Isaiah 40:28-31 (NASB)
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,31 Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
If you’ve been feeling somewhat weary or tired these days, I hope what I am sharing with you today will help. I want to talk to you about waiting for God to show up and help you in your struggle—whatever that may be.
Those who wait are wise. When we discipline ourselves to wait we are better for it, and we save ourselves from having to clean up the mess that is made by getting ahead of God.
I remember watching a TV comedy show, where they left young children who were about to be interviewed in a room with a bag of candy and a hidden camera. They were told to wait until the interviewer came back, and then maybe they could have some.
I’m sure you already know what happened as one by one, several boys and girls who were each asked to WAIT, predictably helped themselves to the candy. Some held on longer than others, but each one eventually gave up on waiting, and each one of them were caught with a messy mouth full of candy, discarded wrappers, and a sheepish look on their faces.
I was in Bethlehem, Israel, a city we’ve been singing about this past month or so, with a group of about 50 young adult students. We had stopped for lunch, and I suggested 3 or 4 nearby places where they could walk to get something to eat.
I asked them to come back after they had eaten, and WAIT by the bus until everyone had arrived. But sometimes, don’t you know, even adults can get distracted while waiting.
A few of the guys spotted something in the distance that drew their interest. They began to walk across a very large dirt and gravel compound and got about halfway across before the local Palestinian bystanders started tossing stones, and the rubber bullets started flying from the Israeli soldiers on the other side.
The compound that they had gone strolling through was a demilitarized zone; a buffer area between the Palestinians and the Israeli’s. Their walk turned into a sprint to make it back to the safety of the bus.
Now, I knew why it was a place where they shouldn’t be walking, and that’s why I told them to wait by the bus. I didn’t tell them the reason because I didn’t want to cause anyone to be afraid—I knew that if they waited, there would be no issue, but a few chose to disobey and consequently got themselves into trouble.
The prophet Isaiah wrote this well-known piece of scripture that we’ve read together to encourage the nation of Israel, who had a long history of sinful disobedience, which led them into many messy and difficult situations.They had at different times, found themselves in bondage as slaves, wandering relentlessly just outside the promised- land, and scattered and dispersed to Babylon.
This scripture was not written so much for those who occasionally have to sprint to safety and need immediate divine intervention in the moment. Rather it was written for those who are on the long journey of life as followers of Jesus Christ. Those of us who like the children of Israel get forgetful, and lazy, and have a long history of slipping, and tripping, and falling.
You see, the occasional sprint with God does not require, as does the constant walking with God, an ever-flowing stream of grace. And God has promised to strengthen us by that grace, to exchange our weakness for his power, and he says he will do it, but the transaction requires us to wait.
5 Reasons Why God Calls Us to Wait
In life you will be called to wait, and as I’m sure you’ve already noticed, you will find waiting difficult. So it is important to recognize that there are lots of good reasons why waiting is not merely inescapable but necessary and helpful. Here are a few of those reasons.
Because We Live in a Fallen World
We are called to wait because the broken condition of the world makes everything we do harder.
Something changed when sin entered the world. Sin brought friction and trouble and pain and sweat and a thousand other "thorn and thistle" complications to absolutely every aspect of life.
We find ourselves waiting because everything in a fallen world is more laborious and entangled than it really ought to be.
Sin also put greed and fear and arrogance and jealousy and self-worship into the souls of all who live this thorn-and-thistle life. We must wait because, by being selfish, impatient, competitive, driven, anxious, and angry, we make life harder for one another in so many ways.
Processes and people are all affected---everything and everyone has been damaged by the Fall. We must wait, because in a world that is broken, everything we do is harder and more complicated than it was originally intended to be.
Because God Is Sovereign
We must wait because we are not authoring our own personal stories. Life does not work the way we want it to, in the time we want it to.
You and I do not live in the center of the universe, that central place is forever occupied by God, and God alone. Our individual stories and the stories of our churches are part of the great origin-to-destiny story that he alone determines.
Waiting becomes immediately easier when you realize God is sovereign (and you are not) and when you further reflect on the reality that he is the ultimate source of everything that is wise, loving, and good.
Waiting, therefore, is not a sign that your world is out of control. Rather, it is a sign that your world is under the wise and infinitely attentive control of a God of fathomless wisdom and boundless love. This means you can rest as you wait, not because you like to wait, but because you trust the One who is calling you to wait.
Because God Is a God of Grace
Waiting is one of God's most powerful tools of grace. It's important to realize in your ministry that God doesn't just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about what you will become as you wait.
In calling us to wait, God is rescuing us from our bondage to our own plan, our own wisdom, our own power, our own control, our own little kingdoms. Waiting is more than being patient as situations and other people change.
Waiting is about understanding that you and I desperately need to change, and that waiting is a powerful tool of personal change. God is using the grace of waiting to change our heart, and that's a good thing!
So We Can Minister to Others
Waiting is central to any act of ministry. If you really want to be part of what God is doing in the lives of others, you will be willing to wait.
Personal heart and life change is seldom a sudden event. Usually it is a process. You and I do not determine when and how the Holy Spirit will work, and people do not often become what they need to become quickly.
This means that in ministry we are called to have the same conversation again and again. We are called to pick that person up after each failure, to be willing to forgive and forbear, to remind him or her once more of God's presence and grace, and to be willing to have our lives slowed down and complicated in the process. People of grace and love are always people who are willing to wait.
For the Increase of God's Glory
Finally, we are called to wait because everything in life and ministry exists not for our comfort and ease but for God's glory.
The whole redemptive story is written for one purpose and one purpose alone: the glory of the king.
Waiting is hard for us because we tie our hearts to other glories. We so often are tempted to live and minister for the glory of human acceptance, of personal achievement, of power and position, of possessions and places, and of comfort and pleasure.
So when God's glory requires that these things are withheld from us---things we look to for identity, meaning, and purpose---we find waiting a grueling, burdensome experience.
Waiting means surrendering your glory. Waiting means submitting to his glory. Waiting means understanding that you were given life and breath for the glory of another. Waiting gives you opportunity to forsake the delusion of your own glory and rest in the God of awesome glory.
It is only when you and I truly learn to achingly, gruelingly, selflessly and patiently wait, that will we find what we seek, and what we are meant to have: lasting identity, meaning, purpose, and peace in Christ.
In this way waiting is much more than a hardship for us; it is a precious gift for us to receive as we anticipate the joy that awaits us, just up the road and around the bend.
Pastor Craig Eagle