Have you ever received contradictory advice? Grow up – but not too fast. You need to take on more responsibility – but not too much. You need to act like an adult – yet have fun as a kid. Part of the problem is in your perception, part of it is in others’ expectations; while some of the problem is in understanding the issue. Sometimes we confuse the concepts of privilege and responsibility, demanding the one while ignoring the other. You do need to grow up, but not so fast that you miss out on the fun of being young. You do need to take on responsibility, but being responsible is a learned process; part of “growing up” and successfully accomplished over time. As we learn to accept responsibility, we become capable of taking on more – to do more successfully. A key to all this is patience. We have to learn that things happen in their proper time. Which also pertains to our relationship with God, who always answers prayer but not always the way we would have him do so or according to our timing. Sometimes he answers ‘yes’, sometimes ‘no,’ and often his answer is ‘wait’; until you are more able to fully understand the options, conditions, expectations and consequences of what it is you are asking for.
So what do we do in the mean-time? WAIT! “…be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 However, waiting for the Lord’s leading does not mean we do nothing during the wait. We are to remain firm in his strength and take heart in his ability; having confidence in being able to do what he asks as he leads us to it. Thereby learning how to, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret…” Psalm 37:7
There is an issue of getting ahead of God. God told Abraham he would have a son in his old age. Abraham knew the facts of life, the odds were very much against he and Sarah having a child because of their age; so he decided to help God out. He took Sarah’s young servant and had a child with her. (In those days a common practice, but God called Abraham to an uncommon cause and would deal with him in an extraordinary way – if he would just wait for that way to be fully revealed.) God uses uncommon, even impossible situations to prove his power to us and to convince us to place our faith in him. Hagar had a son who was only partly to blame for becoming a thorn in the flesh to Sarah, Abraham, and nearly everybody else. A classic example of the harm we can do when we second-guess God and get ahead of his timing for us.
But what was Abraham and Sarah to DO? Nothing? No. They were to live the best they could every day. Preparing themselves to be parents as best they could. Remembering the promise that, “…the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion… Blessed are all who wait for him!” Is. 30:18 Sometimes our faith is challenged and grows as a result of waiting. When we wait (Or are forced to endure a difficult situation.) we often look to God more intensely. Our hope is in him, our expectation of his working directly in our lives heightened; we allow him to have a bigger influence in our lives. That’s not always a comfortable place to be but absolutely beneficial. There are times when we’ve done all we know to do, thought all we can think – and it just doesn’t work or make sense. That’s when we need to, “Be still and know…God…” Psalm 46.10 Consequently, that’s when we are most likely to let go and let God have his way.
Sometimes waiting allows us to calm down and gain perspective. A good rule of thumb for life is to never make a major decision during a crisis, which is hard to do; for crisis demands decisions. But a decision arrived at when you are overly emotional or physically hurting is rarely a good one. Make the decisions you must; be prepared to respond well by being in God’s word before-hand (Which is a good definition of waiting), so that some of your responses are instinctual. Whenever possible, step back, think it through, seek God; wait a bit. Give yourself the time you need to make a reasoned decision and a constructive response. Notice what waiting isn’t. It’s not sitting down in tears. It’s not questioning why this happened. It’s not falling apart in doubt and desperation. It’s doing some things now that will enable you to do more things later.
After all the disciples had been through during Jesus’ short, action-packed ministry and as a result of the seemingly contradictory expectations and realities of his last week on earth, they were left a bit breathless and confused. They were instructed to be imitators of Jesus, to go and do likewise. (Matthew 28:18-20) But first, they were told to wait. (Acts 1:4) What were they waiting on? The gift of the Holy Spirit. Why were they waiting? Besides doing what they were told to do – a major stumbling block or stepping-stone to mature Christian living – they weren’t ready. They needed time to put order to their thoughts and emotions, talk to and console one another, remembering their past while finding purpose for their futures; an excellent way to re-direct and re-energize ourselves as we wait/prepare to go again. For, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope (wait KJ) on the Lord will renew their strength.” Is. 40:30,31
They weren’t waiting, doing nothing, but waiting as a waiter does on tables. A good waiter has your table cleaned, set and ready for you to sit down. He has your menu ready to select from, asks for your choice of drink and returns with it and your appetizer. He or she then takes your order, making sure your selection is prepared to your satisfaction. Meanwhile they are tending to the needs of others just like you as they check back to refill your drinks and see if you need anything else. After delivering your order they remain close, anticipating needs and answering your call for attention. Now – what’s this business about WAITING? They wait – expectantly – for an opportunity to do, fully prepared beforehand to meet those needs. That is precisely the kind of waiter we are called to be in Christ. We are not to wait for his guidance in idleness but to seek it out in his word while waiting. We are not to wait for an opportunity to present itself to us but to purposefully watch for that opportunity while waiting. Once equipped to do and be the best God can make of us, we wait on him; doing his bidding, knowing his will.
The disciples were able to receive the Holy Spirit, I believe, in part as a result of successful waiting in obedience. They were where God told them to be, doing what He expected them to do. Not knowing what was about to happen or what they would be called upon to do, they none-the-less were busy doing what they did know, expectantly waiting to be shown more. As a result they were blessed beyond their wildest dreams and experienced more success than anyone could imagine. That’s what “waiting” on God does for us, what “waiting” on others can bring about.
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