05 December, 2011

Waiting... It Serves a Purpose

None of us really like waiting... especially for the promise of God to be fulfilled in our lives. We want it soon... now... well, actually, we want it yesterday. Waiting is tough. Sometimes we want to give up, thinking that we are wasting our time, or we need to help God out in the process by doing things of our own accord, justifying our actions by saying that we are doing this to help God out. The thing is, waiting means waiting. And just who do we think we are thinking that we can actually help God out? (Chew on that one a moment.)  The problem is, we just don't like waiting. We are impatient, and we want things to happen on our time schedule. It's kind of like little girls playing make believe dress up and getting all adorned for their wedding. It is fun for a few moments... but at the end of the day, all the things we've put on and made up go back in the box... until it is time for us to mature enough for that wedding day. It's just pretend. Many times, we "play pretend" with the promises of God, trying to bring those promises about more quickly with our feeble efforts... but God's promises will come in His timing and not before. No matter what we do to "help them along."  We make some really dumb mistakes in our lives and in our churches when we try to help God out. I watched Pastors leave churches, abandoning the promise, and justifying their action by saying that their leaving will help the church. That seldom is the answer. What it really is, is men and women of God who have grown weary and lost patience. They've forgotten who it was that gave the promise or vision and in their attempts to make it happen, they've exhausted themselves and become impatient. 

In James 1:4, the Bible says, "Let patience have its perfect work..."
Notice the wording... "Let patience..."  We have an active part here... we must allow it. By the same token... we can get in the way and mess it all up! 

Like I said, "Nobody likes waiting."  It's like children at Christmas time. My children are older now, and a couple of weeks ago, my son (now 21) had a night of confession... telling us things he and his sister had done growing up. (By the way... several "mysteries" of life were clarified in this!) He spoke of Christmas' past where he was so impatient that he often unwrapped the ends of the Christmas presents to see what was there awaiting him on Christmas morning, so that he'd know what he wanted to open first.  He admitted that doing this took away from a lot of the joy on Christmas morning.  Waiting is difficult. It is sometimes painful. It is nerve racking. I can cause us to give in to fear and doubt some times. 
But it is necessary. It teaches us.
Perhaps, like me, you've found yourself asking God, "Why do I have to wait so long?" I won't hide the fact... since I've been here in Galesburg as pastor, I've asked this many times... and I've asked it a lot recently. I don't understand much of what is happening right now. I don't understand the lack of passion for serving God. I don't understand people who really have the attitude about church that they could "Take it or leave it."   I don't get it when people come to church once or twice a month. I'm tired. Let's face it, I'm impatient! 

But the last few days the Lord has been speaking to me and telling me that their are lessons to learn... and that many have given up on the vision causing us to back peddle several times to regroup... but that the promise is alive and will be fulfilled if we persevere. 

So... I wait.

There is a song we sing at church that says:
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident

Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

It's funny, because in the midst of my struggle with the whole waiting thing... today I open my email and my daily devotional this morning had the following to say about lessons learned while waiting:
(1) Waiting trains you. Time spent waiting can be time spent learning. And if you're learning, you're not losing. God will train you for battle because He's a good general. 'Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.' (Psalm 144:1 NIV) 
(2) Waiting corrects you. The Psalmist wrote: 'Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word.' (Psalm 119:67 NKJV) Pain can be profitable. Adversity can lead to spiritual advancement if you're willing to glean from it. Pain forces you to look to God for answers, to lean on Him instead of others, to learn where you went astray, to hunger for His presence and His healing touch, to listen for His instructions and be sensitive to the changes He wants to bring about in your life. Yes, you can turn your pain into progress. 
(3) Waiting reveals those around you. Motives are not easily discerned. Trust God but test people. That's Scriptural. '...the Lord your God led you...forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart...' (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV) People can keep their intentions and motives covered for a long time, but waiting generally forces the truth to the surface. 
(4) Waiting gives God time to solve the problem. He's a miracle-working God, so don't get ahead of Him and rob Him of the opportunity to demonstrate His power in your life.

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