I don’t like waiting. I hate long lines, slow walkers, protracted plane flights. I am, by nature, not a patient man. Not that I don’t want patience. Far from it! I want patience and I want it now! I want to be kind and loving now. I want to be godly now!
It does not help that we live in a microwave world that expects everything to be done in five minutes or less. The idea that God is in no hurry to bring about His purposes and plans seems almost offensive to our impatient and instantaneous-minded society.
But God is not in any discernible rush to finish His plans for our lives. He unfolds a timetable that is often very different from our own. After all, He is in the business of serious soul-making, cavernous character creation, and radical restoration. And He has all the time in the world to make that happen.
In the meantime, we think everything we deem important should have been finished years and years ago. We are impatient, demanding, and proud. God cares enough about that to make our lives arduous, plodding, and humiliating.
When we left Singapore over a year and a half ago, I never dreamed it would be such a protracted journey back to the things that I love, the teaching and mentoring of current and future leaders of the church in Asia. Yes, I wanted and needed a break, but I also wanted to get back to Singapore on my own timetable. And I wanted the interim period to be restful and easy. Instead, God had some serious things He needed to teach me about my lack of character, my laziness of heart, my love affair with anxiety, and my failings as a husband and father—just to name a few. He also needed to impress into me a renewed willingness to set aside my agenda and let Him have the first and final say over my life, day after day, moment by moment.
God often does this most effectively by making us wait. When Isaiah tells the people of Jerusalem to “wait” in Isaiah 40:31, he does not tell them to wait for their circumstances to change. He does not tell them to wait for the perfect opportunity to arise. He does not tell them to wait on some other god, thing, or person. He specifically calls them to wait on the Lord. He alone is the sole source of strength and hope. But waiting implies the need for patience and assumes what we want of Him will not appear in an instant. It takes time. We will be given strength and hope, but only when God thinks the time is right and only in the way He decides. Meanwhile, we are simply called to wait.
I would be dishonest to say this has been easy for me. To the contrary, the waiting has been very, very hard. I am reminded of the immortal words of that great musician and accidental pop theologian, Tom Petty. Sometimes, “the waiting is the hardest part.” But as hard as it is, waiting on the Lord is an integral part of learning to love and trust Him. And in the end, the wait is always worth it.
David puts it best in Psalm 27:14 when he cries out in the congregation, “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”