Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Waiting, Dec 5
Waiting can be wearying if we are simply waiting as an exercise of our will power. However, the Biblical concept of waiting is not a “grit your teeth and bear it” kind of thing. It’s a joyful resting in the goodness and grace of God. We might not see His goodness and grace in our present circumstances, but this restful waiting unlocks the deep truth that He is at always work and He is always present in our lives.
Author Paula Gooder encourages the spiritual discipline of waiting as she writes:
“Waiting draws us into a different way of being that does not rush to easy answers – that often have complex consequences – but takes account of not just our own welfare but that of all those around us. Waiting involves seeing differently and recognizing that quick answers are not always the best ones.”
The answers that we can rush into often work at a subconscious level. When we can’t see God at work, our deep heart may assume that He isn’t at work. Consequently, we feel this urge to take charge. Our world is rife with “wisdom” that we have to take charge and seize the opportunity. That narrative seeps into our souls. The result is that we put ourselves in the driver’s seat and reduce God to a kindly repairman who will keep our car running.
Thankfully, God is patient with us and He has bigger plans for us. He desires for us to live in a trustful rhythm where He is in the driver’s seat and we are His servants, His friends. Waiting humbles us and reminds us of our created design which is also our greatest joy.
In the New Testament Epistle of James, we read the challenging counsel:
”Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8
The challenge? Be patient … wait. The context of this challenge is looking at the “rich” who use their wealth for themselves. We may not, by definition, be rich but there is an attitude of self … self-preservation, self-promotion, self-protection … that can be a part of our lives. The lie is that we can or even should be the master of our world. To that attitude, the counsel is: be patient. Why? Because when life seems out of control (i.e., “where is God? Does He even care? Is He involved here?”), our temptation is seize the wheel. The counsel? Be patient. Wait. Why? Two reasons:
- The coming of the Lord is at hand (or, near). The idea is that He is involved. He is present. He does have a plan. So, be patient …
- He is at work. The “early and late rains” reference is often lost on a modern audience. The early and late rains are a symbol of God’s provision and a farmer’s dependence upon something outside himself to take care of things. The people of Israel were geographically and meteorologically dependent as they raised crops. The contrast was the farming of the people of Egypt (and the people of Israel experience this when slaves Egypt) in which they built irrigation canals. They used water from the Nile and other rivers anytime they desired. They were in control. God’s counsel here is that we can patient because He is in charge and we can trust. He will provide.
Why depend upon God if we have our own resources? Because living this way is indeed our created design and only waiting will usher us into a place of dependence. The “established heart” in James 5 is a strong heart which is humble because it is shaped by hope in God – not hope in self. The illusion of having our own resources and trusting in them is that it makes us strong. The deep truth is that it makes us weak because it stresses us and converts us into something we were never designed to be …
Spend a few minutes with the Lord, asking Him: in what ways am I like a “rich” farmer? When am I tempted to build my own irrigation ditches rather than trust that God is present and that He is at work?
Finally, express your trust and dependence as you pray:
Gracious Father, humble my heart as I wait on you. Give me the strength to stop and wait so that you can be the One who saves me. Give me eyes to see my nakedness today but then to trust that You alone can clothe me. Use your Word, the world around me, and the words of others that I might see You alone as my savior all the day long. Amen.