What Are You Waiting For?
by Dale Reeves
The other day as my wife and I were road-tripping, we stopped at a visitor center to pick up some brochures for a future trip we are planning. When we got out of the car, and noticed the “masks required” notice, we put our masks on and headed toward the entrance of the center. We were greeted by two female national park rangers who were manning the front of the center. They had a few tables set up with brochures on them, right next to a sign on the door that said that due to COVID-19, the visitor center was closed, as were the nice restrooms inside. Guests who needed to use the facilities were welcome to use the port-a-potties located in the parking lot. As we approached the ladies, I didn’t notice I had cut in front of a gentleman who was standing there and about to approach the rangers himself. As I jumped up to check out the brochures, the masked gentleman exclaimed, “You go ahead. You must be in a hurry.” I apologized to him, and let him go first, but then mumbled underneath my mask, “This is ridiculous. I’m over this” to which I quickly got “the look” from my loving wife.
True confession. I am not a patient person. When I look at the nine fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, I have to say that patience is not, nor ever has been, my greatest virtue. I don’t like waiting in line. I don’t like sitting in traffic. I get frustrated when going through a fast-food drive thru, and after waiting behind eight or nine cars, once I pay and pull out with my food, I discover that something is wrong with the order. So, this was not my best day. We had driven about ten miles off our planned course to find the visitor center that day, and we were looking forward to going inside the air-conditioned building, getting the particular information we were after, and using the nice bathrooms inside before continuing on our journey. This is not to excuse my behavior in front of the other visitor that day, just to say that, like many others in our society these days, I deal with various frustrations relative to the COVID-19 situation we find ourselves in.
I am trying to learn a lesson anew about how far I need to go in order to become a more patient person. I am very grateful that a few hours later on our drive as we cruised through a Sonic drive-thru, they got our ice cream order perfect, and what comfort I received from my Reese’s Sonic Blast!
Waiting Isn’t Easy
Confession is good for the soul, so that is why I am confessing my impatience today to anyone who will listen. I have spent much of my life pastoring people in the church, but I am the first to say that I am far from perfect, and many times in my life I have exemplified a less-than-Christlike attitude. Truth be told, I don’t like all the “waiting” we have dealt with the past four months . . . waiting for life to “go back to normal”; waiting on when we can go back to church safely; waiting until we can visit folks in retirement centers face-to-face again; waiting for when we can safely get back on a plane or a cruise ship; waiting for when it will be safe to go into a grocery store or restaurant without wearing a mask; waiting until there is a live sport on ESPN that I am interested in watching; waiting until we can have weddings and memorial services again the way they should be celebrated; waiting for when I can hug people and be an extrovert again; waiting for what school will look like for everyone this fall. Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Many times in the Psalms, the psalmist exclaims, “I will wait for You,” and I have prayed that phrase many times to God . . . but I don’t really like it. I don’t really want to wait. We live in an instant, drive-thru, give-it-to-me-now, what’s-wrong-with-instant-gratification culture! Many would call that an “entitled life.”
The Hebrew word qavah (pronounced kaw-vah) means to “wait actively with anticipation, to look for, to lie in wait for.” It means to wait in hopeful expectation of watching God act. In English our word “wait” is often passive. We might wait in a doctor’s office, or wait six feet behind someone at a grocery store. But the Hebrew word used all throughout the Old Testament isn’t a sitting-on-your-hands-twiddling-your-thumbs kind of waiting, testing your patience as you passively watch the clock. This biblical kind of waiting is active, eager, hopeful, expectant, and God-honoring.
Waiting Is Worth It
You may be familiar with this passage of Scripture that expresses this kind of hopeful waiting. This kind of waiting mounts up, runs, and walks!
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31, ESV).
In the time of the Babylonian domination, the Israelites waited for an immediate, vengeful, reaction from God—but that was not what they got at all. When their God did not immediately smite their enemies dead, they wondered if they had been rejected by him.
The prophet Jeremiah records these thoughts:
“Lord, have you completely rejected Judah? Do you really hate Jerusalem? Why have you wounded us past all hope of healing? We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.
Lord, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you.
For the sake of your reputation, Lord, do not abandon us. Do not disgrace your own glorious throne. Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us.
Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain? Does it fall from the sky by itself? No, you are the one, O Lord our God! Only you can do such things. So we will wait for you to help us” (Jeremiah 14:19-22, NLT).
Even though these words were recorded somewhere around 600 b.c., it sounds like they could have been penned in the year 2020. The Israelites were impatient and wanted to vanquish their enemy, the Babylonians. They concluded that if God could get the waters to wait, they would have to wait on him for deliverance as well. Waiting wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it.
So We Wait on the Lord
The psalmist exclaimed in Psalm 130:5, 6, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (NIV).
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13, 14, NASB).
May these words from Leeland’s song, “Wait for You,” wash over you today:
“I will wait for You, I will wait for You,
When these mountains won’t move still I’ll wait here for You.
I won’t give up on You ’cause You don’t give up on me,
When I don’t understand You keep me standing.
I won’t give up on You ’cause You don’t give up on me,
Lord, in my unbelief You keep believing in me.”
I will wait for You, I will wait for You.”
If you’re not waiting for the Lord, then what are you waiting for?