiting time, today?
May we all come to productive and wise usage…we’ll be happier for it…and God will be pleased.
For most of my 20’s and 30’s I couldn’t sit still. I was a doing machine. Those were the days of attempting to balance mothering, working, and being a wife and keeping a house. Somehow through that period we also spent time with friends—doing things.
Then a shift began to take place. I became able to sit for long periods of time: reading, watching TV, or more recently trolling and scrolling on the internet. One must create a social presence.
Almost two years ago, I got a FitBit. And I started to move. My wrist companion even reminds me to move every hour. Many complain about that feature, but I love it! If I sit for too long I get stiff and have difficulty moving when I need to. The result has been a renewed dedication to moving, and setting goals for quantity and quality of movement. I have become disciplined—and it feels good.
I wonder if I could set a reminder to think about God.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him (Psalm 62:5, NLT).
Text: Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. (Nehemiah 2:1, NLT)
We start our thoughts this week with Nehemiah roughly six months later. Did you catch that? Chapter one begins in late autumn and chapter picks back up in early spring.
What’s up with that? The need was great. Nehemiah’s response had been intense. I would have expected God to move immediately. Wouldn’t you?
But the success Nehemiah prayed for, the favor of the king, needed time to unfold.
God works that way. God doesn’t always answer the way we want or expect. We need to trust that God is working even when we can’t, don’t, or won’t see it. God is never late.
Have you experienced a time when God answered your prayer with an instant “yes”? How about a definite “no”? Can you trust him to be working when there is not instant answer?
Second only to suffering, waiting may be the greatest teacher and trainer in godliness, maturity, and genuine spirituality that most of us ever encounter. ~Richard Hendrix
Nothing is really written about today. We who know the rest of the story look toward tomorrow morning like a child expecting a basket full of goodies.
But how did the disciples wait…or did they.
They hid. In John we read that they were huddled in a room behind a locked door. Fearful that they might be next…guilt by association.
Others went back to work, went back to what they knew…what they could count on.
Some made the long walk home to Emmaus.
They didn’t know the end of the story. Otherwise they would have been gathered outside of the tomb, ready to celebrate!
I’m not a very good “waiter”, especially when I don’t know what outcome I’m waiting for. I get impatient when God doesn’t answer right away…when Saturday drags on forever.
But even if I don’t know how things are going to end, even when the end seems so dreadfully far away…Sunday’s coming.
If we were sitting across the table, talking over a cup of something warm, I’d look you in the eye and say: “Let’s make a pact. Let’s decide to anticipate that God is going to do something. Let’s trust him to have our best in mind. Let’s.”
PRAYER: God of silence, God of wait, God of meanwhile…we want to be like children eagerly anticipating that you have got an awesome plan for our lives. Better than we could ever imagine. Walk with us through our Saturdays, our times of doubt and fear. We want to live every day like Sunday’s coming. Amen.
How interesting that while we have spent this entire waiting for Jesus to be born, for God to enter the scene…He has been with us the whole time.
His love has been present.
His grace has been active.
His power has been manifest.
He is Emmanuel. His name is the reminder that God is always with us.
That’s the best gift of all.
No matter what we face. No matter where we are. He is there.
He will never leave us or forsake us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39, NLT
PRAYER: Ever-present, all wise, and loving God, thank you for the gift of your Son…for what it meant and what it means. Help us to keep Christmas in our hearts and our actions all year long. And make us aware of you blessed presence everyday as we journey into another new year. Amen.
And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. Galatians 4:3-5, NLT
We’re almost there. You have been so patient. I’m really quite impressed that you’ve stayed with me to the end.
I chuckled when I read this morning’s text. Who among us can’t relate to the fullness of this season? Our schedules are full. Our houses are full. Our bellies are over-full. About the only thing no longer full is our wallet or checking account. (Insert sad face here.)
But the fullness or right on timeness that Paul is writing to the Galatians about has nothing to do with this and everything to do with God’s perception of time.
We look at Christmas and I imagine our thoughts resonate with Joseph’s:
If we were in charge, we would have picked a different time, a different way…and we would have missed it…and messed it up.
God’s ways don’t make sense. But that’s probably because we don’t think like he does.
He knows best: when and how.
PRAYER: God, you who created time, who are over time, yet in and all the way through it…be born in us today. Amen.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9, NIV
Dictionary.com: physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired; characterized by or causing impatience or dissatisfaction, as in a weary wait.
Are we there yet?
The question doesn’t belong just to children on long road trips.
As adults we become victims of exhaustion, impatience, and dissatisfaction.
How long do we have to be good and do good?
It reminds me of the question asked of Jesus: how many times do I have to forgive?
We want to know how long we have to keep this up.
But perhaps the problem is with the question itself. Sure we want to see the goal, the finish line. Maybe we would find greater inspiration if we would keep our eyes on the prize instead: the harvest–all the good stuff, the fruit of our labors.
PRAYER: God, we want to do good, to be good, but sometimes we’re just tired. Forgive us for acting like petulant children. Give us grace, strength, and courage to stay the course and keep our eye on the prize–to your honor and glory. Amen.
There’s a HUGE difference in the way believers should be waiting.
If we believe that God is in control. That what happens in our lives has reason and meaning. That even when we can’t see or understand what’s going on…God is still in the business of “working all things for our good” (Romans 8:28).
Then we should be expecting something—anticipating God to do something.
As we draw ever nearer to Christmas, I pray that we would find our childlike faith. Watch a child and how they are just about to burst with anticipation.
God is about to break into the scene afresh.
Anticipate it. Expect it. Rejoice in it.
PRAYER: God, I want to believe you are working all things for my good. I don’t always see it. I don’t expect it. Forgive me for doubting and looking for the other shoe to drop. Renew my childlike faith and give eyes to see you working anew and afresh. Amen.
But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7, ESV
“But as for me…”
Even when no one else will wait.
When waiting makes no sense to anyone else.
I’m going to wait on God.
Because He is the God of my salvation and I know that He has heard me…and will hear me.
PRAYER: God, sometimes it’s hard to wait on you. Others give up and I feel alone. But as for me…I would rather be without my friends than to be without the God who saves me and hears me when I call. Amen.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6
I have a friend who says God wired certain people to work third shift. I am not one of them.
But I have had to work third shift, and so I get what the Psalmist is talking about.
I would start my shift well, but somewhere around 3:00 the hours would begin to drag and staying awake became the hugest chore of all. I would start begging the hands of the clock to move.
I’d scan the horizon for any sign of morning light.
And now I wonder: do I look and long with that same intensity for the Lord?
Advent gives us the opportunity to practice, but are we even looking?
PRAYER: God, we confess that our souls are often very weak at watching. We are consumed with the daily-ness of life. In these remaining days of Advent help us to be faithful watchers, anticipating and longing to see you every step of the way. Amen.