Whatever it is that you are waiting for, know that you are on sacred ground. God is there in the midst of the wait.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
This small but powerful word is one that parents and teachers use frequently and one that certainly gets everyone’s attention. It might only be four letters long, but it is packed with meaning and implication. From a child’s point of view, it is a weighty and unpopular word, which sometimes blocks goals and causes feelings of impatience. Children learn to wait for a variety of reasons, whether for the sake of others, staying safe when crossing the street, or because the timing of something is not yet right.
In order to wait, children must trust their adults who can see the bigger picture. Children see from a limited viewpoint. They do not have the perspective and experience of adults. They do not always understand that there may be danger or that they might be unprepared for something they want to rush into, but as they learn to wait, they begin to develop the valuable qualities of self discipline, trust, tolerance and patience.
The apostle Paul, spoke of these and other qualities in Galatians 5:22 -23 when writing about the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (The Living Bible)
As our heavenly Father, God longs for each of us to grow and develop in these areas as we move towards Christian maturity. He yearns for our relationship with him to grow deeper in dependent trust, as we begin to understand his perspective and surrender our own agenda in place of his design for our life. Waiting for his timing or his plan produces the fruit of patience and peace, and as we mature, we may find that the wait gets longer as God prepares us for the larger gifts and purposes he has for us.
The Bible has many accounts of men and women who learned to wait, acquiring obedience and self control through the process, and shows how sometimes the wait is not always about us, but about God revealing his glory, as we will see shortly!
One of the great figures of the Bible who had to wait was Moses, who herded sheep for 40 years in the desert, before leading the Israelites out of Egypt and spending another 40 years in the desert because they were not ready to enter the Promised Land! He spent 80 years in the desert before he fulfilled his ultimate calling!
Joseph (of the amazing colourful coat) waited in prison for over 12 years, not knowing if he would ever be set free, and not knowing that God had a much higher calling for him as governor of Egypt! Others, such as Abraham, Zechariah and Hannah, the mother of Samuel, waited many years to have babies, all of whom were used mightily by God (Isaac who was one of the forefathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, John the Baptist and Samuel the prophet).
Sometimes when God asks us to wait we might, like small children, ask “Why?” I am personally guilty of this! Think for a moment how inappropriate it is to ask why! Who are we to question the living God? If it is a long wait, doubt certainly creeps in, but who are we to doubt or to let unbelief slip into our minds? There have been times when doubt has loomed so large that I have buried my dreams, only to have them dug up by others, and then re-buried, which can be a very painful experience! Having a double funeral for one’s dreams only creates deeper grief! Don’t bury your dream. Know that God put it there in your heart. When God asks us to wait, we should have a sense of anticipation, for if God has asked us to wait, it must be for something special! Just ponder for a moment what an incredible honour that is! We should be excited! We should be flooded with anticipation, like a child waiting for Christmas day! Do we not treasure the things we have waited the longest for?
Remember those great men and women of the Bible and know that you are being refined and prepared. Moses could not have led God’s people out of slavery without being polished and prepared those first 40 years in the desert! He was impetuous and not at all ready! Don’t give in to the enemy’s lie that God has forgotten you. The truth is far from it! God is preparing you. God has a plan for you. He is preparing something or someone for you…something incredible! If the wait is long, you know you are in good company with those Bible heroes! Biblical history indicates that long waits are associated with great purpose and deep dependence on God, leading to increased maturity and responsibility. Has God asked you to wait for something? Perhaps for a certain time, a certain promise, or a certain person? Be delighted! You are cherished and chosen! What a privilege for you. Embrace it and believe it! Feel the anticipation! Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me…” (italics mine).
Whatever it is that you are waiting for, know that you are on sacred ground. God is there in the midst of the wait. It is he who placed your dream or desire or passion in your heart. It is he who wants you healed and whole. He planned abundant life for you, and he cares deeply about the health of your spirit and your heart.
What also matters is that he is the one who is glorified. Many a time in my life, when I have asked “Why?” or even “Why me?” God has shown me that not everything is actually about me! We humans can be quite self centred. Sometimes, the waiting is about others as part of their own journey of growth, and sometimes it is about God demonstrating his power and receiving the glory he deserves!
Two episodes in the Bible come to mind. John 9 :1–12 is the account of a man born blind, whom Jesus healed. His life had been one of a beggar, waiting in his darkened world day after day for years until Jesus restored his sight. When Jesus and his disciples came upon the man, the disciples asked ““Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (verse 2)
Jesus replied that neither the man nor his parents had sinned, but that “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (verse 3)
Imagine how that man must have felt, knowing that his disability existed to bring glory to God, and that God had a plan and was also waiting for the day when he would display his work. What about you? What if you knew that God was waiting with you, for a day yet to come when your struggle, disability or dream will bear fruit and bring God glory? God waits with you like the parent with a child who has been asked to wait for something they long for. God knows the day is coming. The parent knows the day is coming, and the child must trust, even though he or she does not know the day, or the hour, or the moment when the wait will be over. We are not alone in the waiting!
In John 11: 1- 44 we find another poignant story of waiting in the account of Lazarus of Bethany whom Jesus raised from the dead. Lazarus had been taken ill and his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus to come as soon as possible. By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus has passed and had already been buried for four days.
However “late” Jesus’ arrival may have appeared to be to Lazarus’ family as they waited, Jesus was actually right on time to perform a miracle that would prove his authority over death and establish that he was truly “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
Jewish texts teach that the soul separates from the body after death and hovers over the body for three days before departing on the fourth day. Many in Israel believed that a person could be resurrected after three days, but by the fourth day it was considered too late, especially as the body would most certainly be in a state of decay by then! If Jesus had raised Lazarus during the three days after his death, the Jews would not necessarily have considered it a miracle as they believed the spirit could return to the body within that time frame. By waiting until the fourth day when it was considered impossible, Jesus was making sure that the people would “see the glory of God” (verse 40) and believe that he was the true Messiah, the One who had victory even over death. He wanted them to grow in faith and to believe. The growth of faith always leads to God’s glory!
Once, at an Anglican healing service in the UK, the speaker told the story of how she had prayed every single day for three years for a woman with an infection in her leg, which doctors wanted to amputate. The sufferer was an unbeliever, but the speaker was faithful, and after three years of prayer, God gave a miracle and healed the leg completely, bringing the unbelieving woman to faith and glory to God!
God may not do things according to our time frame, because his time frame is so much better! His ways are above ours and superior to anything we can imagine or hope for ourselves. He is always at work and always has a plan. If he has asked us to wait, it is for a very good reason. Not only does the waiting help our personal and spiritual development, it shows how deeply we are loved and valued by the living God.
The Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, has picked you to wait and to grow. The fact that he cares about your spiritual growth and your life enough to ask you to wait as he waits with you, demonstrates the enormous amount of love he has for you.
If we were not loved, if our maturity, spiritual wellbeing and relationship were not important, then we would not need to wait. It would be a case of anything goes! We would be the equivalent of “latch key kids” with little or no parental supervision, pleasing and indulging ourselves and likely rushing into danger. A far cry from the purposeful, abundant life he came to provide!
Are you okay to wait if you know it’s for God’s glory? Are you okay to wait knowing that he is waiting with you and knows the day when the wait will be over? Are you okay to wait, knowing that you are on sacred ground that he has chosen for you, and that through the waiting he is helping you to grow into the patient, transformed image bearer he designed you to be? Will you trust him?
Look again at our opening scripture verse.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
I love that the Scripture says “take heart” as you wait for the Lord. It is personal, as if God is saying to you, “Take heart my child. I know your heart. I know about the wait. I know about it all…your dreams, your hopes, your anxieties. Be encouraged that all will be well.”
I see three instructions in the verse. Firstly, to be strong in the waiting. Keep trusting and do not give in to doubt. Secondly, take heart. Encourage yourself in your experience of God and his word to you, and thirdly, wait, knowing that waiting is sacred ground because God has chosen it for you.
Take heart dear friend, because the gift you are longing for is worth the wait, and you are not alone. The King of Creation is there in your midst, growing, changing and transforming you to receive his gift that will fill you with abundant life and glorify his name!
PRAYER: Father God, thank you for loving me enough to ask me to wait! Forgive me for my impatience and for those times when I question your motives or doubt your plans for me. Help me to draw encouragement from the scriptures and to trust you, knowing that I am truly on sacred ground and that all of my needs, hopes and dreams are safe in your hand. May my life and my waiting bring you glory Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen.
Please click here for part six of this series.
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