Patiently waiting on God
As I write this, it is the beginning of the second week of July. I am about three weeks behind in getting the newsletter devotional written. Every month I write the devotional for this newsletter and then send the completed article to my friend Carl DuBois, who edits it for me. Then he sends the article back to me, and I forward it on to my Administrative Assistant, Jackie Schaa, who formats the newsletter for the website and prepares the email version of the newsletter to be sent out at the beginning of the month. All of this takes time, and all of it is dependentLuke upon my getting a devotional written in a timely fashion.
So why is this month’s devotional so long overdue? It is because I have been in a holding pattern for the past few weeks. I’ve been waiting on God for direction on what he would have me to share. But it is not just the newsletter devotional that has been in a holding pattern. It seems like many areas of my physical life and ministry life are in the waiting phase as well. It is frustrating at times. I am a type-A, get-it-done kind of guy. I don’t like to sit still. But that is where I feel I have been for the past few weeks. I’ve been waiting on God and feeling like I’m sitting in a fog in the process.
All of this leads me to today. This morning I was reading in Luke’s gospel and came upon what we commonly know as the parable of the sower. In this parable, Christ compares different types of people and the impact of the word of God in their lives to different types of soil into which seeds are sown. This is what he says:
“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15, ESV).
I like everything but the last two words in that verse! I like the idea of hearing the word. I like the idea of holding it fast in an honest and good heart. I like the idea of being the kind of person who is productive and bears fruit. But with patience? Not so much!
Here, I think, is where many of us struggle. We are trying to follow God. We are trying to live our lives according to the word of God. We are in relationship with him. We cry out to him for needs in our lives and the lives of those we love. We rest in his promises. We expect him to intercede. We anticipate the moment when God moves heaven and earth to answer our prayers.
And then we wait.
And then we wait some more.
And if you are like me, you have moments in the waiting when you wonder what is really going on.
Gratefully, we have many examples in Scripture of others who waited patiently on God. Over the past few days, God has been bringing to mind other figures in Biblical history that waited on God. Joseph comes to mind, languishing in a prison for years before God finally raised him up as the second highest ruler in all of Egypt. Or consider Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would make him into a great nation. At the time God made the promise to him, Abraham had no children. So he waited for God to fulfill the promise. And he waited. And he waited. And he waited. In fact, he waited 25 years for God to fulfill the promise! Can you imagine? I cannot.
The writer of the book of Hebrews tells the story this way:
“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:13-15, ESV).
Abraham patiently waited on God for 25 years. Now, when you read the entire story, Abraham does mess things up quite a bit during the interim when he tries to figure it out on his own. But in the end, his faith in and patience for God are still acknowledged.
What is also interesting in the passage in Hebrews are the few verses that precede this statement about Abraham. This is what they say:
“For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:10-12, ESV).
I found it interesting that he used the phrase, “so that you may not be sluggish.” Isn’t that often how we feel when we are in the waiting mode? We feel tired and unmotivated. We feel like we are dragging our feet though endless desert sand. It is as if the writer of Hebrews understands our humanity, the physical side of waiting on God. He acknowledges this tendency but gives us the remedy for it. We have the full assurance of hope until the end. We imitate others who through faith and patience inherited the promises made to them. We do the same things they did. We chose to live by faith. We chose to be patient.
I write this today knowing that many folks reading this are likely in a similar position. I hope that you will be encouraged to know that you are not alone. Many great men and women of God go through similar circumstances. Find your hope in God alone. Chose to have faith in a God who is bigger than your circumstances. Even when it does not make sense, wait patiently for him. You and I are not alone in our waiting. We are not the first to find ourselves in that place of waiting. More often than not, God’s timing is different than ours, but do not lose hope. Find your full assurance in him alone. Wait patiently for him. Imitate those who have gone before us in this journey with God.
I continue to learn and grow in my relationship with God and am grateful for the way I can see him at work. For now, I am finally going to get this devotional sent off to Carl, and it is about time to start thinking about what I will be writing for August! Pray with me that I will have patience in the waiting. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting with you.
Have faith in God. Wait patiently for him.
This article was originally published in the July 2014 Newsletter.