Of the answers to my prayers—“Yes, No or Wait”—“Wait” is the hardest for me. “Yes”, of course, is great (though sometimes scary—oh, no! Do I really want this???) “No” means just move on—not going to happen. But “Wait” is so nebulous! Does that mean there’s a “Yes” down the road? Does that mean that if there HAD been a “Yes” that it would have been bad?
Yet, as I look in the Bible, I see LOTS of “Wait.” The Jews waited for the coming of the Messiah. Abraham waited to be the father of many nations. Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth waited for children. Joseph waited to get out of prison. Simeon waited to see the Messiah with his own eyes. The early church waited for the coming of Holy Spirit. Galatians 4:4-7 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.”
Why so much waiting???? Is God just slow? Does God enjoy our discomfort?
In examining this, I’ve come up with some possible suggestions.
Because God chooses to work with humans to whom God has given freedom of will, sometimes it takes a while to get things going in the direction God desires. (Think herding cats here.) How much more efficient things would be if we were pawns upon God’s chessboard that God moved at will.
Whether or not God’s plan involves waiting, there can always be growth and time spent to good purpose in our “waiting periods” IF WE ALLOW IT. Waiting can be the sandpaper God uses to smooth off some of the “not Christ” stuff on us. That sounds about as comfortable as it would feel! Not very! But it will bring noticeable results in the end.
Our mindset has an enormous amount to do with our perception of our wait time. Which goes quicker, time with friends telling stories and laughing or time spent anticipating a root canal? Part of our work in this process is staying busy with God’s work here on earth while we wait for God to act. In addition to whatever good we accomplish, the time goes by faster.
Finally, a wise friend taught me the importance of waiting for God’s timing. I may see something that needs to happen. It may be something that has much good in it and be something that God would bless, but its success will be much more effective if others have had time to see the need, ponder the answer, and work towards the solution in collaboration. God works inside our “messiness” to bring about great good—truly miraculous! So sometimes our answer is, “Wait.”
Minister of Senior Adults and Congregational Care
First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, TN