Tonight’s blog post is about waiting. I begin by recounting the event that sparked my thinking on this. I was at work this week when I watched an intervention unfold that reminded me uncannily of what God does with us his children:
As a behavior therapist I assisted/witnessed my boss with an intervention teaching a child to wait. During the intervention, the child had to sit and wait for something that they wanted…something that was promised. If the child stood up and tried to gain access to it before the time was over, the timer was restarted; likewise, if the child engaged in problem behavior in response to being made to wait, the timer was restarted. At certain intervals in the waiting process, the child was rewarded with a treat for remaining seated and waiting without problem behaviors. Finally, when the time of waiting was over, the child was rewarded with praise, and given access to what they wanted, something that was promised. During the time of waiting, the child began to cry, looking desperately to the one who was making him wait. She spoke to him intermittently during the intervention, and she kept her eyes on him. In response to his crying, she said “I know, I know it’s hard. Waiting is hard, but you must learn…you must learn to wait”. Tonight as I write, I am nearly in tears. Oh how I see the parallels of this event, and what the Sovereign Lord does with us. We are that child, and God is the interventionist. It could be a parable. Settle in now and allow the Spirit of God to have his way with you as I bring these parallels to your attention.
- You will learn to wait, you must. But how long you wait in total is dependent upon your behavior. Depending on how you react to the task of waiting, God may add to the proverbial timer, as my boss did in this scenario. Think back for a moment to the Israelites in the wilderness. They could have entered the promise land much sooner, but because they grumbled and complained, they wandered a total of 40 years, suffering and learning to wait properly, before they finally received the promise.
- He holds the timer. This is the point at which I really want to just start bawling. In the scenario I recounted for you, my boss held the timer in her hand. She was in control of when it started, and stopped… she controlled how long the child waited, and when the promise was received. In the same way, God holds the timer for our waiting. He is in control of all things, my friend, including how long you must wait. Dear one, the period of waiting you are in is not by some random chance…it was ordained by Holy God. The intervention is controlled…and the God who loves you is controlling it. Often when we get in seasons of waiting and wandering I think we tend to think that everything is out of control…we see the chaos and uncertainty around us rather than the God who stands with us holding everything in his hands. You can be still, for nothing is out of his power. The season of waiting and/or suffering you are in is just as controlled as this intervention…He is in control, and He is good. He has not given you too much…He will not make you wait too long…just long enough. He is faithful like that.
- You aren’t being ignored. My boss kept her eyes on him, and as he cried out she spoke to him. This reminder of how God is with us also brings much emotion to my heart. My dear friend, He is not ignoring you. I know that during the waiting season it seems as though the heavens are made of glass and your voice is not heard…but friend, His eyes are on you. You must be still enough to hear it, but He speaks to you… “I know, I know it’s hard. Waiting is hard, but you must learn…you must learn to wait”. Oh, how the enemy comes to the saints of God in the dreadful waiting season, to torment and to whisper lies. But you are not ignored. He is as close to you, as my boss was to this child. He has not left you, and He is not angry with you. How often do we feel as though we are being punished in our season of longing? Indeed, perhaps sometimes this is the case, but I think it is more often that the purpose of waiting is refining… is the potter angry with the clay when with His hands he applies pressure to shape the vessel as He wishes? No. He is not far away from you…He is not ignoring you…His eyes are fixed on you and He is waiting to speak with tenderness as you cry out to Him. Oh what a Savior He is…
As you read this it is likely that you are waiting for something. Be honest with yourself as you sit before God in stillness and trust. Are you broken and waiting for restoration? Are you sick waiting for healing? Are you suffering…and waiting for relief? Or perhaps… you are waiting on the fulfillment of a promise, although indeed He promises all of those things in time. Whatever you wait on, you can take courage from this… “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Friend, you want to know how you can trust that? Because He who promised is faithful…He will do all that He says…His love is unchanging and kind, and it never runs out. You are not out of grace…His mercy has not failed you nor shall it ever fail any of His saints. He is with you in the waiting…He was tempted just as we are…He knows this pain…and He has overcome it for you. You can be victorious in the waiting…to have this victory you must be still. Do not waste the opportunity of the waiting season by pleading every moment for it to end…learn to be still. After all…you are safe with Jesus. He loves you infinitely and intimately, and just as this behavior analyst allowed this child to wait in order to benefit him, the Savior makes us to wait in order to do the same. Suffering will be for a moment, but if you learn to wait with God, beloved…you will reap everlasting reward.
And now Holy Spirit I ask you to come and inhabit the worship of your people. That you would be found by us, as we cry out to you in the longing of the waiting season. For you are good to us, and very kind. You work for our good, and in your refining, you make righteousness to bloom. Speak to your people, Lord, as you teach us. Speak to your children and let your words soothe like healing balm upon weary souls. For you yourself have borne our sorrows and carried our grief…you know the pain of waiting, but every promise you give is secure, and reward will come if we learn to wait well. Bless us your children Lord, and smile upon us…for your joy is the delight of our hearts. Teach us Lord, and refine us, until we are all that you made us to be. I ask this for us in Jesus name, the name of the precious good Shepherd, Amen.
With great love,