Four Secrets to Wise Waiting
By Marlene Houk
2 Thessalonians 3:5 “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
We wandered through the apple orchard, the sunshine cradling our cheeks. A perfect fall day full of promise, crackling, crunching autumn sounds, and the pleasure of cooked apples with ice cream awaited us.
The gnarled branches, twisted into mysterious symbols and outlined in black against the crystal blue of the sky drew my gaze to a lone apple. A tasty orb, its golden sheen reflecting the sun, unblemished and fully ripe, awaiting harvest.
I feel like that apple sometimes. Everything is in place. I’m ready. Waiting, waiting, waiting. But nothing happens. We are waiting for that phone call or text. Waiting for the doctor’s report. Waiting for matrimony. With only four scant letters, the word, wait, can slowly erode our faith, our serenity, our trust in the Lord, and our focus on Christ.
Like that lone apple, starkly contrasted to the absence of the other 500 plus apples that can be harvested from a single tree, we may feel that we hang alone in life, lagging behind countless others who have reached their goals.
We mark time until our dreams, live until God plucks us from the bare branches of life and plops us into the harvest basket of happiness. But the in-between times that we want to end holds a treasure-trove of spiritual riches.
The Bible reveals four secrets about waiting for that scrape away our angst and frustration, revealing the riches that we can access during the silence.
Waiting in the Bible occurs often; Significant messages await us within Scripture simply by repeating the idea of waiting many times. Sarah waited 25 years for baby Isaac, probably being the midwife on her vast plantation and hearing the tiny mewling cries of the newborn as they rested on her flat stomach. Rebekah, her daughter-in-law, waited for 20 years to birth Jacob and Esau. And the Israelites waited 400 years in the great silence between the Old and New Testaments. Many Bible stories emphasize that waiting throws a wrench in people’s plans. Waiting is a command from the Lord, an experience, an absence of stunning significance, and a pointer to eternity.
But the surprising observation about the word, wait, in the Bible, is that, often, it is connected with activity. Our waiting for our hopes and desires need not be still. We can be actively pursuing God’s activities while we wait.
Washes away fret
Psalm 37:7 “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”
Fortunately, the command to avoid fretting follows the preparation of resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for him. Wise waiting empowers us to cleanse ourselves of fretting about the dreaded what-ifs, the ache of unfulfilled aspirations, or the echo of a cold heart as our longtime friend slams the door to decades of precious friendship. When we focus on the Lord, reclining upon His promises, believing His Philippians 1:6 plan for us, and pouring our heart out in prayer to Him, the fretting fades and the resting begins. Acknowledge and pursue help for our problems, yes; dwell on them, no.
Adds strength to our faint hearts
Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
The word, Lord, is a relational title, and the first mention of this name is, appropriately, when a man is created in Genesis chapter two. It carries the idea of the God who seeks us and reveals Himself continually as He creates us, allows us to enjoy His world, and offers to save us to live with Him eternally. While we wait for our redemption, we focus on knowing Him.
In my 57 years of experiencing salvation, I’ve noticed that my relationship to the Lord as His forgiven child redirects my focus to God’s divine Word. The living Words transform my unbiblical thoughts and create His peace and rest within my storm of sadness. Most of the time, I don’t realize the power of that change until much later, but I’ve come to trust the process and the power of His presence and Word to strengthen my resolve to focus on the Lord.
Ignites a passion for obedience
Psalm 59:9 “ Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defense.”
When we wait on the Lord, our desires, like a dawning sunrise, change to a longing to glorify Him. Like the majestic hues spreading as the sun climbs the horizon, God’s perspectives spread across our days, illuminating His Word in our hearts and, slowly, changing our gaze from our troubles to His glory. As I’ve watched the Lord work in my life, I’ve noticed within myself a desire to rely on Him when I can’t change minds or control others. When I obey His command to rest in Him, follow His precepts and relax in His plan, my focus on Christ creates a flame of zeal to follow Him.
As we wait on the Lord, rich and satisfying things fill our horizons. Strength and protection (Psalm 59:9), purified expectations (Psalm 62:5), hope (Psalm 39:7), guidance (Psalm 25:5), and righteousness (Galatians 5:5), arise in our lives, brilliantly coloring our world with His glory.
Trains us for future victory
Psalm 25:5 “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”
Life is circular. Husbands and wives give to each other and draw strength from each other. Sometimes, a beloved grandparent dies within days of their precious newborn grandchild’s birth in the cycle of life and death. Or, the bread of His Word that we cast upon the waters of life returns to bless us.
Trials produce strength when we wait upon the Lord; strength for future needs and survival wisdom for others. As the mother needs to nurse her baby, and the baby cries for nourishment, so we receive what we need in the waiting for future waiting. As has been often said, God never wastes our pain and sorrow. And He does the same with waiting.
Waiting yields rich spiritual harvests.
When viewed as an opportunity to wash away our undesired feelings by snuggling closer in Jesus’ arms, reading His love letter to us, and being soothed by His promises and His people, we receive hope and peace.
Adding strength to my weakened heart when biding my time, God’s faithfulness ministers to me as He sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17). He weaves His majestic threads of beauty into my sorrows, making them glint with His glory.
In the stillness of the interludes of life, tiny sparks of intense focus on my Lord ignite with a greater desire to serve and obey my Redeemer who identifies me as His child.
Tutoring me in the wisdom of being still and knowing that He is God, the Holy Spirit builds up my ability to endure potential trials in the future and to understand how closely He guides my life.
I left the apple, still hanging, knowing that one of its purposes in the waiting were these reminders that the fruit of waiting produces a spiritually mouth-watering deliciousness. Wise waiting gifts me with energy to serve the Lord. The ultimate wait is for our dear Savior, the Christ who redeemed us and longs to glorify us and present us as His Bride. Our waiting on earth simply mirrors the best wait of all—the rapture of those who are beautified with salvation to be with Jesus for all eternity! (See Romans 8:23.)
Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at Bible167@gmail.com
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