Waiting, waiting, waiting. No one likes to wait. I certainly don’t and I’ll bet you don’t either. Waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting for the cable guy, waiting for a job, waiting in traffic…WAITING WAITING WAITING. Sometimes it seems like we spend more time waiting than actually doing what we were trying to do in the first place!
It’s because of my disdain for waiting (aka, my impatience) that I don’t really enjoy going out to eat. If there’s one thing that my wife would change about me if she could, it’s this. I’d always prefer to stay home and eat leftovers out of the fridge as opposed to going out to eat – especially at a sit down restaurant!
Why? BECAUSE I HATE WAITING.
I hate waiting to be seated. I really hate waiting for the waiter to come and take my order (I pride myself on being able to order very quickly - as soon as I sit down). I really really hate waiting for my food to come out after I’ve ordered (you should see me, I can't focus on anything, I just stare at the waiters trying to guess when its our food that's coming out). And I really really really hate waiting for the waiter to bring my check so I can pay money for an experience where I spent the majority of my time waiting! I HATE WAITING!
But I’ve discovered something about the spiritual life that I believe is true for just about everyone. Any time God wants to do something great in your life, there has to be a period of waiting. No exceptions to the rule.
Look at the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. They wanted one thing more than anything else in the world. A child. Is that too much to ask? They aren’t asking for worldly things or materialistic things. They – like so many married couples out there – just wanted to have a baby.
And God wanted to give them a child. That was part of His plan. Actually, His plan was that they would be parents of one of the most special children to ever walk the face of this earth – one who “will be great in the sight of the Lord” and “will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” This child would be the one called by God to “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” and “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
But they still had to wait… and wait… and wait.
“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.” (Luke 1:6-7)
Now wait a minute (pun intended). If they wanted a child, and God wanted them to have a child, why did they have to wait so long to have a child? The Bible says that they were both “well advanced in years” (nice way of saying they weren’t spring chickens anymore).
If they wanted to have a child and God wanted them to have a child and they were both righteous before God, then WHY DID THEY HAVE TO WAIT?
As I said earlier, any time God wants to do something great in your life, there has to be a period of waiting. No exceptions to the rule. A wise man once said: “If you want a mushroom in your lawn, that can pop up overnight. But if you want an oak tree in your lawn, that might take a little longer.”
God wants to make oak trees out of us, not mushrooms. But we – like Zacharias and Elizabeth – must be willing to wait to get there.
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12)
Let me repeat that: imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. THAT’S YOU!
Nothing is harder than waiting – especially when you have seemingly done everything right. Zacharias and Elizabeth did everything right. They were righteous before God. They obeyed. They believed. They fasted and prayed and served God. They did everything right.
But they still had to wait. Being forced to wait isn’t a punishment from God or some kind of indication that you have done something wrong. Waiting is part of God’s plan to build us and bestow His promises upon us. It isn’t a means of chastisement from God. It’s a part of the process of achieving great promises and rewards from God.
So the next time you find yourself waiting, remember Zacharias and Elizabeth. And like them, hold on to your faith and patience knowing that it’s through these two virtues that you will inherit the promise.
For discussion: what advice can you give someone who is in a period of waiting right now? What has helped you through those seasons?