I hate to wait. It’s a daily game for me to minimize red lights and to maximize unhindered forward progress. I approach grocery store check-out lines with shrewd determination to find the fastest one. (It doesn’t work, but I irrationally continue to try.)
Traffic lights and retail lines are the preschools of patience. We enter advanced classes as we expectantly await forward motion in careers, the fulfillment of dreams, the conception of a child, a return to health, or the restoration of a marriage, to name just a few things for which people desperately wait.
We would certainly make those things happen if we could, but someone or something is in the way. God must make a way forward.
This is nothing new. The biblical narrative is a study in waiting. God promised Abraham a nation, descendents as numerous as the stars, but Isaac was not born until Abraham was 100 years old. The nation of Israel lived in slavery in Egypt for hundreds of years before God miraculously liberated them. Then they wandered in the desert for forty years before inhabiting their Promised Land. I could go on…
What is the point of all that waiting?
It is holy.
One aspect of “holiness” in the Bible is to be set apart for sacred use. Based on what I know about God, that he is all powerful, a loving Father, and that he uses all things for his good purpose, I conclude that God makes good use of our waiting. Therefore, waiting is holy.
Not easy, but holy.
Phillip Keller, in his beautiful little book Lessons From a Sheep Dog, sees instructive parallels between his relationship with a beloved Border collie, Lass, and God’s relationship with him.
He observes that the most difficult command for an energetic Border collie to obey is, “Stay.”
Keller would command Lass to stay to protect a gate or a group of sheep while he was busy somewhere else. Lass’s job was vital to his work. But, Keller writes, “Lass often felt she was missing out on the action.” Eventually, without Keller nearby she would become agitated and leave her post.
Keller writes, “God used this element in Lass to teach me a most important principle…the absolute necessity to be quietly steadfast and faithful wherever He placed me. In a sense these interludes in life were a test not only of my faithfulness to God, but also of His to me.” (p. 43)
My husband and I are in stay mode, and sometimes I get agitated. Yet, I want to experience these days as holy waiting, in confidence that this time is set apart for God’s perfect purpose and that I am growing in and through it. It’s not easy.
Is anyone else struggling to faithfully stay where God has you at the moment? What have learned from waiting?
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14