I know that I am not good at waiting. I believe that we, as a nation, struggle to wait. We may be a country who once knew how to queue, but we are becoming less and less good at waiting. Every morning on the way to work, someone tries to slip up the hard shoulder and pull in at the front of the line, by-passing the 30 or so cars that have queued nose to tail towards the Blackwall Tunnel – infuriating or tempting?
Everything is available instantly, or at least by next day delivery. We don’t want to have to save up, we want to have it now on credit and pay it back in the "sweet by and by", even if it is 0%APR! We can download in an instant with our super-fast broadband and binge on an entire TV series, even if only the first one has been broadcast.
Sadly, we, the Church of God, have also become much less good at waiting. When we don’t see results we come up with plans for immediate success, but this does not seem to be the pattern of Scripture. Abraham was 75 years old before God called him to who knows where (and it took a long time and a round-about route to get there!). He waited another 25 years before he had his son of promise. Jacob had to work 7 years for his Uncle Laban before he could get his wife (even then he had to accept a 2 for 1 deal and work another 7 years more!). Joseph languished in jail for about 14 years for a crime he didn’t commit, before rising to Prime Minister of all Egypt. Moses spent 40 years counting sheep for his Father-in-law Jethro before God sent him back to Pharaoh – I think you get the picture.
God doesn’t need our service, but he does want waiters!
So, does God just want us to sit back for his timing? No, waiting is not passive inactivity, it is to be very active. It is to engage our whole bodies! Doing what? We are to cry out to God!
We don’t know when exactly David penned Psalm 40, but the Bible paints a very clear picture of a man who had his ups and downs in every aspect of life. However, in Psalm 40 it is clear that as he has been waiting for God he has been crying out – calling desperately for attention. God doesn’t have a physical body to turn around to respond, but that is David’s perception of what happened as a result of his very active waiting.
Did you notice that such active waiting can also be patient? How?
David is not trying to tell God what to do and when to do it as he cries out to him. He cries out to the Sovereign God who controls the times and the seasons – who is the Beginning and the End.
So, as we began this new Autumn term with our week of prayer let’s continue to wait patiently for God – actively, passionately with our whole bodies. As David discovered:
When you are in a hole – stop digging and start crying!
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2