A friend of mine is spending some time in the desert. God has taken him out of a very successful area of ministry, and he is waiting for the Lord to reveal the next steps in his walk with Him. I sympathize with him – I’ve been there myself many times, and it is not a place that I enjoy at all.
“Wait” is one of those four-letter words that most of us really don’t want to hear. We want to be moving, to be seeing results. We want our answers now, if not yesterday.
Yet so often God’s answer to our prayers is “wait”. Our reaction, depending on our personality, may be to get mad with God or to get mad with ourselves. In the latter case, we sometimes question our faith (“Don’t I have enough?”) or our position with God (“Have I done something terrible and now God doesn’t want to know me?”)
Neither of these are necessarily true. As we read through the Bible, we find that many of God’s saints had to endure a time of waiting, for all sorts of reasons.
Abraham waited for the promise of a son. His waiting was not always patient, and he tried to help God out – and in doing so created a huge problem for the world – but ultimately, he held on to the promise. Why did he have to wait so long? Could it be that the very act of endurance increased his faith?
Joseph also waited for the promise. Unwise in his early sharing of God’s revelation, he endured years of set backs before coming into it. Yet those years were a growth time, as Joseph showed over and over again the naturalness of his leadership, rising to the top in whatever situation he found himself. Joseph at 17 could not have coped with the second rank of authority in Egypt, but by the time he was ready for the Prime-Ministership, Egypt was ready for him.
Moses waited forty long lonely years in the desert before he was able to fulfill his vision of liberating his Hebrew people from the tyranny of Egypt. God needed that long to get Moses own strength out of the way, so that Moses would learn to walk in God’s strength and authority.
Caleb waited for his inheritance. Imagine what it must have been like for Caleb. He had been ready to go in and take the promised land from the first time he saw it, but because of the people’s disobedience and lack of faith, they had to wander forty years in the wilderness before they could enter. Every time he looked across the Jordan river, Caleb must have thought to himself, “There’s my inheritance over there. If it weren’t for this lot, I’d be there now!” Yet he held on to the dream, and when the people finally entered Canaan, he did not hesitate to approach Joshua and claim his promise.
In fact, even God waited. The plan for man’s salvation was in place before ever man fell into sin, but God waited for the “fullness of time”, the time when all things would come together to make it the right time for the manifestation of the Son. Now He waits again, for the sin of man to reach its fullness, so that no one can ever accuse Him of being unjust in His judgment.
Waiting may be to build our faith, it may be to purify us, it may be to allow other people or the circumstances to come to the place where they need to be, it may be to bring us to a place where we are more interested in our personal relationship with the Lord than we are in whatever it is that we are seeking. Sometimes it may even be simply to give us a “breather” before we move on to a new and very busy stage of our lives.
Can we speed up the wait? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If we are waiting for others to come into line, all we can do is pray that it will happen swiftly. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to concentrate on seeking God’s face, and allow Him to work it all out in His time.
Whatever way you cut it, that means waiting.