Grace Upon Grace

So What Are You Waiting For?

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.

Lamentations 3:21-26 (NASB)

"Wait" is a word we are not ordinarily accustomed to in our American culture. From McDonald's fast food to Burger King's "You can have it your way," we are a people who are accustomed to instant gratification-not to waiting. Microwave popcorn that can be popped in three minutes sometimes seems to take too long. We are easily irritated when there are more than three people in line at the bank or grocery store-and even more irritated when a new line is opened and someone cuts in front of us in a mad dash to be first. We have instant coffee, instant cereals, instant puddings and instant cash at ATMs. Credit Card companies promise us that we don't have to wait to get what we want-"You deserve it now!"-yet, these companies are really selling us exorbitant debt. New computers purchased are obsolete from the moment you pay the bill, with a newer, faster model introduced last week! Programs that used to take a minute or two to load, now load seemingly simultaneously with the click of the Start button. We are a culture and people who want it our way--and NOW! As Christians we have tended to import this kind of thinking into our Christian walk. We want ten steps to immediate maturity! We want instant church growth--"If you build it they will come." Waiting even within Christian circles is often seen as laziness or impractical. We have so often adopted the unscriptural proverb, "God helps those who help themselves." Yet, as I read the Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit's voice, so often I hear the call to wait on Him: "The Lord is good to those wait for Him. . . It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord." Waiting is trusting!-trusting not in what we can do for the Lord, but what he can and will do in and through us!

The still small voice of the Spirit through Jeremiah's lamentation called the Hebrew people to wait silently for the salvation of the Lord. They had just seen the destruction of their temple, their beloved city and their nation. They had been brought 2,000 miles on a forced march to Babylon, an idolatrous, foreign place. With all hope seemingly lost, they were told simply to wait for the salvation of the Lord. The Jews would wait 70 years before being returned to their homeland; they would wait some 618 to 619 years to see the Salvation of salvations wrought by Jesus on the cross. Since the resurrection, we too have joined in a new wait, waiting for the return of Jesus--Christians having waited for nearly 2,000 years now. Yet, waiting in silence isn't reserved for only the grand scope of God's movements. We are faced with a myriad of opportunities to wait for God: waiting for the fulfillment of things promised, waiting through times of tribulation for God's deliverance, waiting for a deeper knowledge of the love and grace of Jesus, waiting for circumstances beyond our control to be redeemed, waiting for clear direction from God on which way to go, and a host of other opportunities. Waiting for us is so countercultural; it goes against the very values that drive us: pragmatism, self-reliance and a strong work ethic. So we often skip waiting, bypassing what God might do for us for the guaranteed results of our own actions. And so we miss out.

Yet, waiting on the Lord is not passive. In Isaiah 40:31, the prophet Isaiah says, "Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." The Hebrew word for wait in this verse means to "wait expectantly," not a passive inactivity--but an active expectancy in the strength and power of our God!

I think of examples from the New Testaments. How long did Simeon wait daily in the temple for the consolation of Israel, and upon seeing this small wisp of a baby, he declared, "My eyes have seen your salvation!" How many years did the man born blind wait unknowingly for the day when Jesus would meet him, making mud out of spit and clay, giving to him new eyes in order that he might see the Creator's face? The woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years had to wait through each of those years--hour by hour, day by day--not able to venture out in public too far from her home until she heard of the healing power of Jesus. Mary and Martha waited 4 days for Jesus--who tarried in order that his glory might be revealed; they waited until all hope seemed gone, their brother Lazarus dead, and then and only then did Jesus finally show up. And all those listed in Hebrews 11 who by faith waited, but did not receive what was promised while they were alive on this earth. The Bible reveals that waiting on God is really an exercise in developing the muscles of our faith and trust in him. Conversely, not waiting on him, but instead relying on the achievements of our own efforts, only weakens and atrophies our faith. In a culture so held captive by the demand for immediate results, waiting seems foolish, but the long term effect of not waiting on God is a dried up faith much like a cicada shell, only a remnant of the real thing--and all of our hope, all of our trust is invested in ourselves, our own abilities, our own strategies, our own skills, our own work.

In what part of your life are you being asked by the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to wait expectantly for the salvation and deliverance of the Lord? If you read carefully the verses from Lamentations quoted above, you will find that through all the waiting, what we really receive along the way--hour by hour and day by day--is Jesus himself, our portion in life! Simeon saw the Savior. The man born blind was given eyes to see the Creator. The woman who had bled for 12 years caught sight of the Healer. Martha and Mary saw the Resurrection and the Life. And all those who not received what they had waited for while on this earth are now a part of that great cloud of witnesses, their faith now sight, having met Jesus face to face. So what are you waiting for?

© 2014 by Grant Christensen