The Desilets family countdown is in full swing – only 196 days until summer vacation begins!
No, but really, our 7-year-old will gladly inform you that there are exactly 21 days remaining until Christmas. The decorations are up, the neighborhood lights (or light shows) are twinkling, and the smell of ginger cookies is in the air. The big day is coming soon!
Waiting is hard. Whether you’re 7 or 77, any delay in receiving what you want or think you need is frustrating! Checkout lines, ticket lines, traffic lines, and restroom lines. Sign in, take a number, and we’ll be “right with you” – “Do you mind if I put you on hold?” The spinning wheel of a bad wifi signal, a video that won’t load, and, seriously? Two-and-a-half minutes of ads?! They said they would call you tomorrow – and that was three days ago. You know they saw your text, so why aren’t they writing back? The next phase of life, surely it’s going to get easier… And it seems like we’re always waiting for food 😉.
Most of our day-to-day waiting has an estimated end time, but it’s the unknown stuff that gets to us. Change seems slow, another day goes by, and the wheel keeps spinning.
In our fast-paced, fast-forward culture, waiting is hard – but waiting on God is even harder. We’re used to pushing buttons and making things happen, so when a situation falls outside of that ability, we get antsy. We know God has the ability to influence change and we trust that He is willing to use that power on our behalf because He cares for us. But about 99.9% of the time, we have to wait.
We’re all waiting on God for something – and we should be! The Bible is full of examples of faith-filled people asking for and expecting God to act. Through this asking and expecting, we take a posture of humility – surrendering control and admitting our need for Him. But sometimes we forget that in that surrender, we’re also waiving our right to speed up the process.
In Romans 15:4, Paul states that “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” When we think of our favorite Bible stories, we see a highlight reel of crisis points and miracle-moments. But like a movie or television show, we’re only seeing the “important” parts necessary for the story and don’t think about the significant amount of time between those events.
When you add up the numbers, you see that the Bible is full of hundreds of years of waiting. You see the 13 years between Joseph’s dreams and their fulfillment, the 14 years between David’s anointing as king and his appointing as king, the 40 years Moses was a shepherd in Midian before he returned to Egypt, and the 60-something years between Daniel’s refusal to eat the king’s meat and his time in the lion’s den. We forget that Abraham was 75 years old when God said, “‘I will make you a great nation’” (Genesis 12:2) and then not until 25 more years passed that Isaac was born. Where were you 25 years ago? Can you imagine waiting on God for one thing for that long?
It turns out there was more waiting than happening in the Bible and our faith-filled heroes lived their mundane, everyday lives in the in-between. Day after day they woke up, did chores or jobs, cooked meals, ran errands, and went to bed. I bet they even had to wait in lines (and they didn’t even have phones to distract them!)
But maybe the waiting was where things were happening. I want God to fix my problems, but maybe He’s doing most of that fixing in the times where it looks like He’s doing nothing. The waiting is where my heart is either softened to a place of trust or hardened to a lack of it. The waiting is where my motives are revealed – am I waiting on God to be who I want Him to be or am I waiting on Him to be who He is? If I’ve asked God to grow my faith, He’s going to make me wait – because it’s in the waiting where my faith does the growing.
As an adult, I’m not counting down the days until Christmas, but I certainly will be doing some waiting over the next few weeks! I can’t get everything from Amazon so there will be lines, and living in the same town as the largest mall in the country means one word: traffic. I’ve been challenged by my advent devotional this year to “learn to wait” by intentionally keeping my phone in my pocket during these situations.* The minutes might feel like an eternity, but I’m sure the waiting will be good for me!